Tag Archives: Central

Gaucho restaurant review – don’t cry for me Argentina!

gaucho hong kong dulce de leche fondant

*UPDATE: Gaucho Hong Kong has now closed*

There’s something of a Brit invasion going on in Hong Kong’s restaurant scene right now – Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen, Jason Atherton’s Aberdeen Street Social, Tom Aikens at The Pawn, even Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian. Well, here’s another one, except it’s not a famous chef but a famous restaurant – London’s award-winning Argentinian steakhouse, Gaucho.

Brought over to Hong Kong by Dining Concepts (yep, them again – importers of Ramsay, Laurent Tourondel, Michael White et al), Gaucho takes over the space of another of the group’s steakhouses, Mario Batalli’s Carnevino, at a super convenient location in LHT Tower next to Central MTR.

gaucho hong kong

The space is unashamedly masculine, but in an almost metrosexual way – think sleek black surfaces, shiny mirrored accents and aeons of cow hide everywhere (I dare you to resist stroking it).

In case you’re wondering what makes an Argentinian steakhouse Argentinian, it’s that the cows are from Argentina… simple as that (and sadly not that they’re doing Argentine Tangos amidst the pampas; don’t worry, they’re free-range and fed on 17 types of pesticide-free grass in the most luscious grasslands in the world, so they’re probably not too bothered about missing their chance for Strictly Come Dancing fame). Elsewhere, the menu features further Argentine accents in the form of cooking techniques (hola open-fire asado grills), ingredients (hola chorizo and dulce de leche) and dishes (hola ceviche and empanadas).

gaucho hong kong chimichurri

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Abercrombie & Fitch hits Hong Kong – I like girls that wear Abercrombie & Fitch…

UPDATE: In November 2016, Abercrombie & Fitch announced their Hong Kong store would be closing, as a result of the economic downtown – it had been rumoured for a while and what with Forever 21 also exiting their phenomenally expensive space in Causeway Bay, was not really a surprise. As part of their rebranding, A&F also removed all their #HotGuys videos from Youtube (and from the stores!); props to various gay YT channels for preserving Call Me Maybe for perpetuity, whilst I’ve plugged in some other fan/news videos to try showcase the mayhem of the opening. Let’s remember the good times…

So, in case you live under not just one rock but ten tonnes of them, Abercrombie & Fitch finally opened its first Hong Kong store in the iconic Pedder Building in Central.

At 11am, August 11, 2012, the doors finally opened (signature Fierce cologne filling the air). People queued overnight, lines of not just hundreds but thousands swarmed all the way around Pedder, an MTR exit was closed and police barricades were in effect. Don’t believe me? See the video above!

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Heirloom Eatery restaurant review – smores, smores, smores (how do you like it…)

UPDATE: Heirloom Eatery is now known as Corner Kitchen Cafe.

Hong Kong is all about the hype. Be it Hello Kitty toys, Lady Gaga tickets or the latest ‘it-restaurant’, there’s always buzz around something.

One of the coolest, most talked-about restaurants from a while back, is Heirloom Eatery in the also buzzing Sheung Wan side of Hollywood Road. In traditional Rach late to the party style, I didn’t get round to trying it out until a month or so ago – with foodie partner-in-crime Michelle of Chopstixfix and her friend Amy (not a blogger but just as game for taking loads of pics and eating loads of food!).

Heirloom is a quaint little eaterie with lots of quirky design touches. It’s definitely a world away from any of the flashy restaurant group behemoths in Hong Kong and, with its whimsical menus, floral crockery, mismatched furniture and homespun feel, is probably all the better for it. Although the restaurant is on the smaller side, it’s lovely to sit outside watching the world go by on a nice spring day.

The menu is casual and international, with a few key influences – Mexican and Asian (thanks to the heritage of the two founders) – and a few majorly hyped dishes… Dear reader, we tried all of them!

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Le Salon de Thé de Joël Robuchon high tea set review – one sandwich short of a picnic?

One of life’s laziest pleasures has to be high tea. Being able to enjoy a mid-week afternoon tea set basically signals ‘Hey, I’m a jobless slacker!’ but that’s all part of the fun, right?

My BFF Mirander (studying so not a jobless slacker btw) and I (freelancer, so technically not a jobless slacker either) have a fondness for long afternoons spent shopping with occasional – and even longer! – dessert pit-stops, so we decided to check out the Le Salon de Thé de Joël Robuchon after I heard lots of good things about it on Twitter.

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Elemis Day Spa, Central: Modern Skin Facial treatment review

UPDATE: Elemis Day Spa is now closed 😦

Following on from my first Elemis experience courtesy of their magical melting cleansing gel, I was lucky enough to be treated to one of their signature facials at the Elemis Day Spa in Central – and it was every bit as lovely as I’d hoped.

I was pleasantly surprised at how peaceful and relaxed the spa felt, even though it’s located in one of those anonymous commercial buildings right in the heart of bustling Central (the more hardcore among you could even pop to Lan Kwai Fong for drinks after, it’s that close). It’s luxuriously laid-out and spacious, the soft spa music soothing without being irritating and it felt so tranquil and ‘other’ that it was hard to believe the heat and hustle of HK was going on just a few floors below. Being in Central makes it extra convenient as well – it’s so easy to get to and perfect for slotting into and around your daily routine, especially if you’re working (or shopping!) nearby.

After a brief chat with my beauty therapist (and after the poor girl endured a detailed inspection of my face), she decided the Modern Skin Facial would be the best treatment for me, with a few modifications for my skin. It’s especially suited for young skin (relieved I still fit in that category), and by rebalancing sebum levels, regenerating skin cells and raising mineral levels, helps repair and replenish stressed-out smog-exposed complexions, a feeling most HKers can probably identify with! Given that my blackheads are visible from the moon, she also performed a thorough and relatively pain-free extraction session and my pores have never looked clearer or better.

The facial lasts around an hour of cleansing, toning, massaging and moisturising, though thanks to the extraction, mine took about ninety minutes – and even then, it just doesn’t feel long enough! I didn’t want to leave! Throughout your session, you’ll be treated to plenty of Elemis’ wonderful products – cleaners, toners, serums and creams galore – but in all honesty, it passes by in a blur of bliss. All of the products felt so soft, smooth and soothing and my therapist had the lightest and most calming of touches.

Be prepared for an amazing array of scents too; I felt I’d drifted off into the aroma equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. They were too many lovely ones to count, but they were all heavenly and invigorating without being overpowering.

I particularly enjoyed the Papaya Enzyme Peel (one of Elemis’ best sellers). Unlike so many exfoliators, it didn’t feel harsh or grainy; instead, it was more of a gentle wash, with an uplifting fresh citrus scent to boot.

The other highlight was the Mineral Rich Peel-Off Mask… or rather, the wonderful dry-scalp massage you get during it. Head massages normally set my teeth on edge but this was brilliant and weeks’ worth of headaches just melted away. While you’re enjoying that, the mask works deep in the skin to boost mineral levels (it contains zinc, copper, magnesium and Swiss Garden cress), combining with an earlier product, the Visible Brilliance serum, to deeply moisturise and clear your complexion. There’s also a lovely neck and shoulder massage later on too.

Overall, it’s a relatively straightforward facial – there are no fancy tricks or bizarre high-tech utensils – but for that reason, it’s basically the ultimate in straightforward facials, although at $1280  it may feel a little pricey (it’s worth checking out the many coupon websites in HK for some good discounts; I was lucky enough to be receiving a complimentary treatment). However, the products used are of the highest quality (acting as a good introduction to Elemis’ range of skincare) and the expertise and training of my therapist shone through in her confident and assured touch. I love that she didn’t provide a running commentary of the items she was using or give me the hard sell for any of them (a pitfall in many local salons). She also gave me some great tips about my beauty routine, for instance that I need to exfoliate closer to my lip area as I’m missing out some parts due to my eagerness not to eat products!

This is also one of those facials that leaves you looking great instantly. Unlike many that leave you looking a little oily, blotchy or with a breakout set to burst, I emerged from Elemis with glowing plump skin and a brighter more even complexion. A few days on my skin still looks remarkably radiant and with a definite noticable decrease in redness.

I finished things off with a final trip to the Zen Room, where there’s a small but perfectly formed buffet – and yes ladies, there are brownies! [Very tasty ones too]. But what’s even better than the brownies (and that’s a phrase I thought I’d never utter) is Elemis’ signature health drink, found in a teapot that should be labelled ‘Drink Me’! It’s a deeply soothing mixture of honey, ginger and lemon that’s absolutely greater than the sum of its parts; I often do a homemade version of this at home when I’m run-down and I can promise you, I’ve never managed to make it taste this good! Warming and sweet with a bracing little kick of ginger at the end – the perfect ending to a wonderful day.

I’d highly recommend the Elemis Day Spa for its convenience, its super-chilled atmosphere and most importantly, the quality of its treatments. Many thanks to Sarah at Communique for organising my day and all the lovely Elemis staff who made me feel so welcome. My skin is most grateful!

Elemis Day Spa, 9/F, Century Square, 1 D’Aguilar Street, Central, 2521 6660, http://www.elemisdayspa.com.hk

Life Café restaurant review – the perfect place to veg out

UPDATE: Life Café is now closed.

Having just had another one of my increasingly-frequent 1 AM bacon fry-ups, I feel the need to make it up to my cholesterol-addled arteries. So here’s a write-up on what may be the healthiest place I’ve ever eaten at – Life Café Organic Restaurant & Bar.

Given that one of my childhood nicknames was ‘Red Beef Girl’, you can probably work out that a vegetarian and vegan joint would not be my first port of call. However, one of my friends (Ka Ming, known to me as Bob or Yeh Yeh for reasons too long to detail!) has recently converted, hence how I found myself chowing down on a meat-free meal at Life.  And, far from being the joyless experience I might have imagined, it was actually very lovely indeed.

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Frites restaurant review – a meal to moule over

UPDATE: Frites’ Central location has now closed – but their other branches in Quarry Bay and Wan Chai are still just as good! See their full addresses at the bottom of this post.

Concept Creations is definitely one of my favourite restaurant groups in Hong Kong. Whilst they’re somewhat dwarfed by dining behemoths like King Parrot, Igor’s and Dining Concepts, it’s quality not quantity, right? I’ve already banged on about how great Tapeo is here (and I was a big fan of their homely little Italian in Soho, Mrs Jones, that they sadly decided to shut down earlier in the year) so now it’s the turn of their other flagship restaurant, Frites.

Frites has bagged a prime location in Central (before all those steep slopes, perfect for lazy arses like me) and unlike many restaurants in the area, its premises are larger than a postage stamp. With a lofty, grand but relaxed ambience, it’s frankly nice to enjoy some high ceilings in this city for a change!

There’s a distinctly Bavarian feel to both the place and the menu – think lederhosen, bratwurst and beerhall and you’re not far off. Sturdy wood furniture, long wooden tables, dark green leather, chequered floors and, most importantly, a very big bar! Screw Hong Kong’s interminably long Oktoberfests, it’s like this at Frites all year round!

But the word Frites isn’t German, I hear you cry! So where’s the common ground between French for chips and Bavarian architecture… why, Belgium, of course.

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