Sunday Grocery review date: January 12th
Not all restaurants or reviews are created equal. This is the first in a new series from Hong Kong called ’60 second reviews’, i.e. how long it will take to read. I’ll still write more in-depth pieces, but primarily for longer menus and fuller dining experiences. I’m also not scoring these shorter eats as they’ll often be quick set lunches or takeaways.
Sunday’s Grocery is from the team behind Yardbird, the perennially popular Bridges Street Yakitori joint. No Hong Kong restaurant is as recommended by word-of-mouth, with good reason: it’s the perfect cocktail of great music, drinks, eats and atmosphere. The lines to get in prove it.
Sunday’s Grocery isn’t a restaurant, however, but essentially a high-end liquor store which serves takeaway food in newly MTR-connected Kennedy Town. There’s just enough room for a couple of oompah-loompahs to stand at a counter inside (below), and strangely ‘seats’ were offered outside on beer crates, but you’d never choose to use them and eat in the bus fumes of Catchick Street. Customers are generally sent a few minutes walk around the corner by the praya or waterfront.
The short menu features five sandwiches, fried chicken using the same KFC sauce love that makes the cauliflower at Yardbird so legendary and a selection of sides.
If you’re so inclined, there are also some serious drinks for sale on the walls. Maybe K-Town is now flush with big earners who think nothing of dropping $2600 for a Haikushu single malt or $325 (US$42) on a bottle of orange bitters which retails on Amazon for US$11. That’s just an outrageous markup in a store, by any reckoning.
So at lunchtime I’m the only one in there and hit up their banh mi with a side of coleslaw. About ten minutes later – I wasn’t in a hurry, but if I was, then that’d be too long as the only diner – I get my tray.
The slaw is good stuff, lighter than the usual gloopy mess and lifted by citrus and crunch. A banh mi, the Vietnamese for ‘bread’, is one of my favourite things to eat anywhere. This wasn’t the classic baguette I was expecting, but a carefully-filled ciabatta/baguette hybrid. The bread was warm, as it should be, and a chicken liver mousse (unadvertised, I was expecting some pork action) was smoothe and contrasted well with the artfully-chopped veg. Overall however it lacked the oomph that a banh mi classically delivers, while a more noticeable tang of pickled vegetables or the floral earthiness of coriander could have helped lift it.
The banh mi was $80, slaw $40, i.e. not great value for money. If you were in Central those prices would be fairer, but in deserted K-Town with nowhere to sit, I seriously wonder how much repeat business they’re going to get. Only if I happen to be back out at the end of the line at lunchtime would I return – and only to see if their chicken reaches the heights of the legendary Yardbird cauliflower.