Hong Kong is all about the hype. Be it Hello Kitty toys, Lady Gaga tickets or the latest ‘it-restaurant’, there’s always buzz around something.
One of the coolest, most talked-about restaurants from a while back, is Heirloom Eatery in the also buzzing Sheung Wan side of Hollywood Road. In traditional Rach late to the party style, I didn’t get round to trying it out until a month or so ago – with foodie partner-in-crime Michelle of Chopstixfix and her friend Amy (not a blogger but just as game for taking loads of pics and eating loads of food!).
Heirloom is a quaint little eaterie with lots of quirky design touches. It’s definitely a world away from any of the flashy restaurant group behemoths in Hong Kong and, with its whimsical menus, floral crockery, mismatched furniture and homespun feel, is probably all the better for it. Although the restaurant is on the smaller side, it’s lovely to sit outside watching the world go by on a nice spring day.
The menu is casual and international, with a few key influences – Mexican and Asian (thanks to the heritage of the two founders) – and a few majorly hyped dishes… Dear reader, we tried all of them!
Hong Kong suffers from a dearth of good Mexican food… even a dearth of good Tex-Mex food, in fact… so everyone has clamoured on board Heirloom’s tacos like they’re the great white hope of the HK dining scene. There are four varieties and my favourite was the Carnitas of slow-braised pork with pickled onions – the pork was deliciously meaty, melt-in-mouth, and the seasoning absolutely perfectly judged, making it the most moreish mouthful of taco ever. And we really are talking mouthful… because these tacos are tiny!
The Balinese fish taco was complemented nicely with a fresh kaffir-lime dressing whilst a prawn one benefited from some heavenly dressing and chunks of avocado; however, I didn’t get on well at all with the Tree Hugger taco of hibiscus, black bean and salsa verde (a bitter floral flavour that reminded me more of a fancy tea brew than a main meal). Shared between the three of us to get a taste of each type, these tacos were literally rendered bite-size – and I do think $120 for a plate of these four tasty but tiny morsels is a little pricey.
I normally do my best to avoid too much greenery on my plate, but my friend Emma recommended the Balinese Chopped Chicken Salad ($115). This was a more generous serving of roasted chicken, piles of chopped purple cabbage, hearty chunks of avocado (YUM), runner beans, cherry tomatoes and a lemongrass-lime-sambal dressing. The real star of the show was the dressing – that delicious twist of fresh lemongrass, zinging lime and just a little heat from the sambal made for an intoxicating combination. More avocado, less cabbage though thanks, as we definitely had enough left to feed a few rabbits afterwards!
You can’t go wrong with sweet potato fries ($35) and these were exactly the crispy sweet finger-licking golden strips they should be – and that spicy mayo was utterly delish (I think my mayo to chip ratio was approximately 4:1).
We were excited about the Mexican street corn ($55) but the coriander-mayo-lime dressing was just a bite too wincingly sour that day (as our puckered up faces after taking a bite showed!)… although liberally rolling your corn in the addictive crumbled cheese does help matters significantly!
Finally, onto what we’ve all been waiting for, dessert! Beautiful tempting homemade cakes had been sitting on the counter throughout and I could practically hear their siren’s call all meal, whilst Heirloom’s signature make-your-own Smores (complete with mini gas burner, $120) had been the talk of the town practically as soon as the place opened.
The Smores were awesome. Of course they were. Cinnamon-crunchy Graham crackers, decadent dark Willie’s chocolate and sinful molten marshmallows… was there any doubt that these wouldn’t hit the heights of my axis of awesome? Plus there’s something about being given a mini flame and toasting forks that just transforms me into a gleeful child and the three of us spent faaaar too long melting, smearing and intensely photographing the entire gooey process. It’s exactly the kind of delightful charming fun with friends dining that I think Heirloom is all about and makes your meal an experience rather than just forking food down blindly. It is a little bit of work breaking up the slabs of chocolate and getting them on your fork long enough to melt them, but trust me, it’s totally worth it.
The other desserts were less great – the chocolate fudge cake that had been tempting us all lunch was (whisper it) not quite moist or chocolate-y enough; a berry crème brulee was bursting with fruity juicy summer flavours (nature’s equivalent of stuffing a pack of Skittles in your mouth all at once, $80) but the consistency was far too runny. However, there’s no denying the gorgeousness of that floral crockery (yes, I’m a girl and care about such things)!
Now that the worst of the hype has passed onto other restaurants in Hong Kong, Heirloom is definitely worth a visit. For me, it’s a little pricey for what it is (both in terms of portion size and overall quality, although there is no service charge); bar the Smores, which I would love to gang around with girlfriends, there’s nothing I’m absolutely desperate to come back for either. Yet the interior, the design and the menu have all been lovingly personably created and the whole place has bagfuls of quaint heart-warming charm. And that’s a concept I can definitely get on board with.
Heirloom Eatery, 226 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 2547 8008
Top photo credit: HK Magazine