The trendy area of Sai Ying Pun continues to grow as a foodie destination. Unlike every other saturated part of the city, what I like about Sai Ying Pun is how most restaurants in the area remain true to its neighbourhood feel – few belong to huge F&B groups and are instead often run by independent operators. Cute new restaurant GLOW on Second Street is the perfect example of this.
GLOW, which stands for Grill Lounge Ocean Wine, is owned by brothers Keith and Vincent Ng, together with a third business partner. It marks their first venture into the food and beverage industry, which Vincent explains by telling me, “We are very adventurous.” These lovely guys are obviously very passionate about what they’re doing; despite their lack of experience, they seem to have started on the right foot, given that the place is busy every night!
GLOW is a sweet little restaurant that definitely gives off an inviting charm from its exterior. Inside, light wood, faux-vintage mirrors and cosy booth seating take up most of the space, whilst along the bar, stools are set up for diners to gaze longingly at the fresh oysters, lobster, crab and clams.
Although the menu isn’t huge, it offers a wide range of options that make it difficult to pin down what exactly GLOW’s speciality is. Amongst the dishes on offer, there are hints of French, Spanish, Italian and Australian cuisine, besides the grilled meat and seafood.
We began with scallop sashimi with cauliflower purée. If I’m not mistaken, sashimi implies thinly sliced, raw seafood; these scallops were neither sliced nor raw, but served whole and lightly pan-fried. Despite therefore being completely different to what we were expecting, they were nevertheless beautifully cooked, with a light, bouncy texture and a delicate smoky flavour. The crunchy tempura bits and creamy cauliflower purée were a pleasant contrast too.
Meanwhile, the Manila clams in GLOW’s special tomato sauce were a little on the bland side. They had an occasional chilli and garlic kick, as well as three pieces of chorizo to enhance the flavour… but unfortunately these flavours did not linger long! Perhaps we could have asked, but a few more pieces of crunchy garlic bread would also have been welcomed to mop up the sauce.
Feeling greedy, we also tried a third starter between us – GLOW’s signature seafood soup. With generous servings of lobster, salmon, squid, mussels and clams, the soup itself had a lovely, hearty flavour, ideal for these cooler climes. In some cases, however, the seafood hadn’t absorbed the soup’s flavour and, alone, was also a little on the bland side.
Moving onto mains, the 60-degree slow-cooked salmon fillet with herb leaf salad was a simple yet delicious dish, made all the more so by the beautiful texture of the fish.
Similarly, the braised Australian grain-fed beef cheek also had a wonderful, super-tender texture and, with its rich flavour, makes for the perfect comfort food in winter. The only downside was that the vegetables were a little too crunchy for the dish; don’t get me wrong, I’d far rather crunchy veg than over-cooked mushy veg, but here it seemed a bit of an afterthought as opposed to an accompaniment.
For dessert, given I’m not always a fan, the panna cotta with moscato caviar and berry sauce was surprisingly delicious, particularly its tart berry sauce, sweetened ever so slightly with a red wine reduction.
GLOW’s tiramisu was also rather special. Unlike the classic dessert, GLOW’s was a deconstructed version made with chocolate crumble, coffee liqueur-coated ciabatta, coffee jelly, chocolate crisps and mascarpone. The differing textures and intense flavours worked well together, making this one of our favourite dishes of the night.
Service was excellent, to the point of almost being a little too good, but I guess that’s almost unavoidable in such a small restaurant! Prices linger around the $100 mark for starters and $200 mark for main courses. Although there isn’t really a defining cuisine at GLOW and the food isn’t necessarily out of this world, it’s a cute little spot with passionate staff that will hopefully continue to fill its seats every night.
GLOW Shop C, G/F Tung Cheung Building, 1 Second Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong Island Western District
3460 5226 www.facebook.com/…
Check out more from Ale on her fab blog, The Dim Sum Diaries!