One of the joys and benefits of living (and eating!) in Hong Kong is that you don't really have to travel to enjoy food from the world's top chefs and restaurants. They come to you.
Hong Kong has outposts of many of Asia's well-known restaurants, from Taiwan's famous Din Tai Fung and Singapore's well-loved Crystal Jade to high end Japanese places in Japan like Sushi Yoshitake (re-branded as Sushi Shikon in Hong Kong to avoid confusion) and Ryugin.
Many of the world's top chefs have opened restaurants here, like Joel Robuchon, Gordon Ramsey, and Alaine Ducasse (just to name a handful).
Chef Jason Atheron, Michelin-starred chef from the very popular Pollen Street Social in London was thrilled to open his first restaurant in Hong Kong. He saw Hong Kong as a melting pot of diverse cultures that really made the city come alive.
His first endeavor, a casual Spanish tapas bar called 22 Ships, has been tremendously successful. The food is good, the prices are reasonable, and the vibe is fun. This place is super popular, and lines can get long, so we stopped by one evening around 7PM (considered early in Hong Kong!), and grabbed one of the few remaining open seats for a nice, casual Spanish dinner.
The menu fits onto a single page and is pretty manageable. There are six sections: Para Picar (small bites), Eggs!, Vegetables, Seafood, Meat, and Dessert. From the Eggs! section, we opted for the Spanish Breakfast ($108 HKD), small jamon (Spanish ham) and cheese sandwiches filled with truffle paste inside and topped with a fried quail egg.
I don't typically love duck, but I actually really, really liked our next dish, the Crisp Duck Egg ($108), a breaded and deep fried poached egg (kind of like a Scotch egg), served over risotto-like grains mixed with duck leg confit. The egg was perfectly executed, and I loved the deep, rich flavors and the chewy texture of the grains.
From the Vegetables section, we tried the Peas, Broad Beans, Goat's curd, and Serrano ($98), a lovely salad of lightly cooked peas and broad beans topped with shavings of Serrano ham, goat's curd pea tendrils,
From the Seafood section, we decided to try the Octopus, Chili, Garlic, and Coriander ($128 HKD). The texture of the octopus was good, and the flavors were spot on.
We ended with a course from the Meat section: Chorizo, Onion, and Peppers ($108 HKD) braised in red wine. The chorizo was boldly flavored and definitely had a nice kick. We took home leftovers and it tasted just as good the next day.
22 Ships Wan Chai - General Thoughts
22 Ships is a fun place to visit because it has a warm, cozy atmosphere, great Spanish tapas, and prices that are quite reasonable. I really enjoyed our meal there. None of the portions were too big, so we were able to sample several dishes. I would totally go back again.
The restaurant is small, with only 35 seats, so expect to wait for a seat during popular times (basically, anytime after 7PM on most days). We sat at the communal bench near the entrance, which is cozy but tight. You do hear the conversations around you since you are basically sitting right next to strangers. I wouldn't come here for a quiet, intimate conversation. On the other hand, it's easy to make new friends and meet new people around you (most people that were there that night were foreigners speaking English).
Due to the success of 22 Ships, Chef Atheron has since opened several other restaurants in Hong Kong, including another excellent Spanish tapas bar called with a focus on sherry called Ham & Sherry. Finally, there's also Aberdeen Street Social.
Stay tuned as I will publish another post on Ham & Sherry soon as part of this #50PostsIn50Days Challenge.
22 Ships Wan Chai
22 Ship Street
Wan Chai, HONG KONG