Dishes we know and love with a few new delicacies
The Hong Kong dining scene is a rapid revolving door, with new joints opening and closing faster than you can say “cheque, please!”. While this provides plenty of opportunity to frequent a new restaurant every other week, it’s also comforting to know that some HK staples are alive, well and at their very best. Enter 22 Ships, the creation of Gordon Ramsay protégé Jason Atherton, that has been a Hong Kong hit for more than four years and still has people queuing on the daily to bag a seat at the hottest table in Wan Chai.
We couldn’t wait to treat our taste buds to some of the new additions on the menu, and on arrival the 35-seat venue was packed and buzzing with the vivacious chit-chat of hungry diners. The atmosphere at 22 Ships is electric, with the clanging of small plates of perfectly proportioned tapas and chilled glasses of crisp wine adding to the hectic soundtrack of the venue.
If you’re in the mood for an intimate, reserved dinner date then 22 Ships is not the one. However, if it’s energy and entertainment you’re after, thrown in with some seriously divine dishes, then step right up to a high stool at this animated – and at times boisterous – bistro!
The team at 22 Ships prepare each dish freshly in the open kitchen; sprinkling ferocious passion on every aspect of their menu. New Executive Chef, Aaron Gillespie, was a breath of fresh air as he detailed each offering with optimum pride and enthusiasm. His infectious nature worked a treat and we were bursting with excitement to delve into some stellar staples and new choices.
We began with one of the evening’s specials – on Aaron’s recommendation – which was a glorious pairing of imported Italian burrata and shaved Australian truffle followed by the Jamon, Manchego and Truffle toastie with quail’s eggs – an extravagant, indulgent and flavourful twist on an old classic. Moving on to the guilt-free but gratifying Bluefin Tuna with Sago Crackers was the perfect transition and gluten free to boot – bonus!
For the side accompaniments, we decided on a helping of the cauliflower, mushroom and walnut pesto medley which, you have to taste to believe: I’m still wondering how this weird and wonderful concoction captured my heart so well! And just to be fair to the veggies, we also tried the peas, broad beans, goat’s cheese and red vein sorrel which I would highly recommend for its freshness and depth of flavour. Don’t say I’m not good to you guys!
Of course, no trip to 22 Ships would be complete without sampling the suckling pig, drizzled in a reduction of pineapple and piquillo peppers. This trusty treat did not disappoint and is still as consistently good as it was when Ships first launched, years ago. Likewise, the seafood paella – served with fava beans and crispy bacon – is not to be missed, with its creamy consistency and smoky undertones.
By this point, we were feeling pretty full and happy but I’m so glad that we managed to fit in some of the playful desserts on the menu. Finishing off with the Green Tea Cheesecake provided the perfect mix of sharp and sweet; combining just the right amounts of cooling yoghurt and zesty lime. The Strawberry Chantilly was intricately plated and tantalisingly tangy.
I’m already looking forward to my next visit to 22 Ships to unwind with the casual and social way of eating. Stop by for favourite dishes that are still on the menu and have given 22 Ships its stellar reputation, or sample a few of the new dishes if you’re in the mood for something different. It’s easy to hop on the latest bandwagon but, it’s worth bearing in mind that this place is an oldie, but a goodie.
22 Ships, 22 Ship Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, www.22ships.hk