Kale: the original hipster veggie and also the name of a new 13th-floor hideout in Sheung Wan. This fresh space, with wide windows looking out at sky-high views, sports dark woods and ample seating and it seems like it has a winning formula, with sliders and salads being the name of the game. However, the menu takes a while to navigate. And when you do, it isn’t great.
On our visit during a Monday lunchtime, we order the ‘two sliders and a salad’ option ($110) and this lets you choose between four slider varieties and three salad ingredients. But additional toppings for the salad cost extra. That means you don’t really get a salad at all, unless you really ramp up the price. We end up with a 50-50 split of beetroot and quinoa (ironically, the kale is sold out!), which is neither a salad nor a good dish in any way whatsoever. Okay, we could have added some life to the salad, like avocado hummus ($35), poached egg ($12) or mushrooms ($12), but this would mean a hefty bill and we’re not here to splash out.
And it doesn’t end there. To our amazement, the beef sliders sold out at 1pm. Seriously. So we’re encouraged to add $10 for a not-yet-on-the-menu crab slider alongside a falafel one. Both are good, though. Credit where credit’s due. The crab patty is deep-fried the Japanese way and results in a great combination of textures, from ultra-crispy to succulent and tender. The falafel is also a hit. It’s well-seasoned and robust – far from the dry and tasteless versions you often get.
But back to the disappointment. We also grab a second set with mixed potato and taro fries ($106) to accompany tofu and chicken sliders. However, the tofu one is unimaginative, with no spice or zing to liven up the neutral flavours. And, while we appreciate the ingenuity of offering taro fries, overall the chips are neither crispy nor inspiring. For an extra condiment, we shell out on the ‘avomayo’ ($18), which, it turns out, is just a terrible runny green sauce that tastes just like bad salad dressing – no mayonnaise in it all!
Other guests who have gone the full nine yards with their salads seem to be enjoying themselves – the more ample versions, we admit, look fantastic. Also, we’re a fan of the fresh ‘Kail juice’ ($38), which calms and cleanses with kale, mint, cucumber and apple. If you’re going in for the regular sets, however – as most lunch and dinner-goers presumably will – it’s dangerous territory to trot at Kale. You could leave satisfied or, like us, confused and disappointed. Li Meng de Bakker
Kale 13/F, Cheung’s Bldg, 1-3 Wing Lok St, Sheung Wan, 2320 5808; kale.com.hk. Dinner for two: $350.
13/F, Cheung's Bldg, 1-3 Wing Lok St, Sheung Wan