Hong Kong Eats: 22 Ships, Wan Chai

Trendy, casual and hip are words that come to mind when you first step into this tiny hole-in-the-wall Spanish tapas bar which marks Michelin Star Chef Jason Atherton’s debut into the Hong Kong dining scene. With limited seats and a no reservation policy, it comes as no surprise that it is almost impossible to dine here especially on weeknights and weekends. But we got lucky one Monday afternoon when we popped by for lunch and got a taste of what this eclectic space had to offer.

22 Ships 2-001

Wagyu beef, egg yolk puree, bread crisps, and grated hazelnut

First dish to emerge on the counter top and I had zero expectations. This could be linked to the fact that we could see the dish being prepared. Fingers poking and prodding raw meat on an exposed metal counter top, which you know will eventually find its way into your mouth and tummy…not so pretty.

However, preparation pictures aside, this can be summed up in one word: faultless. My companion mentioned that there was too much sea salt but I thought it was fine. The salt added more kick to the creaminess of the egg yolk and raw wagyu. Overall, flavourful without being too intense; it was a great dish to start with.  4/5

Wagyu Beef 2-001

Iberico pork and foie gras burger with avocado dip and cucumber pickles

The mini sliders speak for themselves. I wonder why they gave pickled cucumbers; it was not necessary, in my opinion. Avocado was smooth and should be spread generously across the patty because it provides more texture to each bite. Even if you are not a fan of foie gras, I doubt you can say no to this mini wonder once you’ve tasted it. It is just so damn good, you would want a second serving! 4.5/5

Iberico Pork-001

Salmon, watercress and pickled mushrooms

I have to admit something upfront – I ordered this only because I was so seduced by how the chef prepared and plated this dish. My expectation was sadly misplaced. This was a dish in which the salmon was supposed to be the star but it certainly tasted like it was the sideshow instead. The salmon, on its own, struggled to achieve any flavour at all. My guess is that it had arrived frozen, was defrosted and refrigerated again. The texture was too soft and fell apart too easily, the colour was a bit off as well, the term, “sickly salmon” comes to mind.

Salmon 3-001

What I believe to be apple jelly was refreshing. Watercress was good. Pickled mushrooms looked way too cute and brought this dish together with the cucumbers. The little black puree dots, however, was the saviour. By itself, it was literally an explosion of flavour in your mouth. I was instantly reminded of marmite (I am sorry to degrade this but I have to be honest), thought of onions and charcoal. In any case, only order this if you wanna try your hand at figuring out what the charcoal dots are. 2/5

Seared Scallop in spiced mango with iberico ham, leek, pine nuts and peas

There’s something exciting about picking something from, not the regular menu but what I like to call, the chalkboard specials. When you order from the chalkboard, you’re essentially saying, surprise me! And I was surprised. This dish was on the opposite end of their offerings in the regular menu. The indian-influenced aroma and taste was unexpected. Adequately seared scallop with that hint of spice in the mango puree, coupled with olive-oiled pine nuts, was a welcome change to the palette. I also especially liked how the leek ends were seared in an almost-grilled way. 4.5/5

Seared Scallop-001

Squid Paella with mushrooms and iberico ham

This was also a chalkboard special, the fickle end, that is. I cannot remember why we ordered this, but it was decent enough for carbohydrates. I am sure Jason Atherton could come up with something better, a twist of this or a dash of that to make ordinary Squid Paella, stellar.  3/5

Paella-001

Textures of Chocolate

Dessert plating is crucial. After a full meal, what you want to see is something that doesn’t look like it will add another inch to your waistline. This, is a winner. I don’t know about you but my first thoughts were: OMG, chocolate forest, home tree, avatar, great love story. See how sweet the dish is even before I start tasting? The white mushroom-looking home tree is made up of an ice-cream trunk and a meringue tree-top and the surrounding brown bushes are mousse, cocoa crumbs and icing sugar.

Textures of Chocolate 2-001

The quantity is great for two share, don’t be overly ambitious because it is saccharine, in a good way. There is crunch, there is sizzle and there is silkiness all in one mouthful. Enough said, the picture speaks for itself. 5/5

In conclusion, not all the dishes were up to mark but 22 ships is definitely worth a visit if you are in the neighbourhood of Hong Kong Island.

For more food in Hong Kong, do check out my list of 10 Places To Eat in Hong Kong

22 Ships-001

G/F, 22 Ship Street, Wan Chai
Tel: +852 2555 0722

Opening hrs:
Mon-Sat: 12:00-15:00, 18:00-23:00
Sun: 12:00-14:30, 18:00-22:00

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Words and photography by Yasmine Ng
The writer is a frequent jet setter around countries in Asia whose dream is to eat her way around the world. 

Hong Kong

3 Responses to Hong Kong Eats: 22 Ships, Wan Chai

  1. Whenever I go to Hong Kong I only have dim sum or Chinese cuisine. Next time I shall check out this place.

  2. […] local hotelier Loh Lik Peng once again (other partnerships include Esquina, Keong Saik Snacks and 22 Ships in Hong Kong), the interior of the space- designed to mirror the experience of dining in an indoor […]

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