1/F Ho Lee Commercial Building
40 D’Aguilar Street, Central
It’s just 12 months since a review of Harrington’s at the top of Lan Kwai Fong appeared on these pages, but since then, the starched white tablecloths, plantation shutters and vases of lilies have gone, replaced with an altogether different vibe in the form of one of the city’s first authentic Greek restaurants, Souvla.
Owner Viv Romito’s Greek origins combined with chef Michael van Warmelo’s in-depth knowledge of Mediterranean cuisine means that every dish on the small but perfectly formed menu at Souvla adheres to authentic recipes, with many ingredients sourced directly from Greek producers.
Thankfully this dedication to Greekness doesn’t extend to the décor; there’s no compulsory plate smashing here! The dining room is a cocoon of scarlet and wood with black leather banquettes and columns encased in pebbles. The knowledgeable and welcoming waiters add a little bit of Soho to the proceedings with their white shirt, jeans and braces combo.
So what of the food? I’d describe it as one big fat Greek feast! We started things off on a vaguely healthy note with a pleasantly rustic tzatziki ($85). This palate cleanser was in perfect contrast to the saganaki, a platter of grilled kefalograviera cheese, rigani (oregano) and fig marmalade ($130). Kefalograviera is made from a mixture of sheep and goat’s milk; it’s salty and robust when grilled, similar to haloumi, but thankfully not accompanied by the traditional Ouzo!
After the meze, we sampled cabbage rolls with pork, barley and avgolemono, an egg and lemon juice broth ($115) – nice enough, with the barley giving the dish a pleasant bite though we found the overall flavour slightly bitter.
The name of the restaurant means spit-roasted meat and this is where the chef truly excels. Lamb ribs ($315) are a pleasant surprise; lean, mouth-wateringly tender and packed full of flavour as a result of the traditional alatopiperigano, a rub of salt, pepper and oregano. Meanwhile, the chicken ($245) is roasted for up to four hours with an end result that is tender but still succulent. Served with a lemon tachinosalata (a type of hummus), and the chef’s signature bulgur wheat Cypriot salata ($95), this is a truly winning combination.
The healthy Mediterranean diet isn’t packed full of sugar but for dessert, owner Viv has combined his Greek and Australian heritage into the Golden Greek Time ($100), his take on his childhood staple, the Golden Gaytime. It’s a vanilla ice cream bomb on a plate, rolled in corn flakes and deep-fried; the Greek influence is the mastiki in the ice cream, a sweet and sticky sauce made from the resin of the mastic tree. The decadence is taken a step further with an accompanying salted caramel sauce and choc-dipped honeycomb. Not one for the calorie counters!
Souvla is a modern Greek restaurant that thankfully borrows the best of the country’s culinary heritage but none of the kitsch. Judging by the packed tables on our visit, this is another winner for Concept Creations, the team behind Chicha and Tapeo.
Must-try dish: Lamb ribs with alotopiperigano, garlic and lemon