What’s new? Chef Maria’s beautiful private kitchen space in Wong Chuk Hang has recently opened its doors to weekday lunch diners, giving us a great opportunity to sample the chef’s delicious Middle Eastern dishes without committing to a large-scale dinner party or private event.
The vibe: Long wooden communal tables dominate the minimalistic, white-accented space, with pops of colour from the statement flower arrangements displayed throughout. There’s a spacious, greenery-filled al fresco terrace to boot, perfect for a long, leisurely lunch when the weather’s cooperating. It’s the hidden gem of this frankly quite grotty industrial building.
The food: The lunch menu changes biweekly, with certain signature dishes staying put each week. Though the Wagyu beef burger and chipotle- and coffee-marinated pulled pork sliders were tempting, we played it safe with the dishes that have made Chef Maria popular with event planners around town.
We began with a mezze sharing platter ($55): chunky, smoky baba ganoush dotted with pomegranate jewels; lemon- and herb-accented feta cubes; piquant olives drenched in olive oil and herbs. This is our favourite way to eat, mixing and matching a blend of ingredients and tastes. The only slight letdown was the accompanying basket of homemade Turkish bread, which was drier than we had hoped.
Eggplant made another appearance in a sensational soup (just $40 for a big, deep bowl). This may have been our favourite dish of the lunch; the chilli, cumin and flecks of feta brought a depth of flavour to this soul-warming soup.
Pomegranate’s herb salad ($90), topped with wedges of squeaky pan-fried halloumi (+$25), provided fresh, clean flavours from the rocket, coriander and mint, with the cherry tomatoes giving pops of sweetness for balance.
Moving on to the more substantial plates, Middle Eastern comfort food seemed to be the theme. Tunisian shakshouka ($95), that brunch staple, featured silky, runny eggs poached in a ramekin, bathed in a punchy tomato-based sauce that was heavy on the eggplant once again. This would make a bright start to anyone’s day.
The herbed meatballs with broad beans in a pomegranate molasses jus ($100) was another winner. The meatballs, heady with herbs and spices including the unique addition of cinnamon, were soft pillows atop a bed of lush Parmesan mash – meat and potatoes at its best.
We also sampled two daily desserts ($45) – pumpkin and pear tarts – and while perfectly tasty, they paled in comparison to the savoury dishes.
Two- and three-course set lunch menus ($130 or $168 per person) are also available.
Verdict: If you live or work in the area, you should thank your lucky stars for such a delightful, healthy, affordable lunch option. And with the new Wong Chuk Hang MTR station set to open next month, Pomegranate Kitchen could definitely become a weekday lunch destination for non-locals as well.
4/F, Sing Teck Factory Building, 44 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, 2580 0663