SAAM is a “small space with a big heart where memories, experiences and inspirations of a culinary journey around the globe” is shared through Executive Chef, Partick Dang’s cooking. The name, which literally means “together” in Afrikaans, aims to converge diners with dishes cooked through modern culinary technologies such as sonic prep and refrigerated centrifuge. These fancy equipments help enhance the flavours of ingredients without any chemical additives. For instance, the sonic prep uses ultrasonic energy to extract flavours and hhomogenise liquids to create SAAM’s pink peppercorn-infused pineapple juice. But forget the sci-fi, how does the food taste?
Libations, Darling: We started our meal with a curious savoury cocktail called “Parmesan” ($120) made up of parmesan infused vodka, roasted tomato water, oregano and olives. The booze reminded us of “pizza in a glass” and is somewhat of an acquired taste. Next, we sipped a more predictable Banana Nut ($110), a easy blend of banana infused white rum, coconut ice ball and lime.
Main Event: To start, we munched on the highly recommended beef tartare “Gung Nam” style ($88), which arrived as dollops of raw medium minced beef mixed with pear kimchi, sesame, and shiso over bite-size rice crackers. One of our favourite ways of eating raw beef is a la mode Korean, as the crisp pear gave the rich meat a light zesty edge. Next, came a light dish of diver scallops ($138) with accents of sunchoke, brussel sprouts and pancetta. We adored the creamy sunchoke puree but found the scallops a blush overcooked. Moving on to the mains, we first indulged in a wintery dish of handcut pappardelle ($228) smothered in pork cheek ragout, hot spring egg and reggiano before concluding with the John Dory medallions ($388) wrapped in lettuce, served over cauliflower puree, and accented with raisins and capers. The pasta was rich and velvety, and beautifully al dente, while the fish was a tad too dry and overcooked for our taste.
Verdict: Several of the dishes on the menu, such as the chicken made in two ways, and the diver scallops, reminded us of the menu at Cocotte’s, where Chef Dang was prior to opening SAAM. We liked the casual atmosphere of the 24-seater SAAM, although we were not blown away by the flavours. As the restaurant is still extremely young, we are keen to see how the menu and concept blossoms in the coming months.
51 Graham Street, Soho, Central, Hong Kong, 2645 9828 / http://www.saamhk.com/