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Restaurant review: St Betty in Central, Hong Kong

By: Claire Locking

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The original Bettys Kitchen, tucked away in IFC, was the first Hong Kong venture for seasoned restaurateur Alan Yau, the man who brought to the world such success stories as Wagamama and Hakkasan.

The original Betty, I was reliably told by the current general manager, was a 1950s housewife in a tartan apron, an imaginary figure dreamt up by Yau and his team and a somewhat surprising source of inspiration. Unfortunately, the original Bettys came up against some mixed reviews and she was sent into early retirement last year. The name was moved up a notch to St Bettys and two Michelin-starred and former head chef and co-owner of London’s Pied a Terre, Shane Osborn, took over the kitchen.

The recently launched new dinner menu is very much produce-led, combining Shane’s Australian routes with his European experience and Asian inspiration.

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We kicked things off with one of St Betty’s signature dishes, the 21st-century egg ($188). On first sight this looks and sounds like your average deep-fried, scotch variety, but the similarities end there. A perfectly poached egg wrapped in breadcrumbs sits on top of Chinese preserved egg alongside chargrilled asparagus, lemon mayonnaise, black truffle and hazelnut dressing. The asparagus is cooked in a Josper Grill, a sort of indoor barbecue and a secret weapon in Shane’s armoury. The first in Hong Kong, the Josper’s unique cooking method seals in all moisture and flavours and is used here for everything from meat to chargrilled veg.

We moved on to a pasta course and sampled another first, sautéed spätzle, wild mushrooms, fresh black truffle and taleggio cheese ($198/$298). The spätzle is like a cross between fusilli and gnocchi and is flash-fried, giving it a pleasant bite.

Shane sources as many local ingredients as possible and, on our visit, showcased Homegrown Foods’ heirloom tomatoes in a local salad with dried black olives and eight-year-old balsamic vinegar ($138). Simple and perfect.

It’s unusual to see freshwater seafood on Hong Kong menus so we seized the opportunity to order Australian freshwater yabbies with crisp pork belly, sweet garlic puree, pine nuts and balsamic. The slightly lonely yabby was delicious but sadly overpowered by the strong pork flavour of the sauce ($288).

Desserts were a triumph. The lemon leaf ice cream with Japanese winter strawberries, roselle and toasted meringue is a summer day on a plate ($118). The lemons are sourced from local farms when available and then preserved. The leaves are then used to make this refreshing, almost Thai-inspired, palette cleanser. The passionfruit soufflé ($108) is enormous, enough for two – especially when it’s broken open by our waiter and a moreish caramel sauce is poured in.

St Betty has one of the best harbour views in Hong Kong and the relaxed décor and ambience is the perfect accompaniment to the expertly executed menu. Osborn was considered one of the best Australian chefs in London; his new Hong Kong venture is slow in gaining a following but is well worth a visit.

Must-try dish: 21st-century egg, chargrilled asparagus, lemon mayonnaise, black truffle and hazelnut dressing

St Betty
2075 Podium Level 2, IFC, Central
2979 2100 | stbetty.com

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