VALENTINE'S DAY RESTAURANTS

Places to find the food of love

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 February, 2013, 9:26am

It's that time of year again when couples scramble to make reservations at the city's most romantic restaurants. Coincidentally, it's also the one day when chefs can get away with cookie-cutter set menus. Fortunately, it's not all a lost cause for lovers - you can still score a great meal if you pick the right venue.

Those with a taste for the finer things in life should book a table at Amber ( 7/F The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen's Road Central; tel: 2132 0066; amberhongkong.com The award-winning establishment is known for its consistently high standards and chef Richard Ekkebus makes no exception on Valentine's Day, designing an eight-course gourmet menu that features signature creations such as Hokkaido scallops with black winter truffles.

There's also the five-course feast at Scandinavian restaurant FINDS ( 1/F The Luxe Manor, 39 Kimberley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; tel: 2522 9318; finds.com.hk Dishes are based around purported aphrodisiacs, including oysters and chocolate.

Some couples, however, may prefer the casual comforts of The Salted Pig ( 2/F L Place, 139 Queen's Road Central; tel: 2870 2323; thesaltedpig.com.hk V-Day dinner at the porcine-obsessed restaurant starts with a basket of bacon-fat popcorn, followed by a choice of three hearty courses. Think roasted pork rack with mustard mash.

Finally, because February 14 shouldn't just be about couples, places like Main St Deli ( LG/F The Langham, 8 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; tel: 2132 7898) are taking the anti-romance approach by foregoing the cheesy decor in favour of greasy diner fare and margaritas.

Meanwhile, those looking for love can try their luck at Hooray ( unit P502, World Trade Centre, 280 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay; tel: 2895 0885), which is hosting a matchmaking party involving drinks and ice-breaking games.

Of course, even beyond Valentine's Day, different dates call for different settings. Depending on the occasion, you might consider one of the places below if you are a couple who are …

Just hanging out

There's always that grey area in a relationship before someone brings up that awkward question: "So are we official?"

If you're at this stage, and want to find a date spot that won't scare off the commitment-phobe, consider Sahara ( 11 Elgin Street, Central; tel: 2291 6060; sahara.com.hk

The casual Middle Eastern restaurant doesn't feel obviously romantic but the dim lights, shisha aromas and exotic music set the right mood. And then there are the small tables, which force couples to cosy up on the same side of the sofa (smart). As expected from a mezze bar, a lot of the dishes are designed to be shared.

Starting out

Situated on the waterfront, Watermark ( Level P, Central Pier 7, Star Ferry, Central; tel: 2167 7251) is a choice destination for new couples intent on marking every occasion with a memorable meal. After all, who's going to forget the elegant setting and stunning, 270-degree harbour view?

The menu focuses on continental flavours with dishes that are straightforward enough not to dominate the dinner conversation, but solidly prepared so they don't leave a bad taste after the date.

Seafood is one of the strengths here, especially in the form of oysters on ice or the signature crab cake. The restaurant also prides itself on its steaks, which are dry-aged and char-grilled.

Reigniting the romance

This city has no shortage of candlelit restaurants boasting live jazz ensembles, so perhaps the best way to surprise your significant other is to treat him or her to a beachfront dinner under the stars.

It's a rare experience in Hong Kong, but The Stoep ( 32 Lower Cheung Sha Village, Lantau Island; tel: 2980 2699; thestoep.com delivers just that. It's housed on the stretch of clean, powdery sand that makes up Cheung Sha Beach. Ladies will appreciate the scenery while gents can gorge away on the meat-heavy South African specialities.

Popping the question

If you can't do a destination proposal, One-Thirtyone ( 131 Tseng Tau Village, Shap Sze Heung, Sai Kung; tel: 2791 2684) may be the next best thing. Tucked away in a three-storey Mediterranean town house at Three Fathoms Cove (accessible by car, boat or - better yet - helicopter), the venue offers unparalleled privacy and some breathtaking views of the surrounding seas and mountains.

The trick is to get here before sunset so you can enjoy the scene on the lawn with a glass of bubbly. Then head indoors for a six-course French dinner crafted from seasonal ingredients and herbs plucked from the front garden.

Celebrating an anniversary

Passing any marriage milestone is a big deal, but if you and your other half have reached upwards of 25 years together, it also probably means that you're over all the big surprises and grand gestures. It's about keeping it classy and classic, which is something Gaddi's ( 1/F The Peninsula, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; tel: 2696 6763) does best.

The restaurant exudes Old World charm, complete with polished silverware, plush carpets, top-notch service and live music you can dance to. The food follows a similar pattern of elegance with chef Rémi van Peteghem staying loyal to traditional French haute cuisine, albeit adding a few subtle twists.

It's dining designed for couples who know what to expect and like it that way.

 

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