It’s the year 2019. By now, everyone who holds a torch in Hong Kong’s bustling dining scene has heard of Pirata Group. This September, they are celebrating their fifth anniversary and have planned a series of special events and meals to thank the guests and supporters who have seen them grow from a single restaurant back in 2014 to a diverse group with 15 venues. Three of these events were collaborations between their restaurants that ran only for a couple of days.
The Son-Phan menu collaboration between Madame Ching and TokyoLima
I was invited to sample the special menu born out of a collaboration between Chef Bikash Dewan of MEATS and Chef Antoni Bernabeau Roig of The Optimist. The meal was an extensive eight-course tasting menu ($350/person), with dishes inspired by both restaurants.
Unfortunately, all three special collaborations have now concluded, but don’t despair – there’s a party at Chaiwala on Saturday, 28 September 2019 from 11pm–3am that’s sure to be lit.
The meal was held at MEATS
Although you can no longer enjoy the tasting menu that is the product of MEATS and The Optimist, my editor has insisted that I rub that fact in your faces by describing the dishes in violent and graphic detail (you’re welcome).
MEATS x The Optimist highlights
The paella with roasted garlic aioli and presa Duroc was my favourite dish of the night. It was as a classic dish should be: reliable and predictable. Ladles of chicken stock were reduced and absorbed by the hardy rice again and again until a deep and complex flavour developed in the paella. The rice was perfectly cooked, not too soggy and not undercooked. Slices and chunks of seared Duroc pork dotted the dish, reminding us that this was a paella from the hills and mountains, not the sea.
We started with the croquettes with Iberian ham, piquillo pepper and lemon gel, which were fantastic. The outer layer was crunchy and thin, giving contrast to the rich and savoury ham filling inside. The sauce brought a bit of heat and acidity to the croquettes, helping to enhance that wonderful cured-meat fragrance.
The snapper with cuttlefish, cauliflower purée and green mojo threw me off a bit. On first glance, it seemed like a pretty standard fish dish. All the elements were there: pan-seared fillet of fish, some sort of sauce and dressing. What really surprised me was the addition of cuttlefish on the plate. The squeak and snap of the cuttlefish worked tremendously well with the flaky, tender meat of the snapper.
I thought the beef rib-eye choila didn’t rate with the three dishes above, but it does deserve an honourable mention – who doesn’t like grilled strips of beef with garlic and pepper?
I only got to sample one out of three collaborations between the various venues run by Pirata Group, but this was more than enough for me to say that Pirata Group is still going strong after five years on the scene, with no shortage of creativity. I look forward to trying something even more special for the group’s 10th anniversary.
MEATS, 28–30 Staunton Street, SoHo, Central, 2433 3324, book online
The Optimist, 239 Hennessy Road, Wanchai, 2433 3324, book online
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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