The Fat Pig
Date of review: December 3, 2015 | Reviewed by: Charmaine Mok
Taking over the space vacated by SML, another Press Room Group brand, The Fat Pig is a casual restaurant with plenty of attitude. Big, gleaming neon signs proudly declare the venue’s porcine preoccupations – “In Pork We Trust / Leave No Part Behind / We’ve Got the Chops” – and the entire place gets the glammed up industrial treatment with corrugated tin panels mixing with curved leather booths, brushed concrete floors and pendant lamps. It’s a great place for raucous group gatherings, but there are also cosy two-tops and bar seating for lone diners or those who just want to nurse a pint and some pork scratchings. There’s also a sizeable terrace with spindly steel chairs and views over Causeway Bay.
Nose-to-tail is something that has been a part of the dining lexicon for some time now, but it’s still refreshing to see a restaurant that takes it seriously – particularly given we’re in Hong Kong, where every part of an animal has its uses, not just the prime cuts. At The Fat Pig, pork is available in a myriad of cooking styles, listed conveniently on the bilingual menu: potted, pickled, pulled, baked, pot-roasted, cured, braised… the options go on.
We can’t resist the allure of juicy pulled pork (so often not given the proper treatment in this city), and opt for the version with miso lentils and vinegar onions, the contrasting salty-sour profile a sound match with the tender strands of pork. Crispy pig’s tail is crumbed and fried, the surprisingly fat tail having some meat on it, but the overriding flavour is that of oil, which even the kimchi, which doesn’t quite have enough of that funky fermented note, can lift.
A perfectly roasted pork belly is a beautiful thing, and so is the one here with apple glaze and burnt aubergine (really, a quenelle of baba ghanoush). It’s small – about two stacked mah-jong tiles’ worth – but the entire dish is so balanced and concise in its execution that every bite is loaded with little umami bombs that unfurl on the palate.
As much as we trust in pork, it’s easy to get fatigued when that’s all you’re having – so the choy sum salad with beansprouts and peanuts is a welcome refresher between meaty mouthfuls. It’s a little strange at first to have blanched choy sum cold, but the sweetness of the vegetable (which is tender and devoid of tough fibrous strands seen in older specimens) paired with the crisp crunch of the beansprouts, sugar snap peas and a lightly vinegared soy-based dressing is excellent.
Stuffed like a sausage roll, we only fit in one dessert of raspberry doughnuts, which were comforting but, in our opinion, would have been better had they been freshly fried and if the accompanying cream had been whipped to soft peaks for dipping.
Things are very casual here, with wines listed as ‘Good’ or ‘Better’ and generous glasses brought straight to your table (no tasting or swilling here, but we’re not complaining). Worth noting is The Fat Pig Bacon Red Ale, a collaboration with local microbrewery Moonzen which was unfortunately all out on our visit.
Young and chirpy staff do their best, offering (even without prompt) recommendations for their own favourite dishes and being quite efficient.
A meal for two with wine and service will come to less than HK$500, which is excellent value for the quality of the food. Our advice would be to come in small groups (given the small portions) to be able to try more items on the menu.