Diversification is definitely the buzz word in retail today. Retailers especially book, music and movie retailers have had to move with the times or move out and make way.
I recall a time in Singapore in the 90s when HMV was the biggest flagship store on Orchard Road holding a retail location and size that only Apple (in today’s retail climate) would dare to occupy. It was a place where you would go hangout on a Saturday and know that you would see at least 10 familiar faces and spot even some local celebrities, just browsing and buying. Fast forward 15 years and music is now bought online and stored remotely and CDs have become collectibles and records, labelled vintage. How times have changed!
Which is why it’s been forever since I last walked into a HMV store so when I got an invite from HMV Hong Kong to check out the food at their Bar and Restaurant, I was piqued and curious to see what they had done with the brand. To see how the concept had changed and discover what had happened to the ‘music destination store’ that I once knew as the ‘Temple of Cool’.
The HMV Store is a 3 storey venue comprising about 38,000 square foot of space. Located in Causeway Bay, this is the brand’s flagship store in Hong Kong.
A lift from the street level (hidden somewhere behind the Wellcome supermarket fronting Causeway Bay’s Fashion Walk) brings you up directly to the eatery which is HMV’s Bar & Restaurant. The lift opens up on the 4th floor to a space that is big, warm and friendly. You feel like you have walked into a decked up school hall with some retail in one corner, a large stage area for shows and performances and to the side, a spacious bar and eatery that can seat about 230! Great, if there is a mini concert playing.
The Store and space has a “Live, Play, Eat” mantra – a bit of a throwback to the 80s Hard Rock Cafe “Love all, Serve all” rebel cry. Here, the concept is somewhat similar – an all-day dining venue with local talent and live music gigs thrown into the mix. However, with this store, there is a distinct retail element.
Whilst the sale of actual music (in the form of CDs and Records) no longer drives the cash register, there is a good cache of supporting merchandise on the 3 floors below that compliments the music genre. A quick wander down from the restaurant will bring you to a floor that sells audio equipment like turntables, head phones, vinyl accessories and speakers alongside Discs and Records and another two floors that sell Movies, Toys and Lifestyle items like bikes and accessories and Fashion including t-shirts, caps and bags, home accessories.
I was pleasantly surprised when I was seated for lunch. I expected something much more casual, a drinks and nibbles venue rather than a full blown restaurant but obviously, to reinvent the brand and to get that foot traffic into the venue, change has become necessary.
What they have done to the dining space is impressive and what they have done to the menu is even more commendable. Suffice to say that if you are here on Performance Evenings (Wednesday is Jazz Night and Saturdays are for Pop and Acoustic) or if you find yourself just browsing for a bargain from their movie and CD section, then you should actually also go ahead and book a spot for dinner too.
No disappointments on the menu as their new Chef Macy Lai hails from the right restaurant pedigree having worked with Bo Innovation and Jamie’s Italian here. She’s introduced an extensive menu that offers all-day breakfasts, health conscious items, more than decent drinks and desserts and even trendy Korean shaved ice to catch the current rage for all things Seoul.
Plating and presentation have elevated the overall experience from diner to restaurant. I am a fan of the visual feast so I appreciate the effort put into the showcasing of each dish and how rather than just plates she has incorporated planks, slabs and other fun ideas.
Our meal started with some of their recommended specialties like the Lemongrass Shrimp, Pomelo & Mango Mesclun Salad with Toasted Peanut (HK$98). There was a nice ‘tanginess’ to the salad dressing and the portion was great for sharing.
We tried two main courses. The first was the HMV Wagyu Beef Burger (HK$158) – good if you are hungry! The portion is generous and comes on a wooden plank. The wagyu is Australian beef, topped with mature cheddar, Roma tomato, smoked UK black treacle bacon, homemade jalapeño pepper mayo made using Japanese eggs, and Italian black truffles. Sandwiched in a buttery brioche bun, the burger comes served with thick cut fries and a homemade truffle mayo which comes in a mini mason jar was a nice and tasty touch to the whole meal.
I particularly liked the Lobster Uni Roll (HK$188) and I would come back for this one. Made from Boston lobster, Korean uni, homemade mayo, saffron, it is sandwiched in a buttery brioche bun. Visually stunning there is a lot going on with this dish. It came served with side of local sweet corn and crispy lotus chips which were absolutely crisp and delicious. Note that only 20 portions are available daily so place your order when you book.
To commemorate what would have been the late Leslie Cheung’s 60th birthday, we also decided to try the Dessert Platter Special Set (HK$88 from now till 11 October) featuring an Earl Grey Puff, Raspberry Opera cake, Passionfruit Tart, Blueberry Macaroon and White Chocolate Orange Truffle.
And ordered a drink from a menu of mocktails (starting at HK$58). All part of the special ‘Leslie’s 60th Promotion’).
By this time, we were too full to sample the Korean Ice Desserts or other recommended menu items like the Slow Cooked Canadian Pork Loin Sandwich with Red Cabbage Compote & Mustard (HK$128), the Grilled Bacon & Brie Cheese Sandwich (HK$68) and the Wild Mushroom Tagliatelle (HK$138). Saving these to try, the next time we visit.
Besides the good eats, other compelling reasons to head down the next time you are in the vicinity:
- The place is open for Brunch from 10am.
- There is an All Day Breakfast – served everyday from 10am daily to midnight.
- On Fridays and Saturdays, the Restaurant and Store closes at 2am – a great place to head for a post-midnight snack!
- Students who present their Student ID Cards, all get a 20% discount!
- There are regular LIVE performances twice a week. Mark your diaries for 8pm to 10pm on Wednesdays (Jazz) and Saturdays (Acoustic Pop) as this is when the stage lights up for Local Live Performances, DJs and other performances. See the schedule HERE or HERE.
HMV Bar & Restaurant is at 4/F, Pearl City Mansion, 22-36 Paterson Street, Causeway Bay. Tel: (852) 25041538. See: www.hmv.com.hk