Having recently returned to the UK for the first time in over three years, I can safely say that one of the (very) few things I miss about the place is the food. That’s not to say I don’t love eating out in Hong Kong – and trust me, do I LOVE eating out here and would miss it madly if I were ever dragged kicking and screaming somewhere else – but you just can’t get things like fish and chips, kebabs, Magnums, Penguins, sticky toffee puddings, smoky bacon crisps, Domino’s pizza deliveries, great big whacks of gammon, beef Wellington from the supermarket and the little family-run Italian down the road over here.
However, what you now can get over here is a beautiful top-notch Sunday roast – thanks to the wonderful Shane Osborn, head chef at St Betty.
I don’t even want to think about attempting to cook a Sunday roast myself here – the difficulty and expense of finding a good cut of the beef, the many hours it would take to cook in our tiny microwave oven, and the fact that I’d go through all that for a meal that I’d essentially be eating on my own! In the UK, the omnipresent Sunday carvery at your local pub is such a given that we practically take it for granted… but since you can barely find a traditional British pub in Hong Kong these days, it’s hardly surprising that the proper Sunday roast is becoming a bit of a dying breed. True, you can often find some roast beef in most luxury hotel’s buffets (good luck finding any Yorkshire puddings though – I once saw some cake-like bread labelled thus!) and The Globe does a mean and extremely reasonable take on the roast every Sunday (which I reviewed here). However, I’m a beef girl through and through, so The Globe’s rotating approach to its meat and that the place often sells out before I’ve even woken up on a Sunday… let alone the fact that’s it’s a bloody long trek from Central MTR for a lazy arse like me… means it’s not always an option.
So you can imagine the undisguised glee, salivating and little jigs of joys I did on learning about St Betty’s Sunday roast – which is always beef!
St Betty, the creation of Wagamama founder Alan Yau known formerly as the by-all-accounts mediocre Betty’s Kitschen (stupid spelling and all), has been transformed courtesy of the Michelin-starred magic ways of Osbourn – and his Sunday roast may just be the best bit.
For just $298 per person, you get a prime cut of beautiful medium-rare Aberdeen Angus sirloin with all the trimmings – and even a dessert each too! The beef, quite rightly, is the star of the show. It’s cooked to perfection, roasted in a Josper grill (fancy chef-y oven thing), heart-poundingly pink, mouth-wateringly juicy and sighingly tender, sliced thinly but not too thin with a little sprinkling of salt on top and that unmistakeable synapse-sparking charred roasted delicious flavour. It tastes like the best beef should – rich, intense and pre-programmed to bring out all of your caveman primal urges. You get roughly three slices per person and I’m not exaggerating (just ask my Mum!) when I say I could easily and happily finish all three people’s portions without breaking a sweat.
It is made even better by the fact it comes with gravy. Yes, gravy! Someone in Hong Kong actually knows what the stuff is! I’m obsessed with gravy (and used to drink it like soup from the gravy boat when I was younger… and totally still do whenever I get the chance) but had lost hope in finding good beef, a good restaurant and good gravy in the same place. I tried asking for gravy in a steakhouse here once – after much debate and explanation, I was eventually served a saucer of pure fat that had come out of the beef as it was cooking. Nice.
Anyway, the gravy at St Betty is intoxicating stuff – a little too thin to be my total gravy nirvana but I’ll take it – and is best lashed over your meal generously. Don’t worry, the waiters will refill your gravy coffers multiple times if needed.
As for the trimmings… there are Yorkshire puddings. They are actual real Yorkshire puddings (miracle!). Majestic puffy mountains of buttery, golden-brown home comfort, perfectly crispy until I transform them into edible little gravy goblets. It’s one per person although I’ve heard a rumour they may be able to replenish supplies of these too – I’ll have to put that to the test one day! There are roasties – glistening nuggets of pure Sunday roast gold that you might know better as roast potatoes. Crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, incredibly moreish… and the ones at St Betty are as good as they get.
There are also two other sides; confit of Chinese cabbage and Japanese bacon (the bacon bit always gets my vote though one of my friends found it too salty) and crushed roasted root vegetables (a little too sweet for me and I wasn’t keen on the baby food texture – I’d rather just have whole roasted carrots and parsnips please). There’s also some horseradish cream, but since I don’t like horseradish in the first place, I have no comment. Honestly, I don’t think I even noticed it, I was too busy pouring the gravy down my throat.
After all that, you’ll be settling nicely into a food coma, ready to snuggle into your armchair and vegetate in front of a Come Dine With Me marathon on Channel 4. But St Betty instead gives you each a cute little pudding of rhubarb and apple crumble, served with a dainty jug of cream. Honestly, it’s too much – one to share between everyone would be enough. I don’t like rhubarb so I’m hoping St Betty might one day change the fruit because whilst I adore the buttery scrumptious of the crumble, soaked with light fresh cream and stirred into a gooey delicious mess, I’m just not a fan of that distinctive tart tang of rhubarb.
Make no mistake, St Betty is not a pub and the roast is a cut above whatever you’d get at your local – but thankfully, in terms of quality as well as price. However, what I do love about St Betty’s bright and breezy surroundings in the IFC is how unstuffy the place feels given the pedigree of the chef and his dishes.
In case you hadn’t noticed, I LOVE this roast. I loved St Betty’s a la carte menu too (which I reviewed for Sassy here) yet it’s still a tad pricey and fancy for the everyday. The Sunday roast, however, I can see myself coming back for time and time again… and in fact, I already have. If you’ve been having Sunday roast cravings, get yourself down there pronto – and trust me, this Sunday roast is even better than any of the ones you might remember!
St Betty’s Sunday roast is served from 1-3pm every Sunday and costs $298 per person (for a minimum of two people); you are advised to pre-book at least 24 hours in advance.
St Betty, Shop 2705, Podium Level Two, IFC mall, Central, Hong Kong, 2979 2100