4/F Ho Lee Commercial Building, 38-44 D'Aguilar Street, Central
Tel: 2804 6611
The vibe: even on a Monday, the balcony had enough buzz to make us want to linger. It lends itself to relaxing - if you can shut out the trashy music from below. Much to my rear end's discomfort, a small piece of broken glass was on my chair. Dimly lit to the point of being too dark, I got out my iPhone torch to look at the menu, but the Arabian-themed lanterns and decoration had character. There's also a cosy enclave for groups wanting privacy. The staff are friendly, fast, and accommodating. The only toilets are accessible via the stairwell outside.
The drinks: while the classic cocktails were a safe bet, the signature drinks were lacking. My friend's Gin Dream (HK$80; gin, melon liquor, ginger ale, lime cordial) was more of a nightmare - the almost toxic looking green colour alone was off-putting enough, and it tasted sickly sweet and artificial. On request, the drink was exchanged readily for a decent caipirinha (HK$80). My Arabian Twilight (HK$90) contained gin and a 'surprise' Alhambra's Special Mix, and was more like gin and mixed fruit juice than a cocktail, but was tasty. Another friend's Moscow Mule (HK$80) was sipped enthusiastically, though was not strong enough; it came with a warning that the ginger beer was non-alcoholic! The mojitos (HK$80) went down a treat. The house red, a Cote de Rhone (HK$75), was smooth and light and quite palatable, but there was only one red and one white wine by the glass. The beer selection is rather limited.
The verdict: a good choice for the airy balcony alone (equipped with coolers in summer), and something different on the Lan Kwai Fong strip. The drinks let it down, though. It's definitely more of a shisha joint, but this is overpriced, at HK$250 per pipe. Not exactly an Arabian palace, but I'd go back.