Revealed: The restaurants getting creative to make Mother's Day truly special

Some of the city's restaurants are creating special menus to make Mother's Day truly memorable, writes Mischa Moselle

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 May, 2014, 9:44am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 May, 2014, 3:37pm

For journalist Donna Mah, Sunday's Mother's Day is likely to be filled with a mixture of emotions. As a young child, she would make her mother a small gift on the day. "When I started earning some pocket money at my part-time job, I would buy her a card and flowers.

"She always said that flowers were a waste of money because they didn't last long, but I think she enjoyed them just the same," says Mah.

As her income rose, those gifts would come with a dinner out attached.

Now that she's a mother herself, Mah hopes her own children will adopt a similar pattern, but she also takes a reflective approach to the day.

"Mother's Day is the day I think about becoming a mum. In my head, I see some events leading up to the births of my children, and then the first time I saw them. It's a day for me to think about my own children," she says.

With any luck it will also be a day without any family squabbles, she adds: "I hope my kids will be kind to each other on Mother's Day."

Wine importer Cass Lam hopes to show her mother gratitude and respect.

"As I get older, Mother's Day means more to me because I am slowly starting to understand the role of a mother and a wife. My mother made a lot of sacrifices to raise the whole family and make sure her children didn't go down the wrong path."

Mah's children are too young to take her out for dinner, and one is even too young to make her a card. But the eldest one will bring her some warm water, or coffee in the morning - under dad's supervision. Brunch might come later in the day, too.

Although many gift ideas revolve around food, they don't all involve taking mum to a restaurant.

Cooking utensils store Pantry Magic has an array of kitchen-related gifts such as silicone gloves, an apron and a cake stand. Italian chef Massimo Santovito of Ava Restaurant Slash Bar in the Hotel Panorama By Rhombus is offering a special Italian menu in honour of his own mother.

He first cooked for his mama when he was nine; the youngster made her a minestrone soup and a veal escalope in white wine.

Santovito's two-day programme is called per la mamma (for mama), and comes in three parts. There's an Italian-themed Mother's Day semi-buffet brunch called scene di cucina dall'infanzia (kitchen scenes from childhood); and a mother-child cooking class and music workshop called la cucina di musica Italiana (Italian music kitchen).

There's also an all-Italian Mother's Day dinner called omaggio alla mamma (tribute to my mother), complete with a live musical performance. Santovito was instrumental in the choice of an Italian menu (the restaurant is participating in Le French GourMay promotion).

Ada Leung, the founder of Cottage Vineyards, added the musical element and Italian wine.

"I don't think many Hong Kong people go to celebrate Mother's Day in Western restaurants. They don't have anything special for the day, and are more expensive than Chinese restaurants," says Leung.

"Western restaurants are at a disadvantage unless there is a special, meaningful programme that mothers and children can do together. So I thought of doing a cooking class on Mother's Day for mothers and their children."

If the cookery lesson was just aimed at children, it would be too simple for the mothers, says Leung. So for the first part of the class, the mother has a cooking lesson, while the child has a music lesson from a school called Musikitchen.

Then the child comes in and helps the mother with the simpler cooking tasks. Mum also gets a glass of wine provided by Cottage Vineyards.

Cass Lam says the day is all about honouring a tough mother for "raising me up and educating me, and taking care of the whole family. It's a day that I should take her out for a special meal to show my respect.

"It has to be very special. Either I cook her my signature seafood pasta or we go to a fancy, exotic Western restaurant," she says.

Restaurants around town are trying to appear special, too. Creative Concepts group of restaurants are focusing on the desserts this year with an emphasis on strawberry-themed desserts.

At Chicha, head chef Arturo Melendez has created an encanilado - a cinnamon-flavoured Peruvian-style sponge cake with a creamy filling, topped with home-made strawberry ice cream and a sweet and spicy rocoto (hairy pepper) syrup with concentrated strawberries.

Souvla head chef and group executive chef Michael van Warmelo will present a Greek-style strawberry shortcake.

Frites have created a butter-rich puff pastry - strawberry tarte tartin. Tapeo's flan de fresa will feature "drunk strawberries topped with a little strawberry floss".

The chefs will also be making jars of strawberry jam as a gift for mothers dining in any of the venues on the day. The group's publicist, Yoyo Lau, says the jam is a version of Van Warmelo's mother's recipe, with the "most important ingredient being love".

"All girls love strawberries, and mothers are the best girls in the world," she says.

Hong Kong's restaurant marketers have certainly been busy developing offers to tempt the family, and some of these come with unintentional messages about the role or fate of mothers.

The "beyond the love" dinner buffet at the Kowloon Hotel is where to take mother when she's showing her age.

It has a menu rich in black truffles and seafood delicacies such as abalone, along with complimentary double-boiled soup with fish maw, conch meat, cordyceps and pork.

According to the publicity material, fish maw is "well-loved by women for its excellent skin repairing function".

Here's a spoiler alert for mothers who have been told they are going to the airport on the day. Your family may not be planning to fly you somewhere sunny; instead, they may be taking you to the Regal Airport Hotel, which is holding special promotions in four of its restaurants.