Where did this restaurant come from? Beet slipped stealthily onto the scene last month with hardly a whisper, taking over the spot of one of our previous Foodie faves, Le Port Parfumé on Kau U Fong in Sheung Wan. The restaurant has changed but retains the romantic charm of open-fronted street-side dining with rich blue-hued walls, high ceilings and an abundance of space between tables. There’s also a large picture window into the workings of the kitchen helmed by charmingly humble chef Barry Quek.
Under the ownership of Singaporean Randy See of Piccolo and another Kennedy Town stalwart, Bistro du Vin, Randy says his decision to revamp the site – despite Le Port Parfumé’s continued success – was led by meeting Chef Quek, who was quickly convinced by Randy to showcase his skills in Hong Kong. Robuchon-trained Quek combines a mixture of classic and progressive techniques to transform fresh, locally sourced and seasonal ingredients into downright delicious dishes.
Chef Barry Quek
They have softly introduced the restaurant, getting the vibe right and utilising long-standing staff from their other sites where Randy has cultivated a family-style work culture that includes staff breakfasts showcasing delights from every member’s home country, from Danish herring, to Malaysian curry, to maple-syrup-drenched crêpes and pancakes. He has nurtured talent and created a workplace where the staff seem genuinely excited to be there, sharing the fruits of their labour with others. Overall, the concept comes across as clean and simple in both food and decor and is rooted in service. It has a familiar feel to a favourite Vancouver restaurant of ours, AnnaLena, which has long been ranked as one of the top restaurants in Canada.
Beet serves a carefully cultivated wine list with many natural wines from small growers, chosen by Randy himself. He was also savvy enough to recruit the knowledgeable and affable Raphael Holzer as beverage manager. Raphael has created a truly innovative menu of lesser-known spirits and drinks that are a cut above the usual hipster versions. He brings with him his own family brand of fernet, a herbal spirit, called Fernet Hunter – a brand that is unusual for its golden hue and notes of arnica, angelica and lavender.
Original cocktails are in full force, such as the Hunter High, made with Fernet Hunter, soda and mint for a light, crisp and balanced bevvy that’s a great beginner “gateway drink”, as Raphael calls it, to full fernet indoctrination.
The Sunday’s Whisky with soda, lemon and raspberries.
The Marigold Margarita, garnished with locally grown marigold.
The food opener was a delicate potato crisp with kefir cream – part of the Trio of Snacks ($130).
The chicken parfait was a creamy and rich one-bite-wonder and also part of the Trio of Snacks.
I dined with a gluten-free companion, but we let Beet know in advance and they made very kind alterations to their five-course tasting menu for her. My heart went out to her when the aroma of the fresh sourdough ($45) enraptured our noses, but this was soundly settled when her GF-free loaf arrived with its crunchy exterior and crisp white centre that was divine when accompanied by the rich and silky whipped kefir butter.
The hamachi crudo ($210) was a magnificent dish that used raw hamachi from the South China Sea cured with sugar and salt. The fish was accompanied by decadent Kristal caviar in dill sauce with kefir cream and a nectarous note from the sweet Taiwanese peaches.
The porc noir de Bigorre ($360) was a handsome combination that offered both the loin and the belly of this Bordeaux pig that neared extinction in the 80s. We ate it, as recommended, with a small bite of charred radicchio and blackberry with each piece, and these accompaniments perfectly offset the extremely fatty, flavourful pork for a fully gratifying bite with each forkful.
The marigold ice cream ($105) was a inspired ending, with the coconut ice cream and bitter notes of marigold at first surprising the tongue but ultimately meshing well. The dehydrated milk foam provided a nice, crunchy texture.
The brown butter financiers with blueberry jam ($60) came with a fragrant Himalayan tea.
If you love beautifully executed food and drink served in a chic and welcoming atmosphere, you will adore Beet. This is the kind of place you’ll be constantly trying to find new dining companions for in order to show off this little gem. It has a finite menu, so take a relatively open mind along with you when you do go. The food itself is gorgeous, really gorgeous. But with this place, it’s absolutely the people behind the food – and Beet itself – that make it so very special.
Beet has a five-course dinner tasting menu for $690, and they serve lunch Thursday–Saturday (two courses for $190 and three for $245). Closed on Monday.
Shop C, G/F, 6–10 Kau U Fong, Sheung Wan, 2824 3898
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.