Socialito Taqueria in Wyndham - more Mexican for HK
Right next door to Wagyu in the spilling nightclub end of Wyndham, some serious money has gone into this place by the people from Lily & Bloom. I guess their thoughts on Mexican for HK are this -- do or die!
Forgive me for writing this up without actually eating there (promise to do so in coming days) but I did sit at the front and have a few drinks on Saturday evening and had a chat to the chef.
Fancy restaurant space inside which turns into a nightclub later in the evening (hip crowd - blah). Can check that out when you go to the restroom, but it's all about the street kitchen. Stools and small/tall tables outside with full view of the long parallel-to-curb kitchen so can watch everything being cooked for both inside and outside. What impressed me was how happy and coordinated the kitchen staff appeared - looked like they were actually enjoying themselves at 9pm during Saturday night service. Only been open ~2wks.
Menu sounds pretty damn good.
Tacos: pork belly, Mexican chorizo, steak, duck carnitas, yucatecan grilled swordfish, grilled mushrooms.
Ceviches: red snapper, acapulco (octopus, oysters, shrimp)
Tostadas: tuna, pulled pork
Pasteles: braised lamb
Tamales: fresh corn (can't recall seeing tamales at any of the other Mexican places in HK)
Serving food on the street tables until 2am Fri & Sat and until 12am other nights.
Checked it out on Thursday evening (followed by Brick House on Friday).
The outside bar looks into an open kitchen, which is actually a mocked up taco truck with a simple "tick the box" menu. The set-up is a little confusing, there are waitstaff but they don't take orders, instead you walk to the cash register and place your order and collect your drinks, I assume they bring the food from the "truck".
The door to the restaurant is unmarked (to the left of the kitchen), the restaurant is a complete contrast, it reminds me of posh Tex/Mex places in the US, lots of dark food and big hacienda style furniture, and an alter like bar with lots of illuminated bottles.
The menu is quite short, with only one taco on the specials list and one on the main menu, so the take away counter may be a better option if you are after tacos. We went for a salmon belly taco (the special) which was pretty average. We then had a pulled pork fried burger (not the correct name) which wasn't bad if a little greasy. The guacamole was just OK with fairly pedestrian salsa's although the chips are very good. For a main with had a lamb dish which was so bland, with such little flavour that none of the individual elements stood out. A side order of pickled vegetables hadn't really had time to mature so they where simply vinegary raw veggies.
The staff are good, and we chatted to FOH American manager. I shared with him that I thought the food was a bit bland, he said it had been spicier and bolder when they opened but they had lots of complaints and food sent back because it was too hot and too salty. They do have big bottles of hot sauce but for me the flavours should be cooked into the dish at the beginning to build a good base for the dish, adding heat at the end generally loses the balance of the dish.
The crowd is mainly banker boys with their Louboutin ladies which reflects its nightclubby feel, as a result I think the restaurant food will continue to be secondary consideration to the scene. Would we return? Maybe to see if it settles in, probably for a street-side taco rather than a meal, the next night at Brick House was far better with food in a much higher league (and getting better).
I will aim to check out soon, on the radar screen. Grabbed a seat at Brick House on Friday and it was rammed with long long waits for tables now they are fully open. Looks like the service has been fixed and the tacos we had were still good.
Tried Taco Truck a few weeks ago and was completely underwhelmed - I though my local food court in Sydney did better. OK it was very cheap but the portions are tiny and I though the favours muted.
Haven't been to Brick House or Socialito, but I thought Taco Truck was pretty darn good. Have I had better? Yes, I have, but it really does a nice job overall. What are my bonafides? I spent the first 16 years of my life in Guadalajara, Mexico, the land of the proper corn tortilla, so I know what I'm talking about.
I also went to Chicha, which I thought was good, but just too much of a Mid-Levels scene of pomposity, crowded as all hell and extremely loud. The food was pretty good overall, but a bit too precious and twee. Authenticity is somewhat suspect, but some items are pretty good.
re: Uncle Yabai
Do you think you get different food because you are Mexican and the owner is as well? I went with high hopes, and was expecting a lot after chatting to the owner but I was very disappointed. I know little of real Mexican food but I found it bland. So is my expectation wrong, did I choose badly, or did i get the Gweilo spicing? Do try Brick House and Socialito would be interested to hear if they are indeed better - that said they are very much part of the Wyndam St and LKF scene!
I don't think so. We did speak to the owner, but it didn't look like we were getting anything different or special. Portions are on the small side, but then tacos in Mexico are that size. You just eat lots of them in a sitting. Huge portions of cheese-topped glop is not Mexican food.
And as for spicing, Mexican food isn't naturally spicy, it is actually rather bland. There are a few dishes that are designed to be spicy, but in tacos, the spicing is pretty much up to the eater. Having said that, the sauces that come on the side are very small portions (in Mexico usually you'll get 3-4 sauces to choose from the center of the table) and they aren't particularly memorable.
The owner said he's the provider of choice of the Mexican Consulate, and I'm not surprised.