Hong Kong is absolutely one of my favorite places to escape to for a weekend getaway. Having recently gone for a seminar, I decided to do the honourable thing and eat as much as possible in the spare time I had there. #yourewelcome There are 3 restaurant recommendations coming your way, and BlackSalt is first up!
A warning: we seem to have been extremely lucky to get a table here. Like seriously lucky. The manager said that they are routinely booked up to 2 months(!) in advance solidly. We walked in on a Friday night (admittedly at 9:30PM…) and managed to snag 2 seats at the bar thanks to a last minute cancellation. The manager was also happy to share that they’re opening a 2nd location soon, so maybe that will ease the pressure off of their long wait-list?
So what’s the story behind this crazy popular new spot? Here’s a quick intro: BlackSalt is an Indian/Cantonese fusion restaurant located in Sai Ying Pun. It is very small, a boutique restaurant if you will: only around 25 seats total, so you’ll either need to book ages in advance, or turn up very late like we did and pray someone cancelled. It is also pretty incredible how it functions! Not that the menu is massive, but seeing 2-3 Chefs work magic in a space that looks like it should barely only accommodate one!
Founded by Chef Taran Chadha and his wife Sheela, BlackSalt is driven by flavours representative of the Chef’s heritage, shaken up with a modern twist of the Indian subcontinent. Using only the freshest premium ingredients and seasoned with home-made masala spices, BlackSalt’s dishes are inspired mostly by Nepalese, Bengali and Sri Lankan cuisine. Its hearty food with deep blends of Southeast Asian and European flavours is made for sharing, and is served from an open kitchen where you can watch the action.
While we honestly would have happily taken any seat available, I was so glad our seats were smack-dab in front of their open kitchen. While it was great to see so many of their dishes in the making, it was probably more impressive to see how efficiently they used their tiny kitchen space. What a world of difference from what we see in Beijing where limited floor space is rarely an issue, but clearly precious real estate in Hong Kong comes at a price and restaurant spaces seem to work wonders with their spaces! The only seats better than right in front of their open kitchen is probably on their gorgeous outdoor terrace! Another perk of living in Hong Kong – the weather is prime for al fresco dining!
Loving the clever dish titles, it’s clear that there was a lot of thought that went into each of these creations that made the menu cut. Divided into sections of ShortPlates, LongPlates, Sides and a special feature for their Kathmandu Meatball Mo’s. Not really sure how to pick as everything looked so interesting and worth trying, we asked our server for his recommendations and he was kind to explain dish portion sizes so we didn’t go overboard and helped to point out some of their most popular dishes.
We begin our BlackSalt experience with a few drinks alongside a complimentary starter dish that was an absolute delight and really set the tone for the incredible flavors you can come to expect at BlackSalt!
A nice surprise – we were served a small, but very tasty lentil appetizer with mini poppadoms. The lentils were packed with flavor and the little poppadoms were the perfect size and shape to scoop up all those lentils!
The fish cakes were gorgeous. Each one is massive and the light coconut curry sauce that had some of the tenderest octopus I have eaten. So tasty we saved the dish long after all the fish cakes were gone so that we could keep dipping other things we ordered (like the okra fries and beer naan) to soak up every last bit of the curry.
The okra fries are genius. I could eat these all day. Coated in chickpea flour and some pickled onions on top to add a sour note, the chilli mayo leaves a smooth finish for the satisfying crunch of the crispy, deep-fried okra itself. Served in a generous heap, this is perfect for sharing and an amazing snack.
The Bangin’ Bharta is a play on the classic Indian dish Baignan Bharta – which happens to be my favorite Indian dish EVER and we were quick to order it for that exact reason (you can try it out at Punjabi restaurant in Beijing) – but this one has some pretty major differences. For one, the kidney bean “meatballs”, but aside from that, it just really doesn’t highlight the smokey eggplant in the same way and I must confess I prefer Punjabi’s version. While I’m sure vegetarians will be fans, I found it to be very filling and not as exciting as the rest of our meal.
The best way I can describe the meatball mo’s is like having dim sum dumplings bathed in a curry. But this really doesn’t do it justice. The meatballs we got were pork and chicken (2 of each). Both were understated yet flavourful and the curry “Jhol gravy” really complemented the dumplings well.
The naan – WOW! So fluffy and light, yet the outside was lovely and crisp. Incredible and very different to any naan I’ve had before! This naan is sensational and left a strong lasting impression – I wouldn’t be surprised if this naan was a major source of all the hype around BlackSalt!
The menu had me at “Char Siu”. I don’t think I even read the rest of the description beyond that. At first, I was nonplussed about the rice base, but it grew on me. The char siu itself is amazing and definitely competes with the best Cantonese versions I’ve had, but the crab pilau with pineapple is not to be dismissed. What a lovely combination and I think the perfect example of how awesome Cantonese and Indian can be joined together in holy matrimony.
Last up, the dessert: Carrot Halwa Cheesecake was one of the dessert specials written on the blackboard behind our seats. I’ll be honest, it didn’t hit quite the same heights as some of their menu dishes, but it is a clever dessert in its own right. A unique fusion of carrot cake and cheesecake, I loved the textures and the flavour, but perhaps I didn’t expect it to be so cold?
So the biggest tip I can share is just to get in there if you can! It’s not too expensive if you aren’t ordering like a madman and the flavours on offer you won’t find elsewhere. Creative bordering on genius, but more importantly, just damn good and bursting with flavor combinations you need to go out of your way to experience. Here’s hoping that a second location makes it easier to book a table. Like I said – find a way to get in there!
BlackSalt Contact Details:
- Address: 14 Fuk Sau Lane, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong
- Tel: +852 3702-1237
- Email: email@example.com
- Opening Hours: Dinner: 5:30pm – 11pm (10pm on Sunday), Brunch (Saturday & Sunday): 12pm – 3pm, Closed every Monday.
Kristen Lum has an accomplished background in PR, communications and events in China. Born and raised in California, Kristen has been based in Beijing since 2006 and is founder of the lifestyle blog called LumDimSum, covering mostly restaurant news and reviews alongside upcoming events around town that relate to Beijing’s muti-faceted, quickly-developing creative industries like art, music, film, health and fitness, fashion, nightlife, charity events, and travel tips.