Interview: Nate Green on his new restaurant, RHODA
31 Jul 2016
Hi Nate. We’re super excited for you to open. What kind of experience to you want guests to have at RHODA?
We have big aircraft hangar doors that open out next to the bar so we want people to come and hang out and drink, bring their dogs, whatever. I want to create a sense of community. It’s so important that our guests have the best possible time and we’ll go out of our way to make that happen.
Tell us more about your partnership with Yenn Wong.
I’d talked to Yenn about doing my own thing as she’s so approachable as well as my biggest critic. I had this idea I’d open some tiny, hole in the wall sandwich shop but when Yenn showed me the space in the Upton, I couldn’t believe how huge it was. When it comes to food, if Yenn likes what I’m cooking, then I know everyone else will like it. She lets me be myself and doesn’t expect me to wear a chef’s jacket.
Tell us more about Joyce Wang’s design for RHODA.
I told Joyce to step out of her comfort zone as I didn’t want a typical Joyce Wang restaurant. I want it to be raw and to represent me, but still have a Joyce Wang element. Also, there’s no other Western restaurants in the area and I like that we are the first one. The ding ding goes past the restaurant and I love that, it’s very Hong Kong.
The restaurant is named after your grandmother – how did she influence your concepts
I’ve taken ideas, feelings and flavours from her recipes and fixed what I considered to be faults to perfect them a bit more, but I’ll cook everything on fire and coal-powered wood oven as I think everything tastes better when cooked over coal. I’ll serve versions of dishes like Mum’s potato salad and Moon’s ice cream and custard – a dish named after my other granny. Rhoda would cook great spare ribs so I’m using the same recipe but with rib chops so there’s more meat on the bone. Rhoda embodied hospitality and everyone was always welcome at her table. She was never happier than when she was sat eating with her family.
How do you see RHODA progressing?
What you’ll see in RHODA when it first opens won’t be the same in three years as we’ve scheduled in growth. In the future I want chefs to prepare dishes table side as everyone loves theatre. I know the world’s best restaurants don’t get to where they are suddenly, it takes at least 10 years to be considered one of the best. I want RHODA to be what it is and do what it does, and if people want to award it, great. Of course my dream is to get a Michelin star but I don’t want people coming in to tick a box and say they’ve been there as they might prevent my regulars from being able to get in.
Tell us about some of RHODA’s collaborators.
Vans are making shoes for us and Lee are doing all our denim and printing the logo on our aprons. I’ve also got an awesome guest chef list lined up as a lot of my friends are hot up and coming chefs in the UK, and Jason Atherton has offered to come and cook as well. I’m keeping it the family too – my brother Adam curated the wine list at RHODA.
Adam – tell us more about the wine list you’ve curated.
The wine list won’t take a box-ticking approach. We’ll sell it by the glass to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone and try something new. I feel that people tend to find something for their palates on cocktail lists but are intimidated by wine lists, as there’s this stigma of ‘getting wine wrong’. To combat that, we’re offering people chances to taste things they normally wouldn’t and expand their horizons, especially as a most of the wine on the list hasn’t been supplied in Hong Kong until now.
RHODA is set to open in June 2016. Watch out for our upcoming review.
RHODA The Upton, Sai Wan, 1A Ground Floor, Upton, 180 Connaught Rd W, 2177 5050; Rhoda Facebook