Bored of hanging out in Sheung Wan, Sai Ying Pun, Kennedy Town, Tai Hang, Tin Ho, Wan Chai Star Street precinct or even Kwun Tong industrial spots? You may know put this usual suspects behind and mylifestylenews have found you a new off beaten track neighborhood to satisfy your hunger in Lai Chi Kok. Indeed Who would have thought……
Laying along Cheug Yee Street, there are mostly industrial areas with a couple of convenience stores and mainly residential. Thanks to the MTR exit D2 for its convenience and as soon as you step out from the exit, low and behold, there is a true hidden gem of a Spanish tavern restaurant across the street which you would not possibly miss. With its rustic Spanish terrace and big glass window to let you have a glimpse what’s going on inside. The touch of Spain awaits you on the doorstep of RUSTICO.
We had our reservation made and ready to step in to find out what the Catalunya chef would make our taste buds salivate at the thought of some authentic Spanish food. It is quite a varied and so affordable at first glance on the menu, plus you have a tapas/sharing selection, as well as appetizers and mains, but you can see that every table is sharing everything they order, whether big or small. With no exception, we are in for quite a ride on the Spanish culinary trail.
We asked the chef to surprise us, so he started off by serving the <Carpaccio de gambas rojas con romesco y vinagreta de anis citric> a Spanish Red Prawns Carpaccio with Romesco sauce, Anise & Citric vinaigrette which was incredibly mouth watering with some beautiful subtle flavours, thanks to the topping ingredients, the Spanish red prawns were so fresh and you wished the plate was bigger. And it was quite a compliment to go with a glass of Zapiain natural apple cider.
The next surprise were the <Baked Piquillo Peppers from Lodosa stuffed with Cod Fish Mousse> on a tomato cream and “Alioli” sauce - a great example of making the fish/vegetable combination taste like the most expensive ingredient on the menu and leave you wondering why you ate everything too quickly, as you want to savour more. The cod fish flavor was delicate enough to also allow the peppers to have a place in the spotlight. This was the second dish where we kept on muttering “WOW” to each other – the menu so far was more than a rustic surprise that was going to keep elevating our expectations moving onto the next dish.
We then segued onto the star of sausages in Spain <Pan Fried La Rioja Chorizo with Basque Cider> served on a bed of caramelized onion accompanied by potatoes and onions. The intense flavor of the mouthwatering chorizo balanced out by the apple cider with a perfect combination of rich and savoury tastes. The plate looked like it had not had any food on it after we finished this dish!
The real test on the agenda was the highlight <Cochinillo iberico a baja temperature con su jugo y patatas panaderas> - the most talked about suckling pig slow cooked with sauce and baked potaoes. According to chef, the sweet sauce is a specialty from Catalunya. We had seen so many other tables ordered this dish and from a distance the skin glistened in perfect colour and crispiness. Have another look up close and personal, it was even better than we expected. The skin and meat were carnivores delight and we could not fault this dish, so we have another helping. This is the kind of Cochinilo you would love to have beside the traditional Segovian style. It is a shame when you come to Rustico without ordering this dish.
After such rich meat, it was time to head back to the sea with a tasty <Gamabs al ajillo>. This prawns al ajillo fried with garlic, chili and extra virgin olive oil is a must order tapas dish in every Spanish tavern without failed. The prawns are fresh and perfectly cooked and we enjoyed this dish a lot with the oil and garlic giving it just that right touch, some extra garlic would have created more of a Spanish taste if they do so.
To follow was a baked whole 700 gram <Mediterranean Sea Bream> in sea salt with a green salad on the sdie. The dish is presented straight out of the oven, hence you get to see a case of salt with hidden treasure inside. This was not a small fish by any means and perfectly moist with a great texture to the flesh. Mind the serving procedure, the wait staff will help you unfold the wrapping of the thick baked sea salt covered on the whole fish after being presented on the table. The thyme adds a hint of freshness while it was baked together to eliminate the fishy smell of any kind and it was the perfect juxtaposition to the suckling pig and an equally sensational dish.
You’d think that we couldn’t possibly fit another morsel into our well fed stomachs, but we had to throw caution to the wind for desserts, as we had spotted another table having the <Churro espanol con helado de vainilla y cream batida de chocolate>- the classic Spanish Churro with vanilla cream & Cocholate mousse, so we had to order this as well as an equally decadent <Mouse de queso con mermelada de frambuesa y crujientes de chocolate blanco> the cheese mouse with raspberry jam & crunchy white chocolate. Pero pero mi, what’s there not to love the Spanish food. The desserts were both fabulous and we had ended up in foodie heaven.
The service from the front of house team was exemplary and with great product knowledge. Nothing seemed too much to ask, carefully explaining every ingredient and which sequence you might like to try the food on the plate, ensuring that you get the right flavor combinations and they never failed in seeking our feedback, but of course, we could only say wonderful things about every minute of our delightful experience. As the expression goes, you’ve “got to take the bull by the horns” and ensure you make tracks for RUSTICO, but if you don’t make a booking in advance, be prepared to fight for a table, as this place is crazy busy every night, as the food truly speaks for itself!
A genuinely exciting night of dining with one surprise after another, that showed how a chef imbues his food with passion and creativity, but never forgetting to let the ingredients speak for themselves with that regional touch of Catalunyan slant. Simple ingredients put together with a deft touch for combining just the right things with each other. A perfect ending to our Spanish sojourn – we haven’t walked the Compostella trail, but maybe we have eaten our way from beginning to end. Once again, a location in Lai Chi Kok for such exquisite dining scene with only a 15 minute MTR ride from Central, who would have thought? And we were told that this neighborhood will gradually be extended with more eateries sooner or later. This” Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” is truly a destination in itself, at least we see the potential.
Tried & Tested:
Design & Decor: 4/5
Food & Beverage: 5/5
Value For Money: 4.5/5
Carpaccio de gambas rojas
Baked Piquillo Peppers
Mediterranean Sea Bream
Pan Fried La Rioja Chorizo
Shop G01, D2 Place
Lai Chi Kok, Hong Kong
Tel:+852 2743 4511
Reviews are based on actual day of visit and experience. mylifestylenews reserves the right of final decision in case of any disputes. All images are photographed by mylifestylenews team without any photoshop enhancement and are the property owned by mylifestylenews unless otherwise stated.