After the success of openings featuring exotic Asian cuisines at Mak Mak and Kaum this year, Yenn Wong is rounding up 2016 with one more new restaurant, introducing Hong Kong with the vibrant cuisine of Southern California. Commissary, her latest opening, taking space at the concourse level of Pacific Place, has just opened.
SETTING [RATING: 3.5/5]
The wide entrance of Commissary is open and inviting. The al fresco dining area seats 30, and is casual and free-seating with a self-service setting where guests pick up their cutlery and napkins. The main dining area is separate into two small atriums, divided by the well-stocked bar. The interior is reminiscent of 60s and 70s design, while lighting is mild and soft, with warm earthy tones and large colourful paintings on the walls, accented with pots of greenery spread across floor-to-ceiling shelves near the kitchen.
FOOD [RATING: 4/5]
Yenn Wong’s homage to Southern Californian cuisine is a light and refreshing concept for Pacific Place, and joins the list of the mall’s autumn openings with the likes of Apinara and Operetta. The simple, one-page menu features familiar comfort food such as burgers and steaks.
We began with the clam chowder, which was a bit thin for our taste but the clams were tender and cubed potatoes retained a starchy bite.
Fish tacos are arguably the best in town, where soft flour tortillas are laid flat, holding crispy, thinly-battered fish and a pile of coleslaw, adding texture in every bite while the fish remains crisp on the outside and creamy within.
The fried chicken sandwich is top-notch with both sides of the sesame bun toasted. The chicken is seasoned well and juicy within. The double cheeseburger would have been better if the patties were medium rare instead of almost well-done.
Shrimp and grits is certainly the highlight of the meal. The rich seafood broth, with its rusty shade, is rich and best with soft, creamy grits. A slow-cooked egg with a molten yolk melts into the grits and coats each shrimp. The skirt steak is tender and caramelised on the outside but the dish itself lacks the same surprise factor as the grits.
Desserts can be a hit-or-miss at Commissary. The signature red velvet cake was nowhere near the original. For starters it contains no cocoa, whereas the original does. Generously stacked and iced, this four-layered cake was disappointingly doughy with a dense texture, although the cream cheese frosting had just the right hint of sweetness.
The apple fried pies arrived light beige on the outside with a fridge-cold filling. When returned with a freshly made batch, the half-moon shaped pastry crescents are flaky and short on the crust, while the filling is packed with cubed apples that yield to the bite.
WINE [RATING: 4/5]
As casual as Commissary is, the wine by the glass menu is good with plenty of options that are versatile enough to match with most of the menu offerings. Cocktails are designed by the group’s celebrated mixologist James Barker. The Downtown Derby lends a sunshine twist, comprising of grapefruit bitters, honey, and bourbon whisky. The addition of blood orange adds a delightful red hue and notes of sweet berry to the drink. The Bloody Californian is one of three variations of the Bloody Mary at the restaurant. The spicy Tequila adds extra kick to the rich brunch favourite cocktail without being overly boozy, and is a great match with the establishment’s bestsellers such as tacos and grilled steak.
SERVICE [RATING: 3.5/5]
The service staff at Commissary is keen and friendly, from quick booking confirmation to hellos and goodbyes. Portion control suggestions are sound and useful for first-time guests. The staff are keen to suggest bestsellers and signature items of the restaurant.
PRICE [RATING: 2/5]
A dinner for two including one cocktail each amounts to HK$950. Commissary’s food and drink selection brings a breath of fresh air to the fine dining-oriented Pacific Place, as it merits return visits for casual meetups over light bites and after work drinks.
Opening Hours: Mon - Fri: 11:30am – 12:00am | Sat - Sun: 11:00am - 12:00am
Dress Code: Casual
Private Room: N/A
Accept Credit Card: Yes
Smoking Area: No
Image caption (from left to right):
1. Clam chowder
2. Fish tacos
3. Fried chicken sandwich
4. Double cheeseburger
5. Red velvet cake
6. Apple fried pies
7. The masterminds behind Commissary
Original article written by Wilson Fok for Hong Kong Tatler