Yardbird is not the kind of restaurant I was expecting to be taken to on my first night in Hong Kong, if I had been in Brooklyn then yes maybe, but Hong Kong?! Located on the high, narrow roads of soho (south of Hollywood road) Yardbird opened just over a year ago and has seemingly been attracting a far “hipper” crowd than myself since then.
We arrived at about 11pm on a Thursday night, the small top floor room was buzzing (they have a lower level as well with more seating areas). Well informed, heavily tattooed and extremely personable waiters work the room, laughing with guests at the bar, explaining the menu concept and generally rocking out to the sounds of blistering hip hop which moved on to the more mellow Bob Marley by the time we left around an hour and a half later.
The drinks list has 7 well thought wines available by the glass (Barbera, Gruner Veltliner and a Sauvignon/Traminer blend to name a few) starting at around 90 HKD a glass as well as a short but interesting cocktail list, comprising drinks such as the “Bloody Kim Jong Il” made with vodka, tomato juice and kimchee and a delicious sounding Awamori Margarita made of Citrus Awamori (a sort of cross between shochu and sake) lemon, lime and tequila.
Over 20 sakes are listed, again with a good selection by the glass and they have almost 20 beers available, most of which are from the Hitochino brewery of which I am becoming increasingly fond. It is however the whisky list where they really shine. 10 Japanese whiskeys are listed by the glass on the main drinks menu but upon expressing an interest in a whisky (I’m especially into Hakushu at the moment) they bought over a whisky list where there must have been at least 30 whiskeys listed which I had great fun investigating further!
The menu concept is small plates designed for sharing as well as a Yakitori section where they list skewers of different parts of chicken with everything from Heart, liver, Knee, oyster or “Tail” to the more usual breast, fillet, wings or “meatball” We opted to share the tail (surprisingly fatty but very tasty) as well as thigh and the so called meatball which came with a delicious sauce of raw egg yolk and tare (a sort of sweet and thickened soy sauce) for dipping.
We also shared some fried chicken (our waiter advised us to have 1/2 portion of this and a 1/2 of the KFC which was a great touch) edamame, a light and crunchy cucumber salad with a soy and miso dressing and the brilliantly named, not to mention unspeakably moreish KFC (Korean Fried Cauliflower) which came coated in a slightly sweet but spicy chilli and yuzu sauce and rolled in sesame seeds.
YardBird is the sort of neighbourhood restaurant/bar that I would literally kill to have on my doorstep, we made a second trip on my last night in Hong Kong too, just to grab a drink (oh and some more of that delicious KFC) and chat at the bar and the place was buzzing once again. Quite how it is as unpretentious as it is, frankly is a bit of a mystery to me as all those “hipster” warning signs are in place, yet we were made to feel completely at home on both occasions and I really, really enjoyed myself. Now we just need them to open up in Singapore, or I need to move to Hong Kong…..