You’d be forgiven for thinking I’m paid a retainer to publicise Repulse Bay. I’m not, but a vast amount of new restaurants have opened up at The Pulse in the past six months. Shoku is one I’d walked past but not tried until a recent commission for Tasting Kitchen magazine took me there to write about the relation between music and food for a forthcoming special edition.
As luck would have it, the food came fast and furious over an hour so I was able to make a few impressions before getting down to work. Most telling of which is that there is no better way to barbecue – especially given recent farcical scaremongering from the WHO about bacon and BBQ – than over Bincho-tan charcoal from Japan.
I’d mentioned it before in a review of the cracking little yakitori joint Toritama on Glenealy, but it’s used to great effect here too down on the south coast. It’s the star of the show in a large central fire pit, glowing and enticing in diners without making them leave smelling like they were the ones doing the cooking.
Crispy codfish wafers sound, to my ear at least, a bit odd. I don’t know if fishy biscuits are a culinary fad that has passed me by, but these were an absolute revelation. Envisage a mash-up between a Jacob’s Cream Cracker and a Dorito with distinct but subtle notes of fish. That doesn’t get anywhere close, but it’s great eating and officially one of the best beer/aperitif snacks in Hong Kong.
Sweetened triangles of Japanese omelette were also good and doubtless better on the calorie count than a Japanese take on mozzarella sticks and some excellent deep fried shrimp, to be eaten head and all under a sharp squeeze of lemon.The central Binchotan grill was to take the starring role in the next succession of dishes. Steak was beautifully cooked, even if it was accompanied by the devil’s food, Brussel Sprouts.Miso-seared cod has been done a million times before, but at Shoku it’s one of the more successful incarnations due to not overthinking it and letting the flames do the talking. An excellent kewpie style dip did no harm either.The food kept coming so some decent if not spectacular sushi were next over the pass. Given the scarcity of Japanese restaurants on the south side, affable owner Elaine Yeh answered customer requests for it and added it to the menu.
Four final dishes came over the pass, a couple of which are not included in the brunch. Short rib – the must have ingredient of 2015 – was a good rendition but was outdone by three final seafood based dishes. Firstly, a spectacular spaghetti with black truffle, uni and ikura. What is not to love about that combo of decadent ingredients? Each played their part without taking a starring role, a fine line to tread by talented hands in the kitchen.
Then an enormous crab that was served in multiple ways: the claws and legs for dipping and sucking, as more sushi and then mixed in with salad.The final show stopper was the wonderfully-named kinki fish. This bright orange fella may have once looked like an extra from Finding Nemo, but after being impaled and grilled for an hour with nothing but volcanic salt needd to bring out his flavours, he had an altogether more impressive role to play. A show stopper of a dish, even if he didn’t look too happy about it:
Free flow brunch is $590 per person, while those under 10 years old dine for free with an adult.
A final shout out to Tess Collins who provided the laid back live tunes from Ella to Nora and does so every Sunday supported by the very talented Mike Carr and Mark Peter.
109 The Pulse, 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay Tel: +852 2808 2333