We were talking about how beautiful Brazilian-Japanese babies are, comparing it to how good this combination would be with food, as we stood around on Peel Street sipping on cocktails and waiting to be seated. Uma Nota opened only about two months ago and has already amassed a crowd waiting outside its doors. I’m definitely guilty of adding to their table wait time, as I was there for the second time in just three days.
Apart from their good food, I was eager to come back despite the short time lapse from my first visit (48 hours), because the ambience felt pretty perfect for a small four-person gathering.
On my second visit, we waited about 30-40mins for our table. But the wait was pretty bearable as we stood around trying out their cocktails.
I was initially drawn to their Caipirinhas (HK$90), since they had a dedicated section for it and it’s apparently the ‘official cocktail’ of Brazil. The A Fresca version, made with a fresh fruit of the day (passionfruit) was sweet, fruity and pleasant – albeit a tad sugary. So I actually enjoyed some of their other cocktails a lot more, especially the Menina Geisha (HK$100). In fact, literally every table around us had ordered this drink. I also enjoyed the Negori (HK$90), which was similar to a classic Negroni, but milder.
Tuna Picadito – HK$130 *must order*
On my first visit, within milliseconds of me ungracefully shifting my butt onto the high bar stool, I witnessed the compilation of the tuna picadito. Chopped up raw tuna is marinated in Sriracha and chili sauce, then placed atop tortilla chips. Immediately I was excited and convinced that this would be my favourite dish of the night. It was my favourite of both nights I was here.
The tuna was fresh and the marinated sauce was perfectly calibrated with a refreshing touch. In fact it was so fresh and ‘unfishy’ that even a non-raw-fish-eater had a bite and decided she liked it too.
Scallop Tiradito – HK$130
I was equally appealed by the ceviche-looking scallops dish that was simultaneously being made behind the bar. Ever since my meal at Ceviche in London, I developed a strong affinity to anything resembling ceviche – which also explains why I was so excited about Peruvian-Japanese restaurant, Tokyolima.
The scallops at Uma Nota were very fresh and the sauce was pretty good, made with coconut milk, cilantro and mint. I still preferred the tuna dish more though because of the mild spicy kick that made the flavours just a little more interesting.
Jaba con Jerimum (Beef jerky with pumpkin) – HK$80
Pumpkin always wins my heart over, hence I was drawn to ordering this. The beef jerky was filled with flavours and each bite was almost addictive. While I personally enjoyed this dish, others found it just a little on the salty side.
Dadinhos de Tapioca – HK$65 *must order*
These Brazilian tapioca cubes are definitely crowd pleasers and a dish you need to order. They were deep fried and crispy on the outside. It carried a pretty strong goat cheese flavour, which was meshed into the chewy tapioca. Definitely get this to munch on to start your meal here.
Coxhinas de Frango (Chicken Okra dumplings) – HK$70
This was another unique dish that was highly recommended by the waitstaff. The dumplings were deep fried til golden and the inside was filled with shredded and marinated chicken bits. The flavours are a little hard to describe… try it for yourself!
Yakitori-style Skewers – HK$80
They also had a section for Yakitori-style skewers; I tried out the chicken and fish. This section was probably the more mainstream portion of the menu, just because it’s yakitori and we’ve got a lot of that in Hong Kong.
That said, the execution was still spot on, especially for the fish. The fish skewers were charred on the outside and lathered with a salsa verde; it was surprisingly extremely juicy and tasty on the inside. The chicken yakitori was moist and juicy too, although if I’m being really critical, the marination and hence flavours didn’t seep through the meat enough.
Fraldinha Flank Steak – HK$320 *must order*
We were in a bigger group on my second visit, so we decided it was mandatory to order something from the “size does matter” part of the menu. The flank steak was, again, superbly executed. The centre was perfectly pink and medium-rare, while the edges were slightly and aromatically charred. The meat texture was also still very tender.
See also: Top Classic Steakhouses in Hong Kong
Refreshing addition to Hong Kong’s dining scene
Uma Nota is definitely a refreshing addition to Hong Kong’s dining scene, bringing in dishes we rarely see elsewhere in the city, and housing it in a vibrant setting. The menu items are interesting without trying too hard. Most importantly, the ingredients were fresh and execution almost spot on.
The only downside is that they don’t take reservations and you can probably expect a 30 minute to one hour wait if you’re going at normal dinner (7-9pm) times.
38 Peel Street
Spend per person: HK$400 (including drinks)