“O Oysters, come and walk with us!” So says the Walrus in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass when he lures some unsuspecting bivalves from the seabed on to his plate. Sharing a similar fate are the oysters we’re excited to consume at the latest project by the Chow sisters – the ingenious siblings behind avant-garde cocktail bar, The Woods.
Situated along the border between Central and Sheung Wan, on Staunton Street, The Walrus is a 25-seat nautically-themed eatery complete with oyster baskets dangling from the ceiling, portholes and chipped paint wooden floors.The three sisters are keen to shake things up in the oyster bar scene the same way they did with experimental cocktails at The Woods. Once again, the menu is full of innovation and creativity. The raw and hot selections sport kooky names like lady gaga, miso cool and even an ironic veggie option called Copy Cat. (It’s just vegetables on a shell, but it’s a cute chance for vegetarians to join in on the fun.) There’s even a chocolate oyster for dessert.
Clear oyster shot
Though we stare at that dessert option on the menu – actually the single dessert available – with much consternation, we rally and kick things off the way anyone should, and that’s with a shooter. We pick the Clear ($68), a sake based shooter with uni, a whole shiso leaf, caviar and an oyster. The seafood flavours shine through; only to recede as the sake’s bite hits us midway and to dissipate after a scoop of the shiso into our mouths. We understand that for presentation a whole leaf in the glass looks better, but when it makes so much difference to the taste, we would suggest having some chopped up in the drink. Next, we select half a dozen Smoky Bay Australian oysters ($30 each) and for each order of three, you get to pick one sauce. We select the K-pop and Thai Me Up, and boy are they great. It shouldn’t be a surprise that kimchi goes with seafood, and here it’s reduced to the consistency of a cocktail sauce. We don’t know why we’ve never tried this combination before. The Thai-inspired coriander, chilli and lime sauce is blended into more of a pesto consistency, and the fresh herbs match the molluscs.
Now for the signatures, which cost $48 each. In the raw section, we plump for the Oompa Loompa, topped with salmon, cucumber and blood orange sorbet, and Lady Gaga, which come with pink pickle jelly and chrysanthemum garnish. Beautifully presented, the former gives the impression of a tartare texture with an oyster twist. Just as the iron flavours begin to open out, the sorbet mutes them and ends on a citrusy note. The jelly is a revolutionary step for pickles when it comes to matching them with oysters; the texture matches seamlessly, bringing just the right amount of acidity and no bitter aftertaste of vegetable. This is definitely the star of the meal, but what happens when our order of Uni from the hot selection arrives spoils the evening. The mollusc is cooked in uni paste, garnished with chilli strands and the whole comes together as sweet and smooth, rounding off with a fiery kick at the end. This would’ve been a fine dish if not for the second helping. A bad oyster can ruin an entire meal and our next offering does just that – the previously sweet aromas of uni curdle into the flavour of an old boot.
The meal picks back up when the Po’ boy ($88) arrives. Our bite into the crispy brioche and its medley of fried oyster, fish, pickles and cucumber is seamless. The seafood enhances both the freshness of the vegetables and the zing off the pickles. It’s a satisfying way to end our journey.
But there’s still dessert. It’s with some relief we’re assured there is no shellfish in the chocolate oyster at all, rather it’s a white chocolate shell with a sea salt caramel ice cream. The plating is, again, gorgeous, and though white chocolate is often excessively sweet, we find the flavours balanced and not overdone.
Exiting, our impression of the restaurant would have definitely been slightly more glowing if it not for that one funky oyster. To many a seafood connoisseur out there, to be served one is quite egregious. But we do love the creativity at The Walrus and the prices for the location are very reasonable. Given it’s only in its soft opening there remains plenty of time to ensure that each oyster is just as fresh as those the Walrus lured from the sea. Lisa Cam
The Walrus 64 Staunton St, Central, 9862 8031; thewalrus.hk.
Clear oyster shot $68 x2
Smoky Bay Australian oysters $30 x6
Oompa loompa $48 x2
Lady Gaga $48 x2
Uni $48 x2
Po' boy $88
Chocolate oyster $58 x2
Service charge $81
Total (for two) $889
|Venue name:||The Walrus|
64 Staunton St, Central