Take a fantasy trip to South America and experience a cuisine that never stops dancing in your mouth. Donna Mah steps out for some stylish dining.
The parrilla oven at Tango is where the prime steaks are grilled to perfection. Provided to China Daily
You hardly expect to find a little bit of South America on the first floor of a commercial building on Wyndham Street in the commercial heart of Hong Kong.
However, with Lan Kwai Fong undergoing its latest transformation, its buildings covered in scaffolding, the crowds have moved upwards onto Wyndham Street and the Soho area. Wyndham Street has bloomed into a vibrant eating and drinking locale where one goes to see and be seen.
One of the newest attractions on Wyndham is a new Argentinean steak house, Tango, that opened in the last quarter of 2010. Designed by the prominent Hong Kong architect team Zanghellini and Holt, the restaurant is adorned with distressed timber tables, dimpled bricks and cream-colored tiles.
Hearts of palm salad at Tango highlights the vegetarian side dishes.
It's cozy, with a parrilla (fireplace grill) as the "heart" of the main dining room, where meats are grilled over aromatic wood flames.
Watching Argentinian executive chef Ignacio Elizondo preparing steaks over the custom-built open fire oven at Tango, you know it's hot in there. It doesn't look like an easy job at all, but apparently that's the only way to give the meat that wonderful smoky flavor. Says director of culinary operations and group executive chef, Christopher Mark, "Argentine meat is healthy and sustainable, cooking it in a wood fireplace gives it a unique taste not found anywhere else in Hong Kong."
According to Mark, "the restaurant was really inspired by my study of steak-eating cultures. Argentine steak houses are highly refined yet rustic." Tango certainly offers diners a wonderful introduction to Argentina's refined rustic dining.
The menu, as expected, has a lot of meat. The steaks are served with a selection of six salsas: criolla, chimichurri, spicy tomato, dijon mustard, grain mustard, and horseradish. My favorite is the chimichurri, a green salsa made with finely chopped parsley and garlic. It went well with everything.
Restaurant manager Victoria Boitard, who is from Argentina, recommended traditional dishes that she grew up with such as the provoleta - grilled provolone cheese with oregano and olive oil - and marinated eggplant escabeche.
Both were delicious, but I preferred the provoleta. It's grilled cheese after all! We were told that it's traditionally eaten on its own without any bread accompaniment, but Hong Kong diners usually like some bread with their hot cheese.
The meat is good. The way the meat is cooked is good. The salsas the meat comes with are good. If you like meat, this is a good place to get some. I'm a big fan of black pudding (blood sausage), and the fresh morcilla served here is excellent.
They also serve chicken, fish and lamb. There are vegetarian side dishes as well as a few salads. The rustic potato and spring onion mash had a lovely sweetness that was delicious.
Tango serves a good selection of wines from Argentina, Italy, and Spain. They have a separate dessert menu which includes churros con chocolate, warm apple empanada, and leche flan served with dulce de leche (a caramel-like, milk-based sauce).
Dinner is about HK$500 ($64) per person and the two-course lunch menu is HK$98 per person.
(China Daily 02/20/2011 page13)