We are on a mission to hunt down the BEST food in Hong Kong, so when we heard that Rustico in Lai Chi Kok was serving seasonal seafood from Spain, we had to go and have a taste
Hong Kong is full of excellent places to eat, and that is true beyond the fictional borders of Hong Kong Island. From opulent restaurants in Kowloon Bay like Le Pan, to stunning Cantonese fare at Sha Tin 18 and our favourite restaurants in Yau Ma Tei, we like to scour the entire city for delicious eating options. A mere 15 minute MTR journey from Admiralty (or just five minutes from Mong Kok!), Rustico in Lai Chi Kok is a Spanish restaurant that serves traditional tapas in a cosy setting, and right now they are highlighting seasonal ingredients from Spain. We went to check it out.
Rustico in Lai Chi Kok
A mere stumble from exit D2 of Lai Chi Kok station, Rustico is the kind of place you want to visit, not only for the warm and inviting ambience – think a mix of bricks, arches, hanging pots and pans and colourful ceramics on the walls – but also for the friendly and knowledgeable service.
The restaurant is helmed by Chef Carlos Salvador Asensio, a chef who has worked in kitchens such as Moments in The Mandarin Oriental Barcelona and Folquer and Neichel. In Lai Chi Kok, he harnesses all of the skills he has learned along the way and adds in a big old dose of heart to create dishes that warm you from the inside out
Seasonal Spanish seafood at Rustico
As first timers to the restaurant we were super excited to see what would be served from the kitchen. We started with one of the signature drinks, the Oasis cocktail, which was essentially a frozen lime, rum, mint and basil slushy with a prawn on top – yum! The cocktail itself was super refreshing and the prawns didn’t last long at all.
To keep hunger at bay, we tried the lovely Rustic Spanish Toast Crystal Bread with SpanishTomato “de Colgar”, Garlic and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Smashed and peeled, we rubbed that beautiful garlic all over the bread before topping with stunning tomato; so simple, so beautiful, so Spanish! The Catalan Omelette was fabulous too, packed full of white beans and spring garlic, we would definitely recommend.
Next up we tried the Pan Seared Spanish Sea Cucumber “Espardeñas” with Creamy Potato, Sautéed Artichokes and Parsley Pesto Catalonia style. Wow! The mix of the sea cucumber and the moorish potato with the crispy artichoke was fabulous. We could have eaten one of those each, as the dish was just that good.
The Atlantic Venus Clams in “Albariño” White Wine from North West of Spain were everything a good wine and shellfish dish should be – packed full of flavour with loads of sauce left over for dipping bread into. However, there wasn’t much time for dipping, as the Traditional Juicy Spider Crab Rice “Arroz de Centolla” Northern Spain Basque Style soon arrived at the table. Atop a pan of beautifully cooked rice – I guess best described as something between a risotto and paella – sat oodles of gorgeous crab, whose flavour was seeped through the rice below. “Probably not the best first date dish,” in the words of my dining companion, this was comfort food to the maximum degree, and possibly the newest addition to my list of death row dishes (though I hope I never actually have to request it!)
Finally (although already stuffed, but with a mindset that we needed to give a fully rounded review), we tried the Basque Style Pan-Seared Spanish Whole Turbot 650 Grams “A la Espalda” with Garlic, Chili and Parsley. This fish was delightful. With a crispy herbed coating on the outside, there was a lot of beautiful meat on it and the lovely chargrilled carrots, courgettes and tomatoes on the side were an added bonus.
Would we go back?
Well, unless you slept through that entire story, then you already know the answer to that. The food was refreshingly authentic. It was top quality, but with that added dose of love that I believe all the best food has, plus the fact that they change menus to suit the produce means that there will always be something new. Take someone you love (or want to love) to Rustico and woo them over the hearty food. But maybe you shouldn’t order the crab if you expect a kiss at the end. Or maybe you should.
Rustico, G01, D2 Place One, 9 Cheung Yee Street, Lai Chi Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong, p. 2743 4511, 荔枝角長義街9號D2 PLACE一期地下G01舖