The warehouse-turned-hotel Ovolo Southside has been accepting guests since the summer of 2014, however its new centrepiece dining venue, Komune, only joined the fray last winter.
Much like the hotel within which it sits, Komune is a distinctly casual and fun dining venue, and guests can feel comfortable in the knowledge that showing up in just shorts and a t-shirt wouldn’t attract any derisive looks.
Last month, the restaurant introduced a new menu developed by its Madrid-born chef, Alvaro Ramos. The selection incorporates a blend of Mediterranean, South American and pan-Asian flavours listed on the menu under playful headings such as “I Had a Snaccident” for small bites and “I’m Kinda a Big Deal” for larger sharing plates.
Where is it?
Komune is located on the fourth floor of the Ovolo Southside hotel in Wong Chuk Hang district on the southern side of Hong Kong Island. Getting to this side of the Island is now noticeably easier ever since the MTR opened its South Island Line in early 2017, and Ovolo Southside is just a few minutes from the Wong Chuk Hang MTR station.
Both indoor and outdoor seating is available at Komune, and with the exception of brutally hot and humid or rainy days the latter should be visitors’ first choice. The space is laid back and casual, and the al fresco design is added to by the presence of green Astroturf on the floor. Combined with the relaxed outdoor seating – comprising both tables and chairs, and garden chairs – and views out over the mountains, the setting provides an almost picnic-style atmosphere.
Despite there being a specific section for large sharing plates, most of the dishes served at Komune should be viewed as communal, so it’s worth going there with at least another person if possible in order to make the most of the menu.
Flavours are generally quite light and refreshing, though there are heavier meaty dishes for those looking to feel thoroughly satisfied by the end of their meal. However, the restaurant also makes a note to ensure about a third of its menu is suitable for guests with dietary requirements, including vegetarians and vegans.
Among the new additions to the “I Had a Snaccident” menu are the McCroque (HK$78) and the rainbow tacos (HK$28-38 each). The former comprises four fried croquettes with a crispy exterior and a thoroughly indulgent cheddar, ham and truffle filling, while the latter are a distinctly lighter medley of different flavours. The tacos have either cabbage leaves or red corn tacos that make up the actual “taco” part of the dish, while fillings include kale, guacamole, chilli and mango, braised pork belly, green curry, pomegranate and feta cheese, or sautéed prawns, chilli, shiitake mushrooms and coriander.
A slightly larger starter option is the clams, cooked with sake and minced chorizo sausage (HK$88). These are definitely enjoyable, though I did find the sake hard to make out under the strong flavour of the chorizo.
Vegetarian and gluten-free diners should immediately cast their gaze towards the kale, Brussels sprout, almond praline and crispy quinoa salad (HK$80). This may not be a new addition to the menu, but its delicious, sharp flavour is worth trying. Usually I would find it easy to ignore a side salad in favour of meatier option, however in this case I did find myself going back for multiple helpings.
For those looking to indulge, however, I recommend the “Sichuan style” slow-cooked short ribs (HK$368). This is a larger, sharing dish from the “I’m Kinda a Big Deal” section and while they are one of the most expensive items on the menu are thoroughly enjoyable. The ribs are cooked in a sweet, slightly spicy sauce and are incredibly tender with plenty of fat adding to the flavour, while a portion of salty home made potato chips are served alongside.
At the more sugary end of the spectrum is the “I’m So High Sugar” menu, and the churros (HK$65) are certainly the most immediately tempting. These fried-dough pastry logs are coated with cinnamon sugar and come with two dipping sauces, chocolate or – in my opinion – the vastly superior salted caramel.
Cocktail fans will enjoy the novelty of some of Komune’s selection, which ranges from fairly traditional rye whisky drinks in round glasses to tequila-based cocktails served in a hollowed out capsicum pepper.
All in all I sampled three different cocktails – Rock Island (HK$118), Chinese Ink (HK$108) and Ward of Komune (HK$90).
The first of these, Rock Island, combines Alipus mescal, Cimarron tequila, grilled pineapple syrup, lime juice, Bob’s bitter chocolate and Hong Kong sea salt water in a rock-shaped container and has a slightly smoky and sweet flavour.
The second, Chinese Ink, is a far fruitier affair with Bulleit rye whisky, lychee syrup, limejuice, tangerine juice and lemon grass, all served in a colourful porcelain cup and various arboreal adornments.
The Ward of Komune, meanwhile, is a distinctly more conventional beverage comprising Bulleit rye whisky, green tea syrup, chambord and green tea in a simple glass.
As befits the atmosphere of the restaurant and the hotel, the staff at Komune is both relaxed and friendly. At one point, noticing my movie-themed smartphone case, one of the members of staff proceeded to talk to me about films for a few minutes while I waited for a friend to arrive.
There were a few moments towards the end of the meal where the service began to feel a little less attentive, though in general glasses were refilled and dishes served at a regular frequency without requiring prompting.
This is a fun, relaxed place to have a good al fresco meal and enjoy a slightly quieter side of Hong Kong. While the restaurant likely would be too casual for an important business meeting over a meal – it’s ideal for an after work bite where you can settle down with a drink and a good view.
Opening hours: 6:30am-11:00pm