First look: The new ‘wallet-friendly set lunch’ at Tipsy in Tai Hang

Tipsy Restaurant & Bar’s reception. Photo courtesy of Spice Marketing Communications.

Tai Hang is just a stone’s throw away from Causeway Bay’s busy shopping district, and the pleasantly quiet, laid-back neighborhood is already known to have a solid selection of restaurants and bars — gastropub Second Draft and local Cantonese joint Man Sing Bing Sutt, for instance.

The list of on-trend eateries in the area is growing. One of those is Tipsy Restaurant & Bar, founded by chef Kong War Sing. He’s worked the kitchens of both humble cha chaan tengs and five-star hotels (Marco Polo Hotel), and opened his first restaurant Mustard Café & Bar, also in Tai Hang, in 2014. Chef Kong is also currently working on a new F&B project that’s slated to open in Kwun Tong soon.

His second restaurant, Tipsy, opened last December, and recently launched what they’re billing as “a wallet-friendly set-lunch menu” for the summer.

This is a three-course lunch menu ranging from HK$108 to HK$178 per person, and there is also an all-day oyster and wine set that runs for HK$148 per set. Coconuts Hong Kong went down to Tai Hang to try out the new lunch offerings. And the oysters. Of course, the oysters.

So, about those mollusks: The set comes with four freshly shucked Stella Maris oysters, paired with two glasses of house white wine. The usual fresh lemon slices and red wine vinegar come served on the side.

The oysters were meaty and firm, fresh and flavorful. These had less of a pronounced briny bite than we usually prefer, but were still satisfying — especially when paired with the white wine.

You can also have a single fresh oyster to add as an appetizer to your meal, and that costs HK$38 each.

Shucked oysters set. Photo: Vicky Wong

Moving on to the lunch set. Diners can choose an appetizer, main course, and dessert. Scanning through the options, we went with the pan-seared crab cake with creole remoulade sauce, and warm potato salad with cocktail shrimp (an extra HK$20). For our vegetarian friends: There’s a roasted zucchini and eggplant with fig jam on toast, too.

The crab cake was great — lightly crispy on the outside, and with just the right kind of soft, textured inside. We appreciated the separation of sauce and crab cake, which of course helps keep that crispiness intact, but more importantly, allows you to taste that delicate crab meat without fear of drowning out its flavors with a heavy sauce. So, a pretty nice start to the meal.

Pan-seared crab cake with creole remoulade sauce. Photo: Vicky Wong

The potato salad that followed did commit the folly of over-saucing, however — just a bit too much mayonnaise, which caused the natural flavors of the other elements, including a layer of avocado on top, to lose out to the mayo. Also, a bit of contrast would have been great: the sharpness of mustard, or slight crunch of onions, perhaps, to cut through the rest texturally or flavor-wise.

Warm potato salad with cocktail shrimp. Photo: Vicky Wong

Moving on to the main course. Options include squid ink spaghetti, duck confit risotto, pan-fried seabass with grilled corn salad, slow-cooked ribeye with mashed potatoes, and grilled pork loin with mushroom and mixed bean stew. Again, Tipsy’s made sure to include a meatless option: a portobello mushroom burger with sweet potato chips and side salad.

We got the squid ink spaghetti with herb tomato concasse (HK$108), duck confit risotto with green peas (HK$138), and the portobello mushroom burger (HK$158.)

The duck risotto was surprisingly soupy and salty. It was studded with many chunks of delicious duck confit, but the risotto part lacked the creaminess that’s characteristic of risotto. Perhaps this version is tweaked to appeal to a certain palate that prefers to have the cheese factor toned down?

Duck confit risotto with green peas. Photo: Vicky Wong

The portobello mushroom burger was slightly sweet and tangy at the same time, with a pleasant pillowy texture. The mushroom “patty” itself was deep-fried in a light batter, which made for a nice base, but we do wonder if grilling would have brought out more of a umami factor in this vegetarian burger…

Those sweet potato fries were excellent, though — sliced and fried so perfectly and evenly that it kind of reminded of us of just-fried plantain chips. Tipsy serves theirs with a honey yogurt sauce instead of the usual condiments ketchup or mayonnaise. It sounds like an unusual combination, but it works.

Portobello mushroom burger with sweet potato chips and salad. Photo: Vicky Wong

The best main course that we had, though, was the squid ink pasta. Well-rounded flavors, tangy tomato combined with the bitter squid ink, and nice textures in the squid and spaghetti. Might even be nice to spike this one with just a bit of hot sauce. Mmmmmmm….

Squid ink spaghetti with herb tomato concasse. Photo: Vicky Wong

And finally, the desserts. There’s the option to get a dish of compressed strawberry with mascarpone cream, a chocolate tart with mascarpone cream and raspberry coulis, and bread pudding. We tried all three.

The chocolate tart was hands-down the best dessert of the pack — slightly bitter, and not overly sweet (the dark chocolate provided a really nice base). The compressed strawberries was an OK dessert. A bit watery. Perhaps better for those who don’t prefer something too rich in texture.

Chocolate tart with mascarpone cream and raspberry coulis. Photo: Vicky Wong

We did like the texture of the bread pudding — soft, squidgy, and nicely balanced in flavor.

Overall, the food itself is solid across the board, though speaking frankly — nothing that blew our minds. Would we come back? If in the area, then yes. Yes, we would. Particularly if we were making plans for a lunch date with friends, or for a mealtime meeting for work. Keep in mind that this is a “wallet-friendly” lunch set, so it’s an especially good option for work-related functions if budget concerns are a thing. The elegant Art Deco-inspired decor of the restaurant certainly makes for a low-key, classy work-related meet-up.

 

FIND IT:
Tipsy Restaurant & Bar 1/F, Little Tai Hang, 98 Tung Lo Wan Road, Tai Hang

Open 12pm to 3pm, 5pm to 12:15am
+852 2818 8807
MTR: Tin Hau, approx 5 minutes walk

The interiors. Photo: Tipsy Restaurant & Bar

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