Address: G/F, 2 The Centrium, 60 Wyndham Street, Central 中環雲咸街60號中央廣場地下2號舖地下
Telephone: 3167 7380
When a restaurant called Socialito took the place of Privé on Wyndham Street, my friends and I all got curious about it. Run by Buzz Concepts (proprietors of Lily & Bloom (Hong Kong) and Volar), Socialito is a new restaurant to join the recent Mexican food trend – the popularity of Chicha, Taco Chaca and Brickhouse (Hong Kong) shows that Hong Kongers’ love for Latin American food is still going strong!
There are three faces to this Mexican eatery. Outside is an alfresco taquería, where you can grab a large piece of taco to go with your beer. Past a discreet steel door (which resembled a kitchen’s door) is the elegant dining area of the main restaurant. Both lunch and dinner are available at the taquería, but the main restaurant only opens at night. If you wish, you can buy food from the taquería during lunch time and sit inside the restaurant. The main restaurant does not take reservations unless you have a party of 6 people or above. Luckily (for me, but perhaps not for the restaurant), the dining area was only half full when I went on a Friday night, which meant that I was spared from merciless waiting times. However, despite there being available tables, I was told that I could not be seated until everyone arrived, so I was sitting at the bar table alone for 25 minutes waiting for my friend. While this policy is perfectly understandable when there are other people waiting for the tables, it was rather unaccommodating for them to enforce this when the restaurant was half empty!
The decor is classy and eclectic – furnished in brass and mahogany, the restaurant looked a bit Moroccan to my untrained eyes. The menu is more extravagant than those found at its Mexican peer in town – the lobster and wagyu dishes immediately intrigued us. The service could be slightly unresponsive at times, but the staff were all polite and deferential. As the dining area turns into a nightclub at 11pm every night, fashionably dressed customers gradually fill the restaurant at around 10.30pm onwards, livening up the place.
(1) Our first dish was the Spiny Lobster & Avocado Crudo ($210). The lobster sashimi was seasoned with a coconut chili sauce, and the smoothness and suppleness of the lobster was heavenly. It was topped with some cucumber noodles, which were incredibly refreshing, and some pickled shallots. A spicy kick lifted the flavours of the dish.
(2) Arriving next was the Seared Pork Belly ($90), cooked in a Guajillo sauce. The pork belly was crispy on top and thoroughly cooked underneath. Even though the pork belly was relatively lean, it was not any less tasty than the other pork bellies I have had. We loved the fresh, vibrant mango salad on the side, which also helped cut through the fattiness of the pork. My friend particularly adored the pork scratchings, which were light and crispy and easily broke apart, and were completely different from the rock-hard ones he remembered from boarding school!
(3) We shard the Wagyu Tostaditas ($120), which were dressed in a “Garlicky Guacamole”. The wagyu beef was beautifully tender, and the guacamole was lovely; my only complaint was that the tostadita was too thin and crispy and I personally preferred it to be thicker and softer.
(4) The manager recommended the Winter Caesar Salad ($100). The bitter greens had an usual bitter taste, but it was invigorating! The chili infused dressing was delicious, and what we enjoyed eating the most were the thin, crunchy tortilla strips. We appreciated the innovative twist on the classic caesar salad!
(5) We ordered a portion of Off The Cob Esquites ($70), which was grilled corn cooked with spicy mayo and cilantro. There was an attractive sweetness, and the addition of feta cheese was excellent. The corn was nicely grilled, and we liked how we could easily eat the corn with a spoon instead of having to bite it off the cob!
(6) The manager also recommended a Roasted Romanesco Cauliflower (V)($180), a vegetarian main course of romanesco cauliflower and grilled baby eggplants cooked in green mole. It was precise and accomplished, with the green mole sauce providing a distinctive and exotic flavour. The romanesco cauliflower and the baby egg plants were crisp and scrumptious, and had been meticulously grilled for just the right amount of time. The garlicky white rice was soft and fragrant, and the pickled raisins and crispy onions added some flair . This is definitely one to recommend to my vegetarian friends!
(7) For desserts, we ordered the Chili Mango Tostadas ($85). Chopped mango was piled on small pieces of tacos, drizzled in a hot caramel sauce, and served with some red chili cream. The mango was juicy and delicious, and a touch of cinnamon brought out its sweetness even more. The red chili cream had an appropriate hotness, and the tostadas were buttery and crumbly. I would recommend this dessert too!
Conclusion: The restaurant doesn’t impose a 10% service charge, and a typical dinner would cost around $450 per head excluding tips. Socialito is slightly different from the usual rustic and down-to-earth Mexican restaurants – it is a sleek and sophisticated place where you can enjoy refined Mexican dishes.