In the heart of Elgin Street in Soho – a popular dining destination for locals and international visitors alike, is a restaurant named Olive. It’s purpose being to take patrons on a culinary journey across Orient and Occident-inspired cuisines evolving around Greek and Middle-Eastern themes.
Drawn to the place by vivid memories of travel and past culinary delights that have stimulated the senses – upon entry, the décor, mood-lighting and Middle-Eastern design cues are setting the stage for what guests have come for: opulent flavours, colourful mixtures, exotic smells and precious ingredients – like saffron. These are all-important aspects of a rich culinary heritage that dates back to glorious days of the Abbasid Caliphate, and before that, the ancient Near-Eastern cultures of the Phoenicians, Egyptians, Persians, and Mesopotamians.
Build on the foundations of Lebanese, Greek and Turkish fares, renowned Australian Chef Greg Malouf – an authority on Middle Eastern cuisine, has helped design Olive’s modern-day menu. Helping patrons decide on an authentic order in which the menu is best sampled, is a dedicated team that is knowledgeable and engaging – a much valued hospitality trait of this contemporary venue. Chef James Harrison is heading up the kitchen – himself a protégée of Michelin-starred Greg Malouf who taught him invaluable skills at his MoMo restaurant in Melbourne.
At Olive, guests welcome the tasting menu concept, which offers a choice between a Set Menu and the flexibility in creating one’s own tasting menu from a variety of classically inspired dishes. Nowadays, guests have taken to the idea of sharing dishes; thus jointly discovering unique flavors that bring about personal stories from the past – adding to the buzz of the overall dining experience.
Pondering over a number of mouth-watering dishes, Chef James Harrison is on hand to frame each dish for its core ingredient. Like the popular Olive’s Mezze - comprising of authentic Hummus, a delicious smoky-flavored Baba Ganoush, Cheesy Pastries - accompanied by homemade (and hot) pita bread, sets off the journey quite nicely. On the chosen menu, the Charred Quail was an amazing surprise of flavors and composition – organic chickpeas and pomegranate seeds adding to the colorfulness of the dish. Tossing up the options between main courses no longer joy interfering – as a key benefit of sharing allows guests to experience a variety of dishes and their unique flavors: from the Slow-roasted Lamb Shanks, the Lamb Loin in Goat’s Curd (quality Lamb is procured from New Zealand), and the classic Chicken Bisteeya dish with saffron, cinnamon and ginger flavors.
Among the list of beverages are authentic Middle-Eastern juices, flower-blossom lemonade, and a selection of beers and wines from across the culinary regions. Of course, no menu is complete without a selective choice of deserts. Chef Harrison’s experimental interests include flavor-infused creations that are achieved through a vacuum-chamber gastronomy technique; like Olive’s Rosewater-infused Watermelon desert. For more traditional delights, there are hand-made Baklavas, Watermelon sorbet and fresh fruits.
Olive in Elgin Street, Soho – offers a delightful journey along Greek and Middle-Eastern inspired cuisines. The journey is certainly educational for newly discovered flavors, and very sociable through sharing of dishes and accompanying stories. Adding to the delight is the value of the very reasonably priced tasting menu. Kalí óreksi!Olive, Greek & Middle Easter Restaurant, No. 32 Elgin Street, Soho, Central, Hong Kong – T. 852-2521 1608 – Chef’s Tasting Menu – for two or more HKD438.- per person.