Catch SYP: Hip Sai Ying Pun Vibes With Aussie-Style Seafood
May 30, 2022
Catch Sai Ying Pun possesses a strong magnet value in cultish Sai Ying Pun, drawing neighbourhood crowds to flock to the chic and stylish venue and enjoy Australian-style, Lebanese-influenced seafood, brunch items, and spicey treats.
Catch relocated to the vibey hood of Sai Ying Pun in November 2021 after eight years of serving a brunch-and-boozing crowd in Kennedy Town, following the closure of the west-side location and sister-venue Mama Malouf.
The casual neighbourhood watering hole and dining magnet is the brainchild of F&B veteran Alex Malouf, importing a former Kennedy Town favourite to Second Street and the Australian-style seafood menu popularised under the Catch Concepts brand.
Catch gracefully fits in the jazzy fabric of Sai Ying Pun, shaping this neighbourhood wine and dine offering into a fine-dining-esque watering hole for locals and travelling foodies. It fits comfortably alongside award-winning Brut! and hangout spot of Fine Print as the place to be in Sai Ying Pun.
The interior shouts elegance and bravado. Beyond the black façade of the exterior, diners are welcomed through curved windows that beckon with the sounds of chatter and clinking. The black chairs and tables made for dining – which illuminate the bright platters of seafood and greens – match beautifully with the soft orange lighting, white marble bar countertops, and soft brown cushions.
Food and drink
Catch flexes its culinary cards with extensive brunch, “drunch,” long lunch, and dinner menus mastering tangy seafood plates, egg and bread breakfast combos, and spicy green dishes. The Sai Ying Pun venue is a suited all-day dining option for sharing food over drinks and laughter.
I began my dining experience at Catch tucking into the Edamame Dip (HK$58), an ornately decorated starter featuring edamame bean puree, roasted padron peppers, dusted furikake flakes, and rice crackers.
Creativity shines here with the chef team breaking down the sugars of the edamame to introduce a creamy and vegetal flavour to the once-crunchy green. The furikake powder brings in a spicy tingle and salt required to balance each bite, with the nutty rice crackers absorbing each scoop and sustaining their crunch and structure.
Up next, I delved deep into the Beef Tartar (HK$138), daintily diced beef chunks mixed with a sweet and sour Vietnamese nuoc cham fish sauce and painted with a lightly dusted egg yolk, basil, and cilantro.
Catch delivers a sweet raw beef dish oozing with orange and lime flavours, with the familiar umami beef aftertaste following each bite. Crush the egg yolk, mix in the pho herbs, and serve with a prawn cracker that literally crackles in your mouth with the juice. I added a light dusting of chunky salt to elevate the beefiness of the tartare which lacked with some bites.
Onto mains and I stuck my fork and face into the Trout Salad (HK$158), a new addition to the roster on Second Street, a fruity and vibrant salad with lightly oiled pan-fried pink trout chunks, sliced fennel, dill, gem lettuce, soft boiled egg, and grapefruit, dressed with a silky garlic sauce.
As vibrant in colours as in taste, the trout boasts of a tender salmon-like texture with hints of garlic, horseradish, and honey. Paired with the lettuce, fennel for a bitter introduction, and grapefruit, each scoop is sweet with varied sour, salty, and peppery tones. The garlic sauce does not pack a punch here, with a vinaigrette-base dressing preferable to flavour the fish.
The Duck Leg (HK$188) challenged me to eating at Catch and was prepared as duck should be: tender, breaking with a fork pulled down, and having that classic smokey flavour. The plate is served in a pool of tangy Lebanese-style baba ghanoush and butter-burnt cabbage.
The duck was sweet with its burnt exterior releasing flavours of honey and pepper with its Mayard-reaction charred skin, and smoky inside that released salty juices onto my tongue. I wish the cabbage was crispier so as to the soak up the baba ghanoush, drizzled at the foot of the duck leg. I was slightly let down with the baba ghanoush which was too sour for my liking, tackling my tongues receptors.
Finally, I was served the day’s market fish, an oven-grilled Gray Turbot (market price), delicately garnished with vinegar-infused oyster mushrooms and a garlic-parsley dressing.
This plate was a perfect finale to my experience at Catch. The turbot was buttery to taste with its punchy flavours raised with the aid of the pesto-like dressing, which teased my palate with lemon, garlic, and sesame tones. To alter the dish, I would add crunchy onion flakes or garlic chunks to introduce a differing texture to the soft fillets.
The orange light illuminating from within Catch acts as the local lodestone, enticing local Sai Ying Puners and travelling neighbours into the warmth of the buzzing venue. Mid-week drinks and weekend clinks of champagne, and Catch’s unique fruity cocktail selection and Australian beer can be heard echoing throughout the hood.
Service at Catch is excellent, with waitstaff and bartenders eagle-eyed to one’s every food need and if you need another drink – yes, you do – we recommend fan-favourite Forbidden Juice (HK$78).
Go once and realise that your local up in Sai Ying Pun won’t cut it, with Catch quickly shifting into your weekly go-to for happy hour deals and long dinners.
Malouf’s import of the Catch brand to Sai Ying Pun has paid its dividends in the form of a well-celebrated venue by locals for all-day dining and all-night boozing. The penetration of Lebanese influence and Australian-styled recipes in the lunch and dinner menus sets the western restaurant apart from neighbouring joints, with flavours that are not foreign to the tongue but are modified with tingling spice and sweet meats.
For a trip with friends, we recommend trying the Edamame Dip (HK$58), Trout (HK$158), Baked Salmon (HK$198), Daily Market Fish (market price), and Crispy Brussels (HK$58).
This food review is based on a complimentary media tasting provided by Catch Concepts in exchange for a truthful review and no compensation. The opinions expressed within represent the views of the author.
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