We’re well into summer already, but if you’ve been putting off that beach-body diet, now’s as good a time as any to start — with a newly launched guilt-free summer sweets menu at vegetarian fave Grassroots Pantry and Instagram-worthy sushi and flavour-packed salads at Zuma. Meanwhile, if Spanish flavours are what you’re craving, head to Rustico for a Barcelona-style takeover sporting creative dishes such as a paella and pizza mash-up. Feeling hungry? Here’s where to dig in to this week’s new eats.
Sushi on a diet at Zuma
We’re used to vegetarian dishes gussied up to look like meat, but fruit dressed up as sushi? That might be a new one in our books. If you want to dig into Japanese fare with a lighter twist, head to Central lunch stalwart Zuma this month to tuck into a handful of summer-ready, plant-heavy dishes. At a recent lunch tasting, we couldn’t get enough of the vegetarian sushi platter, with nigiri topped with smoky maitake mushrooms, asparagus with grated radish and slices of tomato resembling fresh sashimi, amongst others.
The salmon tartare with Oscietra caviar packs in bags of flavour with a tart dressing, while the avocado and mizuna leaf salad gets amped up with a fantastic wasabi-based dressing. For mains, don’t miss the baby corn-fed chicken, which gets marinated in miso before being oven-roasted to tender submission: the moreish coating of caramelised miso bits and char is heavenly, while dark-meat-only portions deliver supremely juicy flesh. If you’re skipping the liquid lunch, you can wash down the healthy fare with the Nashi Soda mocktail made with shiso, pear, yuzu juice, lemon juice and soda water.
Zuma, 5-6/F, Landmark, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong, +852 3657 6388
Sate your sweet tooth at Grassroots Pantry
Progressive vegetarian restaurant Grassroots Pantry amps up its summer offerings this month to include a range of new desserts and drinks, starring a selection of indulgent summer sweets that falls in line with the restaurant’s clean eating ethos. The tempting dessert selection is all about innovating with fresh fruits and herbs, and maximising flavours with natural sweeteners — think coconut nectar, coconut sugar, dates and maple syrup.
Try the pickled ginger granita, made with coconut gelee, compressed pineapple, micro basil and quinoa crunch — a delightful study in contrasts balancing sweet and sour. Or opt for the organic tofu creme which embraces nutty elements, made with Japanese kuzu flour and silken tofu drizzled in a honeydew-moringa sauce. For those who can’t give up their pastry, chef Peggy Chan and pastry chef Jessica Chow have innovated on a gluten-free and vegan alternative for puff pastry which mimics the golden crunch of homemade phyllo; while ice cream lovers will want to go straight for the vegan profiteroles sandwiched with Happy Cow ice cream. Finally, for indecisive diners, there’s the Sweet Selection (main image): a mixed platter of Darjeeling ice cream pop, coconut chia mochi, rosemary-lemon financier and watermelon jelly that should serve as an instant cure for sweet cravings.
Grassroots Pantry, Shop D, G/F, 108 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2873 3353
Pizzas and paella at Rustico
We love Spanish restaurant Rustico for its casual, tavern-like atmosphere, but this summer the restaurant’s getting a fancy makeover with the introduction of special à la carte items created by two top Barcelona chefs. Known for their creativity in the kitchen (and social media stardom), Jérôme Quilbeuf of Nonna Maria and Miquel Antoja of 130 Restaurant are presenting a summer showcase at Rustico featuring authentic recipes dressed up with a bit of progressive flair. While the tasting menu is no longer available, you can pop by this charming Spanish restaurant and tapas bar from now through 15 July for a taste of the signature dishes.
We’re loving the mini “Pizza Paella in NONNA MARIA Style”, which comes on a rustic free-form base topped with fresh seafood, and the sea bream ceviche studded with fresh strawberries, sweet corn and pumpkin. For lighter options, there’s the fresh scallops with mashed potato and spirulina, and a gorgeous hearts of lettuce salad with pools of romesco sauce. But the real star of the show is the braised beef cheek: incredibly fork tender, the rich and luxurious beef check comes smothered in a sticky sweet and sour Pedro Ximinez sauce that had us licking our fingers to the very last bite.
Rustico, G01, D2 Place One, 9 Cheung Yee Street, Lai Chi Kok, Hong Kong, +852 2743 4511