Literally translating into ‘Third Wife’ in Cantonese, Sum Yi Tai celebrates gangland Hong Kong decadence with swanky, modern bar with both a full restaurant on the second floor and a tapas rooftop bar on the third floor.
With 1990s Cantopop hits keeping things alive in the background, we were ushered to our seats on the rooftop where it was breezy and made for a nice little reprieve from the bustle of the city by day.
Price: $$ – $$$
The four of us decided to start with some beers and cocktails including this one called First Rose ($16) made with apricot brandy and roses with lemons.
This and the My Mistress Cherry ($17) (Bourbon, cherry liqueur, lime bitters) were what I like to call ‘cough syrup cocktails’. Venture only if you’ve a ridiculously sweet tooth or if you’re delirious with fever.
Drinks go best with some finger food. So we started with this highly-recommended Salmon Skin with Salted Egg Yolk and Lime Zest ($12).
It went well with the beer as a generic cracker-type snack but honestly this was just short on flavour and I could barely taste the salted egg yolk or the lime. Missable.
Similarly, these Crispy Fried Five Spice Sakura Prawns ($14) were a little underwhelming and overpriced.
The best friend is a HUGE fan of curry fishballs and this really brings us back to all our trips with the girls to Hong Kong back in the day. So we had to try their HK Curry Fishballs ($5)!
This definitely had that really spicy kick that curry fishbowls in HK had but as always, whether out of sheer sentimentality or otherwise, these paled in comparison.They were served only slightly warm and not bouncy and piping hot like we remember. I guess nothing really beats having them off the stick on the street with shopping bags hanging from our arms. Ha!
What’s HK cuisine without char siew? This is the Maple Honey Glazed Char Siew ($12).
As you can see, this wasn’t all that roasted or charred which is how I love my char siew. The maple and honey glaze was great but the meat was not cooked enough for the amount of fat in the cut. It felt like I was chewing a gelatinous chunk of pork.
The saving grace, however, came in the form of this innocuous Sum Yi Tai Signature XO Carrot Cake ($12).
This was wonderfully done with soft pillows of carrot cake fried to spicy, savoury perfection in a gorgeous shiok XO sauce with spring onions, eggs and beansprouts for added texture. I couldn’t stop picking at this. It was SO good. Probably the only dish I’d really recommend from the meal.
We were starting to fill up despite it being small plates so the four of us tucked into a Hong Kong street classic – Shrimp Roe Tossed Noodles with Chives and Choy Sum ($6).
It’s really hard to go wrong with shrimp roe noodles. It’s terribly addictive, salty and coats every single QQ egg noodle strand with umami goodness. We devoured this and cleaned it up quickly, leaving space only for the rice dish.
We ordered the Chicken and Chinese Mushroom Claypot ($26) to share among four and this picture was before they poured the dark sauce all over the rice and mixed it up.
This was pretty alright. The chicken pieces were tender and we always love scraping the bottom of the pot for the charred bits but somehow the rice wasn’t all that fragrant or cooked through like it should be. And the sauce only coated the rice somewhat superficially.
I must admit, I was expecting a bit more from the place. It having a chic, quirky concept with swanky decor and getting a lot of attention from people grabbing a quick dinner/drinks after work in the CBD. But in terms of food or value for money, this really turned out to be quite an average attempt at bringing signature HK favourites to us in smaller portions for more. I might come back just for beers because of the ambience on the rooftop but probably just stop at a plate of carrot cake.
Sum Yi Tai