The iconic heritage centre of Tai Kwun offers a sophisticated and romantic backdrop to the delicious Thai cuisine that acclaimed chef David Thompson serves up in his restaurant found within the centre’s historic armoury.
Recently opened in Central, Aaharn is Australian chef David Thompson’s first foray into Hong Kong’s thriving gastronomic scene and arguably the city’s first truly top-notch Thai restaurant and is part of the Aylmer Aaharn group, co-founded by Thompson as a vehicle to explore, promote and preserve Thailand’s gastronomic traditions.
Curiously though, in a city renowned for its culinary hype there was little pre-opening hysteria, a most unexpected twist since Thompson has been the driving force behind Nahm, Bangkok, where he not only was a recognised authority on Thai cuisine but steered the restaurant to its Michelin star.
Aaharn is located within the historic armoury building at the Tai Kwun Heritage Centre under the shade of a sprawling mango tree. A romantic space with banquettes, circular tables and curvaceous chairs that contrast superbly with the decor and striking dividers. The mix of abstract contemporary art and the moody lighting adds a touch of sophistication.
Popular throughout the summer, the outside area features a broad terrace with courtyard views. This relaxed al fresco setting is a perfect spot to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail or two like the pandan and lychee daiquiri with Chalong Bay rum, brown sugar and lime, before heading inside for dinner.
Thompson developed a formidable reputation at Nahm and in his new restaurant the fruits of his love affair with the fresh and clean tastes of Thai cuisine are on full display. From sweet and salty to spicy, bitter and sour, Thompson unapologetically presents diners with the full gamut of punchy Thai flavours, holding nothing back.
Open for dinner, Aaharn offers both à la carte and set menus that include an enticing vegetarian option. The menus are not extensive and will change regularly, but what they lack in size, they make up for in substance with a choice of vibrant salads, seafood, rich curries, piquant soups and delectable desserts.
From the canapés choose crab meat with pickled garlic, crunchy rice and peanuts, or egg nets with chicken, shallots and kaffir lime. The à la carte menu is sectioned and Thompson recommends you choose one dish from each section per two diners.
Dishes like cured kingfish salad with mint and lemongrass, chicken wings with cumin and shallots, deep-fried yellow pomfret with secret dressing and grilled chilli relish with steamed vegetables will impress both in presentation and taste.
There are also mussels and clams with chilli, garlic and lime dressing and our favourite main, the succulent and spicy steamed red curry of lobster. All the main courses arrive together and are placed centrally to be savoured in the classic sharing Thai family-style and are followed by a selection of Thai desserts like steamed pumpkin custard with golden threads or the glacé kaffir lime and pineapple.
Backed by an excellent drinks menu, including a considerable wine list, the food at Aaharn speaks for itself. With a delightfully elegant setting, Thompson has unquestionably elevated the Thai experience for the discerning diners of Hong Kong.
Exquisite Taste March – May 2019