What's a common dilemma of HK diners? It's certainly not the lack of eateries at our disposal; with about one restaurant for every 600 people (and probably more since that article has last been updated), we're completely saturated with choice. Maybe it's the want for something a bit out of the ordinary, yet still casual, intimate and low-key (but not as intimate and low-key as sitting in your underwear devouring a takeaway) but also customisable to your own tastes?
Enter PlateCulture. Think Airbnb but with food and private kitchens. Local chefs and homeowners with a flair for the culinary sign up on their website, create their own menus and submit an application to become a host within the PlateCulture platform. Once selected, they can start setting their own hosting schedules and opening up their kitchens to guests. Diners can browse through different hosts, scope out their offerings and homes and request meals based on their preferred dates.
We were invited to sample one of the more popular private kitchens on PlateCulture, Award-Winning Italian Delicacies by Lana Oliveiro, an experienced chef with Uno Duo Trio restaurant (RIP) under her belt. Lana's home is centrally located in Causeway Bay, and she and her three cats played welcoming hosts to our diverse party of five, as well as another couple that had booked dinner for the same night. Our first glance at the Midsummer Night's menu was enough to elicit 'oohs' and 'aahs' from us at the Foodie team, so suffice it to say, we were looking forward to what this award-winning home chef had up her sleeves.
Scallop salad and black truffle garlic bread
Bagna càuda salad
Scrambled eggs with black truffle
We started off ambitiously with scallop salad and black truffle garlic bread, and the compelling aroma lingered with us long after we'd moved on to our bagna càuda salad, drizzled in warm bagna càuda, a buttery, garlicky anchovy sauce from Piedmont. The scrambled eggs were a solid hit, fluffy and runny, and topped with just the right amount of black truffle to give the dish an earthy bite.
Pappardelle al ragu
Crispy pork crackling with baby vegetables
Cooked in a Parmesan wheel, the next course was not only a visual, but also a flavourful, delight. We watched Lana prepare her signature pappardelle al ragu, and it came out piping hot and al dente, just the way it should be. Her crispy pork crackling was a textural dream.
A standout factor in Lana's home, as with most hosts on PlateCulture, is that her approach to hosting her dinners is completely personalised; from the pick-up method to the plating of the dishes to the kinds of quirky tableware used to serve the food, as well as the small oddities of the household, no PlateCulture host is like another. We loved the attentive and individualised approach to our dinner; nothing was too impeccable or polished and everything has a rustic and homey charm to it. If you're searching for more than just the standard dining experience, and looking to meet new people just as passionate about food as you are, PlateCulture's network of private kitchens and rotating hosts and menus is only a few curious clicks away. Everyone brings their own extraordinary cultural (and culinary) backgrounds and expertise to the table, from Middle Eastern, French and fusion to more obscure Romanian and Polish. There's something for everyone, especially those hankering for a tasty adventure.