Address: Shop 1302, 13/F, Times Square, 1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay
School Food has quickly become one of Hong Kong’s hottest restaurants, and for good reason. With delicious Korean style snack/street food, decent prices and a vibrant atmosphere, School Food has been drawing crowds every night- particularly young clientele who are more willing to line up for over an hour to get a taste of their “creative and modern approach to Korean cuisine”.
When I went to School Food on a Thursday night, there were around 30 other parties waiting to be seated, so we took a ticket, walked around Times Square for an hour, returned, waited 10 more minutes, and voilà! We were seated 🙂 This is definitely not a place to bring really impatient people (at least, not during peak hours!) In fact, at around 8pm some people tried to ask for a ticket but they were turned away as the restaurant was already full for the night- so be sure to try and come early to secure a seat.
Once you enter the restaurant, you’ll hear the loud chatter of people eager to tuck into their long-awaited meals, as well as K-pop music blasting from the ceiling. Although ostensibly packed together, the restaurant is actually quite large and spacious. I really liked the simple yet youthful atmosphere the restaurant exuded- from the mismatched coloured chairs, to their hanging lamps and brick wall design. School Food prides itself in its “made to order” service- which essentially means that the food isn’t pre-cooked and is made after your order. This ensures that the food is well-prepared and fresh, and it was quite evident from the food we ordered.
First up came the Mango Athie drink-which consisted of a blend of a smoothie, fruits, and soda. The taste of the mango was quite artificial so it’s not a drink for everyone- but I quite liked the “fake” mango taste which permeated from the liquid and thought that it was both refreshing and not too sweet. It was also quite nice to have an ice-cold drink sitting next to your food at all times (everything else we ordered was hot or warm).
Next up was the pan grilled butter bibimbap with pickles (soy). Literally translated as “mixed rice”, this bibimbap was a Western/fusion take on the classic bimbimbaps served in Korea, which usually have ingredients such as assorted sautéed vegetables, meats, egg, and chilli paste. The rice was served on top of a sizzling plate and you could see the butter melt and bubble under the rice. On top of the rice was a lovely concoction of scrambled egg, pickles (in a soy sauce), and shredded meat. We mixed the ingredients together and it turned out to be deliciously moreish, buttery and fragrant. The egg and butter gave the rice a really smooth, delicate texture whilst the pickles and meat gave the dish a crunch.
Whilst we were eating this dish my friend said out loud :”I wonder how much butter is in this dish.” Well, some things are just better left unknown. 😛
We also ordered two different sets of “mari”- School Food’s play on the classic kimbap and sushi roll- which were arranged in a lovely flower pattern. We ordered the deep fried shrimp mari and the squid ink mari (which I saw lots of people order).
The deep fried shrimp mari was well-executed and fried to a shade of golden-brown. To be honest its very difficult to make this dish taste bad as deep fried food is generally quite appetizing. However, School Food went a step further by adding Jjang-A-Chi – a Korean-style pickle to the roll. The crunchy texture of the spicy pickles contrasted interestingly with the crispy-then-soft shrimps. Nestled in between a layer of rice and seaweed, this dish was flavourful and addictive.
Whilst I enjoyed the shrimp mari, the squid mari was even better: each piece of mari had squid-ink coated rice, with marinaded squid pieces and Jjang-A-Chi pickles in between. I’ve never seen squid ink incorporated into sushi before so needless to say I was excited to try this dish out! The result was a sweet, spicy, sticky, chewy, inky explosion of flavours which was both unique and satisfying.
Overall I had a great eating experience at School Food- the food was unique and I really liked how fusion and classic ingredients were incorporated together to create some interesting flavours. However I do wish that there were some healthier options like salads and soups for the more health-conscious. Also, the price is pretty good for the portions you get- we were so stuffed by the end of the meal that we couldn’t order a dessert! Like I asserted before, if you do not like waiting to get into a restaurant you probably shouldn’t come here until the hype dies down.I’d definitely give School Food top marks for their food 😀