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Komune is what we need in the ‘hood. This super-cool spot at hip boutique hotel Ovolo Southside has called in the experts for the launch of the all-day eating and drinking den: cocktails curated by the Cocktail Professor consultancy in Amsterdam, experienced Spanish chef and lifestyle blogger Alvaro Ramos (better known as El Palanca) heading up the kitchen, top DJ Arun R spinning the decks, local fashion brand Grana styling the staff and beauty behemoth MAC outfitting the washrooms with its perfume and skincare products.
The two-level Komune is light, spacious and inviting. There’s also an awesome garden terrace with colourful cushions, cosy corner nooks and space heaters aplenty (and on the day of our tasting, paper leaves fluttering in the breeze).
While we were there for lunch and stayed teetotal, we were quite taken with the cocktail menu and wine list with its tongue-in-cheek descriptions including “What’s a Sommelier?”, “I’ve Heard of a Sommelier”, “I Can Pronounce Sommelier’’ and “I Am a Sommelier”. The coffee hails from Pablo & Rusty’s roasters in Australia and organic teas come courtesy of Pukka.
Chef Ramos has taken his experience cooking in China and his world travels to devise a very creative and unique menu, divided into quirky sections like “I Had a Snaccident” and “I’m Kinda a Big Deal”. All dishes are generous in size and perfect for sharing. It’s also worth noting that around 30 per cent of the menu is vegetarian, vegan or gluten free.
To whet our whistle, we went with the photogenic homemade lemonades ($48), both classic and a green version, made verdant with the addition of a hefty amount of basil and cucumber. Aren’t those rose-gold glasses divine? Props to the matching metal straw too.
The “classic Russian salad” with crab and salmon roe ($98) – Komune’s quotes, as some liberties have been taken with the classic recipe – gave us waves of different flavours with each bite, from the salty, savoury pops of the salmon roe, to the sweet crab chunks, to the creamy potato base.
Next up, the 21st century deconstructed tortilla ($90) – though difficult to photograph and make it look as good as it tasted – was another winner. We lapped up the layers of rich and luxurious caramelised onions, egg foam, potato foam and truffle oil.
This oversized citrus juicer (hipster to the max) was home to a very pretty hamachi served in Peruvian tiradito style ($68). This dish was akin to ceviche made with thick slices of yellowtail, drenched in an authentic tiger’s milk marinade and kicked up a notch with fiery chillies, sweet mango, avocado cream and crunchy corn nuts. The textures and flavours here packed a wallop.
The sexy creamy croquettes ($80) – someone needs to come up with a less cringy name, stat – were naughty but delicious deep-fried parcels filled with a, yes, dreamy oxtail and truffle concoction. Take that, ham croquettes!
Though the clams, chorizo and sake ($88) were on the salty side, we really dug the intermingling of East-meets-West flavours here. The chorizo in particular was a standout ingredient.
All the above dishes were worthy precursors to our giant of a main: Sichuan-style slow-cooked short ribs ($368). This dish is big enough to serve 2–3 people depending on what else you order, and we noticed that just about every table in the joint was tucking into one of their own (word gets around fast in these parts). These ribs hit the jackpot of sweet, smoky and spicy that’s the calling card of the best barbecue around the world. Sure, they’re on on the (very) fatty side, but you can atone later.
The HK-style eggettes with a happy surprise ($65) were the only letdown for us. The eggettes themselves were pretty much bog-standard versions of the gai dan zai found around town. We’ll leave you to discover the “surprise” element for yourself, but it didn’t have the wow factor for us. The accompanying homemade dulce de leche, however, was good enough to eat with a spoon.
Chef Ramos saved the best for last with his liquid cheesecake ($65), which took three months of trial and error in order to perfect the wobbly texture and molten core. We should warn those readers who are fans of sweet NY-style cheesecake that you may be disappointed, but for us – who consider the cheeseboard the be-all and end-all of a meal – we found this much more savoury version made with blue and Camembert cheeses a masterpiece.
Go there for latte and hipster toast from 6:30am. Go there for an after-work Chinese Ink cocktail on the terrace as the sun sets. Just go. We loved Chef Ramos’ playful ingenuity in terms of his cuisine and kitsch plating, the staff’s friendly and switched-on approach and the welcoming space. On a midweek lunchtime, Komune was completely full, so it’s worth booking in advance.
Lobby and 4/F, Ovolo Southside, 64 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang, 3460 8157
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.