Coconuts Hot Spot: New Sai Ying Pun pizzeria Homeslice

Sai Ying Pun’s newest pizza joint, Homeslice. Photo: Homeslice HK

“You can’t really have enough good pizza.” — Abraham Lincoln, and other wise men

The latest addition to Hong Kong’s growing roster of pizza joints is located on quiet stretch of De Vouex Road West in Sai Ying Pun. Very quiet, in fact. We actually hoofed it from our office in Sheung Wan and after about 20 minutes were starting to wonder if it was the right neighborhood. That changed quickly when 321 Des Voeux Road West came into sight and — behold — gentrification.

And Homeslice! Behold that, too. The warm, bright (though not overly so) interior is unpretentious enough that we feel confident no one’s going to look sideways if you bring a baby in, though we could easily see it as a casual date-night kind of place.

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The Meatloaf pizza with mushy peas. Photo: Coconuts HK

The pizza section of the menu is fairly evenly split between classics and more experimental fare. On the left side, you’ll find more traditional pies, while the right is more likely to include ingredients like pear or pickled radicchio or … mushy peas (we know, and we’ll get to that later).

As with any pizza, it always comes down to the basics, namely sauce and crust, so we started with the Margherita (HK$125) on the theory that if you screw that up, it’s probably not worth venturing into deeper waters. We weren’t disappointed.

The base red sauce that Homeslice uses is fantastic. It’s not overly acidic nor too sweet, and delivers the kind of crisp, clean bursts of flavor you can only get with really good quality tomatoes.

The crust, meanwhile, created from a 48-hour fermented sourdough, is delicious, yet can have a tendency to get a bit overwhelmed in the center, where it’s at its thinnest. This is what scientists at the Coconuts Institute for Pizza Research refer to as “crust integrity.”

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The Margherita pizza. Photo: Coconuts HK
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Homeslice’s Baby Leek pizza. Photo: Coconuts HK

This led to a bit of “tip dip” during the tray-to-plate transfer process, and, of course, tip dip’s constant companion: “topping slide.” None of this will be unfamiliar to fans of thin Neapolitan-style crusts. And it’s nothing to lose sleep over as there are two simple solutions: fold it, or fork it (you Philistine).

Basics covered — let’s get to what matters. We were big fans of the simple Spicy Sausage (HK$175) pie. The bright red slashes of chili sauce — and the strong whiff of spice as it was placed in front of us — promised something with a whole lot of heat, but the end effect turned out milder than we’d expected (in a good way). We’re guessing that’s the influence of the créme fraiche, which was drizzled alongside the chili sauce.

The crumbly sausage, meanwhile, evoked memories of exceedingly unpretentious pizzas from our childhood. That is in no way a knock — it was a legit treat. This is a pie we’d order again in a heartbeat.

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The Spicy Sausage pizza. Photo: Coconuts HK

Now confident that we were in the hands of people who know what they are doing, we knew we needed to roll the dice on some of the more exotic choices: yes, I’m looking at you, Meatloaf pizza (HK$165). The menu boasts that it’s “not your momma’s meatloaf,” which in our case is probably for the best. Oddly, while the meatball-ish dabs of meatloaf that dot the 12-inch pie are good, it’s the mushy peas you’ll come away remembering.

And there’s the rub. The peas … well, they taste like peas, which is just really different for a pizza. Basically, you need to like peas. If you don’t, best to keep on moving. It’s probably best as one of those pies that you order to divvy up among a group of people — you know, one of those “I’ll have a slice of that, but only a slice, just to shake things up” type of pizzas, before digging into your second slice of the Spicy Sausage (as we did).

The signature Baby Leek (HK$160) pie is, without question, the greenest pizza we have ever eaten or are likely to eat, ever. It’s also good (we’re a sucker for taleggio) — though the leek itself tends to come off in long strands. Be prepared to look a bit awkward as you struggle to corral those dangling bits of leek, mouth agape.

One dining companion also mentioned at least twice that it could have used more caramelized onions. We nodded and took notes, pretending we were sophisticated enough to have drawn the same conclusion. That said, you really can’t go wrong with more caramelized onions.

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Homeslice’s fried squid. Photo: Coconuts HK

We haven’t mentioned the starters yet, have we? They were a treat.

When you see the words Fried Squid (HK$135) on a menu, the more middlebrow of us conjure calamari rings in our minds. What came to our table was significantly more spectacular-looking than calamari rings. Looking for all the world like the deep-fried remains of a kaiju killed in hand-to-hand combat, the squid was a bit chewy for our taste — we’ll blame weak teeth — but incredibly filling (just look at the thing!).

It all came towering over its much smaller companions: a couple of fresh lemon wedges, and a thin foundation of tonka bean mayonnaise. Tonka beans are an intensely aromatic legume native to South America — its flavor is a bit like a blend of vanilla beans, cinnamon, and almond, with the spicy “bite” of licorice — though, we didn’t detect much of that in this dip. Just a heads-up for any of you tonka bean fanatics out there.

Also an unexpected delight was the “Katsu” Sando (HK$95) mortadella finger sandwiches. We’d never had thick cut mortadella — that Italian spirit animal of Bologna — before, much less as a breaded and deep-fried cutlet, but it works. The fried layer of panko bread crumbs, along with the pickled cabbage, give it an excellent crunchy texture that plays off the soft white bread, while the sriracha mayo, well … it’s sriracha mayo, and who doesn’t like that?

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L to R: The Spanish Salad, with red cabbage, kale, farro, buckwheat, with parmesan shavings (HK$65) and the “Katsu” Sando appetizer. Photo: Coconuts HK

Homeslice also has a deep menu of cocktails. We’ve only got the Negroni (HK$75) we nursed to go by — OK, two Negronis — so we won’t expound on it, but it was well made, which suggests their barwoman, or man, knows what they’re doing. We suspect we’ll get into their original cocktails on our next visit.

They’ve also got a solid happy hour menu — HK$20 for a bottle of Red Stripe, HK$40 for house liquor and mixers, HK$40 for a glass of house red or white wine, and HK$30 for picklebacks — so if you’re the type who can get away with drinking between 5pm and 7pm, we’d seriously consider putting it in the rotation.

Coconuts verdict: Give it a shot.

 

FIND IT:
Homeslice is at Shop 3 Bohemian House, 321 Des Voeux Road West, Sai Ying Pun
Reservations: +852 3619 4026
Mon-Thurs 11:30am-11pm, Fri 11:30am-1am, Sat 10am-1am, Sun 10am-11pm
MTR: Sai Ying Pun (approx. 8 mins walk)


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