One of the current hot spots for dining in Hong Kong is Mexican restaurant Brickhouse in Lan Kwai Fong. As you can see from the above, “No Number, No Reservation” has meant that there are long lines to get into this small place hidden in the back of an alley off D’Aguilar Street. The first time I tried to go here, I was told it would be a 90 minute wait. This time I went on a week night (Wednesday) and got there just as they opened at 6 PM. By around 6:45 the place was full though some tables were turning over relatively quickly.
The place has a nice, relaxed vibe to it and I liked the design, which looks cheap and haphazard (but probably wasn’t). You do not feel like you’re in Lan Kwai Fong at all, due to the unique location.
Here’s chef Austin Fry, from Austin, Texas (yes his name is Austin and he comes from Austin) front and center at the counter.
Actually, what happened was that I’d gone outside for a smoke, ended up talking to the guy sitting next to me who told me his name was T-Bone. He pointed out Austin and said I should introduce myself. Austin was super friendly (as are all the staff there), gave me his card and told me next time I come back (and I will) I should sit at the counter so we can talk more. I plan to take him up on this offer.
At this point I should interject that I am no expert on Mexican food. I grew up in New York City and most of the Latin food there came by way of Puerto Rico and Cuba. Oddly enough, I’ve only been to Mexico once – and that was to Cancun, which is such a tourist-oriented homogenized place that I’m not sure it counts. I lived in San Francisco for two years and got addicted to Mission burritos, and you can’t find anything remotely like that in HK (at least not in my experience). I’ve tried Agave and Taco Loco and Coyote and Tequila Jack’s and many of the other faux Tex-Mex places here and always thought they were okay enough but they don’t seem remotely authentic and are not worth going out of one’s way for.
This means that I can’t vouch for how authentic or inauthentic Brickhouse is. All I can say is that everything I had there tasted as if they’d raised the bar on this kind of cuisine in HK.
Unfortunately, my food photos aren’t wonderful this time out:
I started with a bottle of Tecate in no small part because it’s not easily found here.
The menu lists lots of starters, mains and sides but it does not list the tacos. They’re on a chalkboard on the wall.
The chalkboard neglects to mention that you can order a platter with one each of the five choices, which is what we did.
The first one I tried was the rib eye and it got an instant “wow!” from me. I thought the fish and chicken tacos got a bit lost. The beef tongue had stronger tongue flavor than I expected, but that was quite okay because tongue’s one of the few offal dishes I grew up on. I finished off with the pork, which I also rated as a “wow!” I was impressed with the home made tortillas and also with the variety and freshness of the toppings. I think I could easily become addicted to the steak and pork tacos.
My friend and I had cut each of the 5 tacos in half so we could try some of each one. We were still hungry after that and so I ordered their beef short ribs for us to share.
At HK$225, the portion seems small. But other than that, I don’t think this could possibly be improved on. It was incredibly tender and tasty. Cutting this in half, I think there was just 3 or 4 bites’ worth for each of us. Each bite elicited a “wow!”
Some of the comments on this place that I’ve come across have accused it of being over-priced. And HK$55 for a small taco is not cheap by any definition. The only thing I can say is that I’ve had the $25 tacos in town and they were nowhere near as good as the ones here. I think it comes down to quality and freshness of ingredients and I’m sure Lan Kwai Fong rents (even in the back of an alley) figure into this. All I can say is, I enjoyed almost every bite here and I enjoyed the vibe that the place has. I’m definitely going back.