A friendly watering hole: Created by three veterans of Hong Kong’s F&B industry, Hungry Pal is a cozy, casual spot dishing up well-crafted but approachable food and drinks.
Look & Feel: There’s nothing overly fancy about Hungry Pal, and that’s exactly the point. The simple yet stylish gastropub features wood tables and grey-green banquette seating, while the walls are painted a faint grey and are hung with carefully grouped vintage images. Towards the entrance, the space is taken over by the main bar with seating, where guests can chat to the mixologists—including co-founder Bikal Ghale—about the drinks. The gastropub is also quite small—there are only a handful of tables—which lends a sense of intimacy. You feel like you’re discovering a hidden gem in bustling Soho..
On the Menu: At Hungry Pal, food and drinks are given equal priority. The bar specializes in forgotten cocktails and modern spins on classics. Think revivals of the Martinez ($68), Side Car ($68), and Sazerac ($68) and fresh turns like the Pal’s Mule ($78), Highball No. 11 ($78), and Oolong Sour ($78).
As for the food menu, it takes inspiration from comfort food and pub classics and puts a very elevated spin on them. The result is a menu of well-executed, comforting dishes that will please most palates. The Burrata Salad ($178) and Kingfish Crudo ($178) are light, fresh starters, while the Grilled Octopus ($178) and Crispy Pork Belly ($168) are heartier plates that get a dose of flavor from roasted butternut and almond romesco (the former) and a squash truffle purée (the latter). There are also two homemade pastas on the menu, and the bright, punchy Fettuccine Genovese ($168) made with basil, garlic, peanuts, and Parmesan cheese) was arguably the highlight of the meal.
Although they held promise, the mains left a little something to be desired. The Grilled Cauliflower Steak ($178), while well-conceived and boasting a dash of flavor from spices and an avocado herb sauce, was just a touch too soft and soggy. And, the Grilled Tasmanian Lamb Rack ($368), although well-cooked, was a little bland, despite a chimichurri sauce. In all fairness, we suspect the kitchen was just having a bit of an off day, so we’d give them the benefit of the doubt and try them again before writing them off. You should definitely try the Cajun Fries ($98), though, as these were a clear winner with the perfect dousing of spice.
Jeng: We liked the intimate, relaxed vibe of Hungry Pal. The Pal’s Mule cocktail we tried was on point, and the menu certainly had some great dishes, including the Fettuccine Genovese and Grilled Octopus.
Not So Jeng: Being a very new restaurant and bar, Hungry Pal probably has a few teething issues to work through, as do all new establishments. But, if they can sort these out, this will be a great spot for casual eating and drinking.
FYI: There’s window seating at the front of the restaurant that overlooks Lower Elgin Street – grab a perch to enjoy a few drinks and the Cajun Fries.
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This writeup was based on a complimentary media tasting. The Loop HK doesn’t guarantee/sell restaurant review coverage. See our editorial policy here.