Review: Franks, a stylish Italian restaurant, Hong Kong
Finding Hong Kong's best chicken parm at this trendy Italian-American spot on Wyndham
It's nice to enjoy a fine dining meal once in awhile but I usually prefer comfort food. Relaxing and digging into big portions of rich, fatty flavours, maybe even eating with my hands ... what could be better? Given the rawness of it all, I probably also associate comfort food with close friends and family. Back in small town Canada, these sorts of restaurants were everywhere. I rarely ate anything else. But in Hong Kong? Most mid-range comfort food places still serve food that is unusual, inventive, or fancy in some way. Rarely is a meal truly what I would consider to be comfort food.
Franks is run by Red House Hospitality Group who are also behind Fini’s and Posto Pubblico. All are Italian American restaurants but Franks is the hippest of the bunch in a tongue-in-cheek playful way (look out for the glittery chairs). On most evenings, the crowd spills into the street with guests enjoying the retro soundtrack and drinks / bites at the ground floor bar (on weekends it’s also open until 4am!). It’s also the kind of place that, despite opening half a year ago, still requires a reservation at least a week in advance. A promising sign. On a Thursday evening, the last workday before a long weekend, I finally had a chance to check out Franks with thoughts of maintaining a summer bod far from my mind.
That turned out to be a smart mentality to have because Franks is hella tasty and the portions are big (for Hong Kong, anyway).
Love a restaurant that’s generous with the freebies. The marinated tomato and onion skewers were just the right amount of sweet and vinegary, and they were super juicy. And who doesn’t love fluffy fried bread with tangy tomato sauce or creamy fresh mozzarella with freshly ground salt and good olive oil.
As for our order, we started with the Antipasti Platter ($208) that was so huge it could easily be shared by four people. Shoutouts to the bouncy mortadella and the super creamy blue cheese. Would definitely reorder this next time.
For the pastas, we tried the Pappardelle alla Vodka ($208) and the Duck Egg Raviolo ($228).
The pappardelle is a best-seller and certainly looks a treat. I liked the richness of the sauce and how it managed to go with the sweet chunks of shrimp and the earthy slices of shiitake mushrooms. Texture-wise, the ribbons themselves were also very silky and cooked a perfect al dente.
The raviolo is humungous and very rich. Again the texture of the dough was perfect, smooth and al dente. We cut open the centre anticipating the runny duck egg yolk and definitely enjoyed seeing that ooziness but also loved the creamy fresh ricotta packed inside. FYI this sauce is super garlicky so may not be the best choice for a date (...if your date is sensitive to that kind of thing).
But the highlight of our meal, and it was a big highlight, was the Chicken Parmigiana Supreme ($238). There are two versions of the chicken parm: Classic ($198) which is smaller in size and uses the breast, and the Supreme which is a deboned (except for the wing) half bird. Do yourself a favour and get the Supreme as you’ll be rewarded with some of the juiciest, crunchiest fried chicken you’ve ever had. One bite and you’ll be on Team Who Needs a Summer Bod Anyway (...half kidding, I hit the gym the next day). We ate every single bite of this dish.
Honorable mention for best dish goes to the Tricolour Cauliflower ($78) with pine nuts, raisins, and a lemon vinaigrette. Loved the texture of the florets and the charred yet sweet flavour.
When it came time for dessert, our server brought up this huge platter for us to admire. We opted for the old school vanilla custard doughnut balls which arrived piping hot.
All in all there was nothing not to love about Franks. We enjoyed great service (though one server didn’t really know how to answer questions about the menu), great food, and a fun vibe. Will definitely be back to try more things and for that chicken parm… I wonder if I could get things boxed up. Would be perfect for a Netflixing night in.
Harilela House, G/F & 1/F, No. 79 Wyndham St, Central, 2320 0858