Beyond the bustling streets of Central, Hong Kong‘s Western District is an abundance of local culture, from temples to shops selling all kinds of Buddhist crafts and bamboo furniture. However, what makes it special is how Western culture manages to blend in without seeming out of place.
Located on quaint Second Street in Sai Ying Pun, Second Street Comfort Food & Bar is a great example of this seamless union of East and West, old and new. With a simplistic interior with wallpaper depicting the area a decade ago and views of the street facing old apartment blocks, it probably doesn‘t sound like how you’d imagine a restaurant serving Western comfort food. However, it IS a place where you can have a pint or cocktail and some snacks with a mate in an environment oozing with local culture and not feel the slightest bit of incongruity.
The bitter balls ($80), beef croquettes from the Netherlands, were up first. With a light but crisp coating, they didn‘t feel as greasy as many other comfort foods do. The slow-cooked beef ragout filling was delectably creamy but not the slightest bit heavy. According to people who have lived in the Netherlands, this dish is completely authentic.
Similarly, the fried calamari ($98) had a light batter and was well seasoned, matching the mayonnaise really well. In fact, the mayo made it a bit more refreshing, just as it did for the bitter balls.
After the deep-fried bites, we had the eggplant salad with goat‘s cheese ($98) before moving on to the tomato-based dishes. The salad, with roasted aubergine, pepper, onion and honey balsamic, was refreshing, and the goat‘s cheese did not have an overwhelmingly strong taste.
A distant cousin of the bitter balls, the beef meatballs ($98) in tomato-basil sauce with shaved Parmesan cheese were also great, with the meatballs having a smooth texture and the tomato sauce a perfect balance between sweet and sour. I personally preferred the bitter balls, but for a long night of drinks, I suppose these meatballs would be a better choice since they‘re lighter.
Before transitioning to the main courses, we sampled both kinds of flatbread. The pepperoni flatbread ($98) had a tomato base and was topped with Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. After the meatballs, I expected no less from this flatbread, which certainly delivered. We then tried the mushroom and truffle flatbread ($98), also topped with Parmesan and mozzarella. This flatbread was exquisite, with the truffle light enough for us to taste the mushrooms and cheese.
Moving on to the main courses, we tried the pastas first. The linguine with clams ($138), garlic and parsley was impressive, with the linguine cooked to al dente and the clams fresh (without a single grain of sand!). The spaghetti carbonara ($138) was a bit more heavy, as it should be, and was one of the better spaghetti carbonaras I‘ve had in Hong Kong.
While we were joking about how we were nearly full up, the sharing mains arrived. Seeing the baked whole sea bass ($188) and roast black pepper pork ribs ($188), we tossed jokes aside and dug in. The sea bass was fresh from the wet market a stone‘s throw away, and it went extremely well with the garlic and house-made pesto breadcrumbs. The meat was tender and sweet, matching the pesto breadcrumbs‘ crunch and garlicky saltiness. The pork ribs were hearty and flavourful, with a fair portion of meat on each rib. They had us licking our fingers, although I prefer my ribs a little softer.
Now, I‘m one of those people with a separate stomach for desserts, so I was excited to try the vanilla panna cotta ($58) and tiramisu ($58). The panna cotta was fragrant and light, which made it a good match for the salted caramel and cinnamon crumble garnishes. On the other hand, the tiramisu was richer, made with three kinds of alcohol – Kahlúa (coffee-flavoured liqueur), brandy and amaretto (Italian almond-flavoured liqueur) – and was smooth and slightly spongy.
All-day happy hour (12:30–9pm)
- $40 per bottled beer
- $48 per draught beer, house red and white wines, rosé, all house spirits
Tuesday–Friday lunch menu (12:30–3pm)
- $78 per main course
- $10 for each extra item (soup, salad, dessert or coffee)
Saturday, Sunday and public holidays brunch menu (11am–5pm)
- $98 per main course
- $148 per main course with cocktail pairing
Second Street is a lovely place for a relaxing night out, with great drinks, food and atmosphere, ticking all the boxes for us. Although the main courses were absolutely delectable, the starters stole the show. Chef Daimon Corbett, who has cooked for royalty in the United Kingdom – with 28 years‘ worth of international experience under his belt – has aimed to create “a restaurant where guests feel they get great cuisine and great value in equal measures”. Well, I‘d say he has succeeded in spades.
Shop 9–10, G/F, Island Crest, Second Street, Sai Ying Pun, 2503 3325
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.