The latest addition to Element’s dining options is Toro Steak House and Gastro Bar, serving up pan-Latin cuisine in a sophisticated setting. With acclaimed chef Richard Sandoval at the helm, we knew that the food was going to be of high quality… bring on the steak! Situated on the ‘garden rooftop’ at Elements mall, this restaurant is the perfect place to come if you’re a carnivore craving a fix. The relaxed ambience combined with the cool but casual setting makes this an easy and enjoyable place to come for dinner. The New York-style contemporary decor that features dark woods, wrought iron and leather seating creates a warm and comfortable environment that’s sure to put you at ease.
We were excited to try this celebrity chef’s food and his signature ‘modern Mexican’ flavours, but first we had to try their cocktails (of course!). Leslie opted for the Spicy Mango Margarita, which was refreshing with a hint of heat – perfect for a summer evening. With my sweet tooth, I had to try the Strawberry Basil Caipirinha. Again, this was a nice, refreshing drink, but it could have done with a bit more of a kick of fragrant basil for me. Mango definitely won this round!
To whet our appetites, we sampled a range of appetisers, which were arguably the best part of our meal. We began with guacamole and swordfish, a combination that sounded a little unusual on paper. However, the pate-like swordfish was smoky and moreish, perfect on one of the crisp tortillas, which were light and not too heavy. I may be biased because I love guac’, but it was delicious – especially with the sweet bites of pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top. Overall it was a surprisingly good starter, and great for sharing (although we were fighting over the last scrapings of guac’!).
To follow was some bread – but it wasn’t your run of the mill type of bread! It was beautifully soft and stuffed full of cheese and black bean… it was a little dense, but truly indulgent! We simply couldn’t stop eating it, but made sure to save space for yet more appetisers and the mains to come. We also sampled a light tomato salad with melon, avocado and mozzarella. This simple salad wasn’t anything to write home about, but it was a pretty, colourful little appetiser that evened out the heavier dishes.
Next came a pair of plump sea scallops, crusted in Parmesan and swimming in a creamy, lemon butter sauce. This was perhaps our favourite bite of the night: the scallops were perfectly tender and the sauce was simply oozing with richness and flavour.
We rounded off the appetisers with a lovely tuna ceviche — a refreshing salad that married creamy avocado with fresh fish in a citrusy yuzu dressing, evidence of an Asian influence on these Latin-inspired dishes.
Fairly impressed by the appetisers thus far, we turned our attention to the mains. The menu features a good selection of steaks and pork chops from the grill, as well as fresh fish and Maine lobster for those looking to splurge! We chose to go with a New York strip and the barbecued salmon. First came the strip steak: simply seasoned with steak and pepper, it was nicely charred on the outside and perfectly medium-rare inside. The steak arrived with a tray of tasty dipping sauces, of which our favourites were the spicy horseradish and zesty chimichurri.
The barbecued salmon followed, also fork-tender. We definitely appreciated the versatility of this dish — the Achiote sauce, fragrant with cinnamon, clove and all-spice, provided a nice kick to the salmon and woke up our taste buds!
We were fully stuffed by this point, but couldn’t end the night without a bite of chocolate! We were presented with a colourful dessert sampler, laden with chocolate ice cream, chocolate “dust”, strawberry sorbet, a dulche de leche cake, mixed fruit, sweet wafers and finally, a chocolate lava cake! Needless to say, we dug straight into the lava cake (could there be a more perfect dessert?!) which oozed out Mexican chocolate-y goodness. In a chocolate stupor, we limited ourselves to just a few bites of the dulce cake — tasty enough, but not nearly as luscious as the lava cake!
With quality ingredients, versatility on the menu and a bit of Latin-American flair, Toro is a fail-safe option for those looking to grab a casual dinner after an afternoon of shopping around Elements mall. Starters are from $78-$188, and mains will take you from $198 to a whopping $758 (depending on how much of a carnivore you are!) without sides. Sharing is encouraged, so it’s a great place for a first date. Toro isn’t exactly going to break any boundaries, but it’s a great reliable option for those who frequent Elements… are you feeling the Latin love yet?
TORO Steakhouse and Gastro Bar Shop R008, Rooftop Garden, Civic Square, 3/F, Elements, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, Hong Kong 2696 9608 www.diningconcepts.com/…