After 11 years, the harbourside destination restaurant reopens with a new look and new menu.
Text by Tiffany Chan, photos by Samantha Sin
Few restaurants last long in this city, and fewer last more than a decade. Yet Wooloomooloo Steakhouse, the chain’s second branch, has stood on the glittering Tsim Sha Tsui East waterfront for 11 years, barely touched until the summer when it closed for a two-month makeover. It reopened in September with an updated look and revamped menu.
The once-classic interior is now decidedly modern. Gone are the jagged grey stone walls and the space is open and bright with clean walls, wooden floors, an open kitchen and semi-open windows on the second floor.
Head chef Lee Wai-keung has been with the restaurant since its conception. The menu used to be rather simple, he says: quality steak, cooked to perfection, with garnish. But with so many restaurants mushrooming in the area, the menu has been expanded so there’s “something for everyone”, with steak, pizza, pasta and desserts.
New menu items include wild mushroom vol-au-vent, a flaky pastry tower stuffed with chanterelle, morel, Portobello and porcini mushrooms and parmesan cheese. Dukkah-crusted Australian lamb cutlets come with artichoke ratatouille, aubergine caviar, piquillo purée and red wine sauce. Whole Dover sole meunière, served on the bone, is dressed with parsley, lemon, capers and brown butter sauce.
And indeed there’s something for everyone. Designed as an all-day dining destination, happy hour begins at 3pm. In the evenings, diners sway to live music while looking out at the neon-lit skyline.
“People like it here because it’s so comfortable,” Lee says. “The restaurant is good for all types of people. We have an outdoor area, where people can smoke. We have pizzas and pastas for those who don’t necessarily love steak. At night, there is none of that formality; people eat and drink with a live band playing in the background. It’s casual. We have regulars; we remember their names. Sometimes I’m standing in the open kitchen cooking and they’ll recognise me and wave.”
Smoked Duck Breast with Foie Gras
We usually start a meal with something light, but for a change, we opted for a rich starter. The thick slab of pan-fried foie gras is rich and creamy, garnished liberally with rock salt and chives. Under the liver, a thin slice of smoked duck breast has been cut to resemble bacon. While pleasantly smoky, the thick layer of fat was rather hard to chew. A flavour that comes through well is the truffle in red wine sauce. We were happy to find a coleslaw of cabbage and celeriac remoulade, but we would have liked less mayonnaise.
Yellowfin Tuna Tartare
Yellowfin tuna from Australia is diced and mixed with wasabi mayonnaise, chives, shallots and lemon juice. While the fish could use more seasoning, we liked the intensity of the wasabi, and the lemon juice provided acidity. Eaten with paper-thin ribbons of cucumber, it was a refreshing dish on a hot afternoon. The homemade foccacia crisp was a nice accompaniment, however, the liberal use of Avruga caviar was unnecessary as it was neither briny nor salty enough to justify its presence.
We were looking forward to the tenderloin, given the restaurant’s reputation for quality steaks. The chateaubriand is a thick, tender centre cut derived from the tenderloin. The chef chose Australian grass-fed beef to introduce more natural flavour into the typically unflavourful tenderloin. Lightly seared in the pan, the steak is cooked in the oven with butter and its juices. At 18 ounces, it’s a generous portion. A roasted head of garlic and bouquet of thyme and rosemary gave it a homey, rustic touch.
Whole Dover Sole Meunière
Dover sole from Holland is roasted whole on the bone. We didn’t mind the bones as they impart flavour, seal in the juices and hold the flesh together. The fish is simply seasoned with salt and pepper, allowing the natural brininess to come through, and drizzled lightly with a burned-butter sauce. We liked the use of capers in the sauce and as a garnish, giving an otherwise flat dish a piquant sour-saltiness. The fish was slightly overcooked and we would have liked more acidity.
We’ve had our fair share of cheesecakes, traditional and modern. Wooloomooloo’s version is unbaked, with a soft and quite creamy centre, but it could have been richer. The base is dried shredded coconut, mixed with butter and flour. We liked the sweetness of the coconut, but we didn’t like its softness and missed the beloved crunchy base, our favourite part. The cheesecake is topped with raspberry candy from France, a thin and crisp vanilla tuile, and vanilla yogurt sorbet that provided a slight tartness.
Shop G7/8 Tsim Sha Tsui Centre, 66 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East
Tel: 2722 7050
*Featured in Crave’s November 2015 issue