In Hong Kong, within Central alone, diners are spoilt for choice when it comes to the array of international dishes on offer. Meanwhile, truly superb Cantonese cuisine can – not unexpectedly – be found in just about any neighbourhood. As a result, identifying a Cantonese cuisinary likely to impress both out-of-town epicureans and intemperate in-towners is no easy matter.
Should such a dining dilemma prove one of your current preoccupations, then an evening repasting on the finest fare on offer from Redhouse, a Centralset champion of contemporary Chinese cuisine, may prove the ideal remedy. The second Chinese-only noshery to be launched by the Gaia Group – the Hong Kong-headquartered hospitality ensemble behind the refined fine dining on offer from the likes of SHÈ and Isola – this relatively recently-launched restaurant has already established itself as something of a local byword for more-than-competent Cantonese cuisine, with contemporary digressions ditched in favour of an endearing, authentic traditionalism.
Indeed, only its location is a little out of keeping with the norm for Chinese nosheries – instead of being tucked away in some best-kept-secret alleyway, it sits flaunting itself atop LKF’s California Tower, as if immodestly declaiming its dining pre-eminence with the kind of come-and-have-a-go-if-you-think you’re- bold-enough bravado more at home in a British boxer’s dressing room. Upon admission to the inner Redhouse, however, such incongruity is swiftly forgotten as you bask in its ubiquitously scarlet and gold-hued traditionalism.
Overseeing operations at this bastion of much-loved local-dishes-done exceedingly-well is Chef So Shea-fat (‘Fat Gor’ to family and close friends). A Guangzhouer by birth, So owes his fealty to food and feasting to his mother, who instilled in him a love of his home cuisine and whose early nurturing helped him build his reputation in the SAR since first arriving when just 17 years old.
Seated so as to take full advantage of the breathtaking views the restaurant commands out across Central, we were keen to see just what So and co. had in store for our deliberately-left-vacant tums. Prior to tucking in, however, we first had to down a statutory serving of the house’s signature craft cocktail – modestly (and potentially confusingly) rejoicing solely in the name Rice. Imbued with Chinese rice spirits, red wine and peach and apple liqueur, then garnished with a touch of ginger and lemon juice, it looked as delicious as it tasted.
Before we were even four sips in, however, a sprightly pair of appetisers – Purple Lava Buns and Crispy Tofu with Salt and Pepper – were promptly tabled. While the former, all Japanese purple sweet potato goodness, proved sweet and irresistibly gooey, the latter was savouriness incarnate, seeing this particular culinary excursion starting less with a bang than a ying and a yang…
Served up next – and expertly rolled in – was a beautifully presented Peking Duck, which was sliced with impeccable precision immediately in front of us. Each serving was gently carved on to our waiting plates, set next to bamboo steamers brimming with Chinese pancakes and a trayful of sliced vegetables, sugars and sauce. The most traditional of all the traditional items on offer, the duck also offered diners the opportunity to flaunt – or not – their wrapping skills. Again, in line with the eatery’s advocacy of harmony above all, the pairing of the duck’s fatty meat with the more abstemious wraps sufficed to fend off any mid-munch heaviness, while the resh vegetables served as apt palate cleansers.
And then on to dessert, where it was left to the Ying Yang sponge cake to do the honours, which proved to be the most feng shui-ed comestible we’d ever been called upon to digest. With balance once again at the fore, the coconut and sesame flavouring of our serving fused in perfect harmony, an apt enough summation of the overall Redhouse experience.
Redhouse. 23/Fl, California Tower, 32 D’Aguilar Street, Central. (852) 2344 2366. www.gaiagroup.com.hk/ restaurant/redhouse
Text: Bailey Atkinson
Photos: Gaia Group