Hong Kong is teeming with fantastic restaurants, but ask someone to name a decent and moreover authentic Mexican restaurant and we flap our arms in frustration. The search is never ending!
Verde mar is another restaurant that claims to provide the authentic taste of Mexico with their head chef, Eligio Escobedo proudly greeting customers and explaining the best dishes on the menu. Upon entering, you will find this place well laid out, unpretentious and with just enough Mexican flair, with warm coloured hues and sombreros dotted all over the walls.
Now for the food. The menu is quite extensive, colourful and mentions some lesser known facts about Mexican cuisine, so it may take you a while to go through this. Chef Eligio is more than happy to make some recommendations. Unfortunately, I do not eat beef and understand that most of the beef dishes are good- steak arracherra carne asada is apparently worth a try! Also, the drinks menu perfectly explains how to drink tequila and offers a good range of cocktails.
We ordered chicken and steak tacos to start. A sangria and margarita as well to wash these down. Once the tacos came, chef Eligio reminded us to eat them while they were hot. The tacos came with two salsas- salsa roja and salsa asada. The latter was probably needed as we found the tacos needed a kick. They were probably the best I have had in Hong Kong so far. Fresh ingredients make a lot of difference! A friend of mine who had been living in Mexico for the past year commented that they were very tasty.
For the drinks however, we were disappointed. The margarita certainly wasn’t strong enough, very watered down. My friend had the same comment about the sangria, also that she couldn’t taste the fruit. Unfortunate, as drinks are really the money maker, so not sure why so many places fail to get this right.
Moving on to the next dish, we had Oaxaca cheese fundido with chorizo (there is also a choice of mushroom for veggies). This one is served with some nachos, but compared to the other dishes, was quite underwhelming. Although it was good in between the VERY spicy dish that came next.
Very finely chopped green chillis and lime are the main ingredients in the snapper ceviche with cucumber. Upon first glance, you would not think that this dish is so spicy, but after having even a mouthful, my whole mouth was on fire, but I couldn’t stop taking more. Very fresh and tasty!
The last dish was the Mexican take on Spanish paella- apparently in this version, they are more generous with the seafood. They were indeed and the seafood was very good quality. The rice was flavoursome and cooked perfectly. Overall, a great dish!
Verdict: Aside, from the drinks which they really need to work on, I wouldn’t say no to another trip. They have quite an extensive menu and I would be intrigued to try their super nachos and burritos. At around 350 HKD per head including our one cocktail- unfortunately we missed the happy hour which ended at 7:30pm, it was more reasonable than I was expecting. If you are lucky enough to work in Wan Chai, Verde mar has a reasonably priced set lunch menu. Definitely worth a try with their relaxed atmosphere and tasty food!
24 Tai Wong Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong Ph: 852 2810 0888 http://verde-mar.com/