Gourmands wine and dine for good cause
The sun shone bright as the stars - in the shape of Hong Kong's epicureans - came out for the Starstreet Gourmet & Wine Walk, the latest alfresco festival to hit the city.
Organised by Starstreet Precinct and the South China Morning Post, in conjunction with American Express, it combined two of Hong Kong's great passions - superb food and wine, and the chance to enjoy them in a charismatic district that's rejuvenated itself in recent years.
Some 16 eateries along and around Star, Sun, Wing Fung and St Francis streets welcomed thousands of visitors - regular patrons and first-timers - showcasing their wares and also helping to raise money for Save The Children.
'The South China Morning Post was the co-organiser of this event,' says Sylvia Lee, assistant director of marketing services.
'Starstreet Precinct briefed us on the original idea, and our team took up the responsibility for the event planning, recruitment of partner restaurants, partner briefing, publicity, ticket sales and event management on the day.
'The SCMP Marketing Services is a newly established unit to help clients push boundaries in marketing. We offer much more than ad space to clients nowadays. We are a team of communications professionals who help clients develop integrated solutions, leveraging on the South China Morning Post print and online platform and beyond. So we were in an excellent position to assist Starstreet Precinct to launch the Gourmet & Wine Walk.'
Organisers hope the Starstreet Gourmet &Wine Walk will take place again next year, becoming an annual event similar to the city's other street festivals, confirming its position as the hip hang-out between Wan Chai and Admiralty.
Star Street and its surrounds have come a long way since the early 20th century, when it was the site of Hongkong Electric's power plant in Wan Chai. Today, the precinct has metamorphosed into an entertainment and dining area, with strong artistic overtones, thanks to a group of creative talents, designers and free-thinking entrepreneurs who have filled the area with cafes, restaurants, bars, galleries, florists and home design outlets.
Coupled with an intelligent landscaped environment and the Three Pacific Place Link that connects the precinct to the rest of the Pacific Place complex and the MTR, these outlets have turned the area into a Hong Kong lifestyle community.
If ever Starstreet Precinct decides to rebrand itself, 'Little Italy' might well find itself at the top of the shortlist. Caffe Habitu marks the start of the precinct's offerings, a very Italian-style cafe with marble table tops and coffee that's traditionally roasted and blended in Venetto. On the same side of the road, Castello del Vino has been known as one of the best-stocked Italian wine merchants for more than 30 years, and it also sports a range of Italian foodstuffs. Cinecitta's menu is firmly based on modern Roman cuisine, using fresh seasonal ingredients, and of course it's named after the film studio outside the Italian capital. At Classified, mozzarella - one of Italy's most famous cheeses - comes in four varieties; there's a superb wine selection too. No prizes for guessing what Pizza Express does best - and its adjacent courtyard is a good spot to dine alfresco. Spuntini means snack in Italian, and this eatery is a terrific combination of wine bar, deli and cafe that's got something for everyone.
Other cuisines from around the world are also well represented in the metropolitan smorgasbord that's Starstreet Precinct. Cepage matches the very best of contemporary French cuisine with an intelligently stocked wine cellar in a restaurant that's spread over three levels with a d?cor that's charmingly chic. Also hailing from France, Kapok is a hip cafe with a tempting range of tea, coffee and baked goods. With a similar 'light bite' theme, Dressed serves gourmet salads with an emphasis on healthy eating. A couple of doors away, Pret A Manger is sandwich central for many diners, while also serving an array of mini desserts and similar snacks.
Acting as Starstreet Precinct's 'local', Slim's has a thoughtful array of microbrews and ales, served in a relaxed atmosphere, with peanut shells on the floor and old-time movies showing on the wall-mounted television. Juicy burgers head up the menu. Another niche market is covered by Margaret River Wines, which is devoted exclusively to wines from western Australia. One of the Precinct's most noted hangouts, 1/5 Nuevo, embraces a Spanish menu and theme. And no Hong Kong eating zone would be complete without at least one Japanese outlet - and Woo Tung Yakiniku Dining Bar more than fits the bill. To round off Starstreet Precinct's offering, there's Yo Mama, championing plain frozen yogurt and Xi Yan Sweets, an inspirational showcase of the dishes and desserts from the highly popular Xi Yan private dining club.