Situated in a dimly-lit corner of an alley on Third Street in Sai Ying Pun, Fish School appears to be a mystic cavern waiting to be discovered by adventurous diners.
Themed mainly with the color of the ocean, the cozy restaurant instantly strikes customers with the first impression of peace and tranquility.
Going by its name, one can be sure that fish and other sea creatures are the leading stars on the restaurant’s menu. JIA Group founder Yenn Wong and renowned chef David Lai have jointly created the new-concept restaurant, reinterpreting local seafood dishes.
“One should not forget that Hong Kong started off as a small fishing village a hundred years ago. Successive generations have enjoyed the hard work of local fishermen in various forms, be it through live goodies at local wet markets or naturally dried ones in seafood stores. All the ingredients are truly gifts sent by nature to the chefs,” Lai says.
Fish School sticks to the principle of “freshest catch-made-best”, which sees Lai reaching out to fishermen for local seasonal supplies every day.
Customers would be able to choose from lively creatures in the glass tank of the restaurant, while curious onlookers would be able to witness how the chefs do the magic at the open kitchen.
“Cuttlefish tagliatelle, shrimp paste, ficiode leaves”, for example, is a dish using local cuttlefish. The chef first peels the cuttlefish, has it briefly cooked and then slices it into strips as cuttlefish noodles. The “noodles” are then immersed in broth in which dried squid and onion have been boiled for an hour.
“Marinated raw crab, sea urchin rice” is another must-order dish. It is a hybrid of Chiu Chow chilled crabs with Japanese sashimi with rice in bowl.
The chef would first wash the Australian spanner crab thoroughly and have it frozen at minus 40 degrees Celsius for 24 hours to kill the gems. The raw crab meat would then be bathed in a marinade of fish sauce, sugar, garlic, spices, and coriander for three days. The crab shell would then be fully filled back with the raw meat with sea urchin. To give the best groundbreaking taste to the tongue, diners should have it mixed it with the rice underneath.
Most importantly, Fish School serves local wild fish freshly caught on the day. No endangered species such as Humphead Wrasse would ever be on the list. However, one can have a wide range of familiar fish to choose from, such as moray eel, yellowfin seabream, yellow croaker and Japanese eel.
Customers can take a look at the blackboard and ask the staff for the best cooking method for the fish.
“Salt baked yellow foot bream” involves baking with sea salt and spices. The fish comes out so tender and juicy that it will leave a lasting impression on diners.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 18.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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