Hong Kong definitely has no shortage of tourist attractions. There are plenty of institutions –whether local hole-in-the-walls or fine dining establishments – to fill up any food-lover’sitinerary. But what aboutthe in-between?
Indeedthere are plentyofgood establishments that localdiners love, which serve up deliciousofferings, and, most importantly, have stood the test of time. A good example of such a place is La Table de Patrick. Patrick Goubier opened his first restaurant, Chez Patrick, on Peel Street in Central to focus on home-style French cooking and has since garnered a loyal following. Sadly, the harsh reality of rising rents pushed Chez Patrick to relocate, and he eventually reopened in an obscure part of Soho as La Table de Patrick. Chef Goubier is still there, greeting his customers on most nights and still serving an awesome lineup of dishes. So, whether it’s just somewhere to relax and drink a good bottle of wine or absorb some culture, Hong Kong has much to offer to those who step off the tourist trail. If you’re a seasoned traveller or an enthusiastic newbie hoping to experience everything the Fragrant Harbour has to offer, here are some choice spots to take you off the beaten path.
Escape from Hong Kong’s bustling city life at Oolaa, an all-day food and drinks destination perfect for any occasion. Situated on the quiet Bridges Street in Soho, the restaurant is noted for its impressive 120-seating capacity. Its floor-to-ceiling French windows and decor add to the airy feel, an atmosphere hard to find at Hong Kong’s small and often cramped dining spots. Oolaa is split into two main sections, a dining area for more formal occasions and a café for casual, comfy hangouts. Although Oolaa is famous for its classic brunch selections such as omelettes and Eggs Benedict, you alsoshouldn’tmiss out on the romanticambiencearound dinnertime. Choosefrom delectable items including pan-roasted sea bass and salad Niçoise. Pair these with a selection from the expansive wine list to cap off the evening.
G/F, Centre Stage, Bridges St, SoHo, 2803 2083; casteloconcepts.com/our-venues/oolaa
Originally called Plats and first opened in Central, this French eatery relocated to Sheung Wan over ten years ago. Starting out as a private kitchen (a type of restaurant common in Hong Kong that exists in a kind of legal limbo) Bonheur brought its A-game to the dining scene when it became a licensed restaurant, and you definitely get more bang for your buck with its high-quality cuisine at reasonable prices.
Their main plates feature fresh seafood and meat, and you can choose between a three- or four-course set menu.
The star of the show is the foie gras, crispy-fried on the outsidewhile buttery - smooth in the centre and accompanied by stewed apples – this dish really is heavenly. Along with their dinneroptions, Bonheuralsooffers a lunch menu includingoven - roasted kurobuta pork loin and pasta aioli with French smoked eel.
For a sweet ending, their signaturedessert isthedeliciousmango mille-feuille, which is served both at lunch and dinner. The smaller size of the restaurant sets a cosy and intimate tone at any time of day.
6/F, The Pemberton, 22-26 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan, 2544 6333; bonheur-restaurant.com
Revamped and re-energised, Linguini Fini didn’t just change locations from adimly-lit warehouse on Queen’s Road, it went through a rebirth to become a much more energetic restaurant on Elgin Street in Soho.
Brighter and airier, the eatery is also one of Hong Kong’sfirst zero-waste establishments. There’s no plastic (not even from suppliers), and all waste is recycled or used for composting in the herb and tomato garden out back. Aside from the satisfaction of reducing your carbon footprint, this is home to some honest-to-goodness homemade pizza, pasta and apple pie. Comfort food is the key here and highlights includes the meatballer burger, a meatball patty oozing with buffalo mozzarella and smoked pancetta, and the uni mac ’n’ cheese, made with fragrant organic egg yolk.
Linguini Fini won’t break any culinary boundaries, but it is just the kind of dish you want to curl up with on a rainy day, and judging by the lines out the door, they’ve done it just right.
49 Elgin St, Central, 2387 6338; linguinifini.com
After years of vacancy, the former Police Married Quarters (PMQ for short) in Central was re-launched as a creative hub. An incubator for homegrown creative talent, PMQ promises to provide an environment tonurture local talent and a stage where innovation can take place.
Theold accommodationunitshave been transformed into retail spaces and rented out to Hong Kong-based designers at a reasonable rate, in order to give them a chance to lay the foundations of a viable business. The vast open area in the centre of the complex – aptly named The Qube – is a huge exhibition space as well as a glass-covered courtyard where events are held – such as when French artist Paulo Grangeon brought his 1,600 Pandas – or L’Ecole Van Cleef and Arpels, where participants learned about gemstones as well as the history of the iconic jewellery brand.
This large complex also houses some of the best eats in town. Sohofama, hidden behind the GOD store on the ground floor, offers Chinese classics with healthy ingredients and no MSG. Here diners can indulge in a true farm-to-table experience. On the 6th and 7th floors you’ll find sister restaurants Isono and Vasco – the former a casual drinkinghub and the latter a fine-dining establishment specialising in Basque cuisine.
35 Aberdeen St, Central, pmq.org.hk.