Less than a month after its opening, Gafencu taste-tested the newest “B&F” concept KOMUNE at the up-and-coming Wong Chuk Hang neighbourhood.
The 22-day-old restaurant was unexpectedly packed during the lunch service when we visited one cool January day. Maxi, Komune’s Argentinian F&B manager, gave us a warm welcome to offset the chill from outside. An initial tour of the duplex all-day dining venue revealed a large garden terrace doubling as an events space, a colourful shipping container bar downstairs, and fantastic views of mountain and sea. We were off to a good start.
Let’s backtrack a bit. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw all the new F&B establishments that had sprung up in Wong Chuk Hang since the last time I had been there. Komune, however, sets itself apart from all the ground-floor activity with its sweeping vistas and sprawling space.
Chef Alvaro Ramos from Madrid, better known as “El Palanca”, heads the kitchen here. “Alvarito” was busy at the open kitchen when we arrived, cooking up a storm to enchant the eager diners. You can’t miss him – he has a forehead tattoo that reads “can’t lose.”
When he came over to our table later on, we understood why people call him “that crazy chef.” His eccentric and teasing manner should have prepared us for his equally quirky yet delicious kitchen creations.
The first dish, a “21st Century” deconstructed tortilla, is a nod to El Bulli’s “tortilla española”, complete with food-foaming technique. One-part potato foam, one-part onion purée, one-part egg-white sabayon all came together to effect a sublimed tortilla de patata. That was probably the closest I’ll ever get to Ferran Adrià’s masterpiece.
“International cuisine” is the theme at Komune, so from El Palanca’s homeland Spain we moved to South America’s gastronomic capital, Peru. The Hamachi served in a Peruvian tiradito style was swimming in “tiger’s milk” – a citrus-based marinade that cures the ceviche. Unbearably fresh, tangy and supplemented with crunch fried corn kernels.
We have nothing but good things to say about all of the other dishes we tried: Clams and chorizo in sake (we drank the broth to the last drop), Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad (hate kale but loved this), Classic Russian crab and salmon roe salad (shredded crab goodness) and the gigantic “Sea and Mountain” turbot.
However, the winning plate is Komune’s Sichuan-Style Slow-Cooked Short Ribs. I try not to eat too much meat, but one piece of this flavourful morsel melting over my tongue had me hooked.
Desserts are just as delightful as the savouries. If you’re a cheese person, the Liquid Cheesecake is a not-quite-sweet, not-quite-salty invention consumed with a side of sweet Piquillo pepper jam. We had no more space left for anything else, but the HK-style Eggette and Churros with two toppings have been marked on my ‘to-eat’ list.
Finally, what’s with the “B&F” I mentioned earlier? Komune says it’s all about its beverage game as their bespoke concoctions are crafted by international cocktail consultancy Cocktail Professor. That we have yet to try, so watch this space.
With the boom of Southside’s art and dining scene (Read: South Island Renaissance), there are definitely enough reasons for you to head over to Wong Chuk Hang nowadays. But Komune, as we discovered, has been a most compelling one.
Ovolo Southside, 64 Wong Chuk Hang Rd. +852 3460 8157 ,+852 6111 7345 (Whatsapp). www.komune.com.hk
Text: Julienne Raboca