Fish School・Fish School
Date of review: September 7, 2016 | Reviewed by: Charmaine Mok
Fish School is a discreet gem of a restaurant hidden down a narrow alleyway off Third Street lined with verdant plants and a small lit sign indicating its presence. Inside, it’s a pumping place that bristles with energy, thanks to its upbeat team of staff and the youthful clientele. Despite the concrete finishes and stone countertops, the place isn’t too noisy even when it’s full. The L-shaped bar offers glimpses of dishes being assembled and finished; it’s also where you’ll find the large tanks full of the catches of the day. Illustrations of fish line the light wooden walls, and the lighting is kept low—almost as though you were dining underwater.
The first thing you’ll notice when you sit down is the paper menu, which lists a few dozen fish types with related facts for the curious eater; on the flip side is the menu proper, which is divided into sections such as raw and cold, fins, and land. Fresh catches of the day are also listed on a blackboard behind the bar, and for the most part, the menu changes rather frequently as the kitchen continues to finetune their dishes throughout the seasons. One of the greatest dishes available on the menu is the marinated raw crab with sea urchin and rice, which our server recommends we mix while the rice is still warm. The combination is deeply satisfying, with the rich flavours of the sea hitting the palate like a tidal wave. There’s a lot of wit on the menu, seen in dishes such as the lobster popcorn—little nuggets of shellfish in a sweet, salty batter with citrusy overtones. We’re also tickled by the whitebait and oyster risotto, which seems a clever take on Chiuchow-style congee made for a modern era. Whole fish is a must order here, and we’re recommended the rock fish for two, which is served with fennel and plenty of cherry tomatoes; the flesh is firm and sweet, though a touch more acidity would have been welcome to give the dish extra dimension. Fish isn’t the only thing the restaurant does well—dishes from the ‘land’ section, such as tea-smoked pigeon with fermented plum and buckwheat, are expertly cooked. The bird has a thin, crisp skin and the fermented fruit has a flavour that is more akin to hawthorn than classic Japanese-style salted plum. Desserts are creative and combine several elements, such as sesame mousse with ginger granite and homemade tofu: the tofu pudding has two layers of blowtorched sugar for an extra crunch, and has great soybean flavour.
A concise wine list combines easy drinking whites (all vailable by glass, carafe or bottle) with deliciously refreshing cocktails that don’t detract from the delicate flavours of the seafood dishes. Ocean Air combines whiskey, sherry, lemon, fresh passionfruit and a hint of sea salt, which creates the feeling of a summer by the seaside without leaving Sai Ying Pun. The Godello by Rafael Palacios is an excellent all rounder.
The people who work here know how to have fun—we appreciated the banter and the candid recommendations from our waiter, who wasn’t afraid to give his opinion on which dishes were better than others. Fish School has quite a few regulars, and we’re sure it’s the friendly service that helps them retain a loyal following.
A meal for two with wine and service comes to around HK$1,100 which is fair value given the quality seafood on offer.