Earlier this year, Vietnam-born, NYC-raised Que Vinh Dang opened his new restaurant, Nhậu, and we couldn’t be more excited about it.
We first fell in love with Chef Dang’s creative cuisine when we bit into one of his imaginative macarons at the end of a tasting menu at TBLS, before venturing into the more formal Quest restaurant in Wanchai. He has mentored many young talent, most notably May Chow of Little Bao/Happy Paradise fame.
Since the closure of Quest more than two years ago, Chef Dang has taken time to reflect on what he wants as an chef and restaurateur, especially in a fickle dining scene like Hong Kong’s. Nhậu is a homecoming for the chef, a return to salt-of-the-earth, wholesome Vietnamese cuisine – cooking that feels the most natural to him – but with a modern, laid-back ambience.
The new restaurant has a neighbourhood feel, located in a quiet enclave called Circular Path, a stone’s throw away from touristy Cat Alley and busy Queen’s Road Central and Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan. Tucked away in this quiet area is a magical little corner where Chef Dang has opened not only a restaurant but, in the future, a bottle shop diagonally across from the main venue. Diners will be able to go back and forth between the two spaces, with the small street acting as a hang-out. It’s deemed to be not just a restaurant, but an entire lifestyle concept.
The meaning of Nhậu translates to ”together” and means ”food meant for drinking” in Vietnam, so we can think of Nhậu as a Vietnamese sibling to a Japanese izakaya. Without exception, the dishes we sampled were innovative, nuanced and packed with flavour.
Top tip: don’t leave without ordering the house-brewed açai kombucha.
Hamachi bowl ($180)
Beef banh mi rice tacos ($120 for 3)
Roasted cauliflower with caramelised pork kho quet ($140)
Grilled fish-salt-cured whole spring chicken ($220)
Sweetcorn ice cream with coconut mochi and crispy tapioca ($140)
Chef Dang has returned to his Vietnamese roots with the cuisine at Nhậu albeit with tons of innovation. He’s gone for a casual approach to the delicious dishes showcased, but they all use fine-dining techniques honed from his many years of experience. Each element in each dish is painstakingly made from scratch – even the sriracha and trio of nuoc cham sauces (standard, citrus and mint varieties) are made in-house. We’re also impressed with the number of plant-based dishes on Nhậu’s succinct menu. Some are purely veggie based, and others can be made vegan or vegetarian upon request. Chef Dang has even tracked down a phenomenal-tasting vegetarian fish sauce that’s made from pineapple! The chef has put his whole heart and soul into Nhậu, and this
passion makes the restaurant a standout.
12 Circular Path, Sheung Wan, 3612 4568
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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