Bernice Chan, Mukul Munish, Victoria Burrows, Victoria Ip, Martin Donovan
Dark and intimate
AMBIENCE Dark inside, but this creates an intimate atmosphere and highlights the panoramic view of Victoria Harbour. There's a private room at the back.
COST HK$2,500 for two without wine.
WHO TO BRING Your significant other or someone to impress.
TURN-ONS The field greens with Matsuhisa dressing was a refreshing start. The black cod with pepper and balsamic teriyaki was delicious and had a velvety texture. Another good choice was the beef tenderloin using United States prime beef. While the wasabi salsa drizzled on top was too spicy, the cubes of beef were juicy and tender. For sashimi, the O-toro was excellent and so was the yellowtail (two pieces of each). The regular tempura was very good - and we chose zucchini , pumpkin and prawns, but the sea urchin tempura was intriguing and, even though it was deep fried, still kept the smooth soft texture of the sea urchin inside.
TURN-OFFS We picked the dessert sampler. It included the strange combination of banana tofu that tasted like the fruit, but didn't have a good texture. Also, the soy panna cotta didn't have much flavour. We much preferred the Suntory whisked iced cappuccino.
DRINKS Exclusive selection of Hokusetsu sake imported from northern Japan, wines and plum wine. BC
2/F, InterContinental Hotel Hong Kong
18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
2721 1211 www.hongkong-ic.intercontinental.com
FARE Japanese traditional dishes including Kiri Kaiseki, Sushi Kaiseki and Aoi Kaiseki.
AMBIENCE Traditional style with bamboo walls and private enclosures for family and business meetings. There is a separate area for teppanyaki and traditional Japanese seating.
COST About HK$2,500 for dinner for two including drinks.
WHO TO BRING Good place to take family and friends on special occasions, while Japanese businessmen often entertain their clients.
TURN-ONS The Kaiseki cuisine that reflects the changing seasons. For February and March, it offers lobsters and crabs especially flown in from Japan. The menu includes hot pot tarabe king crab, charcoal grilled tarabe king crab leg and live lobster sashimi.
TURN-OFFS On the Saturday evening that we went, the service was slow, it took some effort to beckon waiting staff and the manager was nowhere to be seen.
DRINKS Fine Japanese wines and sake, plus good selection of Japanese beers. MM
Lower Level 2, Kowloon Shangri-La
64 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East
2733 8751 www.shangri-la.com
Fresh and natural
FARE International dishes using some sustainable seafood plus steaks cooked on a lava stone grill.
AMBIENCE Spacious but with an unmistakable 'hotel restaurant' look.
COST About HK$500 per person for three courses without drinks.
WHO TO BRING Suitable for dates, small groups of friends and family gatherings.
TURN-ONS Attractively presented dishes with a modern touch and highlighting fresh, natural flavours. The starter of king crab and avocado salad made an excellent start. While crab and avocado is a fairly obvious combination, the execution here was exceptional: the avocado was mixed with mushroom, and the layers were topped by crushed ice bursting with the fresh citrus and aromatic flavours of lemon and basil, balancing the saltiness of the crab. The roasted blue eyed cod, served as a large steak topped by a salt-encrusted skin, came apart at the lightest touch and the flavours were buttery and delicate. The vanilla and green tea ice parfait with fragrant osmanthus blossom jelly a masterful balance of rich custard and fresh apple flavours, and textures.
TURN-OFFS The salmon steak with roasted vine tomatoes and asparagus spears was expertly cooked but was nothing extraordinary. The cheesecake was a little heavy.
DRINKS A global wine list with a wine of the month promotion. The sommelier wheels a trolley to your table. VB
JW Marriott Hotel, Level 5, 88 Queensway, Pacific Place, Admiralty
2810 8366, www.jwmarriotthk.com
Top range, great view
FARE Impressive range of Western and Asian cuisines, offering oysters (above), sushi and sashimi, pizza, pasta, curries and grilled food.
AMBIENCE There were few other tables occupied on the Saturday mid-afternoon we went. This did little for the atmosphere, considering the two-level restaurant can seat 670 people.
COST About HK$500 per head for a three-course meal with a drink. Or visit for any of the numerous specials.
WHO TO BRING Guests visiting Hong Kong will love the magnificent views.
TURN-ONS An impressive start with the battered calamari fritti, lemon-aioli and Greek salad and the classic Caesar salad with tiger prawns, both delicious. The Mexican tortilla soup was nicely flavoured. The fillet of Scottish salmon was the pick of the mains. The Cafe Deco pavlova and warm cinnamon apple filo tart finished the meal off in style.
TURN-OFFS Little thought went into the food presentation. One of the mains, the wood-roasted butternut squash and ricotta ravioli, was barely warm. When we asked for it to be heated, a new dish came with an overpowering taste of orange juice and devoid of any pecan croquant. The grilled Western Australian king prawns were so-so. The vanilla pear and tiramisu sundae disappointed.
DRINKS Plenty of alcoholic (wines, beers, spirits and cocktails) and non-alcoholic beverages available. MM
Level 1-2 Peak Galleria
118 Peak Road, The Peak 2849 5111 www.cafedecogroup.com
Feast with a view
FARE Oysters and seafood.
AMBIENCE The restaurant's stunning view of the harbour makes it a hot spot for couples who love to paint the town red. The specials are written on fish-shaped boards and the plates, sporting a seafood motif, give the place a childlike feel. Saxophone-laden tunes are as addictive as the oysters.
COST From HK$2,000 upwards per couple. The appetiser sets you back around HK$300 while the king size oyster and wine bar seafood platter costs HK$1,140.
WHO TO BRING Do bring oyster zealots, but thanks to the restaurant's generous portions, bringing those who are shy to tuck away may not be the best idea.
TURN-ONS The tomato and Spanish saffron consomme warms up your appetite for the feasting ahead while a duo of crab cakes tastes as good as your grandmother's. The colossal Boston lobster, one of the specials, is compatible with the mashed pumpkin. The Shigoku and Barron Point oysters live up to their reputation.
TURN-OFFS The dining experience would have been even more lovey-dovey if the lighting was a tad dimmer.
DRINKS The technologically savvy restaurant provides diners with an iPad for its vast wine selection. VI
Oyster & Wine Bar
Level 18, Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel & Towers, 20 Nathan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong,
2369 1111 www.sheraton.com/hongkong
AMBIENCE Hip but looking slightly dated, this Aqua Group-restaurant has a large, dimly lit space with horseshoe-shaped booths and dangling chains. Alongside is a brighter area with tables and seating along the long sushi bar decorated with cheerful, fish-shaped paper lamps dangling from branches.
COST HK$400 and up per person for dinner without drinks.
WHO TO BRING Friends who enjoy a martini with dinner rather than wine, or a secret date for the private booths.
TURN-ONS The waiter recommended we try the live isaki sashimi, priced by weight, and we were glad we did - the freshly sliced fish was delicately flavoured and attractively presented. The head and tail was served afterwards in a comforting soup. The innovative sushi options, such as marinated yellowtail and garlic, and king crab miso, make an enjoyable change from the usual options at Japanese restaurants across town. The slow-cooked kobe beef cheek with braised turnip and sweet miso sauce was tender.
TURN-OFFS The wilted spinach with sesame sauce was served too chilled. The venue tries to be both a hip bar and relaxed and unpretentious sushi venue, but is mired somewhere in between.
DRINKS A short wine list with only two options each for red and white by the glass. Sake and sake cocktails. We skipped dessert and opted for plum wine as a digestif. VB
Shop 1301, Times Square, 1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay
2506 0009 www.aqua.com.hk
FARE Modern take on traditional Japanese kaiten sushi, with fresh seafood flown in daily from Tokyo's Tsukiji Market.
AMBIENCE Contemporary interior, with not one, but two kaiten sushi belts, one larger than the other. One of the walls features undulating posts that are backlit and another has a floor-to-ceiling mirror with black circular floral designs on it. The music complements the interior playing hip beats.
COST Dinner for two is HK$1,400, including two glasses of wine.
WHO TO BRING Friends for a quick bite to eat after a day of shopping or a date.
TURN-ONS The sashimi and sushi assorted platters (HK$208 and HK$168, respectively) were very fresh and artfully presented. Most tables seemed to order these two menu items. The steamed clams that were placed in a broth of sake, garlic and ginger were excellent (HK$128), the clams plump and fresh, the broth a wonderful comfort soup. The grilled scallops and shiitake mushroom with mentaiko mayonnaise (HK$148) was another winner.
TURN-OFFS We were disappointed the grilled homemade 'smoke' salmon was not available the night we went, but was made up with the juicy scallops. Service on the whole was good, though the waitress took away my bowl of clam broth before I had finished.
DRINKS A variety of new and old world wines, and sake by the carafe. BC
G/F, LEVEL 1, PACIFIC PLACE
2155 8066 WWW.AQUA.COM.HK
Menu for love
FARE Oysters (of course) and European fine dining.
AMBIENCE Never let it be said Hong Kong eateries lack romance. Cupid was busy during our visit, aided by subdued lighting and night views over Victoria Harbour. At least one gallant suitor at a two-seater was down on one knee as a resident pianist on a white Baby Grand stroked the ivories, and the Symphony of Lights outside climaxed.
COST Set menus above HK$1,000 for two but with a good array of dishes to suit a less-endowed budget, such as beef tenderloin. So a young romantic who has shelled out on pearls for his intended can still afford a few oysters, which range from around HK$48 to the exclusive Belon 0000 from the shores of France at HK$120 each.
WHO TO BRING Your future partner, especially if he or she enjoys oysters. If not, then bring them anyway. For to partake in the ritual of the molluscs can become a lifetime pleasure. Apart from the discreet romantic couples, tables gradually filled with families and casual visitors.
TURN-ONS The briny delights served on ice with condiments of lemon and vinegars made a fine, moist prelude to Parma ham and chargrilled Dover sole.
TURN-OFFS The top floors of iSquare are accessed by separate lifts in the main lobby. Good for those in the know, and it adds to the sense of exclusivity, but if you're on a date, ensure you have the route and meeting place well planned. Liberal lashings of Panna water added to the bill. MD
Ambrosia Oyster Bar & Grill
63 NATHAN ROAD, TSIM SHA TSUI
2368 6901 WWW.AMBROSIA.COM.HK