With a waiting list longer than Central taxi queues on a Saturday night, booking a table at Rhoda, Hong Kong’s hottest new restaurant, is something of a prolonged affair. Luckily, our resident food blogger Christy Ma (aka lolleroll) was one of the first in line to test drive the menu – so, is it worth the wait?
Few places generate as much hype as Rhoda has and then live up to it too. I’ll try not to be repetitive because there is already an abundance of reviews on this place – but that’s just the first piece of proof that it’s one worthy of your ‘restaurants to try’ list.
Of course, with hype comes expectations and then larger room for disappointment. So in an attempt to control some of that, I’d say that while the atmosphere is perfect, and all our dishes were delicious, I have heard mixed reviews on selected items – such as the chicken being too dry – although I can’t attest to that claim.
Rhoda’s first victory is the interior design. Back to basics is the order of the day, with exposed walls and surfaces – yet it’s not just a case of throwing a load of natural stuff into a room and hoping for the best. The colours compliment the quirky crockery, and everything is stunning in an understated sort of way. Make sure you look up and admire the themed lampshades – if nothing else, Rhoda has found a great way to recycle the inside of washing machine.
It was Wednesday so naturally a drink was needed. I was just a tad disappointed that the cocktail list wasn’t pages long or didn’t feature some exotic creations. I guess there was something about the rustic cool decor that led me to believe Rhoda would be that kind of place with amazing cocktails. I got the Whisky Smash ($120) which was refreshing and tasted good. But the focus here is definitely on the food.
For starters, one portion of the Suntory Dark Ale Beer Bread served with Seaweed Butter is complimentary. It was pretty outstanding – even considering my high expectations. The bread was smoky in aroma, crispy on the edge, and densely soft on the inside. You can order extras for $29, which is tempting, but thankfully I resisted the urge and saved my stomach for their other dishes.
The Lotus Root Chips with Chicken Liver Cream ($38) were also addictive. They’d hardly make a dent in your wallet at under $40 a portion, so why not?
The Chicken Wings Glazed with Xeres Vinegar ($98) were juicy and I loved the glaze which was the perfect flavour. It’s good to munch on for starters, although the truly amazing stuff is to follow below.
The only struggle we had with the Hokkaido Scallops with Pink Grapefruit, Basil, and Pickled Ginger ($198) was deciding whether or not it was our ultimate favourite dish of the night. I’m still struggling. Served raw, it was quite a simple dish, but the scallops were super fresh and the citrusy grapefruit topping was the perfect combination.
We almost didn’t order the Agria Potato Purée with Asparagus, and New Season Truffle ($188), but thank god for our half-hearted health consciousness which ultimately urged us to order some veggies, because 30 percent of why our meal was so impressive was down to this blob of potato. The potato purée was hands down the best mash I’ve ever had. Seriously. It’s the addictively delicious kind that makes your fork or spoon return to the dish before you’ve even chewed your previous bite. Definitely try it.
I was first introduced to ox heart at Ceviche in London and despite typically being disgusted by innards, I absolutely loved it. Heart of the ox tastes nothing like other innards such as livers or kidneys. In fact, I’d say it’s hardly distinguishable from normal steak, except the texture is better. So I was keen to order the Wild Hereford Ox Heart with Mustard & Raddish ($158) when I saw it on the menu at Rhoda – it’s pretty rare in Hong Kong.
The ox heart was cooked perfectly and the texture was even more perfect than I imagined. The portion was pretty decent too, but we agreed that the mustard sauce was overpowering. It would be much better as a sauce on the side to dip, rather than a generous pour over the meat.
The Mangalica Pork Belly Marinated in Soy & Garlic ($218) was seriously fatty. Although the marinade was delicious and the pork was extremely tasty, I think there was just a bit too much fat on each piece.
The Maitake Mushroom Risotto with New Season Australian Truffle ($158) was the perfect carb substitute to complement our dinner. Made with grains (like quinoa and other stuff) rather than actual risotto rice, it was very al dente and chewy – as well as creamy and very truffly.
If you take just one thing away from this review, make sure it’s that you order this! Almost every review I read before coming here mentioned how incredible the Vanilla Cheesecake with Rhubarb and Yamamomo ($98) is. So I heeded the reliable advice and can now confirm that it is indeed an amazing piece of cheesecake. It’s super smooth and soft in texture, and the taste is spot on too. The pickled raspberry and rhubarb on the side were quite nice, although a little sour. But nobody cares because not even a terrible side garnish can bring this cheesecake down!
We loved our meal here at Rhoda – the atmosphere and food were excellent. I suppose the main catch for us was that it’s just a little on the pricey side. The food here was generally great, but it’s not a ‘fancy pants’ place, and it’s not really bang in the middle of Central either, so dishing out $600 to $700 could feel a bit much. But naturally and sadly, a lot of us in Hong Kong are getting accustomed to paying this kind of money for decent good food. So Rhoda is definitely not the odd one out with pricing.
So in conclusion, Rhoda is definitely worth a visit – just make sure you make a reservation in advance!
Rhoda, G/F, 345 Des Voeux Road West, Sai Ying Pun, (+852) 2177 5050
Still hungry? Check out more of our culinary adventures in the Restaurant Reviews below!