Quick and Delicious – Healthy Indian Eats in Wanchai

Elizabeth Purdey, Simply Fabulicious’ new Hong Kong contributor pops into Masala Train in Wanchai for a taste of Indian food on the go. 

Next time you crave for spicy Indian food, make sure to stop off at a new takeaway in the heart of lively Wan Chai. Despite being located around the corner of busy Lockhart and O’Brien Road, this small place is easy to miss. But as soon as my companion and I spotted the menu signs outside the Masala Train, we were instantly drawn to the fragrant aroma of Indian food cooking. This simple takeaway offers a surprisingly wide range of North Indian style fast food dishes, with daily and weekly specials.

The inviting menu left us in a dilemma. We wanted to try it all. Tiena, the owner, came to our rescue and was very helpful with her suggestions. While working in the finance industry for over 10 years in Mumbai, New York and Hong Kong, Tiena saw an opportunity to provide healthy, home cooked Indian food to office workers. And in Hong Kong, what better location than in Wan Chai. And we liked the idea of takeaway food that we could enjoy without feeling guilty afterwards.

Tiena started us with one of Masala Train’s most popular dishes, the minced Lamb Keema roll. We immediately could see why this was such a favourite dish. The lamb was moist and tender, cooked with a nice balance of spices and wrapped in a thin tortilla with fresh vegetables that complemented the lamb perfectly. The portion size was substantial and good value, with your own choice of spiciness to boot. This wrap would be ideal for a quick, tasty and light bite on the run.

Next we tried Vada Pa, one of the new dishes on the menu. This popular street food of spicy potato was served in a small bun with chutney. The dish was simple but delicious; it reminded us of an American slider but with a healthy take and was a big favourite with my companion. We also couldn’t resist sampling two of our favourite dishes from the meal box menu. My companion had the Chicken Tikka Masala (HK$58) served with rice and vegetables which he thoroughly enjoyed. The spiced curry was mild tasting and the sauce was light in texture. I tried the traditional Chicken Biryani (HK$60) with salad. This definitely delivered in the home cooked style stakes. The pilaf rice was generously layered with chicken and had a good spicy kick. The portion size for both meal boxes was substantial and well-priced.

For drinks, the Mango Lassi — a full flavoured mango and yoghurt beverage — was a very refreshing accompaniment to the spicy Indian food, and a must try. We finished with a masala chai. This spicy tea was not overly sweet and we enjoyed the taste of cloves and cinnamon. My companion had room to try the Kheer or rice pudding, one of the two sugar-free desserts at Masala Train. The Kheer had a nice creamy consistency and was a good way to cleanse the palate after all the spicy dishes we ate.

Tiena calls Masala Train a humble takeaway, but what is so enticing is that the simple, home style Indian fare there is also healthy. Although the level of spiciness has been toned down for the Hong Kong palate, the dishes we tasted still delivered on flavour. We were not disappointed in the quality of dishes and value for money. Masala Train is definitely worth a visit, particularly for those who want a touch of exotic while on the go. Deliveries are also available via Deliveroo.

G/F Yue On Building, 146-148 Lockhart Rd. Entrance is on 2A O’Brien Rd (A1 exit of Wan Chai MTR). Tel: +852 2415 3000

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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

 

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.

 

Possibly the Most Kid-Friendly Suites in Hong Kong

Those who have travelled with kids would know a bored and restless child is no easy challenge, whether they are four or fourteen. So we were pleasantly surprised to see the Dorsett Wanchai’s very thoughtful new themed suites which provide the perfect answer. If you’re planning a weekend in Hong Kong with the young ‘uns, this is possibly the best place to stay.

If you’ve got little tots, book the Ocean Park Family Suite. While it might be a bit too ‘twee’ for the grown-ups, consider this: you can sip wine for some peaceful down time while your little tot is immersed in this soft-toy-rich, marine-themed environment, and will be well distracted by the endless delights at hand.

It’s an official collaboration with Ocean Park. Once you have booked the suite, you can buy admission tickets to the Park from the hotel concierge at a special price of HK$900 for two adults and one child, which also comes with free shuttle to the park on weekends. The suite measures a generous 48 sqm, and comes with pantry, sofa bed in the living room, dining area and bedroom with king sized bed. Lots of room to swing a cat.

In the evening, you can call Front Desk to deliver to your room a “specially-designed mobile storybook library” filled with storybooks catering to children of different ages, perfect for bedtime stories before your precious heads off to slumberland.

If you’ve got a teenager in tow, then the Dorsett Wanchai’s Sony 4k 3D Experience Suite is the thing to go for. Says the hotel’s official information: “With Sony’s latest gadgets such as Playstation, blue-ray home theatre system, and LED TV, tech-lovers will be able to surround themselves by the newest electronics and indulge themselves in a SONY paradise.” Nuff said.

Marking the launch of the suites, Dorsett Wanchai is offering a 50% discount on all suite bookings falling between May and September 2017, made through the official hotel website http://www.wanchai.dorsetthotels.com

The hotel is located between Wanchai and Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island, close to loads of shops and food. It’s an 8-minute walk to MTR station, Times Square, but there’s also complimentary shuttle bus service to 16 destinations via five routes. And all rooms are also equipped with the all-important high speed wifi.

Blue Sails In The Sunset – On Board The NEW Aqua Luna II

The Chinese junk with the large red sails that you often see plying the waters of the Victoria harbour is a sight to behold and one that almost every tourist visiting Hong Kong, is familiar with.

Last night, along with a handful of privileged media, we boarded its new sibling – the Mighty Ming Dragon christened the Aqua Luna II, as it unfurled its blue and white dragon (a motif often seen on Chinese Ming dynasty porcelain) that now trademarks its sails. In Chinese culture the dragon is a legendary creature; a symbol of power and good luck for all it touches, favoured by Chinese royalty.

Plied with champagne and dim sum canapés from the Aqua Group’s newly opened Dim Sum Library, we boarded this beautiful vessel that is slightly larger than it’s predecessor (measuring 29 metres in length and able to hold up to 80 guests on its two decks) and took off with it on it’s maiden voyage at sunset, as it gleamed and glided across the Hong Kong evening skyline.

This truly enchanting and unforgettable experience is probably one of the most precious memories that I will always cherish, especially when it comes time to say farewell to Hong Kong’s charms and its fragrant harbour.

Behind the construction of this second vessel, which took two whole years to complete, is Sifu (master craftsman) Au, who is now 86 years old. Sifu is said to have built more wooden boats than any other person in Hong Kong.

The boat was built using traditional techniques and made exclusively from wood, using bamboo for waterproofing with no nails used at all in the structure.

For those unaware of the history, the Aqua Luna and Aqua Luna II (in Chinese) are named after Hong Kong pirate Cheung Po Tsai, who sailed Hong Kong waters over 100 years ago. It is rumoured that he used the caves of Cheung Chau to store his pirate treasure. The Aqua Luna I is Cheung Po Tsai and Aqua Luna II is Dai Cheung Po (big brother of Cheung Po) – reflecting its greater size.

With this second vessel, the Aqua Luna fleet offers the same 45 minute evening harbour cruises – where guests can relax on lounge beds, sipping cocktails, day cruises, with a hop-on/hop-off Harbour Discovery Tour and from 1st May, longer daytime cruises to Stanley and now, Cheung Chau island to see the famed caves where Cheung Po Tsai is said to have buried his treasure and also Lamma Island for its beautiful nature trail. There will also be a series of Dim Sum Cruises for guests to enjoy signature dishes, prepared by Dim Sum Library.

To celebrate the launch of Aqua Luna II, complimentary rides will be offered to all Hong Kong ID Card holders on May 13th and 14th (from 12 noon – 5.30pm). In addition, from now until May 31st, all the restaurants in Aqua Restaurant Group will be randomly serving dishes and cocktails in Ming Dynasty plates and cups. Anyone lucky enough to be served the Ming Dynasty ceramic will get complimentary tickets for the new Aqua Luna II.

For Aqua Luna reservations call +852 2116 8821 – for price lists and sailing options see: www.aqualuna.com.hk

Celebrity Kitchens In Hong Kong

Its no secret that Chefs all over the world who want a presence in Asia open first in Hong Kong just to see if the 9 million plus (unofficial population) will bite the bait, so to speak. So, if you are headed to Hong Kong, in search of the who’s who – here’s a list of what and who to check out!

Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen and London House

More charming than hellish in person, Gordon Ramsay has gone on to open two restaurants in Hong Kong. His Bread Street Kitchen opened in 2014 at LKF Hotel followed by London House which opened in TST in 2015.

Bread Street Kitchen has a gastro-bar feel to its menu with items like its delicious Tamarind spiced chicken wings, spring onions, coriander. There are also hearty meat dishes like the Dingley Dell pork BBQ baby back ribs, Cote de boeuf and for dessert a rather irresistible Sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream. It’s a good choice for date night as the place has a nice buzz with a shared table concept. Also a great place for Sunday brunch with the kids.

Bread Street Kitchen – Mezzanine Level, LKF Hotel, 33 Wyndham Street, Tel: +852 2230 1800 

London House is definitely more of an English pub type concept. Expect the latest game to be screened, live entertainment on weekends and a wide menu of beers, ales and drinks alongside comfort food like Fish and Chips, Bangers and Mash, my favourite – the Potted Crab with Seaweed Toast and Bread and Butter Pudding.

London House – G5, Tsim Sha Tsui Centre, 66 Mody Road, East Tsim Sha Tsui. Tel: +852 3650 3333 

Jamie Oliver’s Italian

Similarly Jamie Oliver also has two restaurants in Hong Kong. Both a spin off from Jamie’s Italian in the UK. Casual dining at its best, Jamie’s Italian has two branches – one in Causeway Bay on Hong Kong island and the other in Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.

Expect a fun evening of affordable all-day eats and drinks, lots of canned food on your table to hold up their signature planks full of fish and meat starters. The menu is filled with easy eats like their Hong Kong Hot pizza, Prawn Linguine pasta, the Lamb Lollipops and the Epic Brownie for dessert.

We like the fact that they have a good kids menu, interesting cocktails – our favourite is the Bramble, decent wine – try Jamie’s Rosso and the fact that each of the restaurant’s has been uniquely designed to incorporate the history and personality of the city, as well as creating an environment where the focus is on exceptional food, good company and the relaxed conviviality of the ‘Italian table’.

Jamies Italian

2/F, Soundwill Plaza II- Midtown, 1 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 3958 2222

Shop 412, Level 4, Ocean Centre, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. Tel: +852 3758 3333

Jason Atherton’s 22 Ships, Ham & Sherry & Aberdeen Street Social

Unlike self-made and self-styled Gordan and Jamie, Jason Atherton started out working under great chefs like Pierre Koffmann, Marco Pierre White, Nico Ladenis and Ferran Adria at el Bulli, before joining the Gordon Ramsay Group in 2001. After launching ‘Maze’ in London and overseeing the opening of five more ‘Maze’ restaurants globally, Atherton left Gordon Ramsay Holdings to launch his own restaurant group. To date he has quickly expanded into London, New York, Dubai, Hong Kong, Sydney and Shanghai. He has already opened 3 restaurants in Hong Kong – 22 Ships, Ham & Sherry and Aberdeen Street Social.

Ham & Sherry is definitely the place to go for light bites and a drink – nothing too pricey. There is a good and wide variety of Spanish tapas style eats and Asia’s largest list of Sherry.

Ham and Sherry – 1-7 Ship Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, Tel: +852 2555 0628                         

Opposite this eatery and along the same stretch of road in Star Street, you will find 22 Ships, a great choice for a night out with friends as it has a buzzy party pub feel to the ambience and food (also tapas inspired but incorporating a mix of European and Asian ingredients) is all about sharing. Good wine list with a nice cache of Spanish beers.

22 Ships – 22 Ship Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, Tel: +852 2555 0722                                  

Aberdeen Street Social is his latest offer in Hong Kong and takes on the party crowd in a hip setting. Located at PMQ (the old Police Marine Headquarters) in Central, this newly opened venue has two floors with outdoor terraces.  It is the sum of many parts – a restaurant with a private dining room, an all-day cafe, cocktail bar and a retail space that sells confectionery and sweets.

Aberdeen Street Social – PMQ at 35 Aberdeen Street, Hong Kong, Tel: +852 2866 0300

Alain Ducasse’s Spoon

With sweeping views of the Victoria Harbour, once French national and now a citizen of Monaco, Chef  Alain Ducasse’s 1 michelin star restaurant, Spoon is located at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kowloon.

All about the ultimate expression of culinary freedom, sophistication and design, it’s contemporary French menu brings together Asian produce prepared in French tradition with an excellent wine menu, where pairings are offered with your meal.

Prices here go from whatever you order on the ala carte menu to a Le Printemps set menu at HK$888 per person to a Discovery Menu at HK$1,688 per person.

Spoon – InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong.  Tel: +852 2313 2256

Joel Robuchon’s L’Atelier, Le Cafe, Le Jardin and Le Salon De The

Awarded three Michelin stars by the MICHELIN Guide Hong Kong and Macau for the fifth consecutive year.  It’s owner French chef and restaurateur, Joel Robuchon has won several titles including “Chef of the Century”, the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (France’s Best Craftsman) and he has published several cookbooks and hosted culinary television shows in France.

His main restaurant in Hong Kong is located at the Landmark Shopping Centre where it opened its doors in Hong Kong in 2006, featuring an intimidating decor that is all about lush red velvet seating complemented by dark wood furniture. The restaurant has gone on to  become an institution for French fine dining offering a variety of great French classics in innovative tapas style portions. Over the last three years, he has also opened several variations of the fine dining concept including a Cafe, a Cake Salon and Roof Top Dining area in selected locations around the city.

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon features a circular bar enveloping an open kitchen, allowing customers to witness all aspects of cooking, from food preparation to the plating of dishes. A Lunch Set Menu starts at HK$598, a Discovery Menu at HK$2080. If you just want to check it out the fare then perhaps the Canapés Menu at HK$280 for Happy Hour at 6pm to 730pm is the thing to try. There is also a menu of Desserts at HK$170 each, an Ala Carte menu and even a menu if you are Vegetarian.

Le Jardin has an elegant interior setting and looks out to a quaint roof top garden. It offers a contemporary fine-dining experience and a menu of gourmet French cuisine.

Le Salon De The is a French tea salon that offers a great selection of sandwiches, bakery products, pastries and cakes, and coffee/tea for dining-in and takeaway. It is one of the best tea salons in town that famously serves afternoon tea, croissants as well as macarons. Their High Tea Set starts at HK$280 each or HK$528 for two.

Joel Robuchon’s – Le Jardin, Le Salon De The and L’ Atelier are at Shop 315, 334 and 401 at The Landmark, Central District, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2166 9000.                                                                                  

Le Cafe is a much more casual version of the Atelier. The same heavy signature colours mark the Cafe but the menu is more casual. They also have a High Tea for 1 at HK$280 and for 2 at HK$580 and Crepes and Waffles on a separate menu. There are also sandwiches, crispy pockets and desserts, a boulangerie selection and drinks. All generally slightly above your regular cafe prices, naturally, but then again this is a spin off from a 3-star michelin experience!

Shop 2608-2610, Level 2, Gateway Arcade, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Tel: +852 2327 5711.                                                                                                                                       

Nobu

Nobu in Hong Kong is the first of Chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa’s restaurants outside of Japan. Known to the world simply as “Nobu”, his empire of Japanese restaurants located around the world spans from Beverly Hills to New York City, London to Tokyo, Aspen to Milan, Las Vegas to Miami Beach, as well as the newly launched NOBU Hotel brand. The restaurant opened in Hong Kong at the Intercontinental Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui in late December 2006.

His training stems from Tokyo sushi bar roots and his life abroad in Peru and Argentina (think Nikkei-cuisine) and his travels around the world inspired him to create a whole particular new trend in Japanese cooking that features signatures like his fresh yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño, black cod saikyo yaki, toro tartar with caviar, white fish tiradito, sashimi salad with Matsuhisa dressing, rock shrimp tempura, soft shell crab roll and new style sashimi.

New creations that showcase local ingredients include Saga Beef Truffle Nigiri Sushi, Hirame XO Salsa, Sake Roasted Chilean Seabass with Sansho Salsa all feature at this Nobu.

Nobu – 18 Salisbury Road, The Intercontinental Hotel Hong Kong, Kowloon, Tel: +852.2313.2323                                                                                                                                 

 

Akrame Benallal’s Restaurant Akrame and Vivander Atelier

For a 33 year old, French born, Algerian Chef Akrame Benallal has come far and fast. Benallal was mentored by two of the world’s great chefs – Pierre Gagnaire and Ferran Adria (El Bulli). His cuisine sees fish and seafood as treasured ingredients and often the focus in his dishes. His signature is the way he cooks lobster in an infusion at the guest’s table. Other familiar elements lean towards the inclusion of black, his favourite colour, as well as handcrafted, hand-churned butter, with which he has an enduring fascination.

He opened Restaurant Akrame, Hong Kong along Ship Street in 2013. In 2014, the restaurant earned its first Michelin star.

Ever eager to embrace change, innovate and elevate, in March 2016, he relaunched his menu – introducing an inventive new tasting menu paired with his own line of culinary juices paired with a four, six or eight course menu option where components of each dish are complemented with a selected fruit blend. Menus start at 4 courses for HK$788 with juice pairing at HK$198.

Akrame – Shop B, G/F, No. 9 Ship Street, Wanchai Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2528-5068                      

His second Hong Kong restaurant, Atelier Vivanda is a take on the traditional French bistro. He opened this in June 2015 next to Restaurant Akrame, also along Ship Street. The same street has since become known as michelin row as it has also become home to michelin-starred names like Bo Innovation and 22 Ships.

Atelier Vivanda serves classic French meat dishes with twists of Chef’s famous creativity in a comfortable, casual setting that recalls the atmosphere of a countryside butcher’s studio. Menu selection is minimal, where high quality gourmet ingredients are simply prepared to casual classic French recipes, showcasing twists of Chef’s distinctive style in adventurous and unexpected flavour combinations. A light lunch is offered at HKD128, alongside a more substantial lunch menu at HKD298. Dinner is available from 6pm onwards and is priced at HKD448.

Atelier Vivanda – G/F, 9A Ship Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong.  Tel: +852 2109 1768                                                                                                                           

Catalunya

Opened in 2013, the opening team from the world-renowned Michelin three-starred El Bulli opened Spanish restaurant Catalunya in Wanchai’s Morrison Hill area. The 5000 sq foot restaurant boasts an El Bulli alumnae headed by Group Executive Chef, Mr Alain Devahive Tolosa and Group General Manager, Mr Pol Perelló, a Spanish native who held a similar role at El Bulli for over 10 years, so you can expect something pretty special.

This is one group that opened very successfully Catalunya first in Singapore at the Marina Bayfront and has now come to Hong Kong. Signature dishes from its restaurant in Singapore including items like their Cod Esqueixada, Roasted Meat Cannelloni, Lobster Rice, Roasted Suckling Pig with Lemon Puree, and all-time favorites such as Spanish Bombas and Truffle Bikini feature alongside a comprehensive Spanish wine list and cutting-edge cocktails.

Catalunya – G/F Guardian House, Morrison Hill, Wanchai, Hong Kong, Tel: +852 2866 7900

Demon Chef Alvin Leung’s, Bo Innovation

Bo Innovation has made big strides on the global culinary map. It opened in London late 2012 and won a michelin star for Bo London in 2014 but also closed that very same year, promising to return after a ‘refit’. If you are missing it, the Hong Kong eatery is still very much alive. Helmed by the self styled Demon Chef, Alvin Leung, Bo Innovation, earned its 3 Michelin stars in Hong Kong and Macau guide for 2014 to 2016 and still forks out extreme Chinese cuisine with a molecular touch.

The restaurant is located at Star Street. We first ventured there in 2012 when the lunch set was a humble HK$268 for a choice of two dim sum or Bo Signature appetisers, a choice of main course and dessert. A lunch drop by these days costs double at HK$430 per person for a Set Lunch (Entree, Main Course and Dessert) and HK$730 for the Chef’s Lunch. Dinner offers different menus with a basic Tasting Menu starting at HK$$1,680 per person with an optional wine pairing HK $1,100 per person. There is also a Chef’s Menu and a Chef’s Table Menu. Undoubtedly all serve premium ingredients like scallop, foie gras, unami, oyster, caviar, cod, Brittany blue lobsters, abalone, all beautifully presented, molecular in consistency, style and size (somewhat) and definitely innovative. Make sure you try their signature molecular cuisine specials the Caviar, Smoked Quail Egg at HK$280 and the Xiao Long Bao at HK$90. The latter is an expensive mouthful of one precious morsel occupying about ¾ of a Chinese soup spoon, laced with a thin red line of edible paper infused with dark Chinese vinegar. It had the texture of raw egg yolk, and once you popped it in your mouth, out oozed an intense, rich soup holding authentic XLB flavours. Very clever.

Bo Innovation – 60 Johnston Road, Hong Kong, Tel: +852 2850 8371                                                                        

Happy Hour With Free Nibbles In Hong Kong!

Happy Hour in Hong Kong just got alot happier! We’ve discovered two great watering holes (one on Hong Kong island and the other in Kowloon) where the drinks are good, the bites are complimentary, the service superb, the ambience five star, and depending on where you sit, both have an indoor pianist.

The Langham Hong Kong Bar - Artesian Cocktails Seating Area
The Langham Hong Kong Bar – Artesian Cocktails Seating Area

On the Kowloon side – nestled in the lobby of the elegant Langham Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, is their lovely lobby lounge. The Artesian Bar where they have happy hour from 6 to 8pm daily.

Ask for the Aperitivo Hour Menu where the drinks are at a special price and come with a complimentary platter of charcuterie and cheeses. There are also normal bar snacks with green olives and seasoned cashews. A glass of red starts at HK$82 and if you seat yourself right by the ‘fireplace’ that you see in the above shot (my favourite spot) then you have a pianist in the background playing lovely tunes.

If on the other hand you find yourself on Hong Kong island, get past the crowds at Admiralty Station’s, Pacific Place and get up to the Marriot Hotel there. On the 7th floor, there is a restaurant called The Flint Bar & Grill (open 5 to 7pm for Happy Hour).

They have an indoor and outside area to sit at if you are just looking for a drink. Sit outside and you are closer to the lobby pianist. Sit inside the actual restaurant near the bar area and enjoy chill tunes with feel-good vibe that suddenly make you feel like you’ve been transported to one of the hip bars at Lan Kwai Fong. A glass of red wine is only $58 and they have an amazing cheese buffet (see above picture) with a free-flow of crackers, jams and spreads and a good selection of four to five different quality cheeses. Definitely worth the mula! I will definitey be back!

In case you want to stay past happy hour, both Hotels, each have a reputable steak house. Stay on for a juicy steak at the Bostonian (at the Langham Hotel) at (852) 2132 7898 and at The Flint Grill (Marriot Hotel) at (852) 2810-8366. At either venue. we guarantee an evening where you stay happy, way and well beyond the appointed hour!