Review: Bedu Livens Up Gough Street With Flavours Of The Middle East
Middle Eastern cuisine is back in vogue. What may have once been unfamiliar territory here is now the object of intrigue. Early this year we raved over Wan Chai’s Francis, and this week we headed to Bedu, brought by the same team that opened Brazilian eatery Uma Nota.
Located at the quieter end of Gough Street, Bedu’s entrance is inconspicuous, and the dim lighting did not help either. The establishment is petite, with seating wrapped around an open kitchen and an extensive bar. Blanquettes line one side of the main dining area. Comfortable as they may be, guests may need to squeeze themselves into them. The other side of the kitchen lies bigger, long tables, great for larger parties. Bar seating is also desirable for smaller parties, especially the ones overlooking the open kitchen.
Kicking off our visit were homemade flatbreads, which were of a generous portion. Three half-moons of light, fluffy pieces were lightly oiled and dusted with Middle Eastern spices such as coriander and cumin. They were great canvases for the zesty and tart beetroot and mint labneh, a strained yoghurt dip with beetroot mixed in and embellished with a handful of chopped dried mint, which added a cooling sensation to the tart dip. Homemade pickles may be on the sweet side, but the preserved cauliflowers, radish, and carrots retained their fresh crunchy texture while green chillies snapped on the bite with a stinging, lingering heat.
Small plates are popular at Bedu. The charred broccoli with crispy kale, chilli, and zhoug, was perfect. A halved head of broccoli was first cooked in vegetable broth until the stalks were tender, before it was tossed on the grill to intensify the flavours. The green chilli yoghurt dip under bears a sharp heat that easily diminished. Golden spiced chicken manti with yoghurt and Aleppo chilli oil was a surprise. What looked like crescent-shaped Chinese dumplings had pleasantly soft wrappers filled with well spiced minced chicken. The tender filling was juicy, and complemented well with the aromatic Aleppo chilli oil and yoghurt sauce.
The selection for main course was humble. We ordered the signature rack of lamb with garlic labneh and za’taar oil. The lamb was slightly overdone but the garlic labneh was sharp but not overpoweringly so, instead complementing the oil infused with za’taar, a Middle Eastern spice mix based mostly with wild thyme. The blackened squid with crispy chickpeas, hummus, and pomegranate was the highlight of the evening. Tender baby squids were tossed quickly on the hot pan, topping a fluffy pillow of creamy hummus. A topping of crunchily fried chickpeas and a drizzle of dark, pomegranate molasses to deglaze the pan added complexity with intense sweetness, tartness and just the right hint of bitterness.
More yoghurt is used in the sweets section, as in the set yoghurt with honeycomb and orange blossom that was hauntingly simple and homely, one that would make Yotam Ottolenghi proud. The softest cloud of yoghurt cream, featured aromatic citrus notes thanks to orange blossom, and a sweet crunch from the honeycomb crumbs—the perfect finish to the meal. Another dessert special was a new seasonal roasted figs with sweet couscous and pistachios. The floral syrup added depth to the fruity seasonal black figs and a generous helping of skinned pistachios.
While food is remarkable at Bedu, the range of beverages is just as impressive, despite the restaurant only offering five varieties of cocktails, one of which, the Sayidi Martini, blends cedrat liquor with Tomato 72 liquor, vodka and fresh capers, was so potent that all flavours from the intense citrus to umami from the tomato liquor all were overpowered by the vodka. Other cocktails, however, were easy to drink and versatile enough to pair with the food on offer. The Bedu Sour pairs apple with lemon and beetroot juice, served in a champagne coup glass as a magenta elixir lightened with egg whites and a touch of verjus. Vega was another favorite of ours, where Pavan liquor and vodka added complexity to the melange of fruits present in the cocktail, from zesty lime to sweet grapefruit and a touch of orange blossom. Bedu also offers mocktails including house-made nut milks as well as wines sourced from France and Lebanon.
Service at Bedu is worth noting, a delightful team which are passionate to share the concept and description of food and drink options to the guests, while offering additional stories and pairing suggestions for first-time customers, as well as sound advice on portion control.
Not only has Bedu got Middle Eastern cuisine right, the establishment is a prime example where the team believes in executing a genuinely pleasant dining experience, and pulls it off—a feat rarely handled so well in new restaurants in Hong Kong.
A dinner for two including beverages amounts to HK$1,200.
Bedu, G/F, 40 Gough Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong; +852 2320 4450
How we rate
Each of our reviewers score restaurants based on four main criteria: setting, food, service, and drinks, taking into account more than 35 different points of reference including manners of staff, usefulness of the wine list, and whether or not the restaurant makes an effort to be environmentally aware. 5/5 indicates an exceptional experience; 4-4.5/5 is excellent; 3-3.5/5 is good to very good; and 2.5/5 or lower is average to below average. Before visiting a restaurant, the reviewers will book using a pseudonym and do not make themselves known to restaurant staff, in order to experience the venue as a regular guest—if this is not possible, or if we are recognised, we will indicate this in the review.