Hong Kong’s innovative cafe culture continually serves up surprises and one of our latest exciting discoveries is Kasa or 家香at Shui On Tower in Wan Chai. This is a small cafe that has taken some of Hong Kong’s Dai Pai Dong favourites and served it up with a classy twist, all in a much cleaner, chic and more palatable ambience.
For the uninitiated, the ‘Dai Pai Dong’ is a Hong Kong culinary institution. A ‘must-eat’ for visitors new to Hong Kong’s food culture. Dai Pai Dong’s are usually found in local Hong Kong enclaves, and are owned and operated by licensed hawkers, often in open-air and outdoor street side venues. They have a reputation for serving delicious home-style food at very reasonable prices using seasonal ingredients. Stalls are characterised by stools and foldable round tables covered with garbage bin liners that serve as ‘easy-to-clear away’ table clothes. The only disadvantage of dining at one – the long and unforgiving queues and the prospect of being hot and sticky especially if you braving dinner on a humid Hong Kong summer night!
So you can imagine, my excitement at discovering Kasa with its array of mouth-watering eats – in the heart of Wan Chai, neatly tucked away in a little air-conditioned corner on the building’s first floor.
The concept is definitely well-thought through and founder and ex-banker, Adrian Lo has re-imagined local, traditional favourites to create a new and unconventional dining experience that span breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner. His dishes are hearty, home-cooked Chinese dishes infused with a western twist.
Kasa opens daily at 8.30am for breakfast serving breakfast items from HK$38 like Congee with Seared Salmon, Chicken and Thousand year old Egg or Corned Beef and Croutons, a selection of noodles and buns. We liked how their coffee was served in a traditional Chinese cup and saucer.
The lunch sets start from HK$98 to $118. Add an additional HK$10 or HK$15 for a specialty drink. We ordered a starter of Chinese Vegetables with minced pork and soft boiled egg. Absolutely loved this delightful Cantonese version of what looked like Scotched Eggs with delicious creamy yolk spilling out onto the veggies.
A main course to try would be the Minced Beef, with Tomatoes, Double Fried Potatoes and Onsen Egg or the Grilled Salmon with Ginger and Scallions which was really tender and had a great flavour.
I was impressed by the drinks menu. Full of adventurous choices that could double up as a dessert from Coco-cola boiled with ginger or served up with a scoop of chocolate ice cream to Red Beans or Pineapple with Cococunt milk and blended ice to my choice of a delicious Almond and rice milk with cinnamon syrup (below).
Their Dinner menu is equally interesting with ala carte starters like this one – Arancini with Chinese Preserved Sausage (HK$38). This is essentially a rice ball dish stuffed with lup cheong (chinese pork sausage) and served with a delicious sweet dipping sauce and a side of veggies.
There are bigger main courses that you can share with a side of rice like the Curry Chicken with Coconut Milk (HK$218). I personally prefer my curry to be spicy with thick and heavier grave – the way its served in Malaysia and Singapore whilst this was probably more sweet, lighter coloured version and definitely much gentler on the palette.
I totally enjoyed the Shanghainese Style Braised Beef Short Ribs (HK$148). The beef literally came off the bone and the sauce was thick and beautifully caramelised and went beautifully with the steamed veggies.
The things I wanted to try but no longer had any space for would be the Salt Baked Tilapia (HK$368), the Roast Suckling Pig (HK$888 for 4 persons – order 1 day in advance) and the Baked Duck stuffed with Sea Urchin and Squid Ink Fried Rice ($418 – order 1 day in advance). Definitely a reason to come back a second time.
If you are up for a drink, then Kasa also stocks an interesting selection from their own specially concocted cocktails, a new range just launched is their Eight Immortals cocktail selection, named after a group of legendary saints revered by Toaists in the Tang dynasty. Each cocktail is designed to characterise the different personalities of The Eight Immortals by using a range of ingredients plus one special Chinese liquor.
Kasa have also taken to bottling their own coffees (HK$15 dine-in with lunch set; HK$58 by bottle). Packaged in bottles with a label designed to mimic the look of traditional Chinese Lunar calendars, the brewing hours are cleverly shown as the “calendar date”.
In terms of dessert and sweet endings, Kasa does not disappoint. We liked the way they have caught on to the current salted egg trend with this Molten Duck Yolk Lava Cake dessert.
Where: Kasa is at Suite 103, 1/F Shui On Centre, 6-8 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong. Reservations at +852 2659 9189.