Contemporary Cantonese has been around for a while, most effectively and famously at Ho Lee Fook. Kasa in Wan Chai – in the building opposite the Grand Hyatt – isn’t in the same league of invention or atmosphere, but still delivers some interesting takes on local classics. The space, open for around six months now, is bright and industrial with some quirky decor such as a Yao Surong album and a feel which melds an old school dai pai dong with modern canteen.
Reds and gold are the colour scheme, notably in a kick-ass Italian coffee machine that shows it’s most definitely worth stopping by for a morning Americano.
So how do they riff on Cantonese classics? Well their version of arancini ($38) brings balls made from of lap cheong sausage and crispy claypot rice. It’s a small serving but makes for some good, brief mouthfuls, even if the salad underneath feels incongruous.
Another is a take on the noble Scotch Egg ($38) where the traditional pork sausage meat casing around the egg here also combines with preserved veggies. The veggies aren’t that discernible once breadcrumbed and deep fried, but it’s certainly a healthier take than a pure pork-fest.
The service from the kitchen team, most of whom are sporting natty backward baseball caps, is swift and the next dish of salmon ($118) also appears quickly. It’s expertly-cooked, speared with some crispy fish skin and accompanied by that splendid ginger and scallion sauce which is a one way ticket to Flavourville whenever it appears. Here’s David Chang’s recipe for it, incidentally.
The music collection playing shows eclectic tastes, but Easy Like Sunday Morning is always welcome, even on a rainy winter Tuesday evening. It was playing as the final main of Shanghainese braised beef short ribs ($148) made an appearance, enveloped by a sticky and sweet glaze. Talking of music, the ribs could have done with slightly pumping up the volume on the flavour front. The texture and cook was great, again, but the seasoning and spice needed a slightly firmer hand to get beyond the sweetness.
The desserts were also cute versions on a theme, so a Chinese take on churros bought sugar and cinnamon dusted sections of youtiao, the fried breadstick normally eaten with congee. A thin line of condensed milk added another typically Hong Kong touch, but more was needed on the plate to make the dish the sum of its parts.
Kasa is doing things right when it comes to inventive takes on Cantonese classics, part of a trend which will doubtless see further openings celebrating Hong Kong’s cuisine in new and innovative ways. Their whole roast suckling pig and baked duck stuffed with sea urchin rice sound like two good reasons to return.