Bar review: Lee Lo Mei, Central – Hong Kong nostalgia in a good spot
Vintage posters, red lamps and a barber’s pole evoke old Hong Kong, but the drinks need a little tweaking to make the most of prime location
The vibe: the theme of the latest opening at 8 Lyndhurst Terrace is Hong Kong nostalgia – there are white-tiled walls reminiscent of an old-fashioned cha chaan teng, vintage posters and a barber’s pole, along with a big screen showing a black and white period film of the city. While the name literally means delicious food, it will make Cantonese speakers think of the infamous phrase which is the local version of “yo Mama”.
The concept is well executed, with a lot of detail. It may even be too authentic: the young expats who patronised the bar’s popular predecessor, La Piola, might not get the point, while the people who actually frequent the kind of places it references definitely won’t be drinking cocktails in Central.
The drinks: the small selection of signature cocktails continue the Hong Kong theme. Red Lips (HK$118, vodka, strawberry rose syrup, sparkling wine, rose water) was as expected – sweet and light with nice perfumed notes of rose. The Bloody Victoria (HK$128, Bols Genever gin, lemon juice, tomato juice, Shaoxing wine-infused kaffir lime leaves, chilli) fell flat. Neither spicy nor strong, it was basically a glass of tomato juice diluted with ice, the only hint of an exotic ingredient being the muskiness of the Shaoxing.
Giving up on exotica (neither my companion nor I felt up to trying Lives After Leaves, which included tequila, horseradish and Yakult, suspecting that Dies After Drinks might be a better name) we turned to the tried and true. The waitress had never heard of a Negroni but, happily, the bartender obviously had – it was excellent, although the serving was none too generous at HK$110. You’d figure a request for Jack Daniels on the rocks (HK$100) couldn’t go wrong – until it turned up mixed with coke and had to be changed.
The verdict: in a business where location is key, this prime site may enable Lee Lo Mei to replicate La Piola’s success, but the drinks will need improvement if it’s going to match its longevity.
Lee Lo Mei, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2896 7688. Open: 5pm-midnight (Friday to Sunday until 2.30am)
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