Recently open in Central is The Lounge at ZEST by Konishi (with ZEST being the fine-dining restaurant that’s open one floor below the bar). The acclaimed chef behind it is Mitsuru Konishi, whose accomplished history includes being the executive chef of Wagyu Takumi, where he earned two Michelin stars in 2014. The Lounge is his first foray into more casual cooking.
Partnering with Chef Konishi is fun-loving and knowledgeable bar manager Jonny Amir, who has put together quite the cocktail list (all cocktails are $138). Of the ones I tried, my favourites were Quinine and Voyage.
Quinine: this beautiful cocktail is light and refreshing with a velvety texture. In addition to Spanish gin tonica, there’s white peach liqueur, white port and burnt honey. Inside the glass is also some hibiscus ice, so the colour and flavour of the drink change slightly as the ice melts.
Voyage: this one is for those who love a strong drink with a twist. There are sweet, sour and smoky notes from the hibiscus-infused mezcal along with creamy vanilla accents from the Weller bourbon. Some Italian Barolo Chinato Marolo liqueur adds that something extra. While the drink alone is rich and delicious, it also comes topped with a thick chocolate shell and is dusted with matcha powder.
The bar food
Complementing the elegant drinks are some interesting bites. They range from pure comfort, such as the Wagyu mini burgers and fries ($110) and chicken karaage ($175), to the elegant pan con tomate ($88).
The kitchen is small, but the bites are very well prepared. I’d happily reorder any of these dishes, though if I had to pick a favourite, it’d be the shrimp and guacamole pan con tomate. Each ingredient was fresh and delightful, and the bread was so airy.
The lunch menu
I returned to The Lounge at ZEST by Konishi to try the newly launched lunch menu (Monday–Saturday, 12–5pm). My colleague and I made our way over from Causeway Bay and enjoyed a little break from the hustle of office life – it’s hard not to relax with such great views!
Grilled miso black cod bento
Grilled ginger and soy eggplant bento
Chef Konishi continues his foray into more casual cuisine at The Lounge by offering some homey lunch specials and bento boxes (we’re told they’re reminiscent of the chef’s childhood). The menu has many tempting dishes such as beef short ribs with udon ($158) and the classic hamburger steak with fried egg and mushroom sauce ($188). But we opted to go a little lighter with the grilled eggplant brushed with ginger and soy glaze ($148) and the grilled miso black cod ($218). Note that all mains are served with side dishes, salad and pickles, as well as a daily dessert.
Overall I felt the meal did live up to the “childhood” claim; the flavours were very authentic, especially in the side dishes. The glaze on the cod and its overall texture was lovely, while the caramelised aubergine was a tad too sweet for me, though the crisped rice on top was a nice touch.
The Lounge at ZEST by Konishi is wonderfully elegant. It’s a unique gem in Central having all the key ingredients: sophisticated drinks, interesting bar bites, classy surroundings, city (and sunset) views and a solid price point. I’d definitely recommend it for lunch with friends too (even if you’re coming from outside Central as we were). Give it a try before it becomes hard to get a table.
29/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central, 2715 0878
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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