Often when such a big hype is made about a new restaurant, you create such an unrealistically amazing image of it in your head that when you actually get round to trying it, you’re terribly disappointed. Fortunately such was not the case with the highly praised Heirloom Eatery on Hollywood Road.
Even before you enter this charming two-storey restaurant, you know it’s going to be special; mismatched tables and chairs adorned with makeshift vases and colourful flowers spill out over the open-fronted downstairs, where smiling guests watch their delicious tacos being prepared in the open kitchen, or ogle at the tower-high cakes freshly baked earlier that day.
Heirloom classes itself as neither a café nor a fine-dining restaurant, but rather as an eatery, serving “food we love to eat”, a motto which is emblazoned in neon lights in the second floor window. Owned by Mexican Ashton Winkler and Indonesian Vivian Herijanto (also owner of Corner Kitchen which I reviewed here), these two lovely girls put real passion into replicating recipes that have been lovingly passed down the generations in their respective families.
We began our evening with some unique cocktails. The Sheung Wan Sour, a local take on the much-loved Pisco Sour, was delicious, whilst the Suzy Wong (similar to a Mojito but made with vodka, Thai basil and ginger ale) was perhaps a little too sweet for my liking, although it went down a treat with the boys.
Noticing our inability to narrow down a few selections from the delicious-looking menu, Ashton approached our table, asking if we trusted her and offered to order for us. Obviously we knew she would order only the best dishes on the menu, so we gleefully accepted and awaited our feast.
First up was Ashton’s Guacamole: chunky and delicious, bizarrely made the more so by the addition of pomegranate seeds.
The pumpkin and foie gras terrine, served in an old-school glass jar with thin slices of baguette, was so light that it was hard to believe it contained rich foie gras.
All over Hong Kong, people are raving about Heirloom’s tacos. Try them and you will understand why. We tried the carnitas (pulled pork) and the Balinese fish tacos (accurately described as a ‘festival of flavours’). Palm-sized morsels of utter delight piled upon homemade corn tortillas, these tacos will not disappoint.
A bowl of hearty chilli con carne and rice is the perfect comfort food for these cold wintry days. At Heirloom you can taste the passion that is put into this dish; from the punch of the chilli to the sweetness of grated chocolate, this chilli definitely hits the spot.
I would be lying if I said that the evening went by without a disappointment, so I must confess that we weren’t hugely impressed with the coq au vin. Perhaps taken out of the context of the rest of the meal, it would have been adequate, but compared to the other delicious dishes, here it just seemed a little on the bland side. The truffle buttered noodles (or farfalle pasta in fact), however, were divine.
On to desserts, we selected all but the vaguely healthy-looking option. That’s three desserts (which are each designed to serve two) shared between four. Oops. The DIY s’mores are a first in Hong Kong and are a fun and tasty idea; melt a marshmallow over your Bunsen burner-style flame, add Willie’s chocolate (from cacao beans grown in my native country of Venezuela) and sandwich with graham cracker – what could you not like about this?!
Dessert number two took me back to childhood days; a plate of freshly-baked gooey chocolate chip cookies served alongside a bottle of fresh milk. Unfortunately the bottle meant we couldn’t dip our cookies into the milk, but we did find a rather less classy way of dripping milk over the cookie from the straw.
Less amazing was the chocolate brioche bread pudding. Similar to the coq au vin, outside of this delicious feast, it might have passed the test. Beside the s’mores and cookies, however, it was just a bit plain.
Service at Heirloom is first-rate. Both Ashton and Vivian are on hand to make sure all their guests are happy, explaining the origins of each dish as they are served by smiling waitresses. What is even better is that service is not included, so you can give whatever you feel the waitresses deserve. Why can’t all Hong Kong restaurants adopt this approach?
Total bill for all the above plus a bottle of vino came to just over $1500, which isn’t a price to scare us away from coming back. In fact I fully intend on going back as soon as I possibly can. So forget the post-Christmas detox, go easy on the Chinese New Year banquets and make some room for a night at Heirloom instead!
Heirloom Eatery & More 226 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan
2547 8008 www.heirloomhk.com/
Read more about Alejandra’s adventures through food (and love of yum cha) in Hong Kong on her fab blog, The Dim Sum Diaries!