Quite naively, I hoped that semi-literate prose would be enough to garner a respectable following for my little blog. Not the case. Increasingly, I’ve been forced to engage in all sorts of disingenuous social media nonsense – from posting little smiley faces on other reviews (or little angry faces for anything written by the lifeless SCMP critic) to pimping links in comment sections. The dopamine hit that follows reciprocal likes is pleasant, but my descent into this behaviour worries me. If I carry on this way it won’t be long before I’m trading sexual favours for shares.
Before I debase myself to that extent, I decided to explore the limited number of followers I’ve amassed thus far. There are some bots (actually quite a few), a number young girls who have acquired a five-figure following by holding up cups of bubble tea and a couple of real-life friends feigning interest. In and amongst these are a few fine restaurants, one of which was Elementary, a new neighbourhood restaurant in Tai Hang.
Either Elementary recognised that I write honestly about the restaurants I visit and are absolutely confident in their fare. Or, they simply liked a photo I happened to have taken. If it’s the former (and I do hope it is) they were right to be confident.
Like its sister restaurant Catch, in Kennedy Town, Elementary’s doors are open at all the requisite mealtimes, but it’s the weekend brunch for which it’s quickly become famed.
The menu is a dreamy love letter to hangovers. Dishes such as Feathered eggs (duck ragu, fried eggs, chorizo, grana padano cheese, flat bread), the Brekkie Burger (fried eggs, melted cheddar, tomato, panko’d avo, vegemite) and the Holy Kale (mushroom, quinoa, fingerling potato, cherry tomato, crispy poached egg) will gently supress the most stomping of tequila-induced pain.
With it being brunch, we each opted for an egg-based dish. In a city in which most eggs resemble the texture and taste of playdoh, we all rejoiced in perfectly cooked eggs. Be them scrambled on sourdough, poached on smashed avocado, fried on duck ragu or slow cooked on fries, each egg possessed the perfect consistency and burst open with the lightest scratch of a fork, oozing sumptuous orange yolk.
My brekkie Burger was wonderfully satisfying. The deep-fried – sorry, ‘panko’s – avocado and vegemite gave the dish a meaty depth, typically absent from most vegetarian breakfast dishes.
Whereas most chefs deplore changes to their dishes, at Elementary additional items are actively encouraged. All of the accoutrements of white middleclass-ness are on offer. Chorizo with your panna cotta. Why not? Halloumi with your oysters. Sure. Extra avocado with your avocado. Great idea. This essentially means you can create your own brunch dish.
Despite adding a side of hash brown (which sadly was shop bought and deep-fried) and bacon, I couldn’t resist ordering an additional plate of Fancy Poutine. With oxtail gravy and blue cheese, the poutine was an opulent, artery-clogging masterpiece. Both my brain and stomach were telling my hand not to reach for yet another helping, which my hand obstinately ignored.
All-in-all, our brunch at Elementary was really rather good. Us Brits are not to prone to paying complements. When we do so it’s usually with exaggerated deference and understatement. The most gushing compliment one can pay another is that they are a good egg. And that’s perhaps the most appropriate description of Elementary; it is – literally and figuratively – a good egg.
How much? $1,376 for five (with many additional sides)
Where? 15-16 School Street, Tai Hang, HK
Who goes? White, middleclass people