West Coast Reppin’: 11 Westside storms Kennedy Town

Traditional Mexican hospitality arrives in Hong Kong via Southern California this month with 11 Westside – the latest venture from L.A. “Taco King” Esdras Ochoa. Tucked behind a discrete staircase at the corner of The Hudson, this terraced venue pairs fresh Mexicali flavours with an excellent bar; all in a lofty environment that is equal strokes Palladian architecture and DAMN. music video. Needless to say, Ochoa – affectionately dubbed El Chefe – is intent on bringing the taste of authentic taqueria to Hong Kong.

Hailing from Oaxaca, Ochoa began life in the industry whipping up tacos for L.A.’s hungry diners from the back of a food truck. He parlayed early successes into the opening of L.A.’s acclaimed Salazar and in 2016 earned GQ America’s coveted “Best New Restaurant” Award. With his infectious passion and unassailable charm, it’s not hard to see why.

A meal at 11 Westside embodies all of Ochoa’s personal philosophies: it’s approachable; sincere; and a touch magical. The menu reflects, he says “a blend of my experiences between Mexicali, Mexico and L.A., leaving room for hints of what I find locally – both in produce and technique”.

To start, Gafencu recommends the Tableside Guac – literally assembled in front of guests from fresh avocado, toasted pepitas, and Hong Kong chiles. For those in favour of a back-to-basics approach, the Echo Park Sweet Corn is an even stronger contender – featuring locally sourced baby sweet corn garnished with queso anejo (from El Chefe’s home state of Oaxaca).

Tacos remain Ochoa’s paramour, taking pride of place on 11 Westside’s menu. Freshly pressed daily, on a custom-made machine, El Chefe’s tortillas are painstakingly assembled from a recipe that took three weeks to perfect (thanks to Hong Kong’s humidity). Highlights include the Al Pastor and Carne Asada. The former centres on roasted pork in a marinade of achiote and pineapple; the latter on USDA short rib glazed with a moreish Mexican ponzu.

Despite newcomer status, 11 Westside looks set to fulfil its mission statement: providing good honest Mexican that is made with uncompromising attention to detail. Ochoa’s menu is backed by a formidable bar managed by industry veteran Daniel Eun who, fittingly, crafts a thoughtful drinks list focusing on tequila and mezcal. The venue may also make, low-key, the best negroni variation (Left Hand) in Kennedy Town.

Text: Randalph Lai
Images: Voltage PR