Sunday, 1 May 2016

Fishsteria - hip and happening fish joint

The district of Wanchai has been abuzz lately with the opening of a restaurant that's been causing quite a bit of good vibes.

Fishsteria is the latest restaurant from Executive Chef Gianni Caprioli, a name you might recognise from critically-acclaimed and FoodMeUpScotty recommended restaurant, Giando (see post here), as well as GIA and

Opened in September 2015, Fishsteria quickly acquired a loyal fan base and became everyone's favourite fish restaurant.  Conveniently located on Queens Road East, I'd walked past Fishsteria dozens of times where I'd peered through the front door and looked at the menu board; pondering going in for a meal.

We finally stopped pondering and made a decision to go one Friday night after work, making our way into the hip and happening joint.  We'd not made a reservation and were really there on a speculative visit and thankfully we were't turned away and were advised a table would be free shortly.  It gave us a moment to sit and soak up the vibe of the downstairs bar area.  

Vibrant painting adorned the walls and I couldn't help thinking that some of the works would look fabulous on our apartment walls.  Interestingly, the seat that we were waiting on was a faithful cement replica of a comfy looking couch.  There was a moment where we didn't quite believe our eyes, but the couch was indeed rock hard while at the same time looking inviting and soft.  Funky music played through the sound system, and I immediately felt like Fishsteria was my kind of place.

Once our table was available and we made our way upstairs to the formal dining room, the contest couldn't have been more stark! We moved from cool bar to a nautically themed fine dining restaurant, resplendent with white linen tables and seafaring artefacts placed all around.  The thump of the music and hubbub of noise was completely gone, and in it's place a tranquil and refined dining area.

Looking over our menus, there was a reasonable range of Italian cuisine that had a distinctive seafood theme that held many delicious looking options for a couple of hungry diners.  It's not surprising that there is an Italian bent to the menu, with Chef Davide Saretto from Venice in charge of day to day running of the restaurant.  With a philosophy to source the freshest of seafood directly from the sea, Chef Saretto's menu certainly looked to fulfil on that promise.

Orders placed, we were presented with a half loaf of warm and crusty sour dough, along with a slab of lightly salted butter.  The bread was incredibly fresh, so much so that the cold butter wouldn't spread at all, and had to be 'warmed' on my side plate for a while.  It's a little bug bear of mine, but I really wish all restaurants would serve table butter at room temperature - it really makes spreading butter much easier!

The girl's starter was a rustic looking plate of Hokkaido scallop ceviche, served with an apple and green salad and a lime vanilla dressing.  I'm not sure I loved the look of the salad, which detracted from the overall presentation and may have been better served on the side.  The scallops were a reasonably thick cut for a ceviche but the freshness of the sweet flesh ensured that they tasted wonderful.  The lime vanilla dressing was interesting, it didn't have a strong vanilla presence, which was probably a good thing!  The apple worked really well with the scallop, the slight tart bite playing with the delicate scallop flesh.

My starter was much more pleasing to the eye, and equally pleasing to the palate!  Super classic combination of pan seared Hokkaido scallop, wrapped in Iberico jamon and sitting on a bed of cauliflower puree.  There was a subtle variation to the classic dish in that a thick balsamic vinegar was added to great effect.  The scallops were cooked to perfection, a lovely caramelisation adding to the sweet flavour and working brilliantly (as expected) with the Iberico.  I found the cauliflower puree to be a little lumpy and I'd have much preferred a creamy texture to the lumpy version provided.  What was a revelation though was that balsamic, the strong flavour offsetting the scallop and jamon superbly.

Our main courses were a little bit of a mixed bag, and while on the whole pretty nice, had some minor issues that really stood out!

The girl ordered a cencioni pasta dish that came with a pesto and cod sauce, but interestingly had broccoli included.  There was an incredibly strong fish flavour coming from the sauce, which was well cooked, but just a little weird - I mean, the broccoli just looked a little out of place.  The cod pieces really stood out and were lovely, but we'd have loved to see bigger pieces to add a little extra texture.  The main issue was the consistency of the pasta, with some pieces cooked perfectly and some a little under done and a bit rubbery as a consequence.  It was a good dish, but could have been great.

My choice was the whole Dover sole meuniere, a dish that I've not actually had before, although the girl had consumed many times!  The dish is normally served on the bone, but I'd requested that the fillets be taken off the bone for consuming.  I loved that the kitchen cooked the fish on the bone and brought the whole sole out to the table to show us the finished product, before taking back to the kitchen to finish off.  Again, there were real highlights with the dish, but some questionable presentation and accompaniments.  Whenever I've seen sole meniere presented, it's just been the fish on the plate, with the sauce on the side to be added.  That was the case at Fishsteria, although there were steamed vegetables and a golden bag (no, no idea why?) on the plate that were completely out of place and really necessary!

The sole was prepared and cooked expertly, the golden colour just right and the buttery meniere sauce velvety and simply stunning.  It was a wonderful dish to eat, but I was distracted from the steamed vegetables, which were to be frank, completely over cooked.  It was a case of 'less-is-more'!

The Italian influence continued with the dessert menu, with the standout being the white chocolate pannacotta with cherry sauce and toasted almonds.  There was a beautiful wobble with the dessert, that was so delicately held together!  The sweetness of the white chocolate contrasted with the slightly sour cherry sauce and the toasted almond gave texture to the creamy pannacotta.  It was not far off the best pannacotta I've had and a real credit to the pastry chef at Fishsteria!

Given that I'd walked past Fishsteria so many times before actually taking the plunge and checking it out, I actually felt as if I was already well acquainted with the restaurant.  It was a strange feeling!  I guess looking at a menu over and over can help acquaint you subconsciously...

It also helped that the service was first rate and the decor, particularly downstairs, was just to my liking - bright and funky.  There were a couple of minor issues with the mains, in particular the inconsistently cooked pasta with the girl's main, and the superfluous steamed vegetables with my sole meuniere, but these largely didn't impact our enjoyment of the meal.

There are not that many great western fish restaurants around in Hong Kong, so Fishsteria is definitely a place that we'll get back to for dinner, especially since it's just down the street from our new place. It's a pretty easy joint to slip into, perhaps have a cocktail at the bar downstairs before cruising to the main dining room upstairs.  

Or maybe trying the lobster roll at the bar downstairs.... 

The lettuce with the salad looked a little too rustic
I'm just not sure about the golden bag, nor the overcooked vegetables - stick with the classic look!
Delicious scallops but the cauliflower puree was a bit too lumpy
You can see the arm of the 'cement' chesterfield!
Lots of attentive staff 
We had a great view of the kitchen and here are the waitstaff deboning my sole
I want that octopus!
Ships ahoy!
Starting to get busy!
Don't walk by, get in and check out Fishsteria

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