Mexican is the flavour of the moment across Hong Kong. After complaints that there were no good tacos in the city, taco restaurants suddenly popped up everywhere. So when word got out that new kid on the block Brickhouse would be opening as yet another Mexican resto, I was excited, but I can’t say I expected grand things. Boy, was I wrong.
As we know from many of Hong Kong’s hidden gems, some of the best places are tucked away behind the scenes. Such is the case with Brickhouse, which you’ll only find if you’re looking for it – it’s hidden down a random-looking side alley as you approach Lan Kwai Fong, with no signage on or around the restaurant. The idea is to keep it cosy, exclusive and hidden…. I like this idea, except the hidden part doesn’t seem to be working: it’s been open for three weeks and is heaving every single night!
Brickhouse has a no reservations policy. Imagine the thrill and excitement that Yardbird has, a year after opening, double it, and that is what I’m expecting Brickhouse will be like. Luckily it’s open until 2am on a weeknight, and 5am on a weekend, so I’m very excited about the idea of a midnight (taco) feast.
As soon as I walked in, I was wowed by Brickhouse’s eclectic décor – graffiti-esque paintings by local artists, stickers dotted all over the place, a very rustic floor, and obviously red brick wall panels. The quirky design makes the place look unfinished, yet in a really hip and funky kind of way. Music is blasted out at a tolerable volume making you instantly want to sing along and dance, and it looks as though even the staff are having fun; with so many miserable, moody waiters across the city, seeing staff who actually love what they are doing is really refreshing.
The menu is rather eclectic too. The choice is vast, yet portions are small, meaning you are able to choose a handful of dishes to share, which is my absolute favourite way of eating. While you’re thinking of what to order, definitely try one of Brickhouse’s exciting cocktails; my favourite was the Diabla (jalapeño vodka, raspberries, pomegranate and lemon), fruity and sharp with a subtle chilli kick.
Our feast began with a watermelon salad. As I’ve mentioned plenty of times, I am not a salad fiend. However, this salad, made with cubes of the freshest watermelon, strips of cucumber, goat’s feta, clusters of candied pumpkin seeds and chilli syrup was absolutely incredible, with the flavours and textures working perfectly together.
Next up, what every Mexican meal should contain: chips and salsa. In this case, guacamole and four daily homemade salsas: salsa fresca (spicy), salsa Veracruz (rich olivey taste), salsa verde (mild), and pico de coliflor (similar to pico de gallo, but made with cauliflower in place of tomatoes). My favourites were the chunky yet creamy guacamole and the salsa fresca.
The Mexican street corn is a must. The sweet juicy corn on the cob is first smothered in chilli mayo with lime, then sprinkled generously with grated cheese and coriander to give it a little something special without losing the taste of the corn itself. Rach and I both polished off our share without a word.
Beetroot is far from my favourite vegetable but the homemade beet fries are definitely something special. First roasted, then deep fried in a very light tempura batter, and finally dipped in the accompanying sweet chilli mayo, these were delicious and more-ish, yet almost 100% guilt-free.
There are two options of tostadas – of course, we tried both! While the braised octopus had a great flavour, it was a little on the chewy side. However, the yellowfin tuna tostada with chipotle mayo and habanero mustard was delicious melt-in-the-mouth goodness on top, with perfect crunch-tastic toasted tortilla below.
A note about the tortillas: these corn tortillas are made fresh in-house every day, a novelty amongst Hong Kong’s Mexican eateries. The taco choices are listed on a blackboard and change regularly. We again tried all five – chicken, pulled pork, market fish, rib eye and venison. All had their own interesting flavours, but the absolute shining star was the rib eye with crispy manchego, grilled tomato salsa and coriander. The meat was beautifully tender, the dressings utterly divine. Although it sounds delicious, our suggestion is that you skip the venison and get two of the rib eyes instead.
The Ceviche is one of my favourite things on the menu. Of the three options, we tried the Back to Life (right; a blend of shrimp, grilled tomato, smoked chilli, horseradish and citrus dressing) and the Peruvian (left; yellowtail tuna, apple, daikon relish, orange, avocado and yuzu-lime dressing). The former was a little too strongly-flavoured for my palate, but I adored the delicate flavours and super tender textures of the Peruvian ceviche.
From the main course selection, we tried the Chilli relleno, a poblano pepper stuffed with quinoa, butternut squash and manchego cheese, served in a rich tomato broth. If I was a vegetarian, I would be more than satisfied with this wholesome comforting dish.
The beef shortrib was beautifully tender and sweet, cooked in a brown sugar reduction, served with creamy mashed potato and baby corn done in the same way as the street corn… Rach happily took home leftovers!
After this incredible feast, it would have been rude not to try dessert – so of course we had two! A fresh yoghurt was blended with goat’s cheese, layers of buttery dulce de leche, raspberries and topped with a bar of chocolate-covered peanut butter. I suggested these incredible chocolate bars should be sold in gift boxes, to which Rach responded “…As a gift for myself?!”
The chilli chocolate cake, although I couldn’t detect even the tiniest hint of chilli, was most definitely the best chocolate fondant I have had in Hong Kong and oozed molten chocolate goodness as soon as we prodded it open.
After only one trip to Brickhouse, I think it has already become one of my favourite places in this restaurant-filled city. Everything about it, from the super upbeat vibe, to the friendly waiters, dangerously tasty cocktails, delicious food and the fact that no service charge is added to the bill leaves no doubt in my mind that it will be a roaring success… if it isn’t already.
P.S. Check out our pics of some of the new dishes at Brickhouse on our Facebook album here!
Brickhouse G/F, 20A D’Aguilar Street, Central
Open Monday-Wednesday 6pm-2am, Thursday-Saturday 6pm-4am, closed Sundays
Check out more from Ale on her fab blog, The Dim Sum Diaries!