New restaurants seem to be opening in Hong Kong at a rate of knots; you turn your back and up pops a fresh foodie mecca. More often than not, it’s somewhere too cool to take bookings, with a crew of plain clothes staff serving dishes designed to be shared over cocktails so strong that you’ll be under the table after a couple of sips.
Don’t get us wrong, we love these new additions to the HK dining scene… But when there’s a T-3 raging outside, you’ve had a bad week at work or you just want the restaurant equivalent of an enormous hug, mismatched furniture and exposed light bulbs don’t quite cut it. What you need is a trusty favourite to pour you a huge glass of wine, dish up a great big plate of tried and tested deliciousness and let you gobble up your dinner curled up in a comfy chair – somewhere that feels almost like home.
When I arrived in Hong Kong nearly five years ago, I moved into a teeny tiny studio at the then pretty deserted end of Hollywood Road. The Press Room, one of the only restaurants in my neighbourhood, quickly became a Sunday night staple. After a long week at work and a weekend of late nights and too many Jagerbombs, nothing eased my Sunday night blues better than a big glass of red wine and a dinner that was as near to home-cooked as I was going to find in this strange city several thousand miles from my real home.
Fast forward a few years and The Press Room has survived the cutthroat, tumultuous turnover of the HK dining scene (and in fact grown into a restaurant group with the likes of The Pawn, The News Room and The Principal in its ranks) and despite having long since moved out of my studio, I still find myself heading to the Sheung Wan end of Hollywood Road when I’m craving a big bowl of comfort. So when I heard that The Press Room was launching a new and improved menu, I can’t deny that I had somewhat mixed feelings… Had some new upstart chef swept in and stamped all over The Press Room magic? Or would the new menu manage to be even tastier and better at serving a Sunday night pick-me-up?
I broke with tradition and booked in for a Wednesday (yes The Press Room takes bookings… you’ve got to love knowing that you’ll be able to get a table at the time you’d actually like to eat!). I arrived and was thankful for booking ahead as the restaurant was heaving with chattering diners tucking into enormous platefuls of brasserie food – so far, the signs were good.
Settling into a red-leather cushioned chair below the specials blackboard, I started as I meant to go on by ordering a large glass of white wine. As I sipped my Sauvignon Blanc and perused the refreshed menu, I was relieved to note that most of my favourites remained but had now been supplemented by some new and exciting Chef’s specials – win, win! In a bid to sample as much as possible, we decided to eat family-style, choosing a couple of starters and main courses to share between us.
We started with a rocket and goat’s cheese salad dressed with a herby vinaigrette and generously sprinkled with roasted pine nuts and hunks of artichoke. As the heat and humidity hit melting point in Hong Kong, this is the perfect light, fresh start to your meal.
Next out of the kitchen was our second starter, Moules Meunière. I hate the flabby, tasteless mussels that so many Hong Kong restaurants dish up but these were sweet and juicy, served swimming in a creamy, garlicky sauce just made for dunking French bread into – mollusk heaven!
The raw seafood bar, which greets you as you walk through the door, acts as the ideal showcase for The Press Room’s abundant fish and seafood menu options. It obviously had us at ‘Hello!’ as our two main courses were the lobster risotto and the Fish of the Day – a whole sea bass baked in rock salt. The risotto was beautifully cooked – oozy and unctuous with the rice retaining just the right amount of bite. Topped with a meaty lobster tail, this is your ultimate luxe-comfort food dish. The sea bass was the perfect yin to the risotto’s yang, served with an orange, shaved fennel and herb salad, it was clean, fragrant and citrusy.
We’d meant to skip dessert and stick to coffees but then accidentally agreed to “have a quick glance” at the dessert menu… and if you can resist ordering the Trio de Chocolat – a white chocolate mousse, a chocolate latte and a salted dark chocolate truffle – you’re much stronger than us! These three mini chocolate fixes, one white, one light and one dark, were the perfect rich, sweet note to end our scrumptious feast on.
As we settled the bill (starters are around $100, whilst mains range between $200-350) and dissected our dinner over little cups of strong black espresso, we agreed that The Press Room’s new menu is everything we hoped it would be and more. It doesn’t meddle with our much-loved winning formula – well-executed classic brasserie dishes made with top quality ingredients – but the refresh adds a little tweak here and a dash of something new there, keeping things lively and interesting.
In fact, we loved the new menu so much, we’re reviving Press Room Sundays! Next time you’re feeling a little down at the thought of Monday morning, we prescribe a Press Room Trio de Chocolat – one hundred percent guaranteed to rub away that Sunday evening frown. See you there next weekend…
The Press Room 108 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan
2525 3444 www.thepressroom.com.hk
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