After a long day’s work in Hong Kong, business travellers need a little after-hours fun. Hong Kong is home to plenty of entertainment options, but next time you’re in the city, you might want to venture up to The Peak and try Rajasthan Rifles, the latest opening by Black Sheep Restaurants.
Soldiers at Ease
A much-anticipated opening, Rajasthan Rifles honours one of the most notorious regiments of the British-Indian Army of the early 20th century. Mimicking the officers’ mess halls of the period, the eatery is a casual, fun spot where guests can take a load off with refreshing drinks and the Anglo-Indian food that derived from these army canteens where British officers mingled with Indian infantrymen.
The theme here is strong and done with style – there are mini canons at the entrance, and staff sport fun military-inspired uniforms that really bring the theme to life.
Even the menus follow suit. The drinks list looks like a military dispatch and is titled Butt & Barrel; and if you read the fine print on the main menu, you’ll get a chuckle from orders like “Mess decorum dictates that politics and religion may not be discussed on-premises” and ” It is considered bad form to discuss ‘shop’ i.e. official matters in the mess. So forget about talking about your latest deal or vexing clients – this place is purely for fun.
Cultural Blending on a Plate
After helping Black Sheep Restaurant’s New Punjab Club achieve one Michelin star, chef Palash Mitra is now spearheading the Anglo-Indian menu at Rajasthan Rifles. Take note though: This is not an Indian restaurant, so don’t expect run-of-the-mill Indian fare.
You probably haven’t tried it before because it’s rare to find mulligatawny soup on a Hong Kong menu, but this is your chance. The “English” soup from Madras incorporates chicken, celery and rice in a dish that’s the definition of Anglo-Indian.
You’ll also want to try the Keema Anda Pau – but maybe not around clients of company big wigs. With curry-like slow-cooked mutton served with fluffy buttered milk buns, the dish is the Indian answer to the American Sloppy Joe; it’s delicious, but there’s no way to eat this with decorum.
Sizzler plates make up the bulk of the really Anglo-inspired dishes – these are plates of meat or fish served with buttered vegetables, thick chips and sauces. We sampled the Soola Salmon and if we’re being honest, it was good but it just didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the food we tasted. We preferred the Pedro Vindaloo; the Goan curry made with prawns, white wine vinegar and garlic seemed much more on theme. Whatever you do, save room for dessert. Posset is a rare find these days, and the lemon-flavoured version here is delightful. If you want something classic, the bread and butter pudding is perfection, too.
The Rajasthan Rifles were known for their fondness for drink, so it’s appropriate that this restaurant has a quality drinks list that includes a range of potent and easy-drinking cocktails.
The English Minted Pumm’s Cup – Pimm’s, mint, lime juice, ginger ale, cucumber, and white ale is a perfect English summer day in a cup and should be had as an aperitif. Equally refreshing though with a little more kick, The Rifleman’s Ricky is made with gin, absinthe, lime, soda water and mint.
Need to Know
Even if you’re a business traveller, you’ll probably be heading here for a casual affair. The restaurant’s alfresco terrace is the perfect spot to enjoy a little food and drink while getting some fresh air after a day of boardroom brawling. Plus, if this is your first time in Hong Kong, you’ll get great views of the city skyline through the potted plants.
The Last Word
There’s a lot to love about Rajasthan Rifles, including the well-executed theme, some great drinks, and certain dishes. However, on a Thursday evening two weeks after opening, the restaurant was pretty quiet and you have to wonder if The Peak – as iconic and inconvenient as it is – is the best location for this venture.
Nonetheless, with a brunch service due to be introduced in the following weeks, we’d be interested in going back for more.
See our other restaurant review for other dining ideas.