Delish Eats: Charcoal Bar at Harbour City, Where Flames Spark Flavour
February 02, 2024
Restaurant story: Starring the eponymous charcoal grill as the main star of the restaurant, Charcoal Bar is LUBUDS Group’s open-fire concept that delivers Michelin-star-tier grilled cuts of meat and seafood in a chic yet laidback environment, and certainly a friendlier price point.
Chef story: Though currently based in Singapore and spending most of his time helming MATERA at The Fullerton Waterboat House, German-born Chef Bjoern Alexander is a familiar and esteemed name in the Hong Kong F&B scene, having left his fingerprints at the two-Michelin-starred Octavium and Restaurant Petrus. Charcoal Bar is a venture that allows him to transfer his fine dining style into a more casual form.
What’s the vibe and venue like: The sleek, warmly lit restaurant is split into cosy alcove booth seats on one side with the open kitchen running parallel. The space expands into a woody and brown toned dining room section with ample tables, continuing to stretch out past a sliding door into their al fresco portion on the sidewalk, right beside the Star Ferry terminal, with ample views of Victoria Harbour.
How much does it cost: The feast was shared between a group of four, totalling to HK$3730, or HK$932.5 per person. The portion was more than enough for the whole table, and we paired it with a bottle of wine and some cocktails (starting from HK$98).
What is the menu about: Signatures from the a-la-carte menu were handpicked to show off Chef Bjoern’s mastery over the wood fired grill.
What did we order: Grilled Oyster (Starting from HK$68), Uni Toast (HK$128/pc), Mini Burger (HK$98/pc), Lychee Wood Whole Grilled Jumbo Tiger Prawn (HK$338/pc), Lychee Wood-smoked Op Rib (HK$780/for 2 pax.), Charred Pineapple (HK$148/for 2 pax.)
(Not pictured): Clams (HK$188), Crab Cake (HK$148) Charcoal-Grilled Eel (HK$328), Crispy Rice Cake (HK$188), Lemon Tart (HK$98)
Grilled Oyster: The seasoning of Yuzu Koshu Butter and Ponzu added a tropical touch to the fresh oysters, giving a little summery twist, slightly reminiscent of the flavourings in a Southeast Asian dish. It was just the teaser to whet the appetite.
Mini Burger, Uni Toast: A match of the ultimate decadence, the uni toast was a meshing of textures with a stunning palate. Soft uni glides like butter onto a bed of tender wagyu strips, spiced with the earthy aroma of truffle – it's a must-try.
While sliders of lesser quality would mask its subpar beef using sauces, these freshly cooked patties were already full of the umami it sweat out on the grill, with only a modest dollop of truffle aioli and spiced ketchup that complemented sparingly. Each thick bite was savoury and paired well with the pillowy, lightly toasted brioche.
Lychee Wood Whole Grilled Jumbo Tiger Prawn: Even though we got to this main dish last, the pearly and succulent jumbo prawn still held the grill’s smoky fragrance intact in each bite of the jewelled flesh. Trust in the perfect fusion of the prawn soaked in this satisfying sauce that blends the tang of Vietnamese nước chấm with the spice of Thai nam tok. It’s just the ultimate combination.
Lychee Wood-smoked Op Rib: This beefy crowning glory of the grill were accompanied by a series of decadent sides including Baby Spinach (HK$78) in a creamy garlicky feta cheese, Potato Churro (HK$88) served with zesty aioli, and Potato Cake (HK$88) spiced with paprika. Sauces (HK$28 each) ranging from a Peppercorn Gravy to Coriander Chimichurri were also on offer, allowing us to create our own explosions of flavour to complement.
The steak was prepared medium rare and sliced easily, each bite hitting the cross-section of velvety texture that still maintained its firmness.
Charred Pineapple: Bringing the flames out from the kitchen, the final piece was flambéed in front of us in a one slick flourish. We dug heartily into the thick cloud of coconut ice cream seeping into the warm fleshy rum raisin and pineapple chunks, being hit with the fragrance of the caramelized charring of the fluffed coconut vanilla cream. The sweetness was never overpowering, and the contrast in textures and temperatures served up an absolute delight.
What we liked: Chef Bjoern shows his dexterity in expertly sifting between ingredients on the grill, all while tossing in flavours from a plethora of other cuisines for subtle fusion twists on dishes. On a next visit, I’d like to explore more of the seafood selection to see how well chewier, squid type dishes fare.
What we didn’t like: While I am never opposed to a potato dish, it would have been a smarter decision for me to incorporate more greens for a bit of a balance and as a palate cleanser.
What you should order: Grilled Oyster, Uni Toast, Lychee Wood Whole Grilled Jumbo Tiger Prawn, Charcoal-Grilled Eel, Lychee Wood-Smoked Op Rib, Potato Churro, Charred Pineapple, Lemon Tart
Location: Charcoal Bar, Shop OT G62, G/F, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Contact details: +852 2117 0088
This food review is based on a complimentary media tasting provided by Charcoal Bar in exchange for a truthful review and no compensation. The opinions expressed within represent the views of the author.
Enjoyed this article? Check out our previous Delish Eats reviews here
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