Article By Lawrence McCarthy
#103, Chang An Guo Ji E bulding, NO.88 of Nan Guan Zheng Jie.
(029) 8539 1120
11:00am – 9:00pm
PROS: Great fusion food
CONS: A couple of the more conventional dishes don’t live up to their promise
ATLAS Kitchen brings to mind Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, and if they’re going to invoke the name, one would hope that it meets the lofty standards of the woman herself. On that account, ATLAS mostly succeeds.
This is a place with panache and spirit. The service is polite and prompt without being ingratiating, the head waiter particularly handsome and dedicated. Dedication is visible also in the décor and furnishings – the environment is clean, bright, well spaced and decorated with a colourful yet humourous mural and a number of inspiring posters of very healthy people.
I should mention at this point that the ATLAS Kitchen is only one part of a larger establishment that includes ATLAS Fitness. ATLAS Fitness members receive a discount at the Kitchen, where the prices are in any case reasonable. They also offer a meal design service, in which trainers will choose an ideal post-workout meal for you. First time diners are eligible for a trial class at the gym.
This arrangement, so I’m told, is itself merely one part of a rapidly growing business that began with, and still deals largely in, the provision of office space. If this sounds rather corporate, it is, but in the best possible way. The logo, the service and everything about ATLAS point to someone, somewhere having a plan and the determination to make it work. It is positive and upbeat, but with a dignity that avoids kitsch.
Of course what you really care about is the food, so here goes.
First, let me say that if you want something authentic, ATLAS Kitchen is not for you. Authenticity is a philosophically dubious concept anyway—“Authentic” Italian pizza is hard and dry enough to use as a Frisbee; an “authentic” German hamburger is just some meat. ATLAS Kitchen offers fusion food drawn from east and west, not conforming fully to either.
First we had two soups, and I highly recommend the potato and bacon soup. Simple but very effective. Also simple but effective was the Thai Style Beef Salad, which is probably only a little more Thai than I am but sure was tasty. The lamb was a little tougher than westerners are accustomed to but served in a good black pepper sauce with mashed potato and fries. The pork chop in tomato sauce with rice was very filling in a good way, the cheese topping cooked just right. The hotpot was, so my wife informs me, of very good flavour. She would know.
There are things I could nitpick about if I wanted. The Hong Kong milk tea, which should be two thirds tea and one third coffee, was probably the other way round; the pork in the pork dish mentioned earlier was in inconveniently large pieces, and the hotpot came without a ladle, making it tricky to get the meatballs out. The sea salt cheesecake, while tasty, is a sponge cake with a cheese topping rather than a cheesecake. These, and similar small problems, add up to a penalty of one and a half points, and that’s me being deliberately critical because that’s why I make the big bucks.
Despite these minor annoyances, the food is tasty, the service is good, the place is attractive and the enterprise as a whole has what I can only call spirit. This ATLAS doesn’t shrug. It is my great pleasure to award ATLAS Kitchen eight and a half out of ten Ayn Rands.
Lawrence McCarthy is the author of Adolf Hitler’s Great Big T*ts and the Ghost of Morgan Freeman (yes, really), which you can purchase for Kindle on Amazon.