Limewood review date April 17
60 Second Review
When you look down over the crescent beach, forested hills and dramatic architecture, you forget that Repulse Bay isn’t exactly the most poetic name for a place. Origins are numerous, none of them based in indisputable fact, but for my money the most likely version I’ve read is that the area was used by the British fleet to repulse 19th century pirates.
Today of course it’s one of the most prime and pricy residential areas in all of Hong Kong. It’s always historically been bereft of a good selection of restaurants or stores, unless you needed to pick up a new Maybach. Those tai tais and guy tais are in luck however with the recent opening of a development called The Pulse. It’s pretty uninspiring architecturally, like a Chelmsford shopping centre c1993, but then again people are understandably more interested in looking at the beach and sea .
Limewood was one of the first tenants to open in December and has been packing them in ever since, if a recent weekday lunch was anything to go by. In fairness, Limewood was designed precisely for days like April 17th. Glorious blue skies, April sunshine and a scramble for stools facing the boardwalk so people walking past can enviously covet your charred sea bream and barbecued pineapple mojito. Lifeguards walk past, mixing with bewildered, sweaty mainland tourists under umbrellas and the odd beach bum.
As you’d expect the look and feel is easy diner with lots of wood, a blue and white colour scheme and plenty of cushions. The sort of space where you’re expected to trail in some sand behind you.
The menu is refreshingly short and no-nonsense, divided into cold, hot, meats, fish and sides. It’s an unlikely mix of cuisines and influences, reflecting the global team behind it, so Vietnam, Mexico, Japan andThailand sit side by side underneath a broadly Caribbean theme, represented by exec chef Russell Doctrove who is half Dominican.
Most of this culinary international axis manages to appear in one of their signature snacks, namely pork skin (chicharron) with guacamole, avocado, sea urchin and ikura (roe). Tortilla chips on the side. It’s an unusual ensemble while the urchin and roe underneath were a bit hidden, whereas you’d think they’d be the star of the dish.
No such problems with the spicy tiger prawn roll that melds generous shrimp with arugula, red chilli and more avocado in rice paper rolls, sitting on a prawn cocktail sauce. Good and messy eating, as you expect at the beach.
Fingers again to the fore for some quick-to-disappear Vietnamese fish tacos with lime and Asian slaw:
Fish featured again with deep fried snapper served Thai style, ie with lemongrass, kaffir lime, scallion and green peppercorn.
If it was textually similar to the tacos, it carried much more of a kick. Beef ribs then made an appearance, as they do on almost every Hong Kong menu these days, here with a mango-infused BBQ sauce, coriander (ok, cilantro) and toasted sesame seeds. It was a hulking great Captain Caveman affair to the point where I felt like throwing it over my shoulder after eating it. The mango didn’t come through the BBQ sauce but didn’t really need to as it was already sweet and sticky as it should be.
As this was a tasting lunch, dessert was also offered, some seriously oversize churros with salted caramel and ice cream. These can do no wrong.
Starters and salads run approx $90-160, while the meat and fish are upwards of $250. Limewood would be perfect for weekend lunches and brunches, a few good cocktails along the way before a swim and a snooze. Otherwise I’m not convinced it’ll become a regular dining destination, unless you live in or near the south side of the island. In which case you’re probably a regular there already.
Limewood, The Pulse, South Bay Path, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong. Tel :+852 2866 8668 http://www.limewood.hk/