Variety is the spice of life at 798 Unit & Co (Gastropub)

Wanted to revisit this place in Times Square’s “Food Forum” ever since Tony Roma’s next door, which is similarly priced but mediocre except for its ribs.  (Later on I found out that this is the “gastropub unit” of a family that also includes JAR (Just A Restaurant) in Soho and a “bistro unit” in Tsim Sha Tsui.  Look out!)

We lucked out as all the good places were predictably packed on a Friday night, and this was the first one that called us back.  So this time we had three people with appetites for some added sampling power.   Awesome.

The doorway is actually a giant folding glass pane!

The lively interior

The decor was casual and modern and filled with a young crowd.  We got a roomier couch table on the side although the place was relatively densely packed.

Flipping through the menu, we decided to forego our early stereotypically English fish and chips for some contemporary European flair…actually now that I think of it about, 75% of everything was Spanish/Italian!

We opted for the 798 tapas sampler (798 拼盤)($210), thin crust caprese pizza (鮮茄水牛芝士薄餅)($108) and slow-cooked oxtail risotto (慢煮牛尾意大利飯)($108).  All the desserts looked good, so naturally we went for the “A taste of everything” dessert platter (精選甜品拼盤)($230).

A plate of sliced baguette came first (sadly no picture), with some soft butter. It was nicely warm and not hard.

Soon the first real sacrifice was offered to us, the tapas sampler.  It actually had a great value seven things on it:

  1. Parma ham with honeydew melon (風乾火腿配蜜瓜): the parma ham didn’t have much flavour, so it was mostly the melon, which was quite ordinary.
  2. Truffled duck liver pate, with crackers (黑菌鴨肝醬): I’m not a big pâté eater but this added some richness to the sampler, and it also showed one waitress’ attentiveness as she offered to refill our dwindling crackers.
  3. Grilled oyster wrapped with bacon (煎煙肉蠔卷): a succulent, savoury little morsel.
  4. Vine cherry tomatoes & basil (香草車厘茄串): basically three little tomatoes.  The one I had was a bit wrinkly and not too sweet, nothing special.
  5. Spanish tortilla (西班牙煙肉蛋餅): this came with bacon and onion bits, a solid choice with balanced flavours.
  6. Fried camembert (炸芝士): easily mistaken for hash browns!  These bite-sized delights were evenly fried with a thin batter covering the smooth white cheese inside.  A very occasional guilty pleasure perhaps.
  7. Bruschettas of salmon tartare and marinated tomato (蕃茄及三文魚他他脆包): the finely diced toppings were lightly refreshing.

The mains arrived as we were polishing off the tapas.

The oxtail risotto showed up first, with some thin cheese slices and shreds of oxtail.  My friend said it was a bit salty but I felt it was fine, in fact it was less heavy than say the cheesy risottos at Caffe Habitu.  Soft, tender and moist, this went down easy.

The caprese pizza had mozzarella cheese, tomato and basil.  Maybe it should’ve been served on a smaller plate because my first impression was: “fun-sized”!  The thin, crunchy crust carried subtle flavours which gave a healthy feeling…as opposed to say the grease bomb of fast food pizza.

Finally, for us gluttons, the dessert platter.  At six items it almost matched the tapas sampler in variety, however half were all chocolate!  I never really touched chocolate until first year of university, when my devious friend got me hooked on Aero bars and I branched out into Cadbury chocolate fingers.  Dark times.

So here they are:

  1. Chocolate fondant (焗軟心朱古力蛋糕, 即心太軟): well made, with the warm, soft exterior hiding the gooey goodness within.
  2. Chocolate cake with cream: a normal chocolate cake, slightly on the dry side.
  3. Chocolate cake with raspberries and slices of dark chocolate: the cocoa was getting to me by now; this tasted almost the same as the other cake.
  4. Lychee panna cotta (荔枝意式奶凍): mild, with a hint of lychee adding some sweetness.
  5. Crème brûlée (法式燉蛋): I didn’t have much of this, and it was cold when I got to it, but it looked evenly-brûléed and was still pleasantly sweet.
  6. Sweet cornbread: This wasn’t on the regular dessert menu but I’m pretty sure this was what it was.  It was soft and moist, pretty good.

With drinks ($76-79 each, for beer and cocktails) the total came to $957, or $319 per head.  Considering we got to try 15 things in total I’d say it was fair value!

Bonus fact: Throughout our meal there was a pair of girls sat next to us, and whenever our delectable, food-laden platters came they’d exchange sad chuckles and cry a little bit inside.  I think they were on a diet.  Sorry girls.

Restaurant rating: NOM NOM NOM NOM (out of five).  I’ll be back.

Address: Shop 1203, 12/F, Food Forum, Times Square, 1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay 銅鑼灣勿地臣街1號時代廣場食通天12樓1203號舖

Tel: 2506 0611

Opening hours: Mon – Sun, 12pm – midnight (happy hour 4-8pm)

Website: http://www.798unit.com/home.php

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