Timon Seafood Tapas review date: August 21, 2015
60 second review, so no score:
This review took considerable contemplation. I’d booked in for lunch with my wife and a friend, having heard and read some pretty good things about this Wan Chai tapas spot. The problem was that – as we were told at the end of lunch – the usual Spanish chef was away on vacation. In his place was someone neither Spanish, nor much of a chef. At all.
So is it fair to review it, on this basis? I think, on balance, yes. God knows restaurant staff work incredibly long and draining hours. They deserve every holiday they can take. Especially so when going away often means they are actually still working, getting inspired by other cultures and flavours that are subsequently woven into their work when they return.
Anyone in any job has to learn and make mistakes to improve, but it quickly became clear that we weren’t the only ones unhappy at lunch. Also, Timon didn’t change their menu prices or tell diners that a much less experienced chef was cooking. We paid the same amount had the usual chef been there overseeing the pass, when things doubtless would have been light years better.
But first, the friendly Pinoy staff and warm interiors in Ship Street, just not as we know it. It’s on the other side of Queen’s Road East, the quiet pedestrianised side.
The set lunch is $158 for 3 courses. For Wan Chai that’s not especially cheap – nor indeed for Central, where good old Wagyu still manage three very competent courses at $150 in some of the most expensive restaurant real estate in Asia.
So we expect good things. First, the spinach salad with feta cheese and walnuts. What arrived ticked these ingredient boxes, but there was barely more than a mouthful and a half of it to enjoy. It was tiny.
Next, the ‘penne with spicy pork belly and asparagus’ sounded like a cracking dish. The reality was miserable. ‘Spicy pork belly’ bought a couple of desperate, fatty lardons – not even cooked through and no hint of any heat. Asparagus was one tip sliced in three, plated on top of the dish to fool the diner into thinking there were more. There weren’t. More than anything the taste was of oil, a slick of which had formed in the tiny bowl under the wholly unseasoned and barely cooked pasta. It was really pretty unpleasant, not helped by a dusting of unidentifiable dried herbs, a throwback to days of student cooking.
To be fair to Timon, when we gently said how bad it was, they said that other diners had also sent it back and offered us the seafood bowl instead. Which would have been great, had it ever been seasoned or tasted by the person preparing it. The seafood seemed old and chewy, while the sauce barely tasted of tomatoes, let alone anything else. More green dandruff didn’t help. When the ingredient in the name of your restaurant features in the dish and isn’t cooked right, you know something is wrong.
Compared to tapas places like Tapeo, Boqueria, La Paloma, Enoteca and others, Timon seriously need to up their lunch game. They may well do good and authentic tapas in the evening, but they need to be consistent throughout the day to get that crucial repeat custom.
Just before leaving, we learnt that the owner wants Timon to be seen in the same vein as 22 Ships, Jason Atherton’s tapas hit just across the road – unfortunately, as it stands, a more appropriate maritime analogy would be a Hong Kong remake of Titanic.
G/F, 33 Ship Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong Tel: +852 2111 0484 http://www.timonseafoodtapas.com/