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Daap: Budget Fine Dining With Fusion Flavours in Sheung Wan
by: Rubin Verebes
May 24, 2022
Daap, hidden away along Sheung Wan’s bazaar streets, is the neighbourhood’s latest offering of a fine dining-esque culinary experience that will not empty your wallet, with flavours designed to blend European cooking techniques and Chinese ingredients.
Opening in early January, Daap stresses the principle of time when experiencing taste, in reference to the Cantonese meaning of the name - 㗳 (daap1) - both the action of consuming and the onomatopoeic sound of such enjoyment.
The food principles of the Sheung Wan diner are theorised by chef Luke Chan, Marcus Cheng, and Kenneth Liu, envisioned as the sister venue for the team behind Binge Drinking Club, an Elgin Street hotspot for boozers and salty bar snacks.
Fitting comfortably on Wing Wo Street, Daap sits within the hyperlocal jade, schmatta, and cha chaan teng Sheung Wan trade, positioning itself as uniquely Hong Kong. Daap fits 20 diners at a time for an intimate and fanciful dining experience beyond the hustle of central Hong Kong.
Clad with high-top chairs and stainless steel, Daap performs well with an open kitchen and cushion-covered seating at the back to involve customers with the sights and smells of dishes fit for mulling over flavour combinations and matching colours.
The diner shines bright with a white neon sign outside and a forest green storefront and interior, a conscious effort to promote their menu of sustainable recipes and pop- out among neighbouring grey blocks.
Food and drink
Daap’s current culinary offerings within their brunch and set menu combine chef Luke’s French, American, and British recipes with Asian ingredients. A common denominator at Daap lies with their in-house sourdough starter, employed daily to create baguette and brioche buns for their signature open-face sandwiches.
Beginning our slow tasting experience at Daap, we were first served a fusion corn starter, Happy Minions (HK$78), golden corn rips, charred and oven-baked, with smoked white cheddar melted on top, and dusted with salted egg yolk, paprika, garlic, and pepper.
On first bite, you are met with a tang and salty flavour that matches well with the fresh and slightly sugary sweetcorn. It is a visually beautiful dish, colouring well underneath the soft orange light. I wish the cheddar was moister, so as to coat the mouth with gooey texture rather than offer a chewy bite.
Onto Daap’s eclectic sourdough creations, we took our forks and jabbed away at Cardinal & Gold (HK$138), a creamy, warm red and yellow bread dish decked with fresh baby spinach, a poached egg, beetroot-cured salmon cuts, béarnaise sauce, and topped with a healthy dollop of salmon roe.
This was one of our favourite poached eggs Benedict plates in the city, a salty adventure with every fresh ingredient. The spinach and sourdough add a nice bitter taste to the dish, which is countered with creamy and salty flavours oozing from the poached egg and butter-base sauce. The denouement of the Cardinal Gold is the salmon roe, which leaves a pleasant fish aftertaste on your tongue.
Chef Luke offered a fan favourite to us in the form of A Whole New World (HK$178), an earthly collaboration of Asian and European ingredients, beef tenderloin meeting a healthy serving of pureed potato salad, baby belle mushrooms, pickled silver onions, and homemade peanut satay sauce.
Despite being the most expensive sandwich dish on the brunch menu, this beef creation looks good and tastes good. Chef Luke flexes his fusion training with a dish that teases salt with sweet to offer a dish that differs with each bite. We liked the snappy sweetness of the onions that elevate the earthy potato and beef flavours, although we wish the tenderloin was salted prior to cooking.
The Cordyceps Flower Cream Soup (set menu) was our fourth offering that chef Luke and Marcus prepared for us, an appetizer on Daap’s night-time set menu. The orange bisque takes cuts of carrot, onion, garlic, and the Chinese cordyceps flower into creamy texture, enjoyed with fried cordyceps that possess a texture similar to squid.
Prepared in the open kitchen, the flower cream soup glistens magically under the round light bulbs that illuminate the venue. It is served in a similarly sized white bowl that unfortunately skimps on a larger serving size, but promises a sweet, milky-cream, and umami flavour palette. It works well with the set menu, but I would not order and share with a friend due to its small offering.
To end our fun Daap (嗒) experience, we were served the inventive Hong Kong-cross-Italian Chinese Sausage Carbonara With Onsen-Tomago (set menu), home-made pasta in a carbonara sauce, matched with sugary sausage, scallions, and a milky onsen egg.
Chef Luke designed the pasta to match with the classic Chinese biang biang noodles, identifying a knife-cut pasta for Daap that is bouncy and nutty. At the behest of Ken’s suggestion to mix the Japanese egg and pasta, we were welcomed with a boost of flavour. This dish is rich with cream that has unique ingredients and exposes the diner with sweet (sausage) and sour (grated parmesan), where the Chinese principle is stressed.
Daap is a special concept in Sheung Wan that promises fine dining on a budget, with fusion flavours that aim to please. The diner innovates on the city's brunch angle trading western techniques with Asian ingredients in a culinary representation of a highly international Hong Kong.
Different energies, flavour combinations, and cuisines are fused together with their sourdough dishes, and inventiveness is key when it comes to their dinner set menu. We recommend ordering three sourdough bread plates for a shared brunch – Cardinal & Gold, Energy Bunny, and Toast of the Ocean – with Happy Minions to get a starting flavour for how Daap approaches fusion.
This food review is based on a complimentary media tasting provided by Daap in exchange for a truthful review and no compensation. The opinions expressed within represent the views of the author.
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