While French and Italian restaurants are the most popular non-Asian choices in Hong Kong, when was the last time you had a taste of Central Europe? With the latest opening of Schnitzel & Schnaps on Hollywood Road, this is a unique spot to try for a night out. Founded by Polish restaurateur and chef Krzysztof Bandel, this niche restaurant covers the Central European cuisines of Austria, Germany and Poland.
The bar faces the busiest (not to mention loudest) section of Hollywood Road. Gold lighting and polished tables give off the vibe of a traditional European brasserie.
The dining room is quiet, decorated in dark wood, antique panels and mirrors.
Cocktails and schnap(p)s
An extensive selection of dry and sweet schnaps is served here – the largest collection of schnaps in Hong Kong, in fact. Schnaps is a clear, distilled brandy with fruity flavours including pear, apricot, apple, plum and cherry.
Several easy-drinking cocktails are also on offer. Silk Road (HK$85) takes an East-meets-West approach to schnaps. It’s a light, fruity cocktail containing Sichuan pepper-infused schaps complemented by pineapple and grapefruit juices.
Specht Williams Christ Birne (HK$40) is on the drier end of the drink spectrum. This schnaps smells of pear, but its taste isn’t sweet, making it a great post-prandial tipple.
Wódka-cured salmon (HK$88) uses Polish vodka, sugar, vinegar and lemon zest to cure Scottish salmon, garnished with traditional dill cream, shredded radish salad and toasted sourdough. It’s a simple but fresh dish to start.
Then there’s the heartier, carb-focused Eastern salad (HK$65), a family-style salad of egg, potato, carrot, celeriac root and parsley mixed with homemade mayo.
Of course, the schnitzel is generous in portion here and perfect for sharing! With five different types of schnitzel on offer, Chef Bandel coats the meat with breadcrumbs made from dried German kaiser rolls mixed with herbs. The schnitzel is kept traditional, with the meat cutlets pounded down thinly before being breaded, pan-fried and served with authentic condiments.
The Wiener schnitzel (HK$350) is the signature dish. This Viennese-style schnitzel uses milk-fed veal that’s pan-fried with clarified butter. It’s garnished with lemon for some freshness and acidity, while anchovies and capers add saltiness to each bite and parsley provides earthiness. Cranberry sauce comes on the side for a hint of sweetness.
The schnitzel á la Holstein (HK$280) originates from Berlin-based restaurant Borchardt and is dedicated to famous German statesman Friedrich von Holstein. The porkchop is fried in lard and topped with a sunny-side-up egg, accompanied by shredded red cabbage and caper butter. I wasn’t a fan of adding extra butter to this already heavy dish, but I loved eating the cutlet with the fresh red cabbage and creamy egg yolk.
For vegetarians, the celeriac schnitzel (HK$180) has been created and is just as comforting as the real-deal schnitzel. Thick-cut celery root is salt-poached and stuffed with Parmesan, mozzarella and Emmental cheeses before being coated with black truffle paste and pan-fried, adorned with spears of tender jumbo asparagus. So well executed!
For sides, I recommend getting either (or both!) the potato rösti (HK$75) and spaetzle mac and cheese (HK$75). Withe the rösti, potato is thinly shredded using a mandolin, then the potato pancake is baked till its golden brown with a soft centre. The rösti comes topped with sour cream and applesauce – a classic flavour combination.
The mac and cheese uses egg noodle pasta and a three-cheese combo of Emmental, Parmesan and mozzarella. This is one of the most savoury, comforting (and rich!) dishes I’ve had in awhile.
Besides schnitzel, the authentic sausage selection deserves a look-in. For larger groups, you won’t regret ordering the sausage platter (HK$388), which features four different types of sausage from around Central and Eastern Europe – smoky Vienna Spiral from Austria, Munich Bratwurst and Nürnberger Rostbratwurst Spiral from Germany and Silesian Kielbasa from Poland – coming together in one protein-heavy plate.
All sausages ordered individually are priced at HK$164 and come with cabbage slaw, sauerkraut and potato salad.
If you’ve still got room for dessert, this is the perfect opportunity to try some sweeter traditional dishes such as the Kaiserschmarrn (HK$98). Also known as emperor’s pancake, this Austrian dessert showcases fluffy pancakes that are caramelised with sugar, then dusted with icing sugar and topped with a dollop of whipped mascarpone cream and a layer of tart mixed berry compote.
The Black Forest trifle (HK$78) isn’t as rich as is looks. Pieces of dark chocolate cake are layered with vanilla whipped cream and dark cherries, which cut through most of the sweetness. I love how fluffy this dessert is – ironically, it’s the lightest of the bunch.
Classic apple strudel (HK$120) is one of my favourites, made here with a dough that includes sour cream. This dessert isn’t overloaded with sugar, and the thin, delicate pastry is cooked to a crispy golden brown on the outside.
Schnitzel & Schnaps has found its competitive niche in Hong Kong, placing the spotlight on the cuisines of Central Europe. Sticking to traditional cooking methods, it’s an approachable, laid-back restaurant that serves some of the heartiest and most comforting dishes I’ve tried around town. Schnitzel & Schnaps is great for groups and super affordable in terms of the portion sizes. I’m not a fan of sitting downstairs (the bar is too loud for my taste), but booking a table in the dining room is highly recommended.
Where: G/F, C Wisdom Center, 35 Hollywood Road, Central
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.