Fine Food Dude is a restaurant and food writer focusing on dining in Hong Kong and gastronomic capitals around the world. For independent, informed, and honest reviews, Michelin-starred chef interviews, travel features, and more visit his site for more posts.
Contributed by: Fine Food DudeFew streets in Hong Kong have been transformed by restaurants as much as Upper Station Street. You can see why as traffic is minimal, the low-rise neighbourhood is (or was) pretty quiet and diners and drinkers can stumble there from Soho and Central in a matter of minutes.
One of the newest tenants and neighbour to Upper Modern Bistro et al is Crafty Cow. The premise is that their food is ‘third culture’ – showcasing ‘the many native flavours we experienced during our childhood years abroad’. It’s an interesting concept to celebrate this marriage of cultures, in theory genuine fusion. In reality, off the back of our recent dinner, it seems more about pretty heavy food to soak up multiple craft beers.
The menu is a veritable riot of hashtags, imploring diners to ‘#Jointheherd’ for ‘#beefandbeer’, not forgetting there’s ‘#noservicecharge’. I’m clearly getting old(er), but couldn’t help feeling #enoughalready.
We rocked up and were lucky to get two seats at the bar as it was a busy Friday night, allowing us to see the kitchen at work. The welcome was warm and genuine, the service swift, but the feel in the small space is definitely more bar than restaurant.
The menu features five headings, ‘teppan’, ‘snack’, ‘graze’, ‘munch’ and #BYOB (there’s another), i.e. ‘Build your own Bao’. The vegetarian is a sweet potato fry connoisseur and they hit the mark for her, straight from the freezer into the fryer and into a bowl. The accompanying sambal mayo needed more sambal to justify its name.
The calamari was described as follows: “Wednesday Pussycat – beer battered – shichimi togarashi – wasabi sabayon”. It turns out that Wednesday Pussycat was the type of beer used to batter the squid, not that you would have been able to discern it. A sabayon (or zabaglione as it’s known in Italy) is generally a light egg-based dessert, but here it was essentially a wasabi mayo – a greener version of the aforementioned sambal mayo. The shichimi togarashi, that Japanese cure-all seven spice mix, was lost in translation. So despite the exotic description, it came off as pretty generic squid rings:
Tofu did what tofu does, namely keep a non-carnivore happy. The ‘Khmer dressing’ was interesting, if impossible to discern.
Incidentally, this is what you get if you Google ‘Khmer Dressing’, as I did.
We didn’t deliberately order the most unhealthy items on the menu, but it seemed to turn out that way as our arteries were once again assaulted. ‘Big Ass Truffle Grilled Cheese’ seemed to have gone on a diet and lost its allegedly shapely rear. Some corners lacked any filling and while I wasn’t expecting a return to my truffle epiphany in Alba, more of a nod to the noble tuber would have been appreciated.
Finally to the ‘Build Your Own Bao’, in my case beef, kimchi and some sort of BBQ sauce. Pretty underwhelming and pretty small for $64. All told we left shy of $550 (#noservicecharge #tipthecow). They do have an interesting selection of beers, so if you’re up for a few of them and need something to soak it up, then you could choose worse places. But paying $400 for a steak or indeed $150 for bull’s balls (Rocky Mountain Oysters) wouldn’t see me rushing back.
G/F, 3-3A Upper Station Street, Sheung Wan
+852 2915 8988
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