Private Kitchens. Discreet small “restaurants” set up to host boutique menus cooked by the owner (who in my experience is often a professionally trained chef). They are normally hidden in older apartment buildings and when you find a good one they are truly an experience to enjoy. They’ve been a thing in Hong Kong for a while and still to this day are a popular food choice with the best places booking out weeks if not months in advance.
I was fortunate enough recently to experience a private kitchen in Happy Valley called Ocean.
OCEAN – 1/F, 9 Sing Woo Road, Happy Valley, Hong Kong
ph (852) 3480 0512
It’s a small family affair that ONLY serves dinner. Their philosophy is by focusing on only one meal a day they can offer the very best quality and flavours. The husband cooks while the wife (Ocean) serves with the help of other family members as required (including one of the waiters playing a piano 1/2 way through the meal to add to the ambience).
Hidden upstairs on the first floor on an apartment block on the main road of Happy Valley you wouldn’t even know this little place is there. The interior is simple and blue with seating for no more than 20 people. The atmosphere is jovial and Ocean is always willing to engage with her guests in both Cantonese and English. She makes sure to explain each dish as it is served to help you understand and appreciate what you are eating.
As we had dinner over the Easter period we got to experience a special 7 course Easter menu. The menu changes every month or two and Christmas and Easter host special course menus.
It’s time for some badly taken iPhone photo food porn…
Pan seared scallops in a curry cauliflower couscous and black cavier…
Beautifully cooked this dish had a lively mix of flavours that complemented each other. It was a very enjoyable introduction to the meal.
Tiger Prawn Bisque…
The freshness of the ingredients was immediately obvious from the first taste. The soup was rich in flavour with what I can only describe as a smooth and luxurious taste. Definitely a stand out dish. This was my husbands favourite course of the night.
Lime and Strawberry Granita…
An icy palate refresher I was expecting to be overwhelmed by strawberry flavours but actually it was the lime that dominated the flavour despite the colour of the dish. Again the balance of the flavours meshed together perfectly – not too sweet and the small sprig of mint just topped the little refresher off perfectly.
Soft boiled egg with betroot “risotto” pasta…
This dish uses pasta that looks like risotto, not rice. The soft boiled egg sat delicately atop the purple pasta and Ocean recommended we smash and mix the egg into the pasta. It was an excellent suggestion. The dish was full of flavour but not overpowering. As odd as the dish sounds and looks it was simply music in the mouth as the flavours came together. Possibly my favourite dish of the night.
Pan seared halibut with spinach puree, semi-dried cherry tomatoes and tomato foam…
The tomato foam gave an unexpected punch of flavour. Fish was cooked nicely and again, the balance in flavours as well as the colours served on a bed of spinach made this an enjoyable dish.
Grilled US prime black angus rib eye steak in a balsamic vinegar reduction, mustard seed and rock salt…
Char grilled to medium rare the texture of the meat was tender. The seasoning made this an enjoyable eating experience with the accompaniments of whole grained mustard and balsamic vinegar. Fresh asparagus was also served (I couldn’t eat it as I’m allergic to asparagus).
Black and White…
The dessert had two components; a chocolate fondant cake (lava cake?) on a bed of chocolate pop candy with marshmallow and fruit on one plate as well as a shot glass with a molecular white chocolate mousse topped with a scoop of dark chocolate ice cream.
I started with the white chocolate mousse which was smooth and lush. Mixed with dark chocolate ice cream the flavour was simple but nice.
The chocolate fondant cake was runny in the middle, moist and nice to eat with the popping candy and marshmellow. The unusual mixture created a lot of sensation in the mouth but it wasn’t unpleasant. A nice ending to a thoroughly enjoyable meal in a relaxed yet civilised atmosphere.
I would absolutely recommended this private kitchen. You could taste the quality of the ingredients and the hosts actually cared about providing an enjoyable eating experience. The service and food was second to none, even for a fussy eater like me. You could tell the chef was well trained in execution, flavours and presentation. The price was extremely reasonable given the quality of each course. I felt like I received value for money from my dining experience.
The only caveat I have to add to this is the owners are religious and while they don’t force their religion upon you, they do offer you a written religious verse on a piece of origami paper after dinner as you drink tea. I didn’t find it offensive, just quirky and certainly something I was happy to tolerate given the enjoyment and satisfaction from the meal.
I definitely hope to go back and try one of their different menus. Two thumbs up!