Easy, indulgent comfort food
With the mass of fast food and chain restaurants that seem to appear around every corner, it may at times be easy to forget that American cuisine is so much more than your hamburger, chips and milkshake combo. The Parish in Soho offers the perfect remedy to the often held misconception that American fare is carb-heavy and served in fear inducing-ly large portions. As someone who has not had particularly varied experience in eating this type of cuisine, it was the perfect place to begin my education in to authentic Southern American cooking…
The newly refurbished space on bustling Staunton Street is comfortable and atmospheric, with exposed bulbs and a mixture of bar and table seating areas. It offers a more intimate dining experience than other Soho venues, without affecting the all important ability to people watch! The menu is a diverse array of platters, salads and small and large plates where sharing with your fellow diners is the name of the game. Head chef Jack Carson is clearly incredibly passionate about bringing the flavours of his hometown of Louisiana to Hong Kong, and many of the dishes featured on the menu are inspired by his own family recipes.
Armed with a tasty citrus port and vodka concoction from the compact but varied cocktail menu, first to taste was the Heirloom Tomato, Feta and Watermelon Salad with Pablano Dressing ($98). The medley of red and yellow tomatoes, fresh watermelon and crumbled feta was wonderfully refreshing, and the red chilli running through the salad added an enjoyable kick.
With palates suitably cleansed we then tasted the Spinach, Artichoke and Cream Cheese Dip with Tortilla Chips ($98). Unexpectedly served warm, this was a deliciously indulgent combination of creamy goodness topped with bubbling melted cheese, with the thin and perfectly crisp tortillas providing the perfect companion. I liked how relatively inconspicuous the menu description was, as it was so much more than I was expecting and not like any other dip I had tasted before.
Next to share were the Crispy Spiced Pork Belly Rillons with BBQ Sauce ($82) … though I’m playing it fast and loose with the word ‘share’, as I had quite a few more of these tasty offerings than my dining companion did! The pork was perfectly spiced and crispy on the outside, which then took on almost a pulled pork consistency when eaten. When combined with the sticky, sweet and sour BBQ sauce this dish was unashamedly moreish and I think my favourite of the night (though it was difficult to choose!).
We also sampled the Smokey Tasso and Green Onion Mac ‘N Cheese ($96), which was wonderfully creamy and authentically flavoured. Although very tasty, it proved to be slightly too heavy for us following the cream cheese dip.
Alongside the pork and mac ‘n cheese, we were served the Jumbo Prawn and Chicken Jambalaya ($198) after a recommendation from our waiter. This dish was perfectly balanced with light spices and the freshness of the tomato based cooking sauce, textured with chunks of chicken, sausage and the beautiful jumbo prawn. This proved to be a great contrast to the creamier dishes on the menu, and although the waistband was suitably stretched by this point, I couldn’t help but have multiple ‘just one more’ mouthfuls!
Now on to dessert, and I was looking forward to trying the quintessentially American dishes of Key Lime Pie ($68) and Mississippi Mud Pie ($68). The mud pie was surprisingly delicate, being more like a mousse cake than the heavy ‘pie’ I was expecting. The key lime pie was beautifully balanced with sweetness and tartness of lime, and the biscuit base was perfectly thin. With the consistency being similar to that of a cold-set cheese cake, it proved to be a superbly refreshing end to the meal.
The Parish in Soho undoubtedly opened my eyes to the diverse melting pot that is Southern American cooking, with the varied menu featuring culinary influences from Italy, Spain, Portugal and Africa, to name a few. The service throughout the evening was friendly and attentive, with the experienced waiting staff treating us to a healthy dose of Southern hospitality despite it being a full house. It’s not hard to see why The Parish is already proving a hit in the Soho dining scene, this is comfort food (with a contemporary twist) at its very best.
Read more: Hong Kong Dining: Comfort Food
The Parish, Kwan Fat Building, 44-46 Staunton Street, Central, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/theparishhk