Tag Archives: where to eat in Central

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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Vasco restaurant review – everyday I’m truffling…

vasco hong kong chocolate

*UPDATE: Vasco has now closed; its sister restaurant Isono is still open though!*

How do you make a fancy restaurant even fancier? With liberal sprinklings of truffle, of course!

Vasco in PMQ is the even more sophisticated upstairs sister of Isono Eatery & Bar, essentially taking many of that restaurant’s key elements and polishing them up into pure Michelin-bait refinement.

vasco hong kong

So we have the same interior designer Joyce Wang, except this time the exposed metals and marble surfaces are just that bit more luxe – a long dining room with plush banquette sofas and a striking circular dining room at its centre, with something of a train carriage vibe about it (we’re obviously talking first-class train carriages a la 2046 or Snowpiercer rather than the First Great Western to Slough).

Likewise, it’s the same head chef as Isono – Paolo Cassagrande from Michelin-starred restaurant Lasarte – but rather than a menu of rustic Mediterranean favourites, Vasco’s dishes are all about creative culinary flair with knowing nods towards Basque cooking. At high-end eateries like this, I always think you should try the degustation, a menu specifically designed to take you on a journey that showcases the restaurant’s raison d’etre… so that’s exactly what we did with their seasonal three-course white truffle menu.

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

gaucho hong kong dulce de leche fondant

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 Aitkens 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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Rummin’ Tings restaurant review – love that ting you do

rummin tings hong kong jerk chicken

“Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up, it’s bobsled time!”

Me shoehorning this Cool Runnings reference into a review isn’t a sign that Hong Kong’s first bobsled-themed restaurant has opened (alas!), but that its first Caribbean-Jamaican themed bar and restaurant has arrived instead – Rummin’ Tings in Central. OK, it’s a pretty tenuous connection, but what piece of writing wasn’t improved with a spurious Cool Runnings reference, eh? (And it’s about the only thing I can say with a passable Jamaican accent.)

rummin tings hong kong

Located by the escalator on Hollywood Road, Rummin’ Tings has some legit cool credentials behind it; it’s founded by two sets of brothers, Harsh and Rohit Roopchand (who brought NYC it-resto Fatty Crab to HK) and Manoj and Manesh Chelleram (the hip party and event planners behind The Edge), whilst its gorgeous beach shack-style décor is courtesy of Candace Campos (whose similarly inspired interiors can be found at Fatty Crab, BEP and Tate).

As you know, I don’t drink, so Rummin’ Tings “yo ho ho and a bottle of rum” sensibilities are rather lost on me. What I can get behind, however, is some bang tidy Caribbean street food servings that are way superior to most bar bites in town. The portions are designed for sharing – small but not ant-sized and reasonably priced too – meaning you can get your fair share of different tings to try without breaking either the bank or your gut in the process.

rummin tings hong kong conch salad

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Bread Street Kitchen & Bar restaurant review – Gordon Ramsay hits Hong Kong

bread street kitchen hong kong snapper

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock (in which case I’d quite like to join you, as I’m sick of seeing his face all over my social media!), Brit celeb chef Gordon Ramsay has opened his first restaurant in Hong Kong – Bread Street Kitchen & Bar in Central.

I’m not going to bore you with comparisons to fellow Brit celeb chef Jamie Oliver, as with the recent opening of Hong Kong’s first Jamie’s Italian restaurant, nearly every other publication is doing that for you. If you know your TV chefs, you should already be well aware that the two are very different propositions – both as TV personalities and as chefs – and that Bread Street Kitchen was always going to be a somewhat fancier affair than the much more casual Jamie’s Italian chain.

bread street kitchen hong kong

Ramsay’s cuisine has been brought over to Hong Kong thanks to restaurant group behemoth Dining Concepts, who have form transporting famous chef eateries to our shores with the likes of Laurent Tourondel’s BLT Burger, Mario Batali’s Lupa, Will Meyrick’s Mama San and Michael White’s Al Molo. They’ve also managed to transplant Bread Street Kitchen’s original London décor almost exactly to Hong Kong – that curiously anonymous blend of “vintage and modern” which feels like it was dreamed up by a committee. Think a bustling brasserie vibe with tiled floors, leather banquettes and clusters of antique-style lamps in the massive space formerly occupied by LKF ice bar favourite, Balalaika.

Ramsay won’t actually be cooking here himself (does he ever anywhere these days?!) so sadly, you won’t be getting your scallops with a side order of swearwords. Instead, the cuisine at Bread Street is posh British gastropub fare, with a menu that’s currently near identical to London’s – and having checked said menu, the Hong Kong prices are pretty spot on too.

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Isono Eatery & Bar restaurant review – casual Mediterranean glamour at PMQ

isono hong kong

*UPDATE: Isono has now closed*

Isono – on paper, it looks like the results of a particularly unproductive Countdown round (especially when combined with its location, PMQ). In reality, it’s the latest restaurant from Tony Cheng’s Drawing Room Concepts, the brains behind places as varied as AMMO (Italian), Hainan Shaoye (Singaporean) and Made In HK (do I really have to tell you?). This time round, the cuisine is casual Mediterranean with a slight tapas slant, the chef the esteemed Paolo Casagrande of two Michelin-starred Restaurante Lasarte in Barcelona, and the interiors courtesy of the acclaimed Joyce Wang.

Casagrande has saved most of the culinary fireworks for Isono’s sister restaurant upstairs, Vasco, which is more of a fancy fine-dining kind of joint. Instead, Isono’s menu is full of familiar European classics – charcuterie platters, paella, pasta – the kind that make us start happily reminiscing about that great cod stew in the Basque/those delicious rillettes in South France/the best carbonara ever in Rome that we once enjoyed.

isono hong kong bar

That being said, it’s unlikely that any of those happy foodie memories played out in an environment quite as majestic as Isono’s. Wang’s interiors always bring a sense of cinematic grandeur to proceedings (literally – there’s a black and white film screened on loop on the wall here); with its copper surfaces, intricate metal structures and exposed bulb lighting, it has an almost steampunk vibe. Classy steampunk mind, not any of that Sucker Punch nonsense.

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Summer ice-creams at The Lounge, Four Seasons Hong Kong review – live in dreams, sundae girl

four seasons hong kong ice-cream pandan joy

I have never needed an excuse to eat ice-cream… but if you’re the kind of person that does, then consider this:

a) Hong Kong’s hot and humid weather means that ice-cream is just the kind of delicious cool-down that the doctor ordered

b) If it isn’t hot and humid, then there’s most probably a torrential thunderstorm – in which case, ice-cream is the perfect rainy day pick-me-up instead!

However, not all ice-creams are created equal and sometimes a 99 from Mr Whippy just doesn’t cut the soft-serve. Instead, may I present you with the King Of The Sundaes, the Gelato VIP – Chef Ringo Chan of the Four Seasons Hong Kong, who has created some of the most beautiful, creative and downright delicious ice-creams I’ve ever had the pleasure of getting brain-freeze from.

four seasons hong kong ice cream pandan joy

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