27, 2000 VOL. 155 NO. 12
Kong's Palate Pleasers
By Daffyd Roderick
Kong's Palate Pleasers
Lifted by dotcom fever, Hong Kong has come alive. One result: more
cool eateries have opened in the past year than in the previous two
Lovers of good cuisine in Hong Kong can be thankful for Maria Lee
If you're looking for a good old-fashioned barber, head for the Barbershop,
in the heart of the brick-covered, beer-splattered streets of Lan
Visitors to Hong Kong in the coming months will be overwhelmed by
the choice of things to do
Hong Kong's guides to what's on
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Chen Interview: "This moment
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Shaw on Taiwan's Chineseness
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Bill Clinton is traveling to South Asia at a time when its diaspora
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TRAVEL WATCH: Hong
Kong's Palate Pleasers
Year of the Ox, 1997, stuck a horn in Hong Kong's spokes. The Asian financial
contagion laid low the city's once-mighty financial industry, while the
bird flu scared off tourists. Restaurants closed, property agents went
bust and many thought the former colony had lost its mojo.
for TIME by Wu Wing Yee
the Year of the Dragon. Lifted by dotcom fever, Hong Kong has come alive.
One result: more cool eateries have opened in the past year than in the
previous two combined. The tough times had a positive side effect: the
birth of restaurants that offer value for money and--a real shocker in
Hong Kong--good service. Fat Angelo's (2973-6808) started the trend with
its Jaffe Road eatery, which serves up generous-sized pasta feasts. The
atmosphere is zesty: dark wood, vintage Italian posters and red-and-white
checked table cloths. Dinner for two with wine is less than $40, and the
meals are an even better bargain if you share with a group. Fat Angelo's
recently opened another popular outlet on Elgin Street.
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A short ride down the escalator that connects the Central business district
to the residential Mid-Levels is Pepperoni's Pizza and Café (2869-1766).
The new branch of a longtime Hong Kong favorite attracts a line most nights,
serving up gourmet pizzas such as the New Orleans topped with Cajun chicken,
spinach, potatoes and sour cream. Another affordable favorite is Thai
Basil (2537-4682), which manages to exude cool even from the basement
of the Pacific Place mall. Dishes are nouvelle Southeast Asian, with an
emphasis on fresh ingredients and spices. Highlights include Vietnamese
rice paper rolls and a delicious smoky eggplant with chili.
On a bigger budget? Try decade-old M at the Fringe (2877-4000). Despite
competition from other high-class eateries, M is still rated the city's
best room by many Hong Kong foodies. Skippered by Australian owner Michelle
Garnaut, the restaurant consistently offers excellent food and a cordial
atmosphere. Two people can easily spend $200 on mouth-watering lamb and
one of the best dessert spreads in the city. The latest challenger to
M's supremacy is newcomer Blue (2815-4005) on Lyndhurst Terrace. Also
run by a group of Australians, Blue serves delectable fusion fare in a
funky setting. Dark timber floors, blue-cushioned chairs, high ceilings
and glass panels provide comfortable environs for sampling dishes like
coconut-crusted prawns with oven-roasted banana, or stuffed spatchcock
in saffron cream. The wine list is largely New World and has enough range
to satisfy most palates.
If blue isn't your color and you want something more casual, try Brown
(2891-8558) in Happy Valley. This place revels in all that is homey and
brown: coffee, chocolate and cigars. Run by former architect NuNu, this
restaurant is as much about design as food. Divided into three sections--a
simple café in front, a cozy couch area behind and a breezy courtyard
in the rear--Brown serves a range of continental fare in an atmosphere
that usually makes up for the spotty service. While you're in the area,
drop by Green Spot (2836-0009). This eatery is dominated by a massive,
square bar and, you guessed it, the color green. The continental-style
menu of steak and pasta is being revamped, but the main attractions are
the music and the crowd. For meat-and-potatoes diners, Morton's of Chicago
(2732-2343) has opened a restaurant in the Sheraton hotel in Kowloon.
Expect massive, juicy slabs of aged beef, baked potatoes and a very American
setting. You won't escape for less than $200 for two. In the same vein
is the Stonegrill (2504-3333) in Causeway Bay. But here your wallet will
leave almost as full as you will: the set meal, including an 225-g rib-eye
steak with potatoes, soup, salad and coffee, comes to just $25.
Your local friends, however, will never let you live it down if you visit
Hong Kong without partaking of dim sum, which means "touch the heart"
in Cantonese. While thousands of restaurants are willing to ladle dumplings
and tasty pork buns onto your plate, a couple stand out. If you're looking
for history, the Luk Yu Teahouse (2523-5463) on Stanley Street is your
spot. The dim sum is tasty, but the grumpy, senior-citizen staff and raucous
atmosphere are what draw the crowds. For a more elegant experience, head
back to Happy Valley, to a restaurant simply called Dim Sum (2834-8893).
Recently refurbished, the establishment has highbacked chairs, tall ceilings
and antique prints that provide a suitably refined ambience for the 80
varieties of dim sum on the menu. There's never been a better time to
eat like a Dragon in Hong Kong.
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