6 Sumptuous Afternoon Teas To Tuck Into In Hong Kong

If the tai tai life is what you are after in Hong Kong or if it just means that you have the perfect excuse to sit down and refuel after that fast and furious shopping trip with your girlfriends at one of Hong Kong’s many seasonal sales then Afternoon Tea is just the meal that you don’t want to miss out on … here are 6 lovely locations where you can book your table now …

The Langham’s Honey Afternoon Tea

… is a collaboration between The Langham Hotel in TST and beauty brand Guerlain who have launched a few new products that incorporate royal jelly and honey as part of their Abeille Royale Collection.

The Hotel’s Honey Afternoon Tea is served on a unique honeycomb stand and features honey from an organic bee farm in Hong Kong. Sweet morsels include The Bee, a golden macaron filled with dark chocolate and honey nectar, Chocolate, a mini tartlet made with salty caramel, honey ganache and milk chocolate and Honeycomb, an Earl Grey crémeux, honey and orange jelly, topped with chunks of homemade honeycomb and sprinkles of gold dusted white chocolate pearls. The spread also features Mango and honey mousse, a French Mille-feuille with honey cream infused with vanilla and yuzu. Not just sweet, but also savoury, there is a delicious Lavender-infused Honey Glazed Duck Breast, Cucumber and Cheddar Cheese Sandwiches and a Norwegian Smoked Salmon Dome Stuffed with Crab Salad on Corn Bread. On top of everything, there is a selection of exquisite afternoon tea blends to go with the food, the comfort of the lovely ambience of one of Hong Kong’s classiest tea lounges where you can just sink into the forever of their plush and lovely sofas and just spend all having a chi chi afternoon catch up.

Available at The Palm Court Lobby Lounge from NOW till end 30 September 2017 at HK$348 for one person and HK$598 for two persons, subject to a 10 per cent service charge

Served: Weekdays from 3:00 to 5:30 pm and on weekends and public holidays in two sittings, from 2:15 – 4:15 p.m., and 4:30 – 6:30 p.m
Call: (852) 2132 7898

 

The Cakery’s Guilt Free Afternoon Tea

Is there such a thing as a guilt free afternoon tea? Well, for those with a conscience, step into The Cakery. Owner, Shirley Kwok serves up a 100% gluten free tea that uses natural, nutrient- rich ingredients like brown rice flour, tapioca flour, millet flour, almond flour, buckwheat flour, oat flour and Arrowroot flour to create the pastries on her special menu. All her sweets are also made with low-sugar or refined-sugar free, and there are vegetarian and vegan items featured.

Presented beautifully on a fan-shaped three-tiered sleek white tray, find Truffle Chouquettes which is an Italian truffle cream cheese mousse with gluten-free choux pastry, Mini Pizzas made with sweet potato, baby corn, red onion, mushroom, parmesan cheese, tomato sauce, Lobster Crepes featuring US lobster galette, cream cheese, gluten-free crepe, Salmon and Cream Cheese Sandwiches made with gluten-free vegan chia bread. The sweets include Bite-size Cupcakes except that these are gluten-free and/or dairy- free, egg-free, low-sugar and low-fat. There are also Lemon Tarts made with gluten-free pastry and White Chocolate Goji Berry Mousse Pots and Mini Chia Puddings, Gluten-free Scones served with homemade strawberry raspberry basil jam, clotted cream. Enjoy all that with homemade Red Date & Goji Berry Tea or a Ginger Spice Tea or The Cakery’s Tea and Organic Coffee selection and go home guilt-free (well, almost!)

Available at The Cakery Lee Gardens Two, from NOW at HK$388 (per set for two persons)

Extras: Make a booking a day in advance and get a 10% discount.

Served: Daily from 2.30pm to 6.00pm daily, subject to 10% service charge.

Call: (852) 2816 1838

 

Yeh! Shanghai Afternoon Tea at The W Hotel’s Woo Bar

Here’s a promising mini food tour around Shanghai whilst you are in Hong Kong at the W Hotel’s WOOBAR! Their Afternoon High Tea has a Shanghainese theme and the Yeh! Shanghai tea set starts with delicious morsels of crispy suckling pig, fermented bean curd paste and caviar, transferring you to a traditional Chinese BBQ restaurant, however only for a second before you move onto succulent seafood treats such as the prawn cocktail with light spicy sesame soya sauce and sago.  Not just savouries but also sweets, the set includes black sesame dumpling with white sesame tuile and chocolate and cinnamon croissant twist.  The favourite item being their signature “Xiao long BAO” – a cake consisting of vanilla-pistachio mousse, raspberry jam on feuilletine.  On weekends, expect an Afternoon Tea Buffet spread.

Afternoon Tea_1

 

Drink’s wise, the Hotel is not just stopping at a simple cup of Chinese tea but has used the Chinese inspiration of four flowers, each representing four different seasons with the Chrysanthemum representing Autumn in its beverages and alcoholic drinks. There are concoctions like The Qipao, a fresh blend of Belvedere Vodka, Lemon juice, Chrysanthemum tea and a unique blend of Osmanthus syrup, The Shanghai Pour, served in an oriental teapot and cup with a mixture of Chinese white wine, The Wild Flower, a fresh combination of egg white, lemon juice, gin with a Yuzu paste flavour or The Pearl, perfect for the whisky and date lovers.

AvailableNOW to 31 October 2017 at The Woobar at The W Hotel

Served: An Afternoon Tea Set is served on Monday – Friday (except public holidays) from 2:30pm at $418 + 10% for two whilst an Afternoon Tea buffet is served on Saturday and Sunday including public holidays from 2:30pm – 5:30pm at $330 + 10% per person. Cocktails are priced at $140+10%

Call: (852) 37172889

 

‘The history of Whoo’ Afternoon Tea at The Intercontinental

If you are into Korean culture, cosmetics and food, the Lobby Lounge at the Intercontinental has also partnered with premium Korean skincare brand, ‘The history of Whoo’, to launch an Afternoon Tea Set that is all about consuming ingredients that preserve one’s beauty and prevent ageing, all inspired by Korean royal court beauty secrets which kind of reminds me of a throw back to that immensely popular K-drama, ‘Jewel In The Palace’ some years back.

Their Afternoon tea is both savoury and sweet so there are items like Ginseng chicken rolls, an Angelica slow cooked Pork belly on brioche bread and a Comfit Foie Gras and goji berry chutney on crispy bread, served alongside pastry items like the Whoo Macaroon, a Calvados Jelly Apple Pie, Almond Cream, Tea Cakes, Panna Cottas and Scones.

Available at The Intercontinental Hotel’s Lobby Lounge 18 Sep to 30 November 2017

Served: There is a Weekday Afternoon Tea set at $608 for 2 persons (Monday to Friday) and a Weekend Afternoon Tea Set at $628 for 2 persons (Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays)

Extras: The Tea Set is inclusive of two special ‘The history of Whoo’ Bichup Royal Anti-aging Kits (valued at $500 each) plus two gift cards with special offers for products at “The history of Whoo” shop in Harbour City. Beauty afficianados who bought items at ‘The history of Whoo’ with a receipt can also enjoy 20% off of the Afternoon Tea Set for 2 persons.

Alongside this, the Hotel has arranged a series of Korean Handicraft Workshops on how to make simple Korean style accessories like Dried Flower Bracelets on Friday, Sept 22, October 27 and November 24  and a Korean Knots Workshop on Friday, Oct 13 and Nov 10. Details here.

Call: (852) 2721 1211

 

A Van Cleef & Arpels Nature-Inspired Tea at The Peninsula

With a new boutique just opened at the iconic Peninsula Hotel’s Arcade, jewelry brand Van Cleef & Arpels have gone the extra mile to commemorate the occasion by launching a high tea that aims to serve up a range of treats that is almost as exquisite as the jewelry they sell.

Presented on a silver platter, there are fruit tarts like the Lemon and Basil, Chocolate Tarts with Milk Chocolate Chantilly, apricot macarons, a mango and passionfruit choux that reflects the brand’s 3D heart shaped petals in their collection and savouries like the nicoise salad, croquet monsieur, smoked salmon rolls with lemon cress and carrot bread and the Pen’s all time favourites, the dill-marinated cucumber sandwiches and their freshly baked scones with organic strawberry jam and clotted cream.

AvailableNOW till 30 September 2017 at The Peninsula’s Lobby Lounge

Served:  Daily from 2pm to 6pm at $388 per person or $688 for 2 persons. Champagne is at an extra $220 per glass. Each table gets a Van Cleef & Arpels notebook from their iconic Frivole jewelry collection, evoked by enchanting blooms (whilst stocks last)

Call: (852) 2920 2888

 

Afternoon Tea with Cody The Red Panda at The Cordis

If your kids are coming to tea with you over the weekend, then tea with Cody, The Red Panda at The Cordis Hotel, is an absolute MUST! Cody is the Cordis Hotel’s red panda mascot and he is a hit with the youngsters and will be hanging out at The Place every weekend and on public holidays during the Hotel’s Afternoon Tea Buffet.

He is endangered as red pandas are, so make sure that the time with Cody is well spent and make it an educational experience for your young ones by visiting the booth at the buffet that explains what is being done to protect the red panda. Each child at the buffet will receive a red panda backpack with different Cody themed goodies. There are activities for the kids including handicraft sessions for kids to turn some of the hotel’s recyclables into toys and a colouring contest with attractive prizes. Kids can take pictures with Cody or pick up a plush toy where proceeds go towards the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation to support wildlife conservation including the preservation of red pandas and their habitats.

Cody is a particularly generous guy so kids aged 6 years or below are invited to enjoy the buffet for free. The buffet is tailor made and filled with kids’ favourite tea time items, including Cheese Spring Rolls, BBQ Chicken Drumsticks, and Pan-seared Japanese Pork Sausages, delicious desserts including assorted Cody-shaped Cookies, Blood Orange Cody Mousse Cake, and Cody Cupcakes. Kids are also invited to make their own crepes and puffs. One of the most comprehensive tea buffets available, find Pineapple Chicken Salad, Melon Salad with Shrimp, Salmon Sashimi, Snapper Sashimi, California Maki Roll, Deep Fried Shrimp Toast, Scrambled Egg with Black Truffle Paste, Wok Fried Korean Fish Cake, Korean Dumplings with Vegetable Broth, Japanese Soup Noodles, Indian Vegetarian Curry, Hong Kong Dim Sums, Coffee Opera Cake, American Cheesecake, Strawberry Panna Cotta, Mövenpick Ice Cream and more on the menu.

Available16 September till 15 October 2017 at The Place, The Cordis Hotel at Langham Place, Mongkok at $248 for Adults and $198 for Kids and Seniors.

Served on weekends and public holidays from 16 September to 15 October 2017

Extras: Each Cordis Kid will receive a red panda backpack with different Cody themed goodies. They can also join the complimentary handicraft session to turn some of the hotel’s recyclable into toys. Each adult can bring up to 2 children, 6 years and under for free.

Call: (852) 3552 3028

 

3 Mind-Blowing Places to Visit In Prague For the History Lover

The Charles Bridge is a must-see, and one of the most romantic bridges in Europe.

We’ve well crossed the halfway mark for the year, and those of us with kids will soon be hunkering down for the kids’ impending exam season. (My household is in holding position for the IB.) Now’s not a bad time to start planning for the year-end holidays and look out for good deals from the airlines. If you’re planning a private tour, which is something I often do, it gives you and the agent plenty of time to organise a really great personalised itinerary. On one such holiday to Prague, we asked the travel agency — our favourite Chicago-based R.Crusoe & Son — to weave in a few really special places to visit. In addition to the usual tourist sights, this is what we saw and what you should see if you’re heading that way.

It’s rather grisly at Sedlac Ossuary,or the Bone Church.

Sedlac Ossuary in Kutna Hora. Not for the faint-hearted, and indeed, not for every taste, this grisly skeleton church is one perverse piece of aesthetics. Located in the pretty town of Kutna Hora about an hour’s train ride/drive from Prague, it’s a relatively small church whose entire interior is covered in the skulls and bones of over 40,000 people, from plague victims of The Black Death in the 14th century and soldiers killed in the Hussite wars in the 15th century.

The famous chandelier that contains every single human bone in the body.
A family crest.

These bones were made into huge elaborate chandeliers, banners, arches and even a family crest. Look out for display cases which show some skulls of people who died during the past war, sporting great holes in their skulls. Makes you ponder about life and death. But about 15 minutes of morbid fascination is enough. Then we moved on to the majestic UNESCO-Heritage stamped St Barbara’s Cathedral a short walk away, with its gorgeous paintings, stained glass windows, soaring arches and decorated ceilings. After that, stroll around the picturesque town to see its quaint, historic architecture, the public drinking fountain and sit by a cafe and sip some local wines.

The Strahov Monastic Library. Most tourists only see it from the door at the far end, which is cordoned off.

The Strahov Monastic Library. This goes down as one of the top most magical places I have ever set foot in. We saw this in an art textbook some time ago, and the daughter said she would really love to see it. So when we realised we were heading to Prague, we asked the travel agent to see if they could organise a visit there. They did. They made some special arrangements to get is in to see, feel and touch the incredibly old books.

The inner library not seen the public. Look something out of Harry Potter. A corner of the room features a shelf that opens into a ‘secret passage’ behind the books.

On average the books around us dated from the 1500s, all wrapped in bleached pig skin softened with time. The “really old” books are locked away, the oldest being a bible dating back to circa 800AD. The library is stunning to say the least. The globes, the writing tables were what the monks actually used to write or copy the books around us. What’s even more amazing is that when we visited, the library was not actually open to the public. You could take a peek from the door, but we were so blown away that they had arranged a special visit just for us. Now, from what we understand, the library is open to limited numbers. You can get the information here.

The Lennon Peace Wall

The Lennon Wall. Take a leisurely stroll around the city of Prague and make your way to the Lennon Wall near Mala Strana, near the French Embassy. It’s a beautiful wall completely filled with graffitti, many with references to the Beatles, and Lennon in particular. You could spend quite some time reading the graffiti and appreciating the street art, which is really quite clever. But what makes this wall so special is its role in the fight for freedom when Czechoslovakia was still under communist rule in the 80s. Western pop was banned then, including The Beatles, who sang about peace. But the youth were agitating for freedom, and would scrawl anti-communist graffiti on the wall at night — considered subversive to the state and which could have gotten them arrested.

“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you are meant to be.”

When Lennon was murdered in 1980, he became something of a heroic figure to the youth then, and at night, the youth would write tributes to Lennon in the form of lyrics from his songs, even pictures of him, and their own thoughts about freedom and peace. Every time the authorities white washed the wall, new graffiti would appear the next morning, of poems and paintings of Lennon. It became a symbol of the youth’s non-violent rebellion against the regime, and some believe it played a role in inspiring the Velvet Revolution which ended communist rule in the country in 1989. Graffiti still continues to be painted on the wall in tribute to Lennon, and the owners of the wall — the Knights of the Maltese Cross — continue to allow it.

Where to stay: The Four Seasons Prague is perfectly located for exploring Prague, just by the river and a short walk to the iconic Charles Bridge. Get the Renaissance Rooms (at least) which were renovated relatively recently. They are a very decent size (from 40 sq m) and are very tastefully appointed in classic European style with a contemporary restraint. The food is very decent, too, in its all-day bistro, if you’re too tired to venture out after a long day of walking. Sit by the terrace and watch the river in the sunset (if the weather permits). They also surprise you with a small dessert treat every evening at turndown.

Room 408, at the Four Seasons Hotel Prague.

(This trip was my own personal holiday, paid fully by myself. Recommendations here are not paid for nor sponsored. )

6 Places to Visit for a Game of Thrones Pilgrimage

A few years ago, Lord of the Rings sparked a wanderlust among fans to make pilgrimages to locations at which the movies were filmed. Now, it’s Game of Thrones. According to hotels.com, there has been a huge surge in searches for Seven Kingdoms-inspired destinations such as Iceland, Spain, Croatia, and Northern Ireland, which featured heavily the show. With the season finale upon us, perhaps it’s time for thronies to plot your own holiday to explore Westeros. Here are some good and affordable hotels that hotels.com came up with from where you can base your explorations.

Croatia a.k.a. the land of Meereen , Braavos and King’s Landing. For history nerds like me, the breezy town of Split is the place to go for its UNESCO Heritage Diocletian Palace, a majestic, walled palace of the Roman emperor Diocletian. For Thronies, it is Meereen. Stay at the 4 star Bella Notte Di Spalato (from S$264 per night) within the walls of the palace, and spend hours wandering its alleys and laneways. People still live in there, and go about their daily lives so you also soak in some nice local flavour as well.

Braavos is the lesser known town of Sibenik. Stay at the Heritage Hotel Life Palace (from $227 per night), a quick skip from the famous St James Cathedral. And while we’re in Croatia, how can you miss its most famous jewel, the gorgeous town of Dubrovnik, with its old walls and tenements, palaces and ancient walls on which you must walk. Here is King’s Landing where the Iron Throne is, and Blackwater Bay.

Seville in Spain is the location for the Water Gardens of Dorne. To be exact, the Alcazar Palace, a Moorish castle built in the 1300s. Base yourself at the 3.5 star Hotel Boutique Elvira Plaza (from S$126 per night) just a short trot from the palace.

To sample the life of the Wildlings and White Walkers, head to Iceland and check into the trendy Fosshotel Myvatn (from S$349 per night), with its streamlined interiors, beautiful views and just a half hour’s walk to Lake Myvatn, the location used for Beyond the Wall. While there, check out the Myvatn Nature Baths and Hverfjall Crater. Lots of other sites and experiences to explore in Iceland, like visiting Elf School and walking on two tectonic plates; check it out here.

Morocco’s ancient city of Essaouira is the film location for Astapor, the home of the Unsullied Army. Stay in the 4 star Dar L‘Oussia (from $107 per night), along the old Portuguese fortification by the sea, where most of the filming of Astapor took place. Located only minutes from the beach.

From there, head on to UNESCO Heritage site Ait Benhaddou, between the Sahara and Marrakech, and stay at The Dar El Haja (from S$71 per night). Here is the film location of Yunkai the Yellow City, where slave trading took place in GoT. But in the here and now, soak in the ancient streets of this town and its amazing architecture.

3 Seriously Cool Asian Restaurants To Go To In Hong Kong This Summer

Junjuu’s super cool dining room

Funky mod-Korean restaurant & bar Jinjuu, headed by TV chef and UK Iron Chef winner, Korean-American Judy Joo, has just reopened in Lan Kwai Fong after a bout of renovations and menu revamp and a happy “price adjustment”. Look forward to set lunch starting from HK$198 for two courses, and new sharing plates for dinner, featuring dishes like short rib kimchi hhotteok with Korean-style pancake, Kong bowl (HK$45) with edamame topped with chilli panko mix, Philly cheese steak & kimchi (HK$85), and whole Korean fried chicken (HK$480 for 3-4 pax). Head Mixologist Edgar Santillan rolls out summer cocktails (HK$120) ranging from fruity Purple Haze, comprising hibiscus-tinted Glendalough gin, yuzu sake, acai liquor, lemon juice, apple, orange sherbet, to The Gentleman, a boozy tipple of Buffalo Trace bourbon, lillet blanc, pedro ximenez & angostura bitters. Happy hour hits between 5 and 8pm.

UG/F, California Tower, 32 D’Aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: 3755-4868

Summery Thai-meets-South American flavours in Limewood

If you want to get into the breezy holiday mood, head to Limewood at Repulse Bay for a seriously exciting meal where Thai flavours and South American cooking collide deliciously. Tuck into summery dishes like its soft shell crab salad and Pacific lobster salad with ponzu mayo, yellow curry mayo, grapefruit and avocado; barbecued New Zealand lamb rack served with Penang curry, green peppercorns, fragrant herbs and kaffir lime, whole roasted jerked chicken with caramelized pineapple and mango habanero sauce, and its signature Charred Whole Sea Bream. Wash it all down with craft beers, shaken margaritas and “barbeque inspired cocktails”.
The Pulse, Shop 103 & 104 G/F – 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay
Tel: +852 2866 8668

Matcha tea glutinous rice balls filled with yam & crispy glutinous rice dumpling with chocolate at Hutong

Hutong at One Peking may have been around for quite a while, but this Chinese courtyard house styled restaurant continues to keep Chinese dining fresh and stylish. Just launched is its new Fēng Wèi brunch on weekends which showcases Chinese cuisine in the coolest way possible, washed with the option of free flow Veuve Clicquot Champagne and summer cocktails. Tuck into over 18 traditional dishes given a contemporary twist, such as a rich and aromatic seared foie gras with osmanthus-smoked coddled egg, shrimp, kimchi & mozzarella spring roll, 12-hour braised beef rib with aromatic herbs in lotus leaf and Matcha tea glutinous rice balls filled with sweet potato. Complementing the experience are demonstrations of traditional Chinese arts like fortune-telling by bird (as seen in the night markets of Temple Street), Sichuan face changing, kung-fu tea pouring and Chinese rainbow calligraphy. It may be kind of touristy (good for bringing out-of-town friends) but the food is definitely worth heading back for. HK$428 and additional HK$200 for Champagne and drinks option.

28/F One Peking, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Telephone: (852) 3428 8342

Hutong’s stylish take on northern Chinese favourites

Bata’s Long Overdue Revamp (or An Ode To Bata)

“First to Bata, then to school.” I think most people of a certain vintage will remember this refrain from Bata’s advertisements. For many of us in Singapore, Bata has been synonymous with white canvas school shoes with green soles. In the 1970s, the Badminton Master was the must-have article of school clothing. Then it morphed into the stylish BM2000 in the late ’80s, if I remember correctly. All the cool girls in school wore a pair. There were also those wonderful bottles of white wash which Bata sold, with the sponge applicators, so we could whitewash our shoes midweek when they got too dirty, and there was no time to wash them.

Bata was the brand that literally carried me – and many others and over several generations – through my childhood. Their white canvas shoes and sneakers took me from school and playground to assorted longkangs (drains) on guppy- and spider-catching missions. But when I grew up, I ventured away from this reliable old Czech shoe brand that many people probably thought was a local, or Asian brand, to more fashionable stores. Still, Bata hung on at various malls and their flagship at the positively unglamorous Peninsula Plaza, with their reliable, inexpensive, generally conservative shoes.

Many years later when I had my child, I returned to Bata, this time, to buy my daughter’s shoes – first, her tiny sneakers for playdates and playgrounds, and later, her school shoes. “First to Bata then to school.” The refrain returned to my memory. I didn’t notice those bottles of whitewash anymore. But then again, she didn’t go longkang fishing either, so there was less midweek dirt on her shoes. It was then that I gave Bata shoes a good look again as an adult. They weren’t bad, and ventured to buy a casual pair or two.

But apart from the bright sparkly kids’ shoes, Bata was unfortunately still not exciting. But it was a dependable, essential and quiet brand that has been part of Singapore’s shopping landscape forever, like NTUC Supermarket. You needed the product, it was there, and not expensive. It ticked all the right boxes but it didn’t tickle one’s fancy.

A huge Bata store in Prague.

Then on a visit to Prague a few years ago, we saw Bata, a proud shop in the middle of town. We pointed out a familiar brand, and our tour guide went gushing about it. The Czechs viewed the brand and its founders — Tomáš Baťa, his brother Antonin and sister Anna — with much national pride. They came from a family of cobblers. The Czechs looked up to them as role models and inspirations, a historic brand which survived wars and hardships; a national success story that, to them, reverberated around the world. My tour guide’s son got to shake Mr Bata’s hand long ago and for many days, did not want to wash his hands.

That was a new, refreshing perspective to me.

So when Bata announced a brand revamp this week, with a new look, brand direction and refreshed flagship store in Vivocity, it made me sit up. Having been around for 123 years, this was long overdue for the brand. Now, its looks reflect the changes. The store, now doubled in size, is brighter, more fun, with digital screens showcasing international trends. Even the shoes look somewhat fresher, a little less stodgy and ‘sensible’ perhaps. Their marketing slogan is ‘Me & Comfortable With It’. I like that. It has a nice ring: fun, unapologetic, unpretentious and down to earth.

It may not convert devoted fashionistas, and I doubt that is their intention. But it’s refreshed looks will certainly get people revisiting this brand, and likely get fresh converts too. For a brand that’s been around 123 years, Bata’s stamina for the ‘common touch’ and its longevity is admirable.

Take a look at the shoes and the store in these pictures, and decide for yourself. Nursing a bad flu, I didn’t make it down to the opening, but I am looking forward to making my way there sometime soon. Who knows? It could be a return to an old friend and the revival of an old, soleful relationship. Let’s see…

Just had to slip this last one in. Looks like the bottles of whitewash are still there…

Fratelli’s Colossal To-Die-For Veal Rack

Located in Hotel Michael in Resorts World Sentosa, Fratelli has made it to my personal list of ‘must go’ restaurants in Singapore, and definitely worth the drive to Sentosa.

This celebrity chef restaurant — backed by brothers Roberto and Enrico Cerea of three-Michelin starred Da Vittoria in Lombardy — is a contemporary Italian restaurant that serves up creative, contemporary yet authentic fare with fundaments firmly based on the traditional cuisine. The cooking here is delightfully precise, and the dishes impressively done (and I’m not easily impressed these days). Helming it is Chef de cuisine Davide Bizzari, and together they have just rolled out their new menu, with most items from the ‘mother restaurant’ in Lombardy.

If there is one thing you must order, it is their colossal 1kg bone-in Milanese veal rack. Juicily tender and sweet, the meat is coated in breadcrumbs and crushed breadsticks, then deep fried in clarified butter. You could smell the butter wafting in like a herald as the cutlet was hauled in; then it was assembled at the tableside – with roasted tomatoes, crushed potato wedges and lemons arranged on top. Bite into it, hear the splintering crunch of the breaded coating, inhale the buttery aroma and the experience brings tears to your eyes. It’s true. I thought I heard a choir of angels sing. On the menu, they call it “elephant ear” and it is almost that large. The bone runs on just one side of the cut and the rest is beautiful meat. As the only main course, it could easily feed six conservatively. This is a seasonal item — read ‘short term’ — and the meat is from native Italian Piedmontese breed called Fassone, known for being lean and tender.

Another must-have is the Pizza Oro Nero, a squid ink pasta topped with mussels, salted cod fish, clams, baby squid, plump orbs of trout roe, tomatoes and topped with gold dust. Set against the black ink, it is the most glamorous looking pizza I have ever encountered – and it was good too.

The chittara pasta ($34) is worth having for its uniqueness. It is handmade, and shaped by pressing sheets of fresh pasta through metal strings strung across a wooden frame — quite a tedious process. This results in a spaghetti that has a square rather than round cross section, with a firm, short bite. Served with braised short ribs ragu and shards of truffles, it is a very rich, thick, hearty dish which, while delectable, is best eaten in small doses, in my view. Lovely as it is, it can easily become ‘jelak’ as we say here in Singers.

For appetisers — sorry, we seem to be working backwards here — go for the steamed Boston lobster ($48) with avaocado wasabi cream and red capsicum mousse. Everything on the plate is as it should be in its best rendition — juicy sweet, lightly chewy lobster; and intense, smooth, luxurious mousse and creams which must not be wasted.

A highlight for dessert is Rosella’s Strawberry Planet, a meringue sphere which you break open to get to the strawberry inside. All in all, a fabulous meal, even if the interiors had a somewhat bland 1990s look.

Good to know: If you’re driving, just park like how you would go to Universal Studios, take the escalator up and walk along Festive Walk towards the hotel. Fratelli has an entrance facing Festive Walk, obliquely opposite Osia. That’s probably the most straightforward path to the veal rack.

Tel: (65) 6577 6555 or email Fratelli@RWSentosa.com
Closed Tues

A New Concept For Dan Ryan’s In Hong Kong’s City Plaza!

For me, the 90s marked the era of the American diner, grill and steakhouse. I remember the excitement when Dan Ryan’s first opened in Singapore next to the Regent Hotel.

Famous for its free kid’s balloons held down by a free collectible logo key chain, paper table clothes where you could doodle endlessly on and innovative kid’s menus – no one would have guessed that this restaurant chain was actually born and bred in Hong Kong with its first outlet opened at Pacific Place in 1989.

Dan Ryan, it seems, was a Chicago politician who lived in the 1940’s.  He was renowned for his ability to get things done through his close contacts in Washington D.C, mainly local political and social leaders. Why this particular American diner chain was actually named after him remains a mystery to me – but his name has undoubtedly lent authenticity to the Chicago grill concept that has since stood the test of time.

Today, there are solo outlets in Singapore and Taiwan with three restaurants in Hong Kong at Harbour City, Festival Walk and a new outlet at City Plaza in Tai Koo Shing which opened in May this year. We popped in to check out the new concept at the latter and to try the newly minted signatures off their menu which has been tweaked with healthier ingredient and superfood options.

How different was it from its parent concept that featured a good vibe, upbeat background jazz music, a drinks bar with a choo choo train track, paraphernalia up on the walls and huge portions of American style fare – to be truthful, all of that was still there – the only change being a longer track train and the more colourful paintings on the wall by American artists Leroy Neiman and Steve Penley. Instead of having a closed entrance where you walk into the bar, the new concept feels more ‘open’ where you can easily check your reservation at the entrance and walk into the thick of the action.

The kitchen also has gone from a back of the house feel to a lighter more open show-kitchen feel.  We popped by just before the recent Fathers’ Day weekend and what greeted us was a restaurant packed to the brim – a convivial atmosphere with families, balloons at each table, crayon canisters amidst a blurr of efficient waiters moving platters of steak and generous mountains of American salads, sides and sandwiches efficiently around the room whilst the queue outside kept growing longer. The place was buzzing!

The biggest change is noticeably its menu. No longer a grill room style listing that steak houses normally favour but a menu that features photos of its signatures which have also notably changed – keeping the hearty but introducing the healthy.

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My favourite item – the Dan Ryan’s muffin arrived before the rest of the meal. If I could sneak one or two into my bag, I would – as in my humble opinion, Dan Ryan’s makes the best muffins I have ever eaten. The taste is made complete when complemented by one slice of slightly melted salted butter or whipped butter.

 

 

We picked a few items to share starting with the Super Green Salad (HK$188) which is a very large salad that you can order to share between 3 to 4 people. It  has a base of fresh baby spinach, quinoa and rocket leaves, complete with avocado, broccoli, pears, fresh blueberries and toasted pine-nuts for added crunch and sweetness.  I really liked this and made a mental note that I would pop into their Harbour City outlet again soon to grab this one for a quick and satisfying takeaway.  The salad comes with a homemade wild blueberry dressing is drizzled on top for maximum flavour.

This was followed by the Chi Town Combo (HK$298), a signature big sized combo platter of Baked Potato Skins, hand breaded Onion Rings and Buffalo Chicken Wings. Great with a glass of wine except for the Onion Rings which I prefer to be crisp rather than soft and mushy like these tended to be.

The choices on the Hand Cut Steaks and Chops were outstanding. I was tempted to order the US Tomahawk 32 oz Steak to share (HK$998 – pictured above) but it was sold out for the day.  So instead, we ordered the US Prime Flatiron Steak (HK$328) which turned out to be an excellent choice and featured a melt-in-your mouth ‘butchers cut’ of hormone free beef, char-grilled to perfection served with Tomato Vinaigrette salad and mashed Chipotle Lime Buttered Corn and Sweet Potato Fries.

We ended the meal sharing a Salted Caramel Double Fudge Brownie (HK$78) which maxed out my calorie count but made a perfect ending.

Things I would have ordered if my stomach had the capacity : the Deluxe Chili Burger,  the Seared Hokkaido Scallops and the Dan’s Dessert Sampler (pictured above). Definitely reason to return!

Dan Ryan’s Chicago Grill at Cityplaza is at:
Shop 311, 3F, Phase 1, Cityplaza, 18 Taiko o Shing Road, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2845 4600

Click HERE for a list of the other Dan Ryan outlets in Hong Kong, Taipei and Singapore.