Hong Kong being the international hub it is, we’re no strangers to exotic cuisine – so to add to the mix of gourmet delights available here, it’s time to welcome School Food, a famous chain restaurant hailing all the way from Korea itself! Being a fan of all things Korean (including K-Pop – oh yes, we have the dance to Nobody But You down pat!), we were excited to see what School Food’s first joint in the ‘Kong has to offer.
Located in the heart of Causeway Bay on the 13th floor of Times Square, School Food is literally a one-minute walk from the MTR exit. After being seated in some cushy booth seats hidden behind the buzzy front area (we’re talking 30-minute queues already – seems like we aren’t the only Korean cuisine addicts out there!), we were ready to tuck in!
School Food’s signature items are their mari rolls, featuring various delicious fillings wrapped in rice and egg – a sort of twist on sushi rolls, the Koreans clearly have quite a knack for rolls themselves! We tried a range of their mari offerings, including the Egg Mari (cutely presented in an eggshell bowl), Deep-Fried Shrimp Mari (anything with deep-fried shrimp is a winner in our books) and the Blooming Mari, filled with addictive, perfectly-marinated bulgolgi beef; the Squid Ink Mari had proven so popular that it was already sold out the day we visited! Remember to top off your mari with some spicy radish to give it an extra bit of kick.
We also had a salad to start, but this ain’t no ordinary salad! The chicken gangjeong green onion salad boasted a generous serving of amazing fried chicken, with crispy green onions and a spicy sauce on the side to even out the taste. The salad most definitely had a kick, but we couldn’t stop ourselves going back for more!
Another specialty of School Food is their Korean rice cakes, also known as topokki. We tried two versions – the traditional Street Topokki (a popular snack sold on the streets of Korea), and a Westernised version of Soy Carbonara Topokki. The Street Topokki was definitely as spicy as it looks, drenched in red soy bean paste, but it was super authentic and had a taste of home to it, made with simple but fresh ingredients.
Meanwhile, the Soy Carbonara Topokki was the best of East meets West! Korean rice cakes and vermicelli noodles cooked with bacon, mushrooms and caramelised onions in a thick, creamy, moreish white sauce… we were practically licking the plate! Just remember, these rice cakes are pretty dense and heavy so you’re best sharing these dishes to avoid total food coma.
Onward to the main courses (and more carbs…)! In the rice category, we had the pan-grilled butter bibimbap with pickles (fried rice wrapped in a creamy omelette) and the pan-grilled kimchi bokkeumbap (kimchi fried rice topped with a sunny-side-up egg). Both served in searing hot pans, the omelette with rice won us over and took the lead in the taste stakes – yet more of that tasty bulgogi beef, mixed with a totally indulgent fried rice that was rich with a full buttery flavour.
A more unusual dish was the School Naengmyeon – cold noodles in an icy beef broth, which was refreshing and perfect for a hot summer day. This boasted a tinge of sourness and spiciness from the kimchi, topped with crunchy fresh cucumber slices.
We finished off the meal with two desserts: the School Food Patt Bing Su and the Gangnam Style Patt Bing Su. Patt bing su is typically a Korean shaved ice dessert, but the School Food version involved three big scoops of ice-cream with fresh fruit on top, served in a stone bowl. This was a bit of an anti-climax after all the interesting dishes we tried before it (it’s essentially ice-cream in a bowl), but it’s perfect for sharing between groups and definitely brought out our inner school-kids thanks to those nostalgic chocolate wafer sticks!
The Gangnam Style Patt Bing Su was a more dainty and traditional take on the dessert, with red bean paste, peanut powder and chewy mochi on top, with crispy cereal in the middle to add more texture. More of a one-man portion, this was a light and milky treat to balance out our spicy and heavy meal.
Need something to sip on and take out the heat from all the spicy dishes? Try School Food’s in-house special Pineapple Athie, a refreshing blue mocktail. Make sure you get a big jug of the stuff because one glass definitely isn’t enough!
We are so in love with School Food’s dishes and their wallet-friendly prices (around $60-90 per dish – hard to come by in Times Square!), and it’s great to get a fresh take on Korean food in Hong Kong. We certainly can’t wait to bring our girlfriends over for some more Blooming Mari, and maybe challenge ourselves to another round of spicy Street Topokki too!
School Food Shop 1302, 13/F, Times Square, 1 Matheson Street Causeway Bay
2480 3666 www.schoolfood.hk