Even if you’re a real foodie about town, you might not have spotted that Altrincham has an intriguing new opening in the form of a Hong Kong style pub called Harcourt. It’s flying under a lot of people's radars at the moment but we popped down for a visit and just had to share how good it is. We’re sure you will love it as much as we did.
Manchester has recently become a region of HongKongers as many people have chosen to emigrate to the UK due to political tensions in the area. So it’s not surprising that more and more Hong Kong style restaurants and cafes are opening in our region, Sakura in Salford and Popchop in Eccles are just two examples.
This is great if you’re into food as Hong Kong is known for having an exciting and eclectic culinary scene. Its multicultural streets are a collage of different cultures and tastes from Michelin Star Cantonese and Italian restaurants to miles of street food hawkers selling everything from bubble waffles to curry fish balls to stinky tofu.
But Greater Manchester’s newest Hong Kong influenced opening isn’t a street food pop up, a Michelin aspiring restaurant or a takeaway, it’s a pub.
Opening in Altrincham a couple of weeks into 2023, Harcourt is not named after the Mercury Prize nominated English singer songwriter but the four lane highway that snakes across the coast of Hong Kong Island.
Harcourt’s owners Priscilla So and her husband Brian Hung came to the UK around a year before they opened the pub, all their staff are also from Hong Kong. Brian works as a barrel ageing manager at Cloudwater Brewery and one day he overheard some customers in the brewery tap speaking in Cantonese. He headed over and was surprised to see a man called Kyle, who used to own a bottle shop he frequented back home in Hong Kong. Brian, Priscilla, Kyle and his wife Fiona went out for drinks a few times, bonding over their love of craft beer. Over drinks, a plan started to form to open their own Hong Kong style pub. The idea for Harcourt was born.
Inside, Harcourt looks like a British pub with exposed brick, wooden furniture and a chalkboard beer menu. But there are decorative nods to Hong Kong too with vintage-style traditional tiles and neon signs in Hong Kong Cantonese.
Brian’s knowledge from working in the craft beer industry is reflected in the range of beers on sale. There are 14 taps on the bar, with local Manchester breweries like Track and Cloudwater featuring heavily as well as other on-trend inventive UK breweries like Deya and Wild Beer. The owners say they want to support locals as much as possible. There are also cocktails with flavours like lychee and rose, and wine available.
The Hong Kong inspired menu focuses on snacks and small plates that go well with beer - at a really affordable price. Chef Fiona’s dad Chiu used to be a chef in Hong Kong and now helps her out in the kitchen, making sure the recipes are faithful to the way he did them back home.
We tried deep fried crispy prawn toast with salted egg yolk. A flavour commonly used in HK Cantonese cuisine, salted egg yolk is made from duck egg yolks and pops up in all kind of street foods in the city. It pairs particularly well with seafood like crab and the prawns it’s served with here. Harcourt’s owners say they want to introduce salted egg yolk to people in the local area as they love it so much so they also serve it as a dip to go with your chips - like a saltier, richer golden mayo for dipping.
Typhoon shelter style deep fried chicken wings are crispy deep fried and juicy wings flavoured with a ginger, garlic and chilli spiced Typhoon shelter sauce - so named because it used to be served on the small fishing boats that took refuge in the typhoon shelters. It’s now a mainstay of the Hong Kong party capital Wan Chai’s street food scene. You can get this sauce with your chips too.
We also tried thinly sliced and spiced beef shin with soft boiled egg but our favourite of the savoury dishes has to be the weekly special, a tiny dish of “spiced numbing chicken kidneys”. The numbing spice in question is Szechuan pepper and it really does do what its name says. You have to try this if it’s on the menu when you go.
To freshen up our mouths after all that spice, we had a side dish of crisp and crunchy “smacked cucumber” dressed in a spiced vinegar. It might not be the first thing you think of as a beer snack but it goes unbelievably well with beer. Try it.
We also tried Hong Kong style French toast, a nostalgic dish the owners tell us they used to eat as kids back in Hong Kong. This dish is adored by pretty much anyone who’s ever lived in or visited Hong Kong. Harcourt’s version is a more nibble-able plateful of mini cubes of this eggy bread soaked in condensed milk and golden syrup and topped with just melting pats of butter. We absolutely loved this dish.
Altrincham has become known as one of Manchester’s most exciting foodie hotspots and this new Hong Kong style pub is adding loads of value to the scene there. Add Harcourt your your Alty to-do list.
altrincham newsletter Pubs Restaurants