Having not been to Mesa 15 on Hollywood Road in a loooong time, I was intrigued to walk past recently and see that its name had changed to Numero 15!
That isn’t all that has changed, however; knowing that Hong Kong is still suffering from acute tapas fever, the Mesa 15 team (including Michelin-starred executive chef Alejandro Sánchez – good first name!) have given the restaurant a complete facelift to become less fine dining and more casual tapas bar. Nevertheless, if fine dining is what you’re after, don’t fret – Mesa 15 itself has only moved down the road to LKF.
Numero 15’s space has been completely transformed and now showcases plain wooden tables and stools juxtaposed against bright, powerful murals by Hong Kong-based graphic designer Ronan Leung. The upstairs is even more casual, with rustic wooden benches for relaxed communal dinners or private events. Meanwhile, the menu features simple classic and modern interpretations of tapas dishes, perfect for sharing over a few glasses of refreshing sangria.
The meal started on a high note with a serving of chorizo croquetas. These were bigger than the average tapas restaurant’s offerings and came simply bursting with flavour. They had the right level of crispness on the outside, giving way to incredibly creamy, salty goodness inside. In fact, they were possibly some of the best croquetas I have found in Hong Kong to date.
Whilst the prawn skewers wrapped in pancetta were not my favourite (the pancetta could have been a little crispier), the ox tongue skewers were amazing. Not realising I was a fan of ox tongue, I couldn’t believe how divinely tender each piece was, drizzled in a rich spicy sauce that made them even better. Thankfully there were a few people around the table too scared to try tongue, so I gladly ate their share!
My absolute favourite dish of the day was the scallop carpaccio with crispy shallots and ‘jamon bites’. The scallops were unbelievably fresh, simply melting in the mouth. Drizzled in pesto and served with crunchy pine nuts and croutons to add contrasting textures to excite the palate, this dish was absolutely divine.
The slow-cooked Iberico pork belly buns with kimchi mayo and pickled cucumber don’t fall into the classic tapas category, yet regardless of this, they’re one of Alejandro’s favourite dishes on the menu. The light, fluffy, almost Chinese-style buns encase wonderfully tender, juicy meat that worked well against the crunchy cucumber.
Not only has the city gone mad with tapas fever, but HK’s craze for mini burgers remains unabated too! Numero 15’s mini Wagyu beef burgers with melted Mahon cheese and mustard mayo (although again not strictly tapas) were deliciously juicy, whilst the almost sweet bun and kick of mustard added a little depth that made it difficult to stop eating them.
The last of the savoury tapas was AFC – Alejandro’s Fried Chicken. To make these perfectly crispy and succulent fried chicken pieces, Alejandro uses a secret recipe adapted from one of his grandmothers’ recipes.
Moving on to dessert, the homemade cheese cake with strawberry and red wine marmalade was far too creamy and silky to be remotely healthy, but who cares?! However, the 70% cacao chocolate mousse with caramelised walnuts won the dessert contest hands down. Although it looked more homemade than restaurant-worthy, it was undeniably light and smooth; I loved the crunchy walnuts, which genuinely enhanced the flavour and overall eating experience.
Service at Numero 15 was efficient and with dishes ranging from $30 to $129, prices are much more reasonable than those at its fine dining sister. It is a fun lively place that fulfils its aim of being a casual-chic restaurant with excellent food that’s made for sharing. Despite trying so many items on the menu, there are still others that are calling out my name, so I will most definitely be back!
Numero 15 G/F, 15 Hollywood Road, Central
Check out more from Ale on her fab blog, The Dim Sum Diaries!