Tag Archives: European cuisine

Arcane restaurant review – can you keep a secret?

arcane hong kong suckling pig

Arcane /ɑːˈkeɪn/ adjective
Understood by few; mysterious or secret

Despite the dictionary definition, I promise that you won’t need a degree from Hogwarts to understand the food at Shane Osborn’s new restaurant, Arcane. It’s simple – it’s stunning.

Having fallen head over taste buds in love with Osborn’s cooking, I was absolutely gutted to hear that he had left St Betty, the restaurant that brought him to Hong Kong following his award-winning stint at London’s Pied a Terre. But that sadness quickly turned into elation when I discovered that Osbourn was in fact opening his own restaurant in Central.

Arcane Hong Kong

Located on the third floor of a brand new building on On Lan Street, the interior of Arcane is pretty unassuming – the décor is nothing exciting (although there is a lovely terrace garden where Shane grows fruit, veggies and herbs for the kitchen) – but frankly, you don’t need design tricks and kicks when your food is this good.

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Simplylife Bakery Café restaurant review – a tea set down to a tee

I’m sure you must be sick of posts starting with ‘another thing I love about Hong Kong’ but ANOTHER thing I love about Hong Kong is the humble tea set. Usually served between 2.30-6pm at upscale restaurants and chan chaan dengs alike, they generally consist of a drink and snack-type main that’s a little lighter than the ones available at lunch – and at around half the price! Obviously, this is because most normal people are beavering away at work but for layabouts like me, living the life of leisure and not seeing daylight before 12pm anyway, it’s a perfect brunch-style compromise! And the tea set at Simplylife Bakery Café is one of the best around.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s nicer than both their lunch and dinner menus! I’ve eaten at Simplylife many times and enjoy their laidback casual café style but, despite an emphasis on quality ingredients, generous portion sizes and decent value, the meals themselves tend to be a bit hit-and-miss. Their European-based cuisine sounds great on paper, with healthy-sounding salads and pastas and hearty but modern meat and veg combinations dominating, yet all too often the food itself is slightly bland and underwhelming. However, their tea set is the tops.

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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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