Rebirth of Cafe society at the Mandarin

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 August, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 August, 1996, 12:00am

The dull, if tasteful, hoardings which shroud what used to be the Mandarin Hotel's old coffee shop are about to be pulled down to reveal The Cafe at the Mandarin Oriental, which opens its doors on the 27th of this month.

But forget any ideas of a couple of re-painted walls, a roll or two of new wallpaper and the same cappuccino-and-a-slice-of-cake style menu. The Cafe has come in for a seriously chic re-modelling which looks set to easily tempt the tai-tais from the tables at the slightly passe Joyce Cafe just over the road.

'The rebirth of cafe society' is how the hotel is viewing the opening of the new cafe, with its sumptuous interiors and widely-spaced tables with plenty of opportunity for the glitterati to get down to some serious rubber-necking.

The menu, designed by sous chef Patrick Fournes, promises to live up to its surroundings. Light, healthy and international, just like the clientele it is aimed at, choices will range from a host of designer salads, through pastas and main courses to quirky, but delicious-sounding asides such as smoked salmon cheese scones.

Remember the queue which used to hover from morning until night behind the rope barrier at the Chater Road entrance? It is only going to get longer.

One of the best value buffets in town at present is the seafood summer special at the New World Harbour View's coffee shop.

Just $260 (children $160) buys you all the Boston lobster, Alaskan crab, French and Australian oysters and clams, and New Zealand mussels you can eat. From Monday to Thursday until September 30, the buffet also comes with 10 per cent discount - or no service charge, whichever way you want to look at it. Tel: 2802-8888.

Most offbeat food promotion in town, which starts on the 16th of the month, comes from the four Regal hotels that will delve into the cuisine of darkest Africa with a Kenyan food promotion.

Delights such as Swahili samosas, sound interesting, if a bit suspect, although Regal hotels are flying in a couple of guest chefs from Mombasa to present best-loved dishes from their nation's cuisine.

Expect a host of spices such as cumin, cardamom and garam masala saffron sprinkled liberally over any number of meat, fish and fowl - but no big game.

For reservations Cafe Rioli (Regal Hong Kong - 2837 1771); Le Grand Cafe (Regal Kowloon - 2313 8728); Le Plantation Coffee Shop (Regal Airport - 2718 0333, ext: 250); Botania Restaurant (Regal Riverside - 2649 7878, ext: 1040). The food pages are edited by Stella Rosato. Tel: 2549-3155; fax: 2549-3175