The MTR’s West Island Line has spurred exciting new developments in the Western District since it opened at the end of 2014.
The latest restaurant courtesy of Yenn Wong’s JIA Group is Rhoda, helmed by former 22 Ships chef Nathan Green and with interiors designed by Joyce Wang Studio. Rhoda, meaning rose in Greek, was in honour of Green’s grandmother and reflects Green’s personality and approach to comfort food cooking.
“We were very open to the kind of person he is, and we wanted to bring in aesthetics that were representative of him,” Wang says.
“Nate loves hot rods, comic books and anything retro. He usually sports cherry coke coloured Dr Martens boots; we ended up using that colour on the leather upholstery on chairs.”
The 60 seat restaurant on the ground floor of Emperor Group’s Upton residential complex opens directly onto Des Voeux Road and features 4.5 metre high ceilings.
Wang played up the 2,000 square foot venue’s industrial rawness by inserting a pair of rusted steel sliding garage screen doors as the facade.
Within, the plan is orderly and symmetrical, with repurposed stainless steel washing machine drums turned into chunky chandeliers that dominate the restaurant’s centre and a large U-shaped bar mirrored at the back for Green’s open kitchen.
“The emphasis is on drama, with Nate on stage,” Wang says.
“He is heavily influenced by Japanese cuisine and plating, and charcoal grill is a feature in many dishes. To reflect this, we experimented with metals and smoked wood. We inset laser cut Tudor roses onto the wooden tabletops and used shou sugi ban (charred Japanese cedar) on columns and walls.”
Shiny copper tubes fashioned into wall and countertop lighting are contrasted against copper panels on the bars coated with a wash to give it an aged patina. Grey slate bricks arranged in a herringbone pattern were used on the fronts of both bars to add geometric interest.
“Rhoda feels different from night to day,” Wang says. “Although it is in the middle of the city, it feels private.”