Besides getting a great workout and taking in the sweeping views over Hong Kong Island, there’s now another reason to scale one of the island’s most visited tourist spots. Rajasthan Rifles is the first foray to The Peak by Black Sheep Restaurant Group, whose diverse and delicious portfolio includes BELON, New Punjab Club, Ho Lee Fook, Le Garçon Saigon, Carbone, Fukuro and Taqueria Super Macho (just to name a few!).
The menu at Rajasthan Rifles centres around Anglo-Indian cuisine, which first appeared during precarious political times. It was during the 1920s when the British Indian Army began accepting officers of Indian heritage, and it was in the great mess halls that this delicate political union bloomed into bold flavour combinations.
The brick-lined venue has all the echos of colonial British India, and the attention to detail is even reflected in the military garb of the staff. Named after the most elite rifle regiment of the Indian Army, revered for its bravery and skill, Rajasthan Rifles now takes aim at this unique merging of cuisines, brought together by the perils of politics.
Although located in a densely touristy area, the restaurant hopes to become a neighbourhood hang-out. Anyone living on Stubbs Road or above can become a member of the Rajasthan Rifles Peak Society (email email@example.com), which offers exclusive perks on table bookings at any time of the day. For non-members, bookings are only accepted at dinnertime.
The menu is created by Executive Chef Palash Mitra (Foodie Forks 2019 Readers’ Choice Best Chef), who is also the man behind one-Michelin-starred New Punjab Club. There are some similarities between the two restaurants, but Rajasthan Rifles differs with its Anglo-Indian twist and more casual, pared-down menu.
Our tasting began with cool, refreshing glasses of gin cocktails, one of which reminded us of a creamsicle (the menu was not set in stone at the time, so we will have to revisit to confirm the cocktail names).
The crowd-pleaser that is the keema anda pau ($128) was the first to arrive at our table. Fluffy milk buns served alongside slow-cooked mutton topped with shaved boiled egg, the dish is meant to be constructed and eaten like a sloppy joe and is wildly popular in mess halls from London to Ludhiana. We loved this dish at New Punjab Club, and we love it now at Rajasthan Rifles. The two share similar flavour profiles, but we found the lamb more finely minced in the Rajasthan Rifles version.
Where there is Indian food, there must be chutney. Our favourite of the chutney assortment ($48) was the sweet fig.
The plump, flaky triangles of samosa ($78 for 3) were filled with addictively aromatic potatoes and peas and paired beautifully with the tamarind chutney accompaniment.
A perfect example of Anglo-Indian cuisine, the Rajasthan Rifles club sandwich ($148) is a whopping deck of powerful flavours. With soft white bread as its foundation, piled high with chicken tikka, celery, white sauce, masala omelette, tomato chutney and Cheddar, this seriously flavourful sandwich will ruin regular club sandwiches for you forever – it’s hard to go back when you’ve had the spiced omelette and chicken as alternatives! Hot, crisp, chunky chips make this dish the perfect indulgent lunch.
We weren’t thrilled when we first heard that goat was on the menu – we’re not fans of intensely gamy flavours – but the goat seekh kebab ($228), seasoned with green chilli and cumin and loaded with Cheddar cheese, really surprised us with its delicious, bold flavours. The minced meat kebab was flash-grilled in the tandoor for extra flavour, then served with cabbage kachumber and a cooling mint chutney.
The hero of the meal was the soola salmon sizzler ($278), which arrived with a very festive sizzle on a hot iron plate. We guessed this dish meant serious business from the aromatic smell wafting off the plate, and we knew our assumption was correct as soon as we scooped up the plump flakes of well-marinated fish that was also incredibly buttery and tender.
A classic favourite, the butter chicken ($178), made with braised chicken tikka, tomato and butter, did not disappoint. The laccha paratha ($48), which reminded us of a Chinese spring onion pancake, was the perfect vessel to mop up the addictive sauce.
Pedro vindaloo ($228), based on a recipe from Goa using prawns, white wine vinegar and garlic, was the most fiery dish of our tasting. The spicy dish burned, but then we went back for more delicious pain – and seconds and thirds.
We could only capture the immense side-dish bounties of our feast with a group photo. The dum aloo gunpowder ($98), named to commemorate the front-line boys who enlivened their boiled-potato rations with aromatic crushed lentil powder mixed with spices, was deliciously flavourful. The dal Rifleswala ($108), made with slow-cooked lentils smoked over charcoal, paired well with the butter naan ($38), but our favourite has to be the clubwala palak ($158), a dish of creamed spinach with garlic, onion and tomato masala. Although not the most photogenic dish, the spice profile made this plate our favourite.
The “company special” lamb biryani ($298) was a one-pot wonder of aged basmati rice flavoured with mint and saffron, topped with spice-infused lamb shoulder and ribs.
And, finally, the lemon posset ($78) was just the right amount of light, tart finish we needed to cap off an utterly delicious feast.
Many say that ambience is just as important as the actual food at a restaurant, and we think that Rajasthan Rifles gets perfect scores in both respects. The expert storytelling that has spun a colonial background into the eatery’s nostalgic menu makes for an unforgettable dining experience. We like that the restaurant will be open from breakfast through dinner and is casual yet interesting enough for both brekkie and lunchtime hikers and dinner guests. We’ll definitely be back for more, especially that salmon sizzler!
Shop G01, G/F, Peak Galleria, 118 Peak Road, The Peak, 2388 8874
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.
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