While it could be the lighting, Executive Chef Eligio Escobedo is radiating throughout front of the house at his contemporary Mexican establishment, Verde Mar. There’s a natural, healthy glow about him that he credits to his business partner, Vivian Wong. An avid yogi, Wong decided to partake in a cleanse to deepen her yoga practice and realized she had to share her newfound lightness with Escobedo. “I eat a lot at Verde Mar and Eligio is like a father figure, always checking to see if I’m eating enough,” recalls the former investment banking analyst. Expecting the Nayarit, Mexico native to reject the idea, she was surprised at his positive reception and gameness to participate. Committed together, the dynamic duo went on a 10-Day Cleanse. “By the fourth day of his cleanse, he was a brand new person,” laughs Wong before thoughtfully moving on. “It’s really changed his life. Being on his feet all night long, in a hot kitchen, cooking and tasting, that really takes a toll on the body. Now after his cleanse, he no longer complains of back pain and is so calm and alert.” The effects of their successful cleanse laid the groundwork for the new healthy menu at Verde Mar. An ode to all things avocado – the uber popular buttery fruit long thought to have originated in Mexico. The vegetarian-friendly selections are innovative culinary creations, delicious as they are creative, and feed into the global avocado craze, the Hong Kong version of Brooklyn’s Avocaderia. Below, we share the new menu highlights.
Featuring a corn tostada (Spanish for “toasted,” it’s essentially a fried tortilla) made in-house daily, fresh cut avocados are piled high and artfully arranged atop a glorious guacamole mash. Crunchy and creamy, the ingenious addition of crushed chili flakes adds an invigorating kick that bring all the flavors together in this classic dish while bright and buttery Ranchero cheese crumbles quickly mutes the spice. A staple of Mexican food that almost everyone loves, this Avocado Tostada dish also happens to be the most popular at Verde Mar right now. Por supuesto!
Avocado Burger Trio
This trio of antojitos (aka Mexican street food, the term literally translates to “little cravings”) could perhaps be the most creative of all the new avocado dishes! Featuring their signature Avocado Burger where avocado halves are used in place of traditional burger buns, diners can opt for a homemade meat patty or portobello mushroom for a veggie-friendly delight! It’s worth noting that their lean beef/pork patty is dry, which I preferred as it wasn’t greasy and complements the butteriness of the alligator pear. We particularly loved their sunny-side up egg sitting finely inside a thinly sliced bell pepper, grilled to perfection. A ripe tomato is scooped out to make way for a creamy guacamole-filled salad. A fun and low carb way to serve burgers, don’t you think?!
Ceviche De Avocado
A refreshing Latin American recipe, traditional ceviche (pronounced seh-vee-chay) calls for raw fish and seafood marinated in citrus juice, mainly lemon and lime. In Chef Eligio’s recipe, creamy, dreamy avocado is mixed in with finely diced tomatoes and cucumbers with a hint of fresh lime for an exhilarating zesty start to your meal that’s 100% plant-based. The crux of the dish lies in the avocado itself and the skill-full manner in which Chef chooses these green-skinned spheres. Pick them before they’re ready, and it’s bitter and rigid. Pick them too late and while the taste is still the same, they leave much to be desired texture-wise. Not at Verde Mar. Here, each bite is firm and creamy, with an overall feeling of freshness, and as pretty as the green sea 😉
Aside from their amazing, creamy textures, avocados are awesome because they are the only fruit with monounsaturated fatty acids – the healthy fats our bodies need to function – and they contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals. Made with just three ingredients – an entire avocado, whole milk, and ice – this simple and straightforward nutrient-rich smoothie is indulgent as it is heart healthy. Its smooth and creamy consistency adds a “milkshake” texture without altering taste or compromising cholesterol levels that makes it the perfect summer booze-free aperitif to start your meal. Or, if you’re Wan Chai-based and short on time, consider picking this up on the way to the gym for pre-workout fuel.
G/F, 24 Tai Wong Street East, Wan Chai, +852 2810 0888; firstname.lastname@example.org. Open Monday – Friday from 12:00PM – 3:00PM; 5:30PM – 10:00PM; Saturday from 12:00PM – 11:30PM; Sunday from 10:00AM – 10:00PM.
Images courtesy of Green Queen and Verde Mar.