Aberdeen Street Social is the latest opening by the dream-team — Yenn Wong and Jason Atherton. I was invited to join a small group of media on the first day it was open for lunch — less than a week after opening, as Atherton was in town.
The restaurant serves Modern British cuisine. What is Modern British cuisine? I asked Atherton after the lunch, and even he had trouble defining what it is outside of Britain. I would describe the food as featuring modern plating, refined dishes, and distinct flavours, with a certain Atherton signature that diners familiar with his food will recognise — but what makes it Modern British I am still unsure of.
It was an intensely hot day so while I was tempted by the Slow cooked hen’s egg, black pudding, crispy pig’s ear, pickled king oyster mushrooms, I needed something lighter. It was a toss up between the CLT “Crab, lettuce and tomato” and the Raw Hokkaido scallops, dashi jelly, apple, shiso, avocado and wasabi purée, the latter winning.
It was a fantastic dish with a clever balance of flavours and textures but the fact it reminded me of a dish from 22 Ships detracted from my enjoyment of it. I wanted to have the cuisine lines firmly drawn between these two Atherton restaurants but this dish blurred them. Regardless of these personal feelings it was a great dish and would recommend it.
Our entire table ordered seafood mains — just too hot for anything heavier. I chose the Roasted sea bass with cauliflower couscous, fried oyster and sea vegetables, that came with a table-side served mustard veloute. The fish was delicious — crispy skin, perfect cook, the sea vegetables (such as samphire) added crunch and seasoning but the addition of the sauce (not mentioned on menu) detracted from the freshness of the dish, and I found it lacking the acidity needed for it to be enjoyable to the last mouthful. Maybe I should have ordered what attracted me the most, the Braised ox cheek, roasted bone marrow, sourdough crumb, carrot, horseradish mash — perhaps next time.
Desserts are playful and creative I enjoyed the JAAL 75% Chocolate, banana, calamansi, Madras curry — curious and somewhat intriguing as it plays with the mind when you eat it but I wanted a bigger choc hit. The Apple Pear, caramel toffee, soy, brown butter, tamarind was divine.
As a huge fan of Atherton’s first Hong Kong restaurant, 22 Ships, expectations were high, and in some ways they were not met, but I think this is due more to opening teething and tweaking issues — at least I hope so — only a second visit will determine if Aberdeen Street Social measures up.