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About this blog

thisgirlabroad is an expat living, working, and eating her way through Hong Kong, and traveling throughout South East Asia without any plans to slow down. 

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thisgirlabroad
westwood-carvery-pork-ribs

If you’ve ever done a bit of wandering through the alleyways around LKF, you’ve likely walked past Westwood Carvery along Wo On Lane. This is one of those restaurants you probably wouldn’t take much notice of, as it’s quite small and doesn’t really stand out among the other restaurants and bars lining the street. That being said, I ended up going to Westwood Carvery for dinner the other night and was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the food, vibe, and service.

Vibe at Westwood Carvery

Having originally thought that Westwood Carvery was only a small 15 seat restaurant, when I arrived I found out that they also have a second floor with more seating (though it’s often reserved for private functions). Either way, the friendly service certainly helps make the small space feel more comfortable. In terms of decor, don’t expect anything too fancy; the restaurant is clean looking and simple, and makes for the perfect after work drink or casual date night.

Starters

westwood-carvery-saladBeetroot & Pumpkin Salad (HK$138)westwood-carvery-musselsSteamed US Blue Mussels (HK$248)

We began with a Beetroot & Pumpkin Salad (HK$138) that was pricey, but tasty. I’m not sure what type of sauce was on top, but the combination worked really well together. Even though I’m not one to order mussels at a restaurant, I absolutely loved the Steamed US Blue Mussels (HK$248). The rich white wine and cream sauce that they were doused in was literally magical, and I was a little too excited when they brought out bread so we could soak up every last bit of the sauce.

Mains

westwood-carvery-pork-ribsSlow-Roasted Beef Short Rib (HK$568)westwood-carvery-truffle-mushroom-pastaSpaghetti Mixed Mushroom with Black Truffles (HK$188)westwood-carvery-uni-pastaUni Pasta (HK$208)

We began with the Slow-Roasted Beef Short Rib (HK$568), which was presented fully on the bone before they took it away to carve it up. While I did like the short ribs, I actually much preferred their signature USDA prime rib that was truly drool-worthy. To please the vegetarians at our table, we ordered the Spaghetti Mixed Mushroom with Black Truffles (HK$188), which was rich in truffle and had plenty of mushrooms throughout. Though I preferred the mushroom spaghetti, most people at our table went crazy for the chef’s special: Uni Pasta (HK$208). Once mixed, the uni coated each strand of spaghetti, giving every bite that strong and rich flavour the uni-obsessed can’t get enough of.

Dessert

westwood-carvery-cheesecakeNew York Cheesecake (HK$78)

Praise the foodie gods; Westwood Carvery actually serves real New York Cheesecake (HK$78), instead of that poor excuse for a cheesecake the local bakeries sell. It may not be the best cheesecake I’ve had, it’s damn good for Hong Kong standards and certainly satisfies your cravings.

Verdict

If you’re wanting to support more local businesses in a city where all the new restaurants seem to be opened by one of the dominating restaurant groups in Hong Kong, I’d definitely recommend paying a visit to Westwood Carvery for some tasty meat-filled dishes.

Westwood Carvery 
2 Wo On Lane
Central
Hong Kong

Tel: 2869 8111


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thisgirlabroad
beef-and-liberty-brunch

Beef and Liberty has recently opened up in California Tower in LKF, boasting an incredibly large dining area with ample seating outside on the terrace, and a beautiful open kitchen and bar. While most people are familiar with Beef and Liberty’s burgers, this is their first location to serve a weekend brunch (that doesn’t just consist of burgers and fries). There is something for everyone on the Beef and Liberty brunch menu; from granola and yogurt to a mac ‘n cheese sandwich, the vibe is great, and nothing is over HK$80, which is unheard of in Hong Kong. Basically, this is one kick-123 brunch.

Vibe At Beef and Liberty Brunch

The first thing I noticed was how big the restaurant actually is (for Hong Kong standards, at least); there is ample indoor seating as well as three separated terraces for those that like to eat outside. The kitchen is semi-open and the bar is also open at the back, which I’m always a fan of. Expect bright lighting, welcoming staff, and comfortable yet modern decor that gives off plenty of good vibes.

Mains

beef-and-liberty-brunch-mac-n-cheeseMac ‘n Cheese Sandwich (HK$68)beef-and-liberty-brunch-beans-and-eggBeans & Liberty (HK$78)beef-and-liberty-brunch-eggs-and-soldiersEggs & Soldiers (HK$48)

If you love mac n cheese (which is hopefully all of you), you must order the Mac ‘n Cheese Sandwich (HK$68) with elbow pasta, Isle of Mull cheddar, parmesan, creme fraiche, and bacon jam on the side. The sandwich was cheesy without being overly messy, and made for a fun alternative to your traditional mac ‘n cheese. We also ordered the Beans & Liberty (HK$78) without being entirely sure what to expect, and fell in love with the way this dish was presented when it came to our table. While it did look great, the combination of braised white beans, slow roasted pork shoulder, pork crackling, and a soft poached egg didn’t exactly blow us away. My favourite of the three dishes we had was the Eggs & Soldiers (HK$48), in part because of the super cute presentation as well as the super sweet maple bacon. Just cut off the top of the crispy battered eggs, dip either the toast or bacon into the runny yolk, enjoy, and repeat.

Dessert

beef-and-liberty-brunch-dessertThe King (HK$78)

I had heard a lot of talk about Beef and Liberty’s The King (HK$78), made with nutella, caramelized banana, roasted hazelnut, and crispy bacon, all sandwiched between a cinnamon sugar bun, which meant that, despite being incredibly full, we ordered one to share. Even though it literally had every ingredient I loved inside, I wasn’t wowed (perhaps because I was so full and this was just far too sweet). I would recommend ordering this if you haven’t gone too crazy on mains and have saved some room for a very sugary dessert.

Verdict

The Beef and Liberty brunch might just take home the 1st prize for HK’s best valued brunch of 2016. Dishes are not only cheap, but the presentation is #instagramworthy, and the overall quality and taste of each item we tried was spot-on. I don’t often go back to restaurants after trying them once (there’s just too much damn choice in this city!), but I’d absolutely make an exception for the Beef and Liberty brunch.

 You can opt to add on a two-hour free-flow package for HK$178, which includes red/white wine, prosecco, bloody mary, and draught beer. 

Beef and Liberty 
3/F California Tower 
30-32 D’Aguilar Street
Central 
Hong Kong 

Tel: 2450 5778


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thisgirlabroad
spit-to-manly-lighthouse-2

The Spit to Manly hike is a well-known route to any Sydney local and is the perfect day outing if you’re looking for something similar to the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, but less touristy and crowded. The walk is a relatively easy 10 km and should take about 3 hours, depending on whether you stop at some of the beaches. As you go on your hike, you’ll walk past over six beautiful beaches, some of which are quite secluded, that you can go for a quick dip to cool off before continuing the hike. This was one of the highlights of my time in Sydney and I would highly recommend it if you have the time.

How to get to the start of the Spit to Manly Hike

spit-to-manly-startCrossing Spit Bridgespit-to-manly-bridgeLooking out over Spit Bridge

The bus you take will depend on where in Sydney you’re starting from.. For me, I took the M40 from Darlinghurst to Wynyard Station, then transferred to the 178 which took me straight to Spit Bridge (about AUS$2.50 on your Opal card). If you go onto Sydney’s public transportation website, you can easily find the best route for you depending on your starting point.

Once off the bus, walk across Spit Bridge on the left hand side. At the end of the bridge, you’ll see stairs directly to your left and a little behind that will take you under the bridge – go down and cross here. After you come out on the other side of the bridge, you’ll easily see where the path of the Spit to Manly hike begins.

Since this walk is very direct and easy to follow, I won’t go into much detail in terms of direction (there are plenty of signs and you’re literally just following the path along the coast). Rather, I’ll show you the stunning beaches and views you’ll see along the way.

Sandy Bay

spit-to-manly-sandy-bay

This is the first beach you’ll come across shortly after you’ve begun your hike. Expect to see quite a lot of people on the beach, and throughout the park and grassy area behind. The beach is quite long – if you continue walking a bit further, you’ll be able to find a less crowded section.

Castle Rock

spit-to-manly-castle-rock-beach

Castle Rock is a lookout area; you’ll see beautiful waterfront houses across from you and luxurious yachts sailing through the bay. If you look down, you’ll also see a secluded, small beach that can only be reached via boat.

Grotto Point Lighthouse

spit-to-manly-detour spit-to-manly-lighthouse-2

As you’re hiking along, be sure to take the quick detour to your right and walk down to the Grotto Point Lighthouse shortly after Castle Rock where you’ll be privy to some fantastic views.

Dobroyd Head

spit-to-manly-dobroyd-head

No beach here, but nevertheless some breathtaking sights.

Reef Beach

spit-to-manly-reef-beach

At this point, we were feeling a bit sticky and loved the quiet-calm of Reef Beach (which also happens to be about half-way through the hike), so we decided to head down the stairs, drop off our stuff, and make our way into the water to cool down.

Forty Baskets Beach

spit-to-manly-forty-baskets-beach

Much busier than the last beach, Forty Baskets Beach is a larger, enclosed beach area. The views are lovely, with plenty of sailboats dispersed throughout the water.

Fairlight Beach

spit-to-manly-fairlight-beach

After making your way around the north harbour, you’ll end up at Fairlight Beach. Though relatively small, the water is calm and it had a natural swimming pool at the far end.

Manly

spit-to-manly-manly

After walking through a bit of a residential area, you’ll eventually end up at Manly. Here, you can stay on this beach or cross over to the other side (to your left and past the shops and restaurants) and go to Manly Beach. Or, if you’re ready to call it a day, you can always hop on the next ferry back to Circular Quay.

Distance: About 10 km
Time: About 3 hours


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thisgirlabroad
blue-mountains-sydney-sublime-point-2

The Blue Mountains of Sydney is a world heritage area and natural park, consequently making it a very popular tourist destination. Located about 1.5 hours from central Sydney, it’s relatively easy to get to and, once there, you can spend the night in one of the many Blue Mountains hotels, go hiking, explore caves, ride a cable car, see The Three Sisters, and much more. Though I didn’t exactly find the Blue Mountains to be overly impressive (perhaps because, as a Canadian, I’ve grown up surrounded by vast greenery), it was a nice day trip to get out of the city center and explore the outlying areas of Sydney.

Echo Point Lookout

blue-mountains-sydney-viewpoint blue-mountains-sydney-view blue-mountains-sydney-view-2

Echo Point Lookout is the main spot to view the Blue Mountains and The Three Sisters rock formations. The reason behind the name Blue Mountains? The region is covered in Eucalyptus trees that give off oil droplets. This oil, in combination with dust and water vapour, emits blue light rays. Unfortunately, I can’t actually say I saw any blue shimmering rays as I looked out from Echo Point.

Aside from the Blue Mountains, you’ll also be able to view The Three Sisters to your left – three rock formations that are meant to represent three Aboriginal women who were turned to stone (read more about the legend here). They were interesting to look at, if only for the fact that they were the only thing other than trees that you could see for quite a distance.

At Echo Point Lookout there is a tourist visitor information booth, gift shop, and a short “Three Sisters Aboriginal Place” walk that takes you to a viewing point right in front of The Three Sisters (see last photo above). If you’re more curious about these rock formations, you can follow a path from that point down steep steps and into the formations.

Sublime Point

blue-mountains-sydney-sublime-point-2

Since I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the Blue Mountains or The Three Sisters, we asked the information booth for an alternative lookout point to see something a bit more “wow”-esque. She recommended visiting Sublime Point because it was far less touristy and offered a slightly different view. I was lucky in that we had a car, making it much easier to get around the area. If you traveled to the Blue Mountains via train, you’d likely have to take a taxi to get here. Again, I wasn’t overly impressed, but it was nice to take in the tranquility of the area without dozens of people around you taking selfies.

If you have more time to spend in the Blue Mountains, there are cable car rides, plenty of hiking, and cave explorations. You can read more about things to do here.

Where to Eat

blue-mountains-sydney-brunch

Before reaching the viewpoint for the Blue Mountains, I would suggest you stop along Katoomba Street for a bite to eat and a coffee at one of the quaint little cafes. There were plenty to choose from, but we stumbled upon Clean Slate Cafe and felt some good vibes. The coffee was great, everything on the menu sounded great and was at a reasonable price, and service came with a smile.

How to get to The Blue Mountains, Sydney

blue-mountains-sydney-townTown of Katoomba

By car: 1.5 hour drive from the center of Sydney (to Katoomba)

By train: 2 hour train ride from Central (around AUS$8 each way. Click here for timetables).


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thisgirlabroad
12000-francs

Elgin Street in Hong Kong’s SoHo is well-known for an incredibly high turnover rate for restaurants thanks to excessive rent hikes, so it’s somewhat surprising to see new concepts willingly open up. One such restaurant that has disregarded Elgin Street’s curse is 12000 FRANCS. Unlike other restaurants serving modern European cuisine, 12000 FRANCS brings diners refreshing ingredient-driven dishes that uses both traditional and modern preservation methods. Even the name, 12000 FRANCS, comes from the intriguing story of Napoleon Bonaparte who, in 1795, offered this amount in cash to anyone who was able to develop a food preservation method for his armies. Just that alone should have you wanting to pay this restaurant a visit.

Vibe at 12000 FRANCS

Like most restaurants on Elgin Street, 12000 FRANCS isn’t very spacious, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in design. The area is open and welcoming, with a long picnic-esque table at the front and more restaurant-style seating at the back. Normally, I’m not a fan of long table dining (especially if you get stuck beside loud diners), but the table is separated by massive wine-holding metal pigs, adding both aesthetic and functionality. 12000 FRANCS maintains the fine balance between sophistication and approachability.

Starters (Pickled + Potted)

12000-francs-foie-grasFrom the top left: Stracciatella (HK$130), Montanara (HK$80), Foie Gras Parfait (HK$170)12000-francs-tartareBonito Tartare (HK$190)

Rather than being divided into starters, mains, and desserts, the menu at 12000 FRANCS is divided into the different preservation methods used by Chef Conor Beach. We began with the pickled + potted dishes (essentially starters) and, naturally, couldn’t settle on just one or two..

The Stracciatella (HK$130), not often seen on menus in Hong Kong, was rich and creamy with hints of sundried tomato, curry leaf, and chili that were slightly overpowering (but only because I love plain stracciatella cheese oh-so much). Next up was the Montanara (HK$80), which is essentially a deep-fried pizza with green chili tomatillo, ricotta salata, pecorino sardo, and carrots. Sound delicious? It was. Moving on, the Foie Gras Parfait (HK$170) was made with chicken liver, jalapenos, and herbs, and came with 12000 FRANCS’ homemade malted sourdough bread, which was divine. Finally, based on the chef’s recommendation and the fact that we’ve never seen this type of fish used in a tartare before, we tried the Bonito Tartare (HK$190) with olive oil aubergine, almond aioli, and coriander, which was a very fresh and refreshing take on the traditional tartare.

Mains (Vacuum + Fire)

12000-francs-lambLamb Spare Ribs (HK$400)12000-francs-vegGai Lan (HK$90)

Moving onto the Vacuum + Fire dishes, we began with the Lamb Spare Ribs (HK$400), which is meant to be shared between 4-6 people. Six people might be stretching it (depending on how much you’re ordering), but the intense applewood smoked ribs with salsa verde fell off the bone and was finger-licking good. To go along with our ribs, we made the healthy choice of ordering a side of Gai Lan (HK$90), which is actually a popular Chinese vegetable. Chef Beach gives this local favourite a modern spin by adding smoked almonds, anchovies, and fresh ricotta cheese.

Dessert (Sugar + Cultured)

12000-francs-dessertBetter Than Nutella (HK$98)12000-francs-kouign-amannK.A Pastry (HK$80)

With a simple dessert choice of three dishes, we chose the two sweet options, the first of which was the Better Than Nutella (HK$98). Perhaps a bit of a presumptuous and boastful title, this dessert certainly had everyone at the table lapping up the warm chocolate hazelnut mousse, bread pudding, and milk and honey sorbet. What really won my heart (and my taste-buds) was the K.A Pastry (HK$80); a maple pecan kouign amann (buttery layered French pastry) with pumpkin puree and vanilla ice cream. This dessert was so damn good that we actually ordered another one. If you come to 12000 FRANCS and can only order one dish, this would be it.

Verdict

While this year has been a bit rough for restaurants in Hong Kong, I’m happy to say that I finally found one I can confidently recommend. With a modern-minimalist vibe, friendly service, excellent wine, and refined cuisine that won’t cost a fortune, 12000 FRANCS sits at the top of my list for 2016.

12000 FRANCS
43A Elgin Street
SoHo, Central
Hong Kong

Tel: 2529 3100


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thisgirlabroad
mak-mak-brunch

Brunch and Thai food lovers, rejoice! Mak Mak has recently launched a brunch comprised of all their favourite a la carte items in a buffet-style format that won’t disappoint. Mak Mak brunch offers 20+ dishes in single-serving sizes that you can order and re-order as many times as your stomach can handle. There’s also a free-flow drink option of mocktails, Thai cocktails, or Veuve Champagne to really get you in the boozy brunch spirit.  Basically, be sure to wear your stretchy pants and don’t plan anything, save for a nap, afterwards.

What To Expect At Mak Mak Brunch

mak-mak-brunch-drinkMak Thai Cocktail

Brunch can be a relatively cheap affair if you’re just going to your neighbourhood cafe for some eggs and a coffee, but it can do some damage to your wallet when you head out for a more grande experience involving free-flow food and drinks (especially when you go out almost every weekend). Thankfully, Mak Mak has managed to put on a brunch that involves copious amounts of delicious Thai food and drinks for a very reasonable price. One thing I really loved about the brunch here was that all the dishes come in a single serving, so you can try a wide variety of items, and the dishes are served to your table, so there’s no awkward pause in conversation while half the table gets up to fill their faces with more food from the buffet.

Free-Flow Food

mak-mak-brunch-spring-rollsVegetable Thai Spring Rollsmak-mak-brunch-fish-cakeThai Crab & Prawn Cakemak-mak-brunch-beef-saladThai Beef Saladmak-mak-brunch-pad-thaiPad Thai

I was surprised at how extensive the food menu was, offering a handful of dishes in a variety of categories like appetizers, soups, rice/noodles, salads, and curries. Everything we ordered tasted just as good as it did when I went to Mak Mak for dinner awhile back, just in a smaller portion. Unlike other buffets that can be quite substandard, Mak Mak put effort into the presentation of each dish.

Dessert

mak-mak-brunch-coconut-ice-creamCoconut Ice Cream, Sticky Rice, Peanutsmak-mak-brunch-mango-sticky-riceMango Sticky Rice

Mak Mak serves up a few Thai dessert classics, of which the mango sticky rice and coconut ice cream are a must. They’re also small enough to share with a few people, so even if you’re bursting at the seams by this point, you can still enjoy a bite of each.

Verdict

I really loved the brunch at Mak Mak and found it was great value for money; the food was delicious and unlimited, and the drinks kept on flowing. The only comment I will make is that the vibe in Mak Mak is much more appealing for dinner, as there is no natural light in the restaurant. Personally, it wouldn’t bother me going there for brunch on a crappy day,  but if it was beautiful and sunny out, I think I’d want to find a brighter option. If that isn’t an issue for you or it’s during the winter months when it’s miserable out and stuffing your face with as much food as possible is completely acceptable, I would highly recommend visiting Mak Mak for brunch.

The Deal

Unlimited Thai food with free-flow Longan Nahm mocktail and soft drinks – HK$298 
Unlimited Thai food with free-flow beer, certain cocktails, Thai milk tea, and above drinks – HK$398 
Unlimited Thai food with free-flow Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label and above drinks – HK$598

Mak Mak
Shop 217A, 2/F, Landmark Atrium
Central
Hong Kong

Tel: 2983 1003


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thisgirlabroad
maison-eight-brunch

Having been to Maison Eight in TST for dinner when it first opened, I was excited to hear they recently launched a brunch menu (since I’m all about that eggs benny goodness). Maison Eight isn’t exactly in a convenient location (but that could just be me being stuck in my HK Island bubble), but the views from the dining area as well as the outdoor terrace make the trek worth your time. As for the food, Maison Eight brunch offers diners the option of one, two, or three-courses and attempts to please all with a good mix of typical brunch dishes, as well as a handful of fine dining dishes taken from their a la carte menu.

To Start At Maison Eight Brunch

maison-eight-brunch-seafoodMaison Eight Sharing Platter (HK$398 for 2 pax)

Before you begin devouring your mains, you can opt to add the Maison Eight Sharing Platter (HK$398 for 2 pax) to the start of your meal. The variety of seafood was good and the sides were a nice addition, however, there wasn’t anything about this platter that made it stand out in comparison to the other restaurants that also offer something similar. Personally, I’d skip this and dive straight into the entrees and mains instead.

Entrees

maison-eight-brunch-full-breakfastFull English Breakfastmaison-eight-brunch-eggs-benedictEggs Benedict

There are a total of eight options on the Maison Eight brunch “Les Entrees” section, of which many ingredients sounded foreigh (what is a pea veloute, anyway?!), so we stuck with two classics: Full English Breakfast (fried eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato, mushrooms, and potatoes) and the Eggs Benedict with bacon. Both dishes were done well (though my eggs benedict looked a bit lonely on the plate), but again I still hadn’t found that extra ‘something, something’ that would pull me all the way back here (save for the view, of course) when I could just walk a few blocks down my street for similar food.

Mains

maison-eight-brunch-porkPan Roasted Pork Chopmaison-eight-brunch-burgerPrime Beef Burger

Moving onto the mains (because we obviously opted for the three-course brunch), we tried the Pan Roasted Pork Chop with fennel compote, steamed granny smith apples, and a cider reduction. This dish certainly resembled more of Maison Eight’s fine dining menu and the varying ingredients went well together. Being a total fatty, I ordered the Prime Beef Burger with hand-cut french fries, which did not disappoint. The patty was cooked well and was juicy without it being overly messy, and the french fries were delicious (I just wish I could have got my greasy fingers on more of them!).

Dessert

maison-eight-brunch-dessertOrange Almond Cake, and Double Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream

We finished brunch on a sweet note with the gluten free orange almond cake, and double chocolate brownie with vanilla bean ice cream and berries. I really loved the brownie and ice cream, but found the orange almond cake to be a bit lackluster.

Verdict

I have mixed feelings about my overall experience at Maison Eight.. To begin with the positives, I do love the stellar Hong Kong harbour views from both the dining area, Esme, and the outdoor terrace. If you’re just looking for food, the 2-course brunch with the entree and main is quite good value for money, as the portions are reasonable without having you feel like you’re rolling out afterwards and the ingredients are of high quality. The service, though slow and quite awkward to start (there was no one at the entrance to seat us and it seemed they were confused on our reservation), picked up and our glasses of champagne were rarely left empty.

That being said, there was only one other table occupied during our entire brunch, making for a bit of a dull and slightly off meal. Also, the Esme dining area seems a bit too fancy/uppity for brunch; I think having it in either the open space bar area or even outside on the terrace would add a lot to the overall atmosphere and vibe.

Maison Eight Brunch Pricing

1-course: HK$138 
2-courses: HK$238
3-courses: HK$288 
Optional add-on of mocktails (HK$98) or free flow Bollinger Champagne/Rose (HK$390)

Maison Eight 
21/F, 8 Observatory Road
Tsim Sha Tsui (East)
Hong Kong 

Tel: 2388 8160


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thisgirlabroad
commissary-fried-chicken

Casual, fuss-free Southern Californian food is what newly opened Commissary is all about. The concept is a mash-up between Yenn Wong (JIA Group) and Morgan McGlone (Belles Hot Chicken in Sydney and Melbourne), so expectations for this newcomer were high. The atmosphere is surprisingly easy-going and the food is a mix of light and hearty colorful dishes, offering diners a handful of items that you won’t see on many (if any) other restaurant menus in Hong Kong.

Vibe At Commissary

Located on the 4th floor of Pacific Place, Commissary has a fairly large outdoor terrace with table and bar seating that make people-watching a breeze. Inside, you’ll find a very relaxed atmosphere with pale yellow furnishing accents. Service was prompt, though some staff seemed slightly out of touch with the menu (giving us an order of fried chicken sandwich and calling it a burger.. twice). Overall, expect a chill vibe where a mix of business diners and casual mall-strollers convene.

Starters

commissary-deviled-eggsDeviled Eggs (HK$48)commissary-country-hamCountry Ham, Biscuits, Pickles (HK$118)commissary-tamaleBrisket Tamale (HK$108)

I was excited to see Deviled Eggs (HK$48) on the menu at Commissary, as it’s not something you’d typically find on a menu. While I loved the idea of eating this popular potluck party snack in a restaurant, they just didn’t scream “YES” like I had wanted it to. My favourite starter was the Country Ham, Biscuits, Pickles (HK$118); a simple yet comforting spread of cured ham and the best buttery biscuits (that literally had to be taken away from me because I couldn’t stop eating them). I was also curious about the Brisket Tamale (HK$108) with Alabama white sauce. The brisket itself was absolutely delicious and tender, but the tamale on a whole was quite dry (the chef did say the dish was on the dry side and to dip it into the sauce, so I did know what I was getting myself into) and lacked the bold South American flavours I was expecting.

Mains

commissary-fried-chickenSouthern Fried Chicken Sandwich (HK$198)commissary-shrimp-gritsShrimp and Grits (HK$158)

I couldn’t resist ordering the Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich (HK$198) with seasoned fries. The fried chicken was absolutely massive (I was regretting pigging out on starters at this point); tender on the inside and perfectly crispy on the outside, though it could have used a bit more seasoning to spice it up. The highly recommended American classic Shrimp and Grits (HK$158) was next on our list. This comforting dish of a polenta-esque base with shrimp and a soft boiled egg on top, received rave reviews from the Americans at our table.

Dessert

commissary-chocolateChocolate Pudding, Salted Caramel (HK$68)commissary-red-velvetRed Velvet Cake (HK$68)

To finish off an incredibly filling meal, we ordered the Chocolate Pudding, Salted Caramel (HK$68), which had the perfect balance of richness from the chocolate and the sweet saltiness from the caramel. Since I always make sure I eat out with like-minded (AKA like-stomached) people, we did away with any self control and ordered the Red Velvet Cake (HK$68) with cream cheese icing. My love for cream cheese icing is far too real, so I was stoked to try this. Unfortunately, the icing just wasn’t “cream cheese enough” for me (so picky, I know).

Verdict

I really liked the vibe and concept of Commissary, and think that the price point for food and drink was very reasonable given the location and portion size. That being said, a few dishes lacked a bold enough flavour to make them stand out. I’m sure that once all the little kinks are sorted out (they had only been open for a week or so when I dined here), you can expect Commissary to serve up unique dishes to Hong Kongers that are packed with the full-bodied fresh flavours of Southern California.

Commissary 
Level 4, Pacific Place
Admiralty 
Hong Kong

Tel: 2602 0707


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MacLehose Stage 8; Tai Mo Shan in the distance

This is a great hike for people who want something a bit different and challenging (you can only hike Dragon’s Back so many times), but is still relatively easy to get to. You’ll begin this hike at Shing Mun Reservoir, and you’ll go along the trail up to Needle Hill, then move onto Grassy Hill; both of which offer up great views of the surrounding area. From there, you’ll cross Lead Mine Pass, where you’ll likely run into a wild cattle or two, to get to Tai Mo Shan, the tallest peak in Hong Kong. Once at the top, you’ll be able to look down into the Tseun Wan area (here’s to hoping it’s a clear day!). If you’re looking for a tough trail that offers a range of scenery to appreciate along the way, you should try this Tai Mo Shan hike.

Starting point of the Tai Mo Shan Hike

Take the MTR to Tseun Wan (red line) and go out Exit A. You can choose to head towards the mini bus stop (Green Minibus 82) on Shiu Wo Street or take a cab to Shing Mun Reservoir. I had every intention on taking the minibus, however, when we arrived on Sunday at around 9:30 am, the queue for that minibus must have had at least 75 – 100 people in it. Since we didn’t want to waist time waiting for the minibus, we took a cab to the reservoir. The cab ride was quick (less than 10 minutes) and I believe it was around HK$30, so I highly recommend just getting out of the MTR and hopping in a cab instead of wasting your time.

Shing Mun Reservoir/Pineapple Dam to Needle Hill (Beginning of MacLehose Stage 7)

tai mo shan - startStarting Point (go right)tai mo shan - pineapple damPineapple Dam

Once you get off the minibus or out of the taxi, you’ll be at the starting/finishing point for the Shing Mun Reservoir Walk, so you can expect to see quite a few people around. You’ll see a path to your left and a path to your right (when facing away from the road you just traveled down and towards the small hill in front of you). Go right and begin walking along Shing Mun Road. Continue walking for another 5 minutes until the road merges into MacLehose Trail Section 7 where you’ll walk along a path over Pineapple Dam.

tai mo shan - pineapple dam 2Walking over Pineapple Dam

Once on the other side of Pineapple Dam, follow the sign and go right to continue on MacLehose Trail Section 7 (if you go left, you’ll be walking along the Shing Mun Reservoir trail around Pineapple Dam and back to the starting point). Shortly after, you’ll see a large sign saying “MacLehose Trail (Stage Seven)” above a set of stairs – go through here and begin your ascent up.

tai mo shan - needle hillNeedle Hill in the distancetai mo shan - needle hill viewView from the top of Needle Hill

Shortly after, you’ll break out from under the trees and find yourself in front of Needle Hill. Once you’ve reached the top, you’ve conquered the first challenging part of this hike (yay!). Your reward? Great views of the city behind you.

Needle Hill to Grassy Hill (MacLehose Stage 7)

tai mo shan - down Needle HillDescent down Needle HillFork in the path; turn rightFork in the path; turn right

Now, you’ll be descending down Needle Hill and you’ll have a relatively easy hike up to Grassy Hill. The route is very straightforward: just stay on MacLehose Stage 7 Trail (there will be sporadic signs; follow towards “Lead Mine Pass”) and you’ll eventually end up at Grassy Hill (which is also the end of MacLehose Stage 7). The only part where you might need to double-check your way is at a fork in the road (see photo above) where the paved path continued straight and a more rugged-looking path curved off to the right. At this point, you’ll make a right and head up the path along MacLehose Stage 7. There will be a few more spots along the way where multiple routes jut off from the path; just continue to follow the sign in the direction of “Lead Mine Pass”.

Looking up towards Grassy HillLooking up towards Grassy HillView from Grassy HillView from Grassy Hill

You’ll eventually come to a bit of a circular paved path with stairs leading down towards Lead Mine Pass and then an upwards walk to Grassy Hill on your right. Take a quick walk up (literally 2 minutes) to Grassy Hill to take in those sweet views before heading down the stairs.

Grassy Hill to Lead Mine Pass

Head straight down the stairs towards Lead Mine PassHead straight down the stairs towards Lead Mine PassLead Mine Pass: End of MacLehose Stage 7, Start of MacLehose Stage 8Lead Mine Pass: End of MacLehose Stage 7, Start of MacLehose Stage 8

Head down the stairs from Grassy Hill towards Lead Mine Pass – the walk is quite short (just follow the same path) and you’ll eventually reach a pavilion with washrooms. You’ll likely be surrounded by other hikers taking a quick break and a handful of roaming wild cattle who will most certainly harass you if you’re eating anything in front of them.

Lead Mine Pass to Tai Mo Shan (MacLehose Stage 8)

After a quick break at Lead Mine Pass, head up the path with a large sign overhead that says “MacLehose Trail (Stage Eight)” (the path is directly behind the pavilion). This section of MacLehose is quite exposed and the scenery is different; you’ll be walking along small dirt paths with various sized rocks all around you.

MacLehose Stage 8; Tai Mo Shan in the distanceMacLehose Stage 8; Tai Mo Shan in the distance

As you continue along MacLehose Trail Stage 8, you’ll eventually see Tai Mo Shan in the distance with its various weather station gizmos and gadgets jutting out of the hill. Tai Mo Shan is actually Hong Kong’s tallest peak at 957 m and is also the coldest place in the city (people will actually hike up to the top during extremely cold days in hopes of a glimpse at frost) during the winter months.

Almost at the top of Tai Mo ShanAlmost at the top of Tai Mo Shan

The path will eventually turn to pavement as you reach Tai Mo Shan Road, from which it’s only a short (though steep) walk to the top.

Tai Mo Shan to Tseun Wan

View at the top of Tai Mo ShanView at the top of Tai Mo Shan

Once at the top, walk a little further down to catch some breathtaking views (if it’s a clear day, which I, unfortunately, was not blessed with ) of the city below.

After your photo session, begin making your way down the paved winding road until you reach a parking lot with a little teal colored security building on your left side. To exit the parking lot, turn right and make your way down Tai Mo Shan Road (the walk is fairly long and boring).

tai mo shan - endEnd of Tai Mo Shan Road

You’ll come to the end of the hike when you see the large open space with a little food shop (Gatorade and fish balls, anyone?) and washrooms. To catch the bus back to Tseun Wan, head down the road you came from (in the photo above, it’s the road to the right) and turn right when you get to the intersection. The first bus stop you see down the road is the one you’ll want; take KMB bus 51 all the way to Tseun Wan Railway Station. From here, it’s only a few minutes’ walk to the MTR.

Journey Length: about 16 km
Total Time: 5 – 6 hours 


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mamasitas-cantina-fish-tacos

Despite facing a few recent hurdles, Mamasita’s Cantina promises diners authentic Mexican street food in an upbeat Latin atmosphere. With a Cuban-inspired bar on the 6th floor, offering a range of drinks and cigars, and a quaint outdoor patio, and the restaurant on the floor below, Mamasita’s Cantina has an appeal that reaches out to many. The menu includes your typical Mexican dishes like tacos, guacamole and chips, and pork carnitas, while also offering a modern Mexican take on other dinner staples.

Vibe At Mamasita’s Cantina

mamasitas-cantina

After exiting the elevator, you’ll enter into Mamasita’s Cantina Cuban-inspired bar. With over 30 types of tequila on offer, I reckon this place could get a little rowdy on the weekend. The graffiti alongside the back wall gives off a rough-around-the-edges, local Havana feel, and the terrace is the perfect spot to enjoy a cigar and a drink. Moving downstairs, the restaurant has a great mix of brightly colored decor, which stands out even more so alongside the soft brown furniture. The kitchen is partially open, so if you enjoy a bit of entertainment alongside your meal, try to snag a table closer to the action.

Starters

mamasitas-cantina-guacamoleGuacamole with Fresh Corn Tortilla Chips (HK$88)mamasitas-cantina-cornCorn Esquites (HK$78)

Ordering the Guacamole with Fresh Corn Tortilla Chips (HK$88) was a no-brainer. The dip was made with avocado, tomato, onion, jalapeno chili, queso cotija, and white truffle oil, and was absolutely divine paired with their housemade tortilla chips. The Mexican street style Corn Esquites (HK$78) was another favourite of mine. Despite the small size, these pieces of grilled corn come packed with chili, lime juice, cotija cheese, mayo, and fresh coriander. Just be sure to bring a pack of floss because you’ll likely end up with bits of corn, herb, and spices stuck in your teeth afterwards.

Mains

mamasitas-cantina-fish-tacosFish Tacos (HK$88 each)mamasitas-cantina-fishPescado Sarandeado (HK$368)

You can’t go to a Mexican restaurant and not order a round of fish tacos, and Mamasita’s Cantina certainly did not disappoint. The Fish Tacos (HK$88 each) come with Sol beer battered fish, creamy avocado, red onion, cabbage, and chipotle mayo. The flour tortillas are made daily and the fish was fried to a perfect crisp. Note: the image of the fish tacos above is a smaller version than what is on the menu. I was also curious about the Pescado Sarandeado (HK$368); a whole grilled white fish with adobo rub on the left and coriander rub on the right. I really enjoyed the adobo rub, but wasn’t a huge fan of the coriander side. What surprisingly hooked me with this dish was the black bean mash served on the side, which I could not stop eating.

Dessert

mamasitas-cantina-dessert3 Leches (HK$88)

The dessert at Mamasita’s Cantina didn’t sound particularly intriguing, but I was taken aback with how good the traditional three milk cake (3 Leches (HK$88)) was. The simple combination of the light cake soaked in three different milks (condensed milk, whole milk, and heavy cream) with caramel popcorn, rum granita, and corn foam milk ice cream was heavenly.

Verdict

I would recommend visiting Mamasita’s Cantina for a simple meal of Mexican street food staples like guacamole and chips, grilled corn, and plenty of tacos, and steer clear of their more Western-sounding dishes like the fish, ribs, etc. The prices are reasonable, the service was good, and you can really tell Chef Edgar Navarro is passionate about bringing satisfying Mexican food to your table.

Mamasita’s Cantina 
6/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace 
Central
Hong Kong

Tel: 2896 6118


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flaming frango - burger

Flaming Frango has been kicking around Soho for a little while now and I finally made it over to try their Piri Piri chicken in hopes of reliving my Nando’s experience in London. I arrived on a Tuesday evening ready to devour all of their Piri Piri goodness after a long day at work and was surprised to find the restaurant buzzing with people. Though the service was a bit slow, I was genuinely surprised at what good value (both quality and quantity of food) our meal at Flaming Frango was, considering Hong Kong has become a haven for restaurants that serve mediocre dishes the size of my palm at shockingly high prices.

Vibe at Flaming Frango

Flaming Frango may not be an ideal date-night destination given its rather cramped quarters (though I did notice there was an upstairs dining area that wasn’t being used), but it’s the perfect spot to catch up with a friend over a casual meal. You can expect the dining area to be loud and busy, making your meal a bit more lively than usual. There are also two tables outside if you’re wanting to do some serious people-watching when the weather’s on your side.

Drinks

flaming frango - drinksLychee & Lemongrass Colada, Sangria (HK$88)

We began our meal with a pair of much-needed drinks, and since we couldn’t exactly decide what to order, we chose one Lychee & Lemongrass Colada and one Sangria (HK$88). The sangria was your typical red sangria and certainly hit the spot at the end of the day, but it was the colada that really stood out for me. This drink is perfect for the summer months; a smooth blended boozy beverage with subtle hints of lemongrass and a strong lychee taste.

Starters

flaming frango - prawnsPiri Piri Prawns (HK$138)flaming frango - saladMediterranean Salad (HK$98)flaming frango - mushroom friesPortobello Mushroom Strips (HK$68)

Since Flaming Frango is known for their Piri Piri dishes, we began with the signature Piri Piri Prawns (HK$138). Though admittedly on the pricey side, these juicy prawns were bursting with flavour and left a bit of a singe on your tonge from the marinade. I also tried the Mediterranean Salad (HK$98); a heaping bowl full of crunchy vegetables covered in a light, flavourful dressing, with the highlight being the perfectly grilled haloumi. One of the most popular starters on the menu was the Portobello Mushroom Strips (HK$68), and for a very good reason. These deep fried thick chunks of mushroom had the perfect balance of crispiness in the batter (which was surprisingly light and didn’t overpower the taste of the mushroom) and a soft center.

Mains

flaming frango - burgerChicken & Mushroom Burger (HK$168)flaming frango - quarter chicken and thigh1/4 Chicken Leg & Thigh (HK$88)

I’m just going to dive right into it: I loved the Chicken & Mushroom Burger (HK$168). This towering burger comes loaded with a massive slice of mushroom, a tender piece of chicken, and plenty of cheese, with coleslaw and fries. Once you’ve mastered the fine art of figuring out how to actually bite into this monstrous burger, you’ll be well on your way to a very satisfied belly. Since you can’t go to Flaming Frango’s without ordering the Piri Piri chicken, we opted for the 1/4 Chicken Leg & Thigh (HK$88). Their chicken is marinated for 24 hours and you can opt for additional medium or spicy sauce to be rubbed on before being grilled. Both the leg and thigh, although looking a bit lonely on the plate, were delicious and had just the right amount of seasoning.

Verdict

If you’re craving a cheeky Nando’s in Hong Kong, Flaming Frango is the next best thing. The dishes are full of flavour, the prices are very reasonable, and you will definitely leave feeling satisfied.

Flaming Frango
36B Staunton Street
Soho, Central
Hong Kong

Tel: 2899 2244


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my-tai-tai-chicken-skewer

Though I was initially hesitant to try My Tai Tai (those in the know of Hong Kong’s food and beverage scene likely know why), I finally gave it a go the other week after Chef Amphon Phoomphookieo took over and they went through a short period of re-branding. I went into dinner with relatively low expectations, but was surprisingly blown away by the fun atmosphere, incredible service, and fantastic Thai food. Don’t let My Tai Tai slip under your radar; this is one Thai restaurant in the city that you need to try.

Starters

my-tai-tai-chicken-skewerSatay Gai (HK$24/piece)

We began with an order of Satay Gai (HK$24/piece) – barbecue marinated organic chicken skewer with peanut miso sauce. The skewers were large, the chicken was tender, and the flavour of the skewer itself was so tasty you didn’t even need to dip them into the peanut sauce.

Mains

my-tai-tai-roast-chickenGai Yang Khao Niew (HK$328)my-tai-tai-seafood-noodleGoong Yai Ob Woon Sen Maw Din (HK$218)

The Gai Yang Khao Niew (HK$328) – slow cooked and roasted marinated chicken with Issan style sweet chili sauce and sticky rice came highly recommended by our server and it did not disappoint. The chicken was tender with slightly crispy skin and full of flavour. I would certainly recommend ordering this dish if you’re dining with a group of 3 or more (or 2 if you’re an eating machine like me). Since you can’t go to a Thai restaurant without ordering some kind of noodle dish, we opted for the Goong Yai Ob Woon Sen Maw Din (HK$218) – baked king prawns with glass noodles and pork belly in a soya jus. Perhaps not the most eye-catching dish, these noodles were simple and delicious, and would certainly satisfy anyone’s noodle cravings.

Dessert

my-tai-tai-pumpkinPhak Thong Sang Kaya (HK$68)my-tai-tai-mango-sticky-riceKhao Niew Mamuang Nam Katie (HK$88)

Though I’ve been to Thailand numerous times, I’ve never heard or seen Phak Thong Sang Kaya (HK$68), so we figured we’d give it a go. The combination of pumpkin and egg custard sounded good in theory, but the flavours seemed off-balance and the skin of the pumpkin was left on, which seemed a bit strange. Thankfully, we also ordered the traditional Thai dessert of Khao Niew Mamuang Nam Katie (HK$88). While I did really enjoy the mango sticky rice here, especially the addition of mango ice cream, I have to admit that Chachawan and Samsen pull of a better version.

Verdict

To say the least, I was very satisfied with my dining experience at My Tai Tai. Upon walking in, you’ll feel as though you’re in Thailand with Thai greetings and exceptional service (for Hong Kong, at least) overall. As for the food, the flavours come from all regions of Thailand and are executed to a T (though I might pass on the dessert) and the prices are reasonable given the quality of each dish. Finally, the restaurant itself is bright, playful, and open. Basically, if you’re looking for a fun Thai restaurant that serves up an authentic range of dishes with great service, My Tai Tai should be top of your list.

My Tai Tai
2/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace
Central
Hong Kong

Tel: 2896 6018


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blue

One of Central/Sheung Wan’s well-known spots to go for a meaty meal has recently undergone a makeover in appearance, menu, and service. Formerly Blue Butcher, the renovated Blue – Butcher and Meat Specialist still offers diners a selection of finely sourced meat, now alongside an array of other protein-based options (pan roasted seabass, grilled chicken, etc.) and plenty of lighter starters to choose from. The interior has changed slightly, including a small butcher shop with a selection of meat available to purchase at their mini-butcher shop on the main floor.

Starters

blue-beef-fat-candleRubia Gallega Smoked Beef Fat Candle (HK$138)blue-tuna-tartarTuna Steak Tartar (HK$190)

I have seen a handful of photos of the Rubia Gallega Smoked Beef Fat Candle (HK$138) pop up on Instagram shortly after Blue relaunched and, to be honest, I wasn’t particularly keen to try it because it seemed gimmicky (it is a candle made of beef fat, after all). Thankfully, my dinner partner decided to order it because I actually really liked it. The flavour of the beef fat was rich without being offensive, and the whole experience was, I have to admit, pretty damn cool. I also tried the Tuna Steak Tartar (HK$190). Both light and refreshing, this dish was executed well, though it wasn’t particularly memorable.

Mains

blue-sirloinSignature 18oz Boneless Sirloin (HK$900)

I’ve tried my fair share of steak around Hong Kong; some of which have been utterly incredible, while others have been utterly disappointing. I kid you not when I say the Signature 18oz Rubia Gallega Boneless Sirloin (HK$900) from Blue is the best steak I’ve had in Hong Kong and possibly to date. Disregard the terrible photo (the lighting in the restaurant is not conducive to taking dinner-time snaps), since it doesn’t do justice to how good this cut of meat was. This beauty comes from Spain, where the cattle are raised in sustainable and humane conditions. Through this method, the cattle live up to 18 years, giving the meat an incredibly rich and unique taste. I also loved that Blue doesn’t serve their meat with any mustard or sauces – each cut is so well done that all you need for garnish is a bit of coarse salt.

Dessert

blue-red-velvet-cakeDeconstructed Red Velvet Cake, Cream Cheese Ice Cream (HK$115)blue-lime-sorbetLime and Basil Sorbet, Meringue (HK$105)

I cannot get enough of cream cheese icing (I could literally eat it with a spoon out of a jar), so when I saw the Deconstructed Red Velvet Cake (HK$115) with cream cheese ice cream, chocolate shavings, and raspberries, I had to have it. Though the red velvet cake was a bit dry, the cream cheese ice cream was so spot-on in terms of flavour and helped to moisten the cake. I was also told to try the Lime and Basil Sorbet (HK$105), which I was initially hesitant about because I’m not a huge fan of lime or lemon flavoured dessert. Surprisingly, the Italian mirangue on the top, lime curd and graham crumble on the bottom, and the sorbet in-between made the perfect combination in taste and texture. Both sweetly sour from the lime, and refreshingly light from the hints of basil, this is one dessert I would highly recommend.

Verdict

If you love meat and are willing to pay for a high quality cut, you should definitely check Blue – Butcher and Meat Specialist out. While I wasn’t as impressed with the starters, I loved the signature Rubia Gallega sirloin (I’m fairly certain I’ll never be able to enjoy another piece of steak quite as much), and would go back just to order that and a couple desserts.

Blue – Butcher and Meat Specialist
108 Hollywood Road
Sheung Wan
Hong Kong

Tel: 2613 9286

Note: Apologies for the terrible quality in the photos. The lighting during dinner service at Blue is so dark and not at all helpful for taking decent pictures.


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the-envoy-chicken-waffle

The Envoy, located inside The Pottinger Hong Kong, has just launched a new Colonial Inspired Sunday brunch. For those who have no clue what “Colonial Inspired” means, it’s basically various Indian spices infused with traditional British dishes. If you’re looking for something more “brunch-y”, The Envoy also serves up a selection of traditional menu options, like your classic eggs benedict. The quality of food at The Envoy won’t disappoint, but it’ll certainly cost you a pretty penny.

What To Expect For Brunch At The Envoy

the-envoy-teaYin Yang Latte / Pandan Latte (+HK$28)

Any brunch menu item you order comes with either coffee or tea (as it should for the prices being charged), but if you’re not content with a simple drink, you can opt for either a Yin Yang Latte or a Pandan Latte for an additional HK$28, both of which were quite sweet and dessert-like.

the-envoy-chicken-waffleButter Chicken Waffles (HK$178)the-envoy-lambSeared Slow-cooked NZ Lamb Rump (HK$228)

We decided to stick to the Colonial Inspired options to try something new, so we ordered The Envoy’s take on the classic Butter Chicken Waffles (HK$178). Unlike what I was used to, this version used saffron and cardamom waffles, picked cucumber, seared pancetta, and apple mango chutney on the side. Given the price, I did find the portion to be rather small, but the coming-together of the flavours in this dish were impressive. We also tried the Seared Slow-cooked NZ Lamb Rump (HK$228), which was fantastic and came with spiced potato and okra, cucumber yogurt, and red bell pepper jus. The lamb was cooked so damn well and I appreciated that no sauce was needed to enhance the flavour of the lamb; it was perfect just the way it was.

the-envoy-dessertMilo Lava French Toast (HK$88)

We ended our brunch at The Envoy with a bowl of drool-worthy Milo Lava French Toast (HK$88). The thick-cut toast was filled with a generous amount of oozing Nutella alongside a peanut butter crumble and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. If you love french toast, ice cream, peanut butter, or Nutella (basically, anything deliciously sweet), then this dessert is perfect for you.

Verdict

To put it simply, I really enjoyed the food at The Envoy’s new Sunday brunch, however, I’m not sure it’s worth dishing out that kind of cash given the countless other brunch options around Hong Kong.

The Envoy 
3/F, The Pottinger Hong Kong
74 Queen’s Road, Central
Hong Kong

Tel: 2169 3311


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the elephas

For those living in Shek Tong Tsui (otherwise known as the dead zone between Sai Ying Pun and Kennedy Town), there’s not nearly as many healthy food options as its two neighbouring districts. The Elephas is tucked inside The Warrior Academy fitness studio, but thankfully the cafe is not just for members. Anyone is welcome to navigate their way through a local shopping mall to find The Elephas and enjoy a wide range of nutritious smoothies, healthy salads, and gluten-free and raw desserts all at a reasonable price.

Vibe At The Elephas

Despite being in a very obscure location in Shek Tong Tsui, once at The Elephas, you’re instantly transported to a hip and modern cafe. I was surprised at how spacious the cafe area is: there’s a separate counter for smoothies and desserts, and another for salads and larger menu items, as well as ample lounge chairs around the coffee bar and more “formal” seating back towards the health bar. While the loud fitness class happening only a few feet away at The Warrior Academy was slightly distracting (if only because of the sweaty attractive men), I really liked the overall casual, comfortable, and slick atmosphere of The Elephas.

Mains

the elephas - kimbapKimbap Roll w/ Avocado HK$52the elephas - poke bowlSalmon Poke Bowl w/ mango (HK$78)the elephas - steak saladGrain Fed Beef & Roasted Beetroot Spinach Salad (HK$98)

I absolutely love Korean food (read all about how I gained 10 lbs in 10 days in South Korea), so I couldn’t resist ordering the Kimbap Roll with Avocado (HK$52).  Straightforward, yet delicious, we were certainly off to a good start at The Elephas. Moving on to some dishes with a bit more substance, I ordered the Salmon Poke Bowl (HK$78) with mango. I’ve tried a few other poke shops around Hong Kong and can honestly say this version done with quinoa takes first place. Lastly, I tried the Grain Fed Beef & Roasted Beetroot Spinach Salad (HK$98) as part of The Elephas’ “Thai Inspired Nutritious Salads” menu that are made-to-order. This was hands-down my favourite dish of the evening; the beef was beautifully done and the ingredients were simlpe enough, but complimented each other exceptionally well.

Dessert

the elephas - dessertSelection of desserts (from front): Raw Chocolate Tart, Coffee Roll Cake, Gluten Free Banana Cakethe elephas - lemon meringueRaw Lemon Coconut Cream Pie

Being the dessert-lover that I am, I couldn’t leave The Elephas without trying a selection of their gluten-free/raw desserts. I indulged a bit more than usual since they were meant to be healthy and tried a few bites (okay, okay.. maybe more than a few) of an assortment of cakes and pies. My favourites were the Raw Chocolate Tart and Raw Lemon Coconut Cream Pie, both of which didn’t have that “overly healthy” taste and had an interesting mix of texture. On the other hand, I found the Coffee Roll Cake rather bland and, while I did like the Gluten Free Banana Cake, it was a bit too dense and moist to be able to enjoy more than a few bites.

Verdict

Given the reasonable prices, tasty yet healthy, and well-presented dishes, I think The Elephas is a great place to grab a healthy bite on-the-go or to sit down and enjoy a nutritious meal if you’re in the area.

The Elephas 
Shop 118, 1/F, Hong Kong Plaza
188 Connaught Road West
Shek Tong Tsui
Hong Kong

Tel: 2838 3979


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coyotes-taco

If you’ve ever gone to Coyotes (one of my favourite Mexican restaurants in Hong Kong) during the week for their buffet lunch, and thought to yourself, ‘I really wish they offered this on the weekend too’, then you’re in luck. Coyotes has just launched a Sunday all you can eat and drink brunch that is great value and perfect for those looking to switch up their regular weekend eggs benedict routine.

Buffet Options At Coyotes

coyotes-brunch coyotes-drinks coyotes-taco

The Sunday buffet brunch at Coyotes is served on the second floor and is comprised of a variety of Mexican treats and all-you-can-drink options. Start with a bowl of corn tortilla soup and nachos with hot cheese sauce, and then move over to the build-your-own taco station to pile on a wide range of toppings (think salsa, guacamole, cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, pulled pork, grilled chicken, and much more) onto your flour tortilla. Aside from your standard Mexican fare, Coyotes also had smoked salmon, sausages, salads, and a few other typical brunch items if you’re wanting something different.

The Deal

For only HK$188 you can feast on a wide range of Mexican buffet options and all-you-can-drink Carlsberg, margaritas, or ice tea from 12:00 – 3:00 pm every Sunday. It doesn’t get much better than this, people.

Verdict

If you’ve been to Coyotes, you’ll know that their Mexican food is legit: massive portions, quality ingredients, and satisfying AF. Their Sunday all-you-can-eat and drink Mexican brunch is great value, though I did find the atmosphere to be a bit dark if you’re there on a nice day. The only thing I didn’t like was that once you chose your drink (Carlsberg, margarita, or ice tea), they wouldn’t let you switch between drinks, which made no sense to me. Aside from that, if you’re looking to switch up your weekend brunch routine, Coyotes is the perfect Sunday spot to stuff your face with Mexican food.

Coyotes
114 – 120 Lockhart Road
Wan Chai 
Hong Kong 

Tel: 2861 2221


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ura-wagyu-and-uni-rice

Having walked by The Wellington at least once a day for the past two years (when I begrudgingly worked out at California Fitness [before it went bankrupt]), I actually never knew that URA Japanese Delicacy was in that building. Having gone unnoticed for so long, when I did her about it, I decided to give their modern Japanese cuisine a go. You can expect a lively bar (and outdoor covered beer garden!), comfortable and spacious dining area, and sleek decor at URA.

Vibe At URA

When I was there for dinner on a Tuesday night, the bar was surprisingly packed with people slugging back pints of beer. Thankfully, we were seated in another area of the restaurant for dinner, which was much quieter. URA also has a hidden outdoor beer garden that would be perfect if you wanted to take your drinks to a more secluded spot.

Starters

ura-egg-sandoOsaka Style Egg Sandwich (HK$68)ura-egg-sando-2Inside the Osaka Style Egg Sandwich (HK$68)ura-minced-chickenCharcoal Grilled Minced Chicken & Prawn Skewer (HK$48)

Though I found it slightly odd to order eggs as a starter at dinner, I loved the Osaka Style Egg Sandwich (HK$68) from URA. A light and fluffy egg with truffle inside, sandwiched between two thick pieces of toast.. so simple, yet so good. While I appreciated the presentation of the Charcoal Grilled Minced Chicken & Prawn Skewer (HK$48), I couldn’t quite get over the little pieces of chicken cartilage that ended up in my mouth after each bite. Apparently keeping those little crunchy bits inside is a very common thing (but not to this expat), for reasons I have yet to understand.

Mains

ura-sashimiURA Sashimi Set (HK$188)ura-wagyu-and-uni-riceA5 Kagoshima Wagyu Steak & Sea Urchin Rice (HK$438)

If you don’t mind having everyone else in the restaurant turn to your table to ogle at what the waiter has put down, then order the URA Sashimi Set (HK$188). Though it appeared to be massive, there weren’t as many pieces of sashimi as you may think. That being said, the sashimi was incredible fresh and it was certainly good value. URA’s most Instagram-worthy dish is the A5 Kagoshima Wagyu Steak & Sea Urchin Rice (HK$438), so we had to give it a try. The dish is certainly impressive in appearance, however, if you’re not an uni-lover, this dish won’t leave you wanting more. While I certainly liked the dish – the wagyu was incredible and the soya sauce was the cherry on top – I thought it was rather pricey given the size of the dish (and, perhaps, because I’m not a massive uni fan).

Dessert

ura-matchaMatcha Bavarian (HK$68)

To finish off our meal, I had the Matcha Bavarian (HK$68), which was smooth, creamy, and full of flavour despite its small size. The matcha here is definitely “real” and not like the fake-tasting matcha drinks and desserts you may find at other shops around the city.

Verdict

While I can’t say I was head over heels for URA Japanese Delicacy, I did enjoy my meal there. The vibe is both fun and chill (the perfect people-pleaser), the food is presented well, and you can tell that the ingredients are all of high quality.

URA Japanese Delicacy 
2/F, The Wellington
198 Wellington Street
Central
Hong Kong

Tel: 2111 9381


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fish-school-crab-sea-urchin

Fish School, Sai Ying Pun’s cozy seafood hideout, has recently launched a new menu filled with grilled, hot, cold, and specialty delights. In an effort put together by Fish School’s Culinary Director David Lai and Executive Chef Chris Ma, their new menu offers something for everyone. The prices of the main dishes may be a bit steep, but the intimate vibe of the restaurant (try to snag a seat at the chef’s counter) along with the high quality ingredients make Fish School a restaurant you should check out.

Vibe At Fish School

Fish School is tucked-away on Third Street in Sai Ying Pun. Upon walking in, you’ll notice the restaurant is comfortable yet dark, adding a bit of modern mystery to your meal. If you’re dining with only one other person, you’ll likely be seated at the chef’s counter (akin to sitting at the bar) where you’ll get to watch all of the food being prepped, which definitely adds a bit of entertainment value to your meal.

Starters

fish-school-lobster-popcornLobster Popcorn (HK$175)fish-school-saladHeirloom Tomatoes & Housemade Ricotta Salad (HK$135)

Though it may not look like much in the photo above, the Lobster Popcorn (HK$175) was my absolute favourite dish of the evening. Who knew something so seemingly simple could taste so damn good (#genius)?! The serving was generous (though I would have preferred to not share) and the fried batter was light enough to not spoil the taste of the fresh lobster. Despite the fact that I was dining at a seafood restaurant, I opted to try the Heirloom Tomatoes & Housemade Ricotta Salad (HK$135), as it sounded too good to pass up. The salad was light, fresh, packed plenty of flavour, and the housemade ricotta cheese was fantastic.

Mains

fish-school-crab-sea-urchinMarinated Raw Crab & Sea Urchin Rice (HK$165)fish-school-pigeonSmoked Pigeon (HK$165)

The Marinated Raw Crab & Sea Urchin Rice (HK$165) is one of Fish School’s signature dishes and came highly recommended by our waiter. Not only did this dish receive an applause based on looks, the fresh flavours of the raw crab and uni paired unexpectedly well together. To mix things up a bit, we ordered the Smoked Pigeon (HK$165), as it was also recommended by our waiter. Unfortunately, I didn’t particularly like this dish; I found the pigeon to be quite tough, it was difficult to remove the meat from the bones, and the salted plum sauce did not compliment the dish well.

Dessert

fish-school-figFig, Honeycomb, Dehydrated Ricotta (HK$75)fish-school-caramelMango, Burnt Coconut Ice Cream (HK$75)

We finished our meal with a few selections from Fish School’s updated dessert menu, beginning with the Fig, Honeycomb, Dehydrated Ricotta (HK$75). Light yet satisfying, this is the perfect dessert if you’re feeling relatively full after dinner, but are still craving something dessert-y that isn’t too sweet. On the opposite spectrum, as far as desserts are concerned, we ordered the Mango & Burnt Coconut Ice Cream (HK$75) and didn’t feel guilty at all. This dessert was also quite light, though much more rich than the previous, but still had a refreshing taste thanks to the juicy mango pieces.

Verdict

Whether you love seafood or aren’t a huge fan, there’s something on the menu at Fish School that is sure to pique your interest (and taste buds). Diners who enjoy a more intimate and quiet venue will love Fish School’s cozy atmosphere and open kitchen concept. Though the food certainly isn’t cheap, I did really enjoy my meal and would recommend giving their new menu a try.

Fish School
100 Third Street
Sai Ying Pun
Hong Kong

Tel: 2361 2966


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above-and-beyond-dessert

Located on the 28th floor of Hotel ICON in Tsim Sha Tsui, Above & Beyond is a gorgeous modern Cantonese restaurant with stunning views of Victoria Harbour. Executive Chef Paul Tsui pumps out a variety of simple yet perfectly executed dishes to suit all palates. Whether you visit Above & Beyond for a Cantonese feast or stick to the lounge area for a few drinks, you’ll be graced with exceptional service (shout out to the sommelier Bobby Wong!) and unprecedented views of Hong Kong’s skyline.

Vibe At Above & Beyond at Hotel ICON

above-and-beyond-hotel-icon

After getting out of the elevator on the 28th floor, you’ll be greeted by the intimate lounge, resembling  a private library, where you can grab a drink. Otherwise, the tables inside the restaurant portion are located down a long rectangular portion of the dining area, giving each table the perfect view out of the floor to ceiling windows.

Starters

above-and-beyond-lobster-hotel-icon-egg-whiteWok Fried Lobster with Egg White and Black Truffle (HK$318)

We began our meal with a seemingly simple Wok Fried Lobster with Egg White and Black Truffle (HK$318), however, each bite was delicately smooth and filled with complimenting flavours. Grab a glass of Angelina Brut Reserve to go along with this dish for an exceptional pairing.

Mains

above-and-beyond-hotel-icon-fishWok-fried Giant Garoupa Fillet (HK$488)above-and-beyond-hotel-icon-beefWok-fried Wagyu Beef Cubes (HK$418)above-and-beyond-hotel-icon-vegetablesStir-fried Kale with Assorted Mushrooms (HK$188)

Despite looking a lot like chicken, the Wok-fried Giant Garoupa Fillet (HK$488) with X.O. sauce was good, but wasn’t particularly memorable, especially given the price. On the other hand, I did enjoy the Wok-fried Wagyu Beef Cubes (HK$418); the meat was incredibly tender and the accompanying snap peas added a contrasting texture to the dish. I wasn’t sure how the green apple, wasabi, and mustard would taste with the beef, but the flavours went surprisingly well together and were much more subtle than I had expected.  To add a bit more vegetables to our meal, we ordered the Stir-fried Kale with Assorted Mushrooms (HK$188) in a black bean sauce. Despite being incredibly difficult to eat with chopsticks, the vegetables were crunchy, the mushrooms had a good ‘bounce’ to them, and the black bean sauce didn’t overpower the freshness of the dish.

Dessert

above-and-beyond-hotel-icon-dessertJasmine Chocolate Panna Cotta, Iron Buddha Tea Pudding, Green Tea Panna Cotta served with Bitter Chocolate Ice Truffle (HK$98)

We finished our meal with a stunning dessert display of Jasmine Chocolate Panna Cotta, Iron Buddha Tea Pudding, Green Tea Panna Cotta served with Bitter Chocolate Ice Truffle (HK$98). As I’m sure the photo conveys, this dessert was incredibly photogenic (the dry ice certainly added an awe-factor) and each mini dessert was so damn good: thick and creamy in texture and strong in flavour.

Verdict

Above & Beyond at Hotel ICON offers diners an incredible experience: high quality modern Cantonese food, fantastic service, and killer views of Victoria Harbour. The only downfall to Above & Beyond is that you’ll need to tuck fairly deep into your pockets to enjoy a meal here, as the prices of each dish are quite high. If you still want those views and vibes without an outrageous price tag, just head to the bar area early to snag the table right by the window for a few cheeky drinks instead.

Above & Beyond
28/F, Hotel ICON
17 Science Museum Road
Tsim Sha Tsui 
Hong Kong

Tel: 3400 1318

 


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The newly opened Deng G Chengdu Bistro & Baijiu Bar in Wan Chai promises diners a great Sichuan meal full of flavour and a bit of spice in a refined setting. Helmed by Chef Deng Huadong, a well-respected chef in China, Deng G is perfect for those who are long-time lovers of spicy food as well as those who have never tried Sichuan cuisine before. Whether you remain down at the bar for after work drinks and snacks, or head up to the restaurant for a full-blown feast, Deng G will leave your stomach satisfied and your tongue peppery.

Vibe At Deng G

The first floor of Deng G is the Baijiu Bar; the perfect spot for drinks before heading upstairs to the restaurant for dinner. On both floors you can expect chic decor with cool blue and green colors in a minimalist setting. The staff are friendly and helpful, despite a few communication hiccups throughout our meal (I seriously need to learn Cantonese).

Starters

deng-g-startersFrom the front left: Yu Xiang Prawns, Okra, Sliced Pork, Dry Bean Curd Sheet, Roasted Eggplant, Shredded Chicken (HK$60 – $80)

We began with an array of starters to compliment our glass of Sauvignon Blanc. My favourites were the Yu Xiang Prawns, Roasted Eggplant, and Shredded Chicken (perhaps because they were the most familiar to my Western palate..).

Mains

deng-g-fish-mawDry Braised Fish Mawdeng-g-crispy-fishCrispy Fish in Spicy Saucedeng-g-mapo-tofuMapo Tofu

We ordered a handful of mains to go around the table, starting with a massive bowl of something that initially looked like a mix between tofu and cabbage: Dry Braised Fish Maw. Being an expat in Hong Kong, I had never tried fish maw before, let alone had a) any desire to, and b) any clue what it actually was. At first, I was reluctant to try some, but after hearing praise from others at the table, I gave it a go. To my pleasant surprise, it was actually delicious (it’s quite similar to tofu in that it absorbs the taste of whatever it’s cooked in) and apparently it’s great for your skin (which might explain a few things). My favourite main of the evening was one of their signature dishes: Crispy Fish in Spicy Sauce. Aside from the grande presentation, the fish had a crispy exterior and a beautifully light interior with a slightly spicy aftertaste. Just when I thought the dishes at Deng G had been toned down spice-wise (I was expecting complete numbing of my mouth at this point), the Mapo Tofu came out. I won’t claim to be an expert on Sichuan cuisine and what an “authentic” dish of mapo tofu should taste like, but the entire table agreed that this was definitely the real deal.

Dessert

deng-g-dessertFermented Glutinous Rice in Ice Powder

To finish off a slightly spicy and oh-so satisfying dinner, we tried the Fermented Glutinous Rice in Ice Powder. Having not a clue what was put in front of me, I wasn’t sure what this bowl of odd ingredients would taste like. Thankfully, the interesting and complex mix of textures from the crunchy peanuts, to the chewy rice, and finally the smooth jelly, worked wonders together. As for the flavour, it was light and refreshing; a perfect way to end a spicy meal.

Verdict

What I loved most about Deng G was how they seamlessly push out dishes that both seasoned Sichuan fanatics and the complete Sichuan newbie both adore. Perhaps not as strong as your typical local Sichuan joint, dishes at Deng G are full of flavour and just plain satisfying.

Deng G 
2/F, 147 Queen’s Road East
Wan Chai
Hong Kong 

Tel: 2609 2328 


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Looking to buy meat from the butcher and eat it right then and there without actually having to cook (because, Hong Kong)? Well, French Creation’s newest concept, Bones n Blades has you covered. Nestled in Sai Ying Pun, Bones n Blades offers a variety of premium cuts of meat that you can buy and bring home. Or, if you’re feeling a bit too famished (read: lazy) and can’t wait, pop over to Quarter Master next door and you can have that meat prepared for you.

Vibe at Bones n Blades

When you walk through the door at Bones n Blades, you’ll be greeted with a friendly smile and a whole lot of information about meat (perfect for people like me who enjoy eating, not cooking). Great for larger parties, a small group, or date night, Bones n Blades is sure to have something to suit your needs. What’s more, their meat is bought from smaller family operated farms from around the world, so you can assure your meat is sustainable. The restaurant, Quarter Master, is cozy, bright, and lively.

The Meat

bones n blades - steak tartareSteak Tartare (HK$160)bones n blades - hanger steakOBE Hanger Steak (HK$180 ($60/100g))bones n blades - lambLamb Medallions Hawke’s Bay (HK$270 ($120/100g))

After having a tour around Bones n Blades, we were ready to sit down at Quarter Master to sample a few different cuts of meat from the butcher. We began with a very interesting Steak Tartare (HK$160) where plenty of spices were present. While I think they succeeded in making their tartare unique, it took away from the taste of the high quality meat. Next up we tried the OBE Hanger Steak (HK$180 ($60/100g)); typically meant to be a full-flavoured cut of meat, I found the steak here to be tough and without the typical “hanger steak taste”. Lastly, we tried the Lamb Medallions Hawke’s Bay (HK$270 ($120/100g)). Overall, I thought the lamb was cooked perfectly, but could have used a bit more seasoning to add more flavour (ironically opposite to my thoughts on the tartare).

Verdict

While I do love the butcher/restaurant concept of Bones n Blades and Quarter Master, the restaurant side might have to work on its execution a bit more to ensure that the high quality meats from the butcher are still of high quality once they’re grilled. On a positive note, I found the price point to be very fair for Hong Kong, and the service and vibe were great. I was told the sausages were a must-try, however, they were completely sold out on the night I went (maybe, just maybe, warranting another visit).

Bones n Blades / Quarter Master 
1 Second Street
Sai Ying Pun 
Hong Kong 

Tel: 2540 0052 (Bones n Blades) / 2517 4266 (Quarter Master)


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Aberdeen Street Social has been one of my favourite spots to grab a cheeky cocktail (or two) after work or hang out during a lazy Sunday brunch, so when I heard they were launching a new dinner menu, I couldn’t pass the opportunity to try it. The new menu adds a selection of seafood and grilled items, as well as maintaining some of the old favourites (which basically means, you can’t go wrong with Ab Street).

Starters

aberdeen-street-social-saladIsle of Wight heirloom tomato salad, burrata, dehydrated olives (HK$158)aberdeen-street-social-pizzaPulled lamb, basil pesto, char-grilled courgette, ricotta, buffalo mozzarella and anchovies flatbread (HK$128)

We started on a healthy note (which obviously didn’t last long) to make ourselves feel better after a weekend filled with too much food and booze by ordering the Isle of Wight heirloom tomato salad and burrata (HK$158). One of my favourite classic salads, Aberdeen Street Social’s did not disappoint; the dish was colorful, the tomatoes were fresh, and the burrara was rich and creamy. Since we had already done our part in being healthy for the evening, we also ordered the Pulled Lamb Flatbread (HK$128) with basil pesto, char-grilled courgette, ricotta, buffalo mozzarella and anchovies. I loved that they certainly didn’t skimp out on the quantity of ingredients, but could have done with a few less anchovies.

Mains

aberdeen-street-social-steak10oz M6 wagyu rump, grain-fed for over 300 days, Queensland, Australia (HK$350)aberdeen-street-social-mac-n-cheeseMezze mancini, truffle mac, beef cheek and cheese (HK$200)

The grilled selection was a new addition to the menu, so we opted for the 10oz M6 wagyu rump (HK$350), which was grain-fed for over 300 days from Queensland, Australia. I love love love steak frites, and while I wished the steak was slightly more tender, the rump was very satisfying and paired well with the house and Bearnaise sauce. Since acting like an adult is apparently a challenge, I couldn’t help myself when I saw the Mezze mancini, truffle mac, beef cheek and cheese (HK$200) on the menu. This was an instance where I was grateful for my lack of self control because this dish of creamy, rich mac n cheese was incredible; the truffle was present, without being overpowering, and there was plenty of tender beef cheek.

Dessert

aberdeen-street-social-dessertChocolate and Peanut Bar (HK$98)aberdeen-street-social-cocktailDon’t Feed The Monkey (HK$128)

A dinner is never over until dessert is served and Aberdeen Street Social pumps out some creative desserts that are packed with flavour. Our favourite of the evening was the Chocolate and Peanut Bar (HK$98) with cookie crumble and banana ice cream. The chocolate cake was dense, rich, and chewy, and complimented the banana ice cream and caramelized bananas. To go along with our chocolate-y dessert, we figured why not also order the Don’t Feed The Monkey (HK$128) cocktail. This was Ab Street’s take on the classic espresso martini, however theirs is made with spiced rum, peanut butter, salted vanilla syrup, and coffee. I’m a sucker for cute cocktails, so I was also swooning over the cashews that came in a tiny cone paper-clipped to the side of the glass.

Verdict

Though the dishes on the dinner menu are a bit expensive, the high quality of ingredients and taste make it well worth the price. Always a popular brunch and after-work spot, Aberdeen Street Social’s new dinner menu gives Hong Kongers yet another reason to visit!

Aberdeen Street Social 
PMQ, G/F 35 Aberdeen Street
Central 
Hong Kong 

Tel: 2866 0300


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samsen

Thai food is amazing; simple as that. I relish in the thought of planning a trip to Thailand, if solely for the fact that I’ll be gorging myself on incredible food for less than a couple bucks. Now, thanks to Adam Cliff, formerly of Chachawan, Hong Kongers can head to Samsen for their favourite Thai street food. Very authentic dishes set in a cozy, vibrant restaurant make Samsen the perfect choice if you’re itching for a Thai feast without having to fly to Thailand.

Vibe At Samsen

While some people might be deterred from Samsen’s 35-seat dining area, I found that the small space added to the restaurant’s authenticity. Despite the size, the dining area is brightly lit and subtly decorated, managing, somehow, to make it seem much bigger than it actually is. I’d recommend grabbing a seat at the bar/cooking station to get a behind-the-scenes experience.

Starters

samsen-mango-saladGreen Mango Salad with Prawns (HK$108)samsen-pork-collarFried Marinated Pork Collar (HK$68)

You can tell a lot about a Thai restaurant based on their papaya/mango salad (or at least that’s what someone who knows Thai food would say..) and Samsen’s Green Mango Salad with Prawns (HK$108) tasted just like it would if I was sitting on a plastic chair at a food stall along the side of the road in Bangkok. However, what really impressed me was the Fried Marinated Pork Collar (HK$68) with a tomato and chili dip. Crispy yet tender, the pork collar was to die for and the dip added a new complexity of flavour.

Mains

samsen-thick-noodleStir Fried Fat Noodles with Chicken (HK$98)samsen-crab-riceWok Fried Rice with Crab Meat (HK$108)samsen-beef-boat-noodleWagyu Beef Boat Noodle (HK$128)

My favourite main dish we had was the Stir Fried Fat Noodles with Chicken (HK$98). The flavours were all on point with the right amount of spice (and more on the side if you wanted a kick) – I could have literally ate the whole thing to myself.  I’m usually not a huge fan of rice dishes for the sole fact that they fill me up far too quickly, but people at our table were keen on ordering the Wok Fried Rice with Crab Meat (HK$108), so we gave it a try and I’m so glad we did. The rice was surprisingly light yet full of flavour, and there was a good amount of crab meat found throughout. Samsen’s signature dish is the Wagyu Beef Boat Noodle (HK$128) with meatballs and vermicelli noodles. Having been to Thailand numerous times, I’d actually never heard of boat noodles before, so I was quite intrigued. The meat was incredibly tender, and the broth was rich and thick, though I’m still unsure as to whether I liked it or not.

Dessert

samsen-mango-sticky-riceThai Mango Sticky Rice (HK$52)samsen-coconut-icecreamYoung Coconut Ice Cream (HK$58)

So much yes goes to the Thai Mango Sticky Rice (HK$52) – Samsen buys and ships their mango’s directly from Thailand, so you know you’re getting the real deal. If you only have enough room for one dessert, the mango sticky rice should definitely be it. Another great dessert choice is the Young Coconut Ice Cream (HK$58) topped with toasted peanuts, shaved coconut meat, and sweet corn. The combination might sound odd, but trust me when I say this was such a satisfying and light treat.

Verdict

If you’re looking for authentic Thai street food in Hong Kong, then Samsen is your spot. Cozy, friendly, great vibe, authentic food, reasonable prices.. What more can I say?!

Samsen 
68 Stone Nullah Lane
Wan Chai
Hong Kong 

Tel: 2234 0001


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The well-known late night Wyndham Street hot spot, Paradis, is currently going through a concept and menu makeover. Bringing in Executive Chef Wes Long to shake things up, he’s given the restaurant’s menu a much-needed lift into Hong Kong’s opulent dining scene. Paradis is trying to break away from its current late night party persona and appeal to earlier Central diners.. But is the food (French/Caribbean) worth a 7:00 pm visit?

Vibe At Paradis

Despite being a medium-sized restaurant, the layout of Paradis makes it seem much larger, offering more privacy than your typical restaurant. The decor is quite slick and modern, and the atmosphere is unpretentious.

Starters

paradis-seared-scallopsSeared Scallops (HK$128)paradis-beef-tartareBeef Tartare (HK$158)

The Seared Scallops (HK$128) were paired with gnocchi, which threw some of us at the table off (this is a French restaurant, right?). Gnocchi aside, the scallops were seared perfectly, and were plump and full of flavour. Another light starter to our meal was the Beef Tartare (HK$158) with a lovely, albeit hidden by the spinach, egg yolk on top.

Mains

paradis-duck-breastDuck Breast (HK$218)paradis-risottoSummer Risotto (HK$158)

Aside from its attractive plating, the Duck Breast (HK$218) with a beetroot puree and crushed potato was delicious. The duck was cooked well and the contrasting taste and texture of the other ingredients on the dish added to the overall flavour. Despite having a very meat- and seafood-heavy menu, the Summer Risotto (HK$158) at Paradis certainly stood out. A beautiful medley of mushroom, tomato, rainbow chard, spinach, and manchego cheese made this risotto a must for vegetable-lovers.

Dessert

paradis-dessert-trioPastry Trio (HK$118)paradis-peach-parfaitPeach Parfait (HK$108)

While I appreciated the presentation of the Pastry Trio (HK$118), I can’t say I was a huge fan. The miniature chocolate cheese tart had neither a distinct taste of chocolate or cheesecake, the basil semifredo was an odd combination of flavour and texture, and the lemon lavender pate a choux was completely forgettable. On the other hand, the Peach Parfait (HK$108) not only looked delectable, but it tasted great too. After a filling meal, this is a light and refreshing dessert to order – the goat cheese sorbet particularly stood out.

Verdict

Despite their claim as a Caribbean-French establishment, the focus is definitely on French ingredients and plating. Chef Wes Long’s creations are simple, yet come together gracefully. Head to Paradis if you’re looking for a sleek yet relaxing place to go for dinner before the restaurant turns back into a late-night cocktail-sipping loud music-playing bar.

Paradis Restaurant & Cocktail Bar
3/F, 46-48 Wyndham Street
Central
Hong Kong 

Tel: 3182 0105


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Armed with a new chef and new seasonal additions to the dinner a la carte menu, Flint Grill & Bar is ready to impress its diners. The restaurant won me over the moment I stepped inside, with its incredibly large interior and minimal-chic decor. As for the food, Chef Pieter Fitz-Dreyer utilizes sustainable and fresh ingredients in his dishes, and presents them in a fun and creative way.

Vibe At Flint Grill & Bar

Flint Grill & Bar is sleek without seeming pretentious, clearly catering towards a younger, mature crowd. The open space dining area is welcoming and I loved that the dessert counter was smack-dab in the middle so you could get a glimpse of some of the action going on behind-the-scenes. Overall, there was nothing but positive vibes from Flint Grill & Bar.

Drinks

Flint Grill & BarHoly Smoke! (HK$148)Flint Grill & Bar 2The Sky Is Limit (HK$148)

Long story short: the cocktails at Flint Grill & Bar, prepared by the talented Bryson Rivera, are so Instagram-worthy it brought a tear to my eye. Aside from how lovely they looked (I’ll let the photos do the talking), they tasted great as well. The cocktail list is divided into four different sections, where the above drinks were from the “High Contrast” column. The Holy Smoke! (HK$148) had me feeling like I was in the movie Aladdin as it came to the table with a cloud of dry ice smoke coming out of the genie bottle. The cocktail was made with Beefeater 24 gin, raspberry-pineapple shrub, orange curacao, homemade aromatic bitters, cherry infused maraschino liqueur, and rose water carbon dioxide.. so much yes! I was also impressed with The Sky Is Limit (HK$148), mixed with London No.1 gin, lime leaf, cherry infused maraschino liqueur, bitter truth creme de violette, grapefruit, rhubarb bitters, and a cotton candy cloud which you could dip into the cocktail to make it sweeter.

Starters

Flint Grill & Bar 3Seared Scallops (HK$190)Flint Grill & Bar 4BBB (HK$150)

Moving onto the food, we began with a simple dish of Seared Scallops (HK$190) with chorizo. The smooth scallop contrasted well with the chorizo, and the lemon puree added a subtle sour note. Playing on Hong Kong’s love for baos is the BBB (HK$150); black bbq baos with a golden apple miso and maple sauce. While I did enjoy the flavour combination, the bao could have used a bit more filling.

Mains

Flint Grill & Bar 5Flint’s Suckling Piglet (HK$1088)Flint Grill & Bar 6Linz Heritage Prime 45-Day Dry Aged On The Bone (HK$590)

The impressive Flint’s Suckling Piglet (HK$1088) stole the show. I loved that they used different parts of the pig to create three dishes: roasted shoulder and leg, Scotch egg, and crispy ear and cured loin salad. Basically, it was delicious and well-worth the price if you’re with a larger group (you can also order a half portion for HK$588). We also tried the Linz Heritage Prime 45-Day Dry Aged On The Bone (HK$590), 20 oz USDA Prime rib-eye. Cooked to a perfect medium-rare, the steak was full of flavour, albeit a bit too fatty for my liking.

Dessert

Flint Grill & Bar 7S’mores Tart (HK$80)Flint Grill & Bar 8Panna Cotta (HK$80)

The S’mores Tart (HK$80) hit close to home for my Canadian self, as roasting marshmallows around a campfire and making s’mores was one of my favourite summer food indulgences (cue feelings of longing and homesickness). Although nothing like the s’mores I would messily make myself, Flint’s S’mores Tart was a decent replacement. What really stood out for me was the Panna Cotta (HK$80), as it came with shaved ice on top and hints of black sesame throughout. Surprisingly, the ingredients came together immaculately and I couldn’t get enough of this refreshing dessert.

Verdict

I’d recommend going to Flint Bar & Grill if you’re looking for an upbeat restaurant that serves high-quality food without the usual snobby vibe you might find in other establishments.

Flint Grill & Bar
JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong 
Pacific Place
88 Queensway 
Admiralty 
Hong Kong 

Tel: 2810 8366


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