It’s often been said that the sign of a good kitchen is the ability to turn out a perfectly roasted chicken. If Shi Da Casha was to be judged on this task alone, it would be one of the hidden gems of our culinary landscape. Unfortunately the rest of the dining experience left it a few pegs short.
Shi Da Casha opened just over a month ago on the ground floor of the Butterfly On Prat Hotel serving traditional Soviet eats. Russian cuisine has a reputation for having been derived from peasant food, with a focus on fish, poultry, and grain, and all were represented on the menu, which included salmon, herring, crepes, pancakes, veal, chicken, and beef. The menu is lengthy, and most diners will find something that appeals. Prices top out at $188.
The first hiccup came when we tackled the appetiser section. They were out of our first two choices (on a Saturday night at 7.30pm?), so we opted for the borsch ($42), blini ($58), and blinchiki ($48). The borsch, a Russian staple, had nicely cooked cabbage, carrots, and beetroot interspersed with small chunks of veal. While serviceable, it was lacking seasoning, specifically salt. The blini were described as ‘crepes topped with caviar and served with sour cream’; while the serving was large, we thought it was a tad disingenuous that the ‘caviar’ was in fact salmon roe (although not entirely unexpected give the price).
By far the highlight of the appetisers was the blinchiki. Two pancakes stuffed with piping hot ground veal and slathered with sour cream, they resembled mini burritos. The thinness of the pancakes really let the flavour and texture of the meat shine through. On to mains, and the chicken “tabaca” ($158) was a perfectly grilled baby hen served splayed with a garlicky white-wine mayonnaise on the side. The chicken was extremely juicy, the skin crisp, with a strong garlic flavour, although the presentation made getting to the meat slightly challenging. The beef stroganoff ($108) comprised tender filet tips served in a thick sauce chock full of onions and mushrooms. While not the lightest summer meal, the accompanying rice studded with corn brought the guilt factor down a bit.
We topped things off with six-layer honey cake ($43) with bits of graham cracker strewn throughout. Moist and not too heavy, it was a good suggestion from the staff.
One irritation, however, was when we asked for tap water and were told they don’t serve it; bottled water only. I know this is an unfortunate trend these days, but we were surprised to find this policy in a newly opened Russian restaurant in TST.
Overall, Shi Da Casha has its heart in the right place, but with various other decent Russian eateries dotted around town, that may not be enough.
Butterfly on Prat Hotel, G/F, 21 Prat Ave, Tsui Sha Tsui, 2368 8976. Mon to Fri 7.30am-10.30pm, Sat & Sun 8.30am to 10.30pm. Meal for two: around $500.
|Venue name:||Shi Da Casha (closed)|
G/F, 21 Prat Ave, Tsui Sha Tsui