Neighborhood review date: January 31, 2015
60 Second review so no score
David Lai is a name repeated frequently and with some fondness by fans of his restaurants including On Lot 10 on Gough Street and Bistronomique in Kennedy Town. Regrettably I’ve not had the chance until now to try the Ducasse-trained chef’s work.
His latest venture is Neighborhood, a compact dining room hidden in an alley between Graham Street and Hollywood Road. It’s already seemed to have garnered a solid reputation since opening late last year, so there was a five-week wait for our Saturday evening dinner reservation in late January.
The interior is dark but welcoming, with strategically-placed horizontal mirrors on smoothed grey walls reflecting the small bar behind. The menu changes weekly and is a lesson in brevity, just one page with dishes listed on the left, none of which involves more than five words. How refreshing.
Taglioni is up first and, at $135, I’m glad it’s advertised as ‘handmade’. At this price you’d have to be pretty shameless to serve up anything else. It’s very rich with serious egg yolk coming through, simply seasoned but overall not especially memorable.
‘Foie gras, Cottecchino sausage, lentils’ brings a slice of speckled pink Cotechino (presumably from Modena, no word if it was made in-house) over a mirepoix and lentils. The dish is an Italian classic traditionally served on New Year’s eve and, while the lentils and salume are good, the foie isn’t great quality and doesn’t bring much to the party except more richness. It’s also a pretty small dish for one, let alone to share. ($150)
‘Winter vegetables casserole’ is colourful and easy on the eye, featuring favourites including carrots, beetroot, endives…and lardons (bacon). Unfortunately this last and kinda crucial component wasn’t mentioned when my vegetarian wife ordered it, having already informed the staff she doesn’t eat meat or fish. Grrr.
‘Raclette potato’ promised to transport me back to wintry France but, alas, with no cornichons or other classic raclette additions to cut through the cheese, it was another plate of rich carbs and not much else. Again, $125 for what was essentially a side dish didn’t represent value for money.
Rounding off the evening was sea urchin carbonara. I know. We didn’t deliberately set out to order the richest dishes on the menu, but it was pretty difficult avoiding them. Unfortunately it was too similar to the taglioni. Those lardons reappeared, although at least this time they were expected, but the sea urchin was pretty difficult to pin down and, compared to Bryan Nagao’s stellar version at Town, overall the dish was lost in translation. Incidentally it was only $15 more than the taglioni, so I wondered how much sea urchin could be offered at this price point.
Talking of which, dinner with two glasses of red came in just north of a grand. We didn’t hit up desserts or cheeses, the latter of which featured 24 month Comté at a seriously hefty $165. Compared to On Dining or even the cheese bar at Caprice, this represents a serious chunk of change for a chunk of cheese. We were also given two Canelés on leaving, those stubby French pastries where typically a custard center is surrounded by a thick and caramelized crust. Unfortunately at Neighborhood, they had neither and were just tough and slightly bitter.
With its menu changing weekly, maybe Neighborhood is one of those places that needs to be revisited to fully appreciate it. But, in the cut-throat world of Hong Kong dining, this isn’t a second investment in time or money that many diners can justify.
61-63 Hollywood Road, Central (Although you’ll get lost with this address, trust me) Tel: +852 2617 0891 https://www.facebook.com/neighborhoodhk?_rdr