As the last of the stifling summer air dissipates, washed away by the rains, so too do our food choices shift with the seasons. At Erwan Heussaff’s The Hungry Hound Pub & Kitchen, a new creative energy is palpable as Chef Mikko Reyes ushers in an end of summer menu that anticipates our deepest gastronomic desires.
Mikko Reyes favours the brazen but simple as his creations embody both contemporaneity and the nostalgia that typifies comfort food, effectively breathing a gust of vitality that stirs up the culinary scene. Having trained as a corporate chef at the Asian Development Bank under British chef, Chris Leaning, Chef Mikko is versed in traditional gastropub fare but punctuates it with Asian flavours and a touch of modernism. As we sat down in The Hungry Hound’s wood clad and knickknack-lined interior—almost too cool for school if not for the inviting warm hum that shrouded the venue—we perched on brocade seats, palates poised, eyed a disgruntled looking bulldog statuette, and waited.
A bevy of dishes glistened before us. Of note: the Spiced Crispy Chicken Sandwich (P367), inspired by the humble Zinger and updated for the discerning gastrophile with a refreshing sesame radish slaw and a Sriracha aioli we would put on anything. The Chilli Whipped Lardo and Pâté (P179) garnished with apple chutney, a roasted garlic clove, and crisp shoots unleashed our pastoral yearnings. The perfectly al dente noodles dressed lightly in olive oil, cherry tomato confit, and chili flakes served as the perfect backdrop to the salty, gamey smoked duck ham in the Duck Aglio Olio (P458). Every plate was masculine yet a creative departure from dude food, artfully crafted yet not too precious, permitting us to abandon decorum and scarf down each forkful like the gastropub’s namesake.
What arrived next was Sunday supper come to life. First, an ode to steak night. The 1 Kilo Shortloin Steak (P3,568)—made with USDA prime and dry aged beef—and Hanger Steak with Chips (P725) were anointed with Maker’s Mark jus and foie gras butter. Both were meltingly tender. The decadence didn’t stop there as generous heapings of chorizo roast potato and truffle fries almost threatened to engulf their beefy brethren. At The Hungry Hound, they take trimmings seriously. Mid-gorging, a bespectacled Erwan Heussaff hands each guest a brief survey, explaining that our preference between sunrises and sunsets and our favourite smell, among other things, would somehow metamorphose into a bespoke cocktail. Out poured a slew of drinks, all different shapes, fragrances, colours and consistencies. Ours was an impressive-looking smoke-filled overturned mini fishbowl that shrouded a short glass of bourbon and green tea underneath its fog. Perhaps inadvertently, this was the best part of our Hungry Hound/Niner Ichi Nana experience. This drink was exactly what we had wanted and we wanted another. If asked to return to The Hungry Hound/Niner Ichi Nana for the bespoke cocktails alone, the answer would be a resounding YES. However, there’s a genuine excitement and eagerness to experiment in each dish and an intuitive approach to the food that makes us want to sample the rest of the seasonal menu. The next time we return, we’ll tear into fat-laced, blood-drenched cow flesh and imagine a dog at our feet, a rifle propped against the wall, and other English countryside clichés.