When someone utters the word Caribbean, images of white sandy beaches and palm trees are instantly conjured up. So when we hear that a Caribbean restaurant (touted as Hong Kong’s first) has just opened up in our SAR’s equivalent of a beach town – Sai Kung – we have to sample this slice of the tropics for ourselves.
Chef Mandy Kaur, who grows her own cracking chillis in a rooftop farm, is behind the new Mandy’s Caribbean Bar and Restaurant, hot off a six-year success story with Mandy’s private kitchen. This new venture, in a backstreet near the waterfront, next to toy stores and other eateries, sees her upgrading from kitchen to full eatery. However, it’s hardly a place that shouts as the restaurant looks plain both inside and out. The interior is small, with only one row of tables lining a wall and some stools facing the bar. And there’s nothing to suggest Mandy’s serves anything but alcohol – but perhaps understatement works better than kitsch as the restaurant gets its footings.
Kaur has obviously brought in some top Caribbean rums for this joint – but we leave them alone and head straight for the food, beginning with some Jamaican chicken patties ($60). Each of these boast smoothly textured thin pastry, fragrant with turmeric, all wrapped around well-spiced fillings which bring out sweet edges to the meat within. These taste truly homemade and start our meal on a high note. Next up we try one of the most popular dishes in the Caribbean – goat stew ($140). And we’re not disappointed. Sitting in an aromatic herby green sauce, the goat tenderly falls off the bone. It could do with more meat in the dish but it does work with the classic rice and beans on the side, which mop up the sauce well. Another signature item is the jerk chicken ($125) but we find this dish too sweet. The fowl is well-seasoned and packs in a carnival of spices like cinnamon and cloves – but the meat itself is just too dry and the dish needs to be given more savoury notes to counterbalance the sweetness.
Mandy’s new restaurant venture isn’t there yet. Some of the food is tremendous but some of it lacks a little passion. However it’s early days and the chef comes with pedigree. Kaur needs to liven up some of the dishes and liven up that space too – and then, hopefully soon, we can pop into this restaurant and savour the tastes of paradise as we eat some Caribbean grub that deserves true five-star praise. Lisa Cam
Mandy’s Caribbean Bar and Restaurant 24 See Cheung Rd, Sai Kung, 2791 2088; caribbeanhk.com. Dinner for two: $400.
|Venue name:||Mandy's Caribbean Bar and Restaurant (Closed)|