Of all the cities in Asia, Hong Kong is renowned for the extensive variety of dining-out options available. With this in mind, I think a restaurant must really stand out if someone visits it more than twice. This could be for many reasons – the food, the service, one particularly special experience or all of the above. The Optimist is such a restaurant for me. I’ve been a number of times with friends and also wrote about their all-day menu for Foodie last year. This Spanish spot in Wanchai manages to be stylish yet homey, both with regards to the decor and the food. Whenever I visit, I know the food is going to be good and consistent.
Recently, they‘ve incorporated some new items onto their menu. Here are some thoughts on a sampling of them:
Andulasian cazón en adobo ($170)
I’ve tried many types of fried fish before, including cod, whitebait and halibut. This was my first time eating fried swordfish. The thinly breaded nuggets were very soft and juicy, more so than any other fried fish I’ve had before. The portion was quite generous, and the lime mayonnaise was a nice, summery touch.
Seared Hokkaido scallops ($190)
These scallops were beautifully presented in their shells. They were perfectly cooked, and the smooth lemon butter sauce and crunchy pieces of leek complemented the sweet scallop meat. One thing I love about scallops is the jammy caramelisation that results from being seared lightly; these scallops had this.
Main Course and Sides
Iberican pork chop ($310)
We loved the flavour of this pork, which was cooked to medium. It had good heft without being too rich. A sprinkling of fat salt flakes was all that was needed as seasoning. The rustic potatoes served alongside the pork are an Optimist classic: thick cut, crisp and very moreish.
BBQ cauliflower ($68)
The cauliflower florets were large and crunchy, coated in an fragrant BBQ seasoning. While this dish was tasty enough, we would have preferred it if the cauliflower itself had been barbecued first and then softened in a pan. However, the pickled onion slices and aioli were delicious.
La Piña ($90)
With a meat- and seafood-focused meal, it was nice to end on a fresh note. I don’t usually enjoy cooked fruit, but I make an exception for pineapple. These large grilled slices were caramelised with a kaffir lime sauce and served with coconut ice cream and pistachio crumbs: a perfect, simple dessert.
It’s nice to see The Optimist experimenting with new dishes while remaining true to its philosophy of offering fresh seafood, grilled prime meat cuts and sharing dishes. Those who want to try as many dishes as possible while sticking to a budget could opt for one of their new tasting menus (from $520/person). The Classic menu includes three starters, two sharing plates, a main course and a dessert for $520 per person. The Northern Grill menu includes three starters, two meat sharing plates, Australian Angus Tomahawk for the main course and a dessert for $620 per person.
239 Hennessy Road, Wanchai, 2433 3324
This post also appears on jenniexplores.com