Black Sheep are venturing to The Peak, with its newest opening inspired by the Anglo-Indian mess halls of the early 1900s.
District: The Peak, Hong Kong
How much: Lunch dishes range between $78 and $178; sizzlers range between $178 and $298; tandoori dishes between $178 and $228; currys between $98 and $228; biryani $298
Must order: Samosa Chutney; Keema Anda Pau; Butter Chicken
The best for: Casual all-day dining
Sassy tip: If you’re heading up The Peak with your pooch in tow, make a beeline for RR’s outdoor seating area. You can enjoy a cup of chai masala (or a G&T!) and you can both cool down and enjoy the city view.
We know by now that when Black Sheep Restaurants go with a theme, they go all-out. So, hot on the heels of the newly opened lively SoHo spot, Taqueria Super Macho, comes its latest venture, Rajasthan Rifles. Taking its inspiration from the Anglo-Indian mess halls of the 1920s to 40s, where the British Indian Army got together to socialise, drink and, most importantly – eat – the restaurant completely transports you back to the era, with everything from the waitstaff’s army-style uniforms, to the lively jazz soundtrack and the blending of British and Indian flavours sure to take diners back in time. As mentioned, BSR is known for its well-researched and authoritative hand and Rajasthan Rifles is no different, managing to capture all the best bits of this fragile period of history and serve them up in the group’s signature style. Overseeing the kitchen is Executive Chef Palash Mitra, of one Michelin-starred New Punjab fame, so the although it’s easy to get swept up in the story behind the restaurant, you know that what’s really important (the food) is done right, with the restaurant serving simple and well-executed dishes, focusing on quality ingredients.
As the group’s first restaurant located at The Peak, the Rajasthan Rifles is set to be a casual and relaxed all-day dining spot, serving up hearty fare and refreshing drinks for residents, tourists and dog walkers alike. The broad menu features everything from tandoor-grilled meats and creamy curries to the “Company Special” Lamb Biryani and its own Rajasthan Rifles Club Sandwich, along with the British-inspired Bread & Butter pudding. A word of warning, make sure to come hungry (and don those stretchy trousers!) as the food here is rich and will definitely have you coming back for more. We began with the classic Samosas ($78), which our hungry selves couldn’t get enough off, diving straight into the delicious pastry triangles, that were lovingly filled to the brim with lightly spiced potatoes and green beans, and served with a tangy tamarind chutney. We also loved the Keem Anda Pau ($128). A traditional mess hall dish, consisting of slow-cooked minced mutton and crushed boiled egg, served with lightly toasted and buttered milk buns. The meat was heady and warm with spices, while tender and full of gamey flavour. Sandwiched between two milks buns, it was almost like an Indian-spiced take on an American sloppy Joe. A must to try alongside one of Rajasthan Rifles’ array of light and refreshing drinks.
Focusing on low-alcohol beverages that are made for all-day-drinking, the bar menu here offers up a wide range of British gins, alongside favourite summer tipples such as the Minted Pimm’s Cup ($98), Lunchtime Bloody Mary ($88) and the Dutch Courage ($98), made with dark rum, pineapple, bergamot juice and peppermint tea. The easy-drinking beverages work to refresh the palate and don’t try to compete with the richly spiced food. A dish that is sure to be a favourite accompaniment to drinks is the Rajasthan Rifles Club Sandwich ($148). This classic lightly toasted white bread is filled with chicken tikka, masala omelette, tomato chutney and cheddar cheese, and is served alongside crispy thick cut chips and a spiced tomato sauce. Putting other interpretations of the widely popular dish to shame with its perfectly balanced levels of spice, it is the ultimate coming together of the two cultures.
We also enjoyed the aptly named Soola Salmon Sizzler ($278). Served to the table on a hot (and sizzling!) plate, the salmon had been marinated in soola spices for over 24 hours, and lightly seared to create a fall apart texture, and was served with buttered vegetables, peppercorn sauce and parsley rice. From the tandoor, we tasted the Goat Seekh Kebab ($228). Flavoured with green chillies, roasted cumin and cheddar cheese, it had a punch of flavour which was only enhanced by the refreshing yet spicy green mint chutney.
From the array of curries on the menu, we sampled the Butter Chicken ($178), Pedro Vindaloo ($228), Dum Aloo “Gunpowder” ($98), Dal Rifleswala ($108) and Clubwala Palak ($158) – all of which we enjoyed with plenty of garlic naan ($38/$48). The butter chicken didn’t disappoint, with the braised chicken tikka swimming in a creamy sauce of tomato and butter. We also loved the deeply comforting dal, made with lentils that had been slow-cooked over smoked charcoal embers to impart flavour and make for a rich and satisfying curry. The Goan-style Pedro (prawn) vindaloo is one for spice-fiends to try, made in typical South Indian style with white wine vinegar and garlic. And for a taste of greenery on your plate of colour, spice and flavour, don’t miss trying the Clubwala Palak (creamed spinach), with garlic, onion and tomato masala.
Fans of a classic biryani will also want to try the “Company Special” Lamb Biryani ($298), aromatically flavoured with over 20 spices, the lamb was slow-cooked in layers of basmati rice, making for a succulent and lightly spiced meat, in amongst the basmati rice that was rich in mint and saffron.
Desserts on offer include the light Lemon Posset ($78) and the slightly-heavier Bread and Butter Pudding ($98), but we think that the best end to the meal is the Masala Chai ($58). The hot, sweet tea was richly spiced with ginger and cardamon, making for a comforting end to an indulgent meal.
Our verdict: Although the location may at first seem a little far out, Rajasthan Rifles may be setting a trend for more restaurants to open at The Peak. The all-day dining space is perfect for a lazy afternoon, whether you’re heading in for drinks and snacks or a meal of hearty Anglo-Indian fare, you’re sure to be left satisfied.
Rajasthan Rifles is now open Tuesdays to Sundays until 10pm for dinner, and will soon be open for breakfast and lunch.
Rajasthan Rifles, Shop G01, G/F, The Peak Galleria, 118 Peak Road, The Peak, Hong Kong, www.rajasthanrifles.com
All images courtesy of Annie Simpson and property of Sassy Media Group.