Small is beautiful? Oolaa Petite, Wan Chai

Some of you have probably heard or been to Oolaa, a popular restaurant in Sheung Wan.  I haven’t yet, so I thought the new petite version in Wan Chai (taking over the space from Epoch Coffee Bar) would be a good entry point.  Was I right?

Oolaa Petite is part of the Castelo Concepts group, which also includes other Western restaurants like Jaspa’s in Central, Sai Kung, Discovery Bay, and even Vietnam.

inside

 

As with Epoch, you can pretty much see 80% of the whole place from the street and vice versa, for your people-watching pleasure.  Wing Fung Street, off Star Street, is definitely the place for a chill few hours of doing just that.

It was half full at 8pm on a Monday night, not unusual.  With no one manning the entrance, I told the humourless guy behind the bar about my telephone reservation, who responded with nary a smile.  Having read some reviews I was fully prepared for some terrible service.  Bring it on!

table

Although the upper area was half-empty, I was given a tiny table “for four” which as you can see above  is the usual table for two.  Another table very close by showed what four people and their food would look like in practice.  No thanks.  I spotted and asked for a proper table for four and was easily transferred, leaving me to wonder why they were so stingy in the first place.

Anyway, thanks to “2 for 1 Mondays”, all mains and pastas were buy one get (the cheaper) one free!  Doesn’t cover the starters though, which can cost the same as the mains. We ordered a bottle of Pinot Grigio white wine ($270) which was great, its subtleness working well with all the food on the table.

tuna

The sesame tuna with wasabi mayonnaise and roasted sesame dressing ($110) was nice and refreshing thanks to the wasabi mayo.

beef

Pink salt crusted wagyu beef skewers with horseradish cream ($160).  The cubes were generously sized and had that beef flavour, but being chewy would be hard to attack without cutting it up first.

pasta

We also enjoyed the linguini vongole in a white wine and garlic butter sauce ($130; free due to 2 for 1 offer).

pizza

We chose a meatier pizza, the Italiano with country ham, parma ham, salami and pepperoni ($120; free due to 2 for 1 offer).  Flavourful and with the right texture, this would’ve been better if not slightly burnt.  Always nice to have house-made pizza.

risotto

Wild mushroom risotto with truffle oil and pecorino cheese ($175).  Decent, but considering its modest size maybe not worth the price tag?  (Part of it is about the money money money.)

salmon

At this point we decided we still had room, so we went for the glazed soy salmon with cauliflower puree and seasonal steamed vegetables ($180).  It was OK – the fish was rather dry though.  Good thing there were some creamy mashed potatoes on the side to mix it up.

Did I mention it was someone’s birthday?  Unfortunately any surprise was ruined when a waitress put down a chocolate sundae type dessert, with an unlit candle stuck in it.  So much thought put into it indeed…

desserts

Second time’s a charm with the chocolate fondant and ice cream ($85).  Presentation was decent, but the taste was ordinary.

tiramisu

We also tried the tiramisu ($85) in a cup, which resembled sawdust pudding (the one at Casa Lisboa – to be reviewed!).  Now I love sawdust pudding, but this wannabe was rather forgettable.

Overall the service wasn’t terrible, but inconsistent – the male waiters did a better job of pretending to care.  At one point glass was dropped onto the floor next to us, and when sweeping up they apologised while asking if we were OK.  On the other hand, one waitress had a totally indifferent manner all night, and didn’t bother hiding her annoyance when helping us snap a photo.

Total bill was $1,172, or $293 each.  If we didn’t come on Monday it would’ve been $1,447 or $362 each, so it’s roughly a 20% discount.  Still reasonable for a varied meal with wine, but next time I’d skip the desserts.  Might have a different experience at brunch though so that’s also worth looking into.

Now to see how the original Oolaa does in comparison…

Restaurant rating: NOM NOM NOM (3/5)

Address: Shop 12 , Regal Court,Star Street, Wan Chai  灣仔星街永豪閣12號舖

Opening hours: 8am – 10:30pm daily

Tel: 2529 3823

Web: official site, Openrice English, Openrice 中文,

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