Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Restaurant Review: Societi Bistro

Location: Jervois Street, Sheung Wan
Type of food: Mediterranean
Rating: ***(3 out of 5)

Societi is a bistro/wine bar that serves a mix of Italian and Spanish fare. It opened just a couple of weeks ago on the ground floor of a serviced apartment building in Sheung Wan called The Jervois. At Societi, you will find the decor tasteful, the prices friendly and the food surprisingly good. It is an excellent casual hangout in one of my favorite neighborhoods in Hong Kong.

Societi Bistro/Bar on Jervois Street

I had dinner there this past Friday with a half-dozen friends. We were seated at the corner table overlooking a small park on the quiet Cleverly Street, a perfect way to wind down the work week. The interior features a twelve-foot high ceiling, wall-to-wall windows and an oak-and-cast-iron motif, creating an industrial yet organic, bistro-like but sophisticated ambience. Best of all, Societi is unassuming and doesn’t try too hard. It is a far-cry from Yardbird, the pretentious and over-priced yakitori restaurant a couple of blocks away.

For appetizers, we ordered mussels, grilled sardines and a Spanish omelet. The first two were alright and the omelet tasted more like quiche. I was disappointed. But the restaurant quickly redeemed itself with its rich offering of entrees. We had enough people at the table to try almost everything on the menu, and the best dishes were hands-down the ox tongue and the seafood linguini. The tongue was tender and flavorful, while the pasta was cooked al dente without being over-seasoned. Even a pasta snob like myself had to give it a thumbs-up. With the exception of the mussels ($288), all the other dishes were reasonably priced: appetizers at $50 a pop and main dishes under $150 each.

Grilled sardines, one of the chef's
recommended appetizers

Service at Societi was a bit uneven, and it needed some fine-tuning. The young waiters seemed nervous handling the wine bottle and nearly knocked over our glasses. When the manager took our orders, we pointed at the chalkboard on the wall and asked her what the “daily special” was. She tilted her head and said rather bluntly, “Sorry, we don’t have anything special tonight.” I gave her an “A” for honesty but a “D” in tact. Those minor blemishes notwithstanding, we had a wonderful time that evening.

Cleverly Street in Sheung Wan,
one of my favorite neighborhoods


  1. Been wanting to ask you whether it is any good and where on earth it is : p


  2. It made me want to go and try it out this very moment, but how come the sardines are that big? Or it is your photographic skills or something? I always thought sardines are the size of those in small tins we got as kids to put in our sandwiches..... Or is it another DNA modified fish???