Rhoda has been receiving a lot of attention since it opened because of its chef (Nate Green, formerly of 22 Ships), backers (it’s part of the JIA group), buzz (although it can be a bit loud) and design (Joyce Wang).
It’s the kind of place where it’s best to visit with a group – the food can be quite heavy, and some of the more tempting dishes were designed to serve two to four; if my guest and I had ordered one of them, we wouldn’t have had much space for anything else. As it was, it was difficult to stop ourselves from ordering too much.
Lotus root chips (HK$38) were a bit too hard, but the accompanying chicken liver cream was smooth and light. Shimaaji from Kumamoto with pickled heritage tomatoes and avocado (HK$238) had pristinely fresh fish in a marinade that was just a little too sweet; more acidity would have been welcome.
Our favourite dish, by far, was one that the menu almost tries to discourage you from ordering. The menu reads: “‘Have you ever seen a skinny pig????’ VERY fatty Mangalica belly marinated in soy and garlic” (HK$218).
Even our waiter wasn’t very enthusiastic when we ordered it, warning us that depending on the part of the belly, it could be about 80 per cent fat. The piece that we were served was perfect – yes, it was fatty, but deliciously so. Succulent and tender, the meat went very well with the accompanying kimchi, which added a welcome tartness.
Also delicious was the Agria potato puree with pig’s trotter, slow-cooked egg and truffle (HK$198). I would have liked on its own, though (for breakfast, preferably) – it was so rich that it was hard to appreciate with our other dishes.
A side dish of gem lettuce with avocado and smoked anchovy (HK$118) had a great dressing, but there was far too much of it. The crisp lettuce leaves were drenched in the dressing, so instead of being a refreshing vegetable dish, it was relentlessly creamy.
For dessert, we really wanted the fig tart with frangipane, thyme and honey, but it was meant for two to four, and at HK$338 we didn’t want to waste it. Mirabelle plums (HK$98) would have been fine on their own with the lemon curd and pistachio, but we didn’t see the point of adding pumpkin, which was just too heavy.
Rhoda, Upton, 345 Des Voeux Road West, Sai Ying Pun, tel: 2177 5050. About HK$500 without drinks. There’s no service charge.