Noho’s been touted as the new Soho for several years now, but only recently has that sobriquet begun to ring true. Take a walk down Gough Street or Kau U Fong these days and you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice, with only the occasional arty boutique or gallery preventing total restaurant domination of the area. Newest kid on the block is On Lot 10 – or, more accurately, the new incarnation of On Lot 10, now with creative direction from new chef/owner David Lai, previously of Annexx, Zuma, and The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco. The compact, predominantly white space can seat around a dozen diners on the ground floor, while plans are afoot to open the larger second floor in the next month or so.
The biggest draw for the casual passerby, however, is likely to be the outdoor seating (unless the government gets its way; see p12). A handful of tables out on adjacent On Wo Lane – combined with those of Paul’s Kitchen opposite – create a pleasantly European, piazza-like vibe (humidity notwithstanding). The menu, meanwhile, is rustic French-inspired and unpretentious. It’s also moderately priced, with all but two starters under $75, and mains at $200 or less. The liquor licence isn’t in place yet, but there’s no corkage charge to BYOB.
Things started off in promising fashion with the 21-day foie gras confit ($85), assuredly executed in both texture and flavour, and devilishly moreish scraped onto chunks of bread. The light and subtle combo of artichoke heart, free-range egg, and black truffle ($60) offered a fine contrast to the pleasant richness of the foie gras. So far, so good.
From the list of mains, we were tempted to share the roasted whole chicken with truffled foie gras stuffing ($380, serves two), but the cooking time (it’s supposed to be pre-ordered) and enticingly described alternatives dissuaded us. Electing to share our mains, this decision seemed validated by the first dish to arrive, a lamb triple-whammy ($195). The rack was perfectly cooked to our requested medium-rare and, despite being a little on the fatty side, proved a satisfying bite. Much more memorable, however, was the lamb shank, sausage, and haricot beans stew, a delightfully hearty concoction that had a ‘just like mum used to make’ quality (if mum had been French).
The grilled Wagyu short rib, however, was far too chewy-fatty for our liking, and we regretted the choice, although the accompanying pomme puree and shallot confit couldn’t be faulted. We also ordered sides of saffron potatoes (good) and green peas with bacon (great), although this was probably a little unnecessary on our part, and we struggled to finish them.
Dessert followed a similar pattern to our mains: the panna cotta ($48) was a creamy, lick-the-plate hit, while the strawberry soup ($48) – a rather syrupy, sickly sweet strawberry gloop with an island of ice cream plonked in the middle – left us once again ruing our selection.
The service, although friendly, was on the wrong side of casual (bread and starters took an age to arrive, while we resorted to asking for the dessert menu five minutes after our mains had been cleared after waiting patiently for it to be offered to no avail), while the cosy size of the space has its disadvantages, most noticeably that diners have to squeeze awkwardly past the kitchen door to reach the bathroom.
But these are early days, and if they can crank the service up a notch or two, and iron out the kinks in the menu, this place has the potential to raise the culinary bar in Noho. Time, as it always does in this game, will surely tell. Paul Kay
34 Gough St, Noho, Central, 2155 9210. Mon-Sat 12.15pm-3pm & 6.45pm-midnight (last orders 10.30pm).
21-day foie gras confit $85
Artichoke heart, free-range egg, and black truffle $60
Grilled Wagyu short rib $200
Lamb rack, shank, and sausage on haricot beans $195
Saffron potato $30
Green peas and bacon $45
Panna cotta $48
Strawberry soup $48
Ten per cent service charge $74
|Venue name:||On Lot 10 (Closed)|
34 Gough St, Noho, Central