An epic seven-course meal at this fusion restaurant in Soho
Soho has been a staple for dining options for years now. With a central location next to the escalators, and quirky, crooked streets filled with various restaurants and bars of all kind of cuisines and styles, it’s a fail-safe option. You’ll always find somewhere to treat yourself to dinner and drinks after work or at the weekend. That being said, if you want to dine in Soho but you’re looking for a truly stand-out, top-notch quality meal that verges on fine dining standards, it can be rather tricky. SAAM however offers just that, serving an eclectic set menu of fusion dishes to discerning diners.
Situated right next to The Globe and opposite G.O.D on Graham Street, SAAM is easy to spot and even easier to get to. The space is relatively small and the decor is simple – but you know what they say, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. The intimate space (which seats 24 people) would be the perfect place for a private party with close friends or a birthday meal, and I was excited to try the unusual sounding menu.
We were set to try the ‘School Day Dinner’ set, a quirky menu styled around Chef and Partner Patrick Dang’s childhood memories. But don’t be fooled – you won’t find your ordinary school lunches here. The seven course menu is carefully designed and uses interesting flavours and exceptional ingredients that you would find in a five-star restaurant. I was excited, but slightly apprehensive, to see what we would be served…
We started with an amuse bouche, a light soup served in a cute tea cup, which certainly whet our appetites. To follow was the first dish of Nutella & Toast, and initially I was slightly disappointed when it wasn’t just nutella and toast (who can resist that chocolate hazelnut spread?!). Instead we were presented with crispy truffle-stuffed toast, fresh scallop crudo and crunchy hazelnuts. The flavours worked surprisingly well together and I really enjoyed the variety of textures and the balancing of the strong truffle with the delicate scallops.
If you like breakfast food, then the intriguingly named Cereal & Yogurt is sure to spark your interest. The top layer of this dish is very much like cereal, with savoury granola, almond yogurt and peppered pineapple, but underneath lies a decadent foie gras parfait. I was unsure about the combination at first, but the tartness of the pineapple cut through the rich flavour of the foie, and the added texture from the granola offset the creamy smoothness of the parfait. That being said, it was a huge portion and I could only manage a couple of sweet bites before moving on to the next course.
The fun continued with the presentation as we were presented the Sausage & Egg, which genuinely looked like a fried egg! In fact the yolk was butternut pumpkin puree, and the whites were coconut. This was by far my favourite dish of the evening as the flavours came as such a surprise – the perfectly cooked piece of lobster and the subtle spice of madras curry were so distinctive but went together beautifully. I admired the unusual combination of creamy butternut squash with the vibrant, warming curry flavour and the rich lobster meat – lipsmackingly good!
On to the next course, Fish & Chip. Obviously it wasn’t a greasy chippy like the ones I was used to back in the U.K. It consisted of a piece of poach turbot (which melted in the mouth), a potato crisp, mushy peas (yay!) and deep fried tartar sauce. You can’t really go wrong with this comforting combination of ingredients, and Chef Patrick managed to elevate the creamy caper sauce and give it an exciting twist.
The next dish, Gluten Free Noodle Soup, was yet another surprise. Made from mushrooms, it was unbelievably ‘noodle-like’ and the earthy flavours with the potent abalone broth made for a unique dish like no other.
Finally, our last savoury course was a classic School Roast Dinner, but of course with only the finest ingredients. The wagyu short rib literally fell apart it was so tender and had a beautifully sweet, sticky glaze from the umami gravy. The vegetables were so fresh and cooked so that they still had a refreshing crunch, and the potato fry completed this traditional plate with a twist.
Last but not least was dessert, PB&J. I’m pleased to report that it still tasted like that childhood sandwich we all know a love, with the same sweet but more sophisticated flavours, but with much more refined presentation and cooking techniques. The peanut butter parfait was delicious… and how cute are the lego moulds?!
The creativity of this extensive set menu can’t be denied. The presentation is really special, and even though making food look like it’s something else can be a bit of a gimmick, I enjoyed the playful aspect of the meal and felt excited to see what would come next. I also found that I was more inquisitive as a diner, and it gives you a deeper appreciation of all the advanced cooking techniques that go into creating certain aspects of the dishes.
The tasting menu is an dining adventure that manages to successful fuse different cuisines and influences from around the world together (which also happens to be what ‘SAAM’ means in Afrikaans). It changes seasonally and is definitely worth trying for something completely different with the ‘wow’ factor. I would return for a special occasion, and those who are looking for fine-dining style food without the stuffy, pretentious setting should consider a visit. They’ve also started doing some al a carte options too if you want to test it out one night before going for the full tasting menu!
Check out SAAM’s new Autumn Winter Kaiseiki inspired tasting menu now which has delicious Japanese ingredients and Japanese cooking techniques. Prices are: 3 courses prix fixe for $488 + 10%, 6 courses for $638 + 10%, 8 courses for $788 + 10%, 10 courses for $888 + 10%.
SAAM, G/F, 51D Graham Street, Soho, Hong Kong. Open for dinner from Tuesday – Sunday at 6pm onwards, lunch on Friday only. www.saamhk.com