Cull ‘N’ Pistol

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The sleepy area of Lei King Wan has been in need of a stellar restaurant to draw outside crowds into the neighbourhood for a while. Though successful chains such as Wildfire are doing well, the eastside waterfront has been craving an original concept upon which to plant its culinary flag and so declare itself a legitimate foodie destination. Shore Hospitality’s New England-inspired Cull ‘N’ Pistol seems poised to do just that, and we’re eager to find out if it can breathe new life into the dining scene of the so-called ‘Soho East’.

It seems fitting that a place on the waterfront has decor that evokes oceanic vibes with warm wood tones and a complementary teal ceiling. The restaurant’s name is derived from terminology given to lobsters that have one (cull) or both (pistol) claws missing. Curiously, even though the restaurant pays homage to New England’s seafood-rich culinary traditions, its lobster is sourced from northern Canada. Regardless, we’re assured it’s all sustainably sourced. To get a real taste of how authentic this joint is, we stick to the classics and start with the clam chowder ($88) and lobster roll ($188). The chowder is generously portioned though under-seasoned, but we like the creamy consistency and the clams are fresh. The flesh in the lobster roll and accompanying lemon mayonnaise are bang on, as are the crisp skin-on fries, but the bread is a little dry.

We eagerly tuck into the baked lobster and brie dip ($178) and we’re utterly conflicted – the dish is delicious but not what we expected. Instead of an oozy brie dip, the shellfish is mixed with what seems to be creamed spinach with a little diced brie added to the mix. We move on to the clam bake ($399 for the small size). The smoky chorizo, succulent clams, mussels and sweet lobster are excellent, and we can’t get enough of an umami-laden broth, which we indulgently soak up with a side of garlicky toast. We cap off the feast with a slice of banoffee pie ($62). The thick vanilla cream is light and not overtly sweet, and allows the salted caramel and banana to shine through. Impressive stuff.

It’s not that what’s served up at Cull ‘N’ Pistol is bad by any stretch, but in terms of a star attraction it needs a bit more finesse – the dishes still require some fine tuning. Lobsters though are known for regenerating missing limbs, and Cull ‘N’ Pistol is definitely in a good position to regenerate the Sai Wan Ho waterfront. Holly Graham

Cull ‘N’ Pistol 55 Tai Hong St, Sai Wan Ho, 2513 0199; bit.ly/cullnpistol. Dinner for two: $800.

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