Tai Hang was earmarked as the hottest up-and-coming neighbourhood in the early part of this decade, although steep rent increases stifled quite a few of the local businesses over the years, so it has never reached that full, feverish potential that was so anticipated. So although things went a bit quiet, for those in the know there has been a slow-burning rise of eateries that have endured and gained a loyal following.
The latest amongst them is headed by a proven forecaster of promising ‘hoods, setting up Catch and then Mama Malouf in Kennedy Town just as it was becoming cool and was no longer considered too far to go for a good meal. Alex Malouf’s establishments are known for their affordable fare and friendly atmosphere, which come second nature to this affable guy who grew up in restaurants with chefs for parents. His restaurants do well because they feel familiar and welcoming and serve good food at good prices. And we suspect his latest, Elementary, with a simple no-concept concept, will do just the same.
Despite having just opened, the restaurant was full, probably helped somewhat by the fact that they are awaiting their licence and thus offering free BYO. But the welcoming vibe helps, and it already has the feel of a popular community hang-out. The restaurant is small and intimate, with entomology artwork framed on the walls, plenty of no-nonsense polished concrete and a long, train-station-style wooden curving booth along one wall. Malouf’s got a new head chef, Lewis Dai, formerly of Bread & Beast and Blue, and he’s serving up a menu characterised by light, medium and hearty bites for whichever level of appetite you find yourself.
Here’s a look at some of the dishes we tucked into:
Fried cauliflower, almond milk, toasted almond flakes, poppy seeds, ranch ($88)
Burrata with pink peppercorn, curry-leaf-infused honey, stone fruit and bee pollen ($98)
Fries, oxtail gravy, Stilton, soft egg ($148)
Pasta of the day: crab orecchiette (market price)
Roasted chicken, lentils, salsa verde, crème fraiche ($188)
We were excited by the looks of the quinoa beetroot burger with Gruyère and the kalbi-braised short rib, and were intrigued by the grilled duck heart kebabs, so we might just have to make our way back to this mellow ‘hood to check those out too.
15–16 School Street, Tai Hang, 2362 2812
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.
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