About a month ago, Hoof Raw Bar, located next to the Black Hoof, quietly opened without much hype. As the sister restaurant to Black Hoof, you can certainly see the resemblance.
The layout of Hoof Raw Bar is similar to the Black Hoof – small, narrow, a long bar and an open kitchen near the entrance. While the Black Hoof’s décor is on the dark side, the Raw Bar’s décor is on the brighter side, featuring white and seafoam.
Since they don’t take reservations, Mike and I came for an early dinner at 5:30 when they opened. Surprisingly, the entire time we were there, it never got too busy. But I can’t promise you’ll have the same experience.
As the name of the restaurant implies, Hoof Raw Bar has a seafood-inspired menu with items which are meant to be shared.
We started with the must-order Cured Fish Board ($22). Served on a wooden board, our server advised us to eat each component towards the handle as the flavours will get more intense. The first component was the black cod which had been cured with miso and nori. I’m a huge fan of black cod and this didn’t disappoint!
Next up was the branzino which had a nice light and mild flavour to it. The next component was our favourite – the chorizo scallops! These scallops are cured in chef Jonathan Pong’s (who previously cooked at the Black Hoof) own chorizo spice mix. Simply amazing.
After the scallops, we tried the cured mackerel which was a little on the oily side. The final component was the albacore tuna which was supposed cured similar to pastrami. It certainly had the most intense flavour and was drier than the rest.
Scattered around the board were some pickled cipollini onions which complemented the cured fish nicely.
The next dish to arrive was the Raw Scallops ($13) which came with drizzles of curried apple cider reduction. The scallops were topped with green apple and fried potato bits which added a nice crunch. The dish was light, fresh and delicious. What’s not to like?
The following dish was the Shrimp & Toast ($16). Shrimp toast is a typical dish you’d find at dim sum restaurants but the one here at Hoof Raw Bar certainly isn’t your typical shrimp toast. It was served deconstructed, like a salad with sourdough croutons, sous-vide egg yolk with black sesame and kohlrabi which added a little kick to it all. The shrimp was cooked well and the combination of all the flavours worked perfectly.
I’m a huge fan of clam chowder so when I saw it on the menu, I had to order it. While the price tag of $11 was a bit steep, it was well worth it. It came with baby gnocchi which was a nice alternative to the typical chunks of potato and the topping of crispy leeks added a little texture to it all. While most clam chowders I’ve eaten taste too heavily of cream and salt, you could really taste the flavour of the clams in Hoof’s version. If it was socially acceptable, I’d lick the bowl clean.
Next up was the Baby Octopus ($15). It was a complex dish with many layers of flavours, consisting of Hen of the Woods mushrooms, tomatillo, hazelnuts, green onions and something with a citrusy flavour (yuzu, perhaps?). The plate was also dotted with a red sauce which had a similar taste to sriracha but not quite as spicy. While the octopus was tender and nicely cooked, I didn’t love all the flavours. Mike, on the other hand, really enjoyed it. So, you be the judge!
Initially this was all we had ordered, however, towards the end of the meal we thought one more dish would round out the meal nicely. We asked the server for a recommendation and he recommended the Bream Sashimi ($16). The sashimi came on a plate of soy butter which gave it a nice richness. To contrast the richness, the sashimi came topped with some delicious cucumber wasabi noodles. If you don’t have a high spice tolerance, not to worry! The wasabi was quite mild. The dish was tasty, refreshing and a fantastic way to end the meal.
As the sister restaurant to the highly-acclaimed Black Hoof, I came in with high expectations. This often means I’m left a little disappointed but Hoof Raw Bar was an exception. I had an amazing experience from start to finish, from their inventive dishes to their attentive service. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed!
At a glance:
• Black Hoof’s sister restaurant, featuring seafood
• Must order: Cured fish board
• Dishes are meant for sharing
• No reservations
• Closed on Sundays & Mondays
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4.5 stars
• Service: 4.5 stars
• Atmosphere: 4 stars