Central is getting a lot more social. Why? Because phase one of Central’s heritage building makeover is complete: and PMQ, the revamped Police Married Quarters, is the gleaming result. Next is the Central Police Station (still a work in progress) on Wyndham Street, but first things first.
Restaurants and creative businesses are quickly filling out PMQ, and one of them is already up and running: Aberdeen Street Social.
The latest resto from British chef Jason Atherton (yup, the guy behind 22 Ships in Wan Chai), Aberdeen Street Social has two different vibes: a downstairs bar and café, and an upstairs restaurant (named “Downstairs” and “Upstairs” respectively). Our meal takes place at the (pricier) restaurant above.While its press proclaims the food as “modern British cuisine”, our experience at Upstairs is more of an international mish-mash with a dash of French style (be prepared for a few French accents from the staff, too).
In between sips of my Bloody English cocktail (great, except for the stale toast ), I’m taking in the smooth, retro touches Upstairs’ design has to offer, with an open kitchen to the left, and a leafy canopy on view to the right.Taking a surf-and-turf approach to starters and mains, my date and I opt for the beautiful Hokkaido scallops, and pork ravioli to begin the meal.Suffolk Pork Ravioli
Laying on a bed of spinach, this flavour-packed jumbo ravioli is topped with super-thin shavings of Berkswell, a classic English cheese made with sheep milk. There’s deep fried basil leaves and a powerful tomato sauce garnishing the minced meat within, although when all’s said and done, just a tad too salty for my tastes.
Raw Hokkaido Scallops
The winner of the starters course, was the delicately plated Hokkaido scallops. A delight to look at, the combination of flavours and textures brought together in this successful concoction was a playful Japanese gesture.
Luscious raw scallops + crisp apple slices + velvety shiso leaf + dashi (like miso) jelly + wasabi/avocado sauce = NOMNext – after a respectable wait – came mains with ox cheek on the turf front, and snapper on the surf front. It’s nice to enjoy a meal in Hong Kong when main course isn’t rushed out in an effort to clear your table as soon as possible.
Snapper and Clams
The rich, buttery nature of Meunière Sauce often kills itself by being paired with the wrong fish. But, the lean snapper lent itself very well to the medley of vegetables and sprinkling of clams. Like the braised ox cheek, there’s no culinary innovation happening with this dish – but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t done well.
Braised Ox Cheek
So, so tender. What else can I say? The meat melted away at the gentlest touch of a fork. Finished off with a reduced red wine sauce, this classic dish was done justice at Aberdeen Street Social. On the side, a crispy breaded column of bone marrow to top off the decadence.
Where the main courses are more conservative, the starters are playful at “Upstairs”, and regrettably we were too full for dessert.
Last, but not least, some petits fours to end the meal.
The orange one: Apricot flavoured jelly (YUM)
The circular one: Salted nut praline (YUMMM)
The cube one: Chocolate mousse (MEH, this should have been a truffle!)While the price point is higher ($1,300 for two) than nearby Soho haunts, the culinary standard, chic setting, good service and little extras (amuses-bouches at the start; petits fours at the end) makes it worth the splurge.