Good food makes us happy and when we are happy, we are better people (and less hangry!) Enter FRANCIS, a new hangout in Wan Chai that captures the soul of Tel Aviv
We love to eat good food here at Honeycombers Hong Kong. We are suckers for excellent French restaurants, we love tasty Korean food like The Joomak and Bobsang, and – of course – the best dim sum restaurants are on regular rotation. We are also totally and utterly besotted with beautiful middle eastern fare, especially when it is food made with love, and that’s exactly what we found at FRANCIS in Wan Chai, where we reveled in some well-known dishes as well as some completely new flavours.
FRANCIS in Wan Chai: A neighbourhood hangout
If you love middle eastern food as much as us (#eatallthehummus), then you are probably familiar with international superstar chef and writer Yotam Ottolenghi and his pal Sammi Tamimi. In their book Jerusalem: A Cookbook, they talk about how at the crux of cooking in the region are emotions and spiritual energy, and this idea is definitely something that shines through at FRANCIS, not just from the heart-warming dishes, but from the stellar service given by owners James Ward, Simone Sammuri and Israeli-born chef Asher Goldstein. The combination of both of these things, plus a damn fine music selection (yes, we heard you instrumental version of No Diggity) make FRANCIS a triple threat that you really can’t miss.
What should I eat?
Well, middle eastern food is such a good idea for many reasons, one of those being that it caters easily to both vegetarians and their meat-eating counterparts, so everyone wins. What I really loved at FRANCIS was the respect that the chef paid to vegetables. The humble carrot comes to life when it is smoked and served with spiced honey and almonds. Tel Aviv, and Israel in general, tends to love a smoky eggplant (who doesn’t?!) and the dish served at FRANCIS is so good that I would actually marry it. Slather it on some homemade pita and let the charred flavours roam around your mouth… mmm…
The falafel served at the restaurant is actually made with fava beans instead of chickpeas, leading to a slightly different flavour, though equally as moreish. Hummus is a highly debated topic throughout Tel Aviv, with everyone having their own personal preference, and at FRANCIS it’s served smooth with chunky chickpeas and lamb ragu on top.
You have to try the grilled octopus with harissa and burgul potato cake, and the meaties loved the lamb ribs with coriander. A special shout out goes to the homemade pickle that blends those divine sweet and sour flavours oh-so nicely.
Surprisingly, our absolute favourite dish of the day was the dessert, a Palestinian pastry known as knafeh. With a sweet pastry on the outside, inside is a heavenly melange of mozzarella, and the entire dish comes coated in orange blossom syrup, pistachio ice cream and deep-fried rosemary. Perhaps it was that we hadn’t tried this dish before, or perhaps it was the spiritual energy that went into the cooking, either way, FRANCIS is an absolute must for people who love good food.
FRANCIS, G/F, 4-6 St. Francis Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, p. 3101 9521, 灣仔聖佛蘭士街4-6號地舖