Chef Felipe Lopez from Hunter & The Chase narrates a mid-century Wild West fable, bringing forth an experimental dining concept that aspires to captivate a discerning crowd. Hunter, a contemporary, upscale restaurant with an American flair located on the fourth floor of the L. place, prides itself as a game-meat specialist, while The Chase on the floor below is a casual bistro with a dedicated cheese bar and an iconic terrace encircled by the breathtaking cityscape of Hong Kong. The moral of the story: do your alternative ingredients justice and the reputation will shepherd diners back to the maestro.
We sat down with Executive Chef Felipe Lopez on the day we photographed dishes for the restaurant’s visual menu on Dishtag to learn more about the unusual culinary offerings and vision of this new establishment.
The name Hunter & The Chase is unique. What’s the inspiration behind it?
We associate the hunter and the action of wildlife hunting, a thriving tradition in the history of America, with the wild ingredients we serve here at Hunter & The Chase. Obviously, hunting involves the effort of going out and chasing in order to get animals such as rabbit and bison, much like how we carefully source our ingredients from North America and Australia for the sake of an esoteric dining experience. It’s almost like a lost tradition revived.
There are over 18 types of cheese, all hand-picked by you, at Ralphie’s Cheese Bar – that’s very impressive! Can you share your absolute favourites?
I have to say Sophia is my personal favourite. Sophia is a soft, creamy goat’s cheese separated by ash. It’s made of milk collected at different hours of the day: morning, afternoon and evening. Such layering brings out a slightly different flavour, which contributes to its distinctive texture and sharpness. And it reminds me of the humble folk goat’s cheese at the French restaurant I used to work at while I was studying at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts – Pasadena. So there’s a nostalgic feeling on top of the exceptional taste.
You’ve mentioned that upstairs at Hunter offers different cuts of meat that people don’t find a lot here in Hong Kong. How do you cater for the local preferences while keeping the meat curation unique and exciting?
The key to doing game meats right is to treat them with respect, understand their flavour profile and prepare them with the correct technique. Once customers encounter an unpleasant dining experience involving game meat, the whole idea of it will turn them off completely. At Hunter & The Chase, we offer authentic game-meat dishes that transport daring diners to a singular gastronomic adventure, making sure what they are experiencing here is the same as in Europe and the US.
How do you promote your menus? What role does food photography play for restaurants?
Society has evolved so much in the past 5–10 years, and all sorts of social media has been taking over the media space, of which visual presentation and photography take centre stage. As it is something that we can do instantly, food photography plays a huge role in promoting menus and restaurants nowadays. It is as important as the taste because a lot of the dining decisions come down to how pleasing dishes are to the eyes. That’s why food photos have to be inviting and enticing in order to get food lovers excited to come to try them.
Building on the success of Shore, where do you see Hunter & The Chase in the dynamic culinary scene of Hong Kong?
We are proud to be the pioneer in Hong Kong doing what we do. On one hand, we offer a different dining experience by serving wild ingredients like kangaroo, ostrich and bison, bringing back things people used to eat before the cattle boom. And on the other, we hope to promote artisanal cheese from America. When it comes to cheese from the States, people generally think only of the simple ones. In fact, some dairies in the US do great products, and here at Hunter & The Chase, we hand-pick 18 types to satisfy your cheese cravings.
Surely it’s a bold move to be one of the few in Hong Kong serving such alternative ingredients, but what’s an adventure without a bit of risk? Discover Hunter & The Chase’s special menu now on Dishtag and give this new concept a go.
3/F and 4/F, the L. place, 139 Queen’s Road Central, Central, 2915 1638, book online