31/F & ROOFTOP, THE HENNESSY
256 HENNESSY ROAD
FARE Mixed selection of Australian-style grub.
AMBIENCE The restaurant buzzes at weekends with mainland and Aussie tourists.
WHO TO BRING The place is often visited by overseas people who are part of a trade fair at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Not many locals visit the place as it’s too deep in the commercial heart of Wan Chai.
COST HK$2,450 for two with drinks.
TURN-ONS We enjoyed the floorto- ceiling night views of glittering Happy Valley, Wan Chai and Victoria Harbour. The menu is a hodgepodge of substantial Australian-style steaks, oysters, lamb and fish.
TURN-OFFS The place has gained a reputation for ejecting people from their tables, even if they booked well in advance. The staff are mainly grumpy and not very keen on listening to your order. It reminds you of one of those set-meal diners where people are hovering so that they can grab your seat the moment you vacate the table. The staff keep reminding you of the remaining time you have at the table.
DRINKS A selection of Australian wines and beers. Mukul Munish
SEE AND BE SEEN
CAFÉ GRAY DELUXE
49/F, THE UPPER HOUSE
FARE Contemporary European.
AMBIENCE The Andre Fu-designed dining area is a place to see and be seen. Views from the 49th floor give interesting perspectives on the harbour, Central and Wan Chai.
COST HK$1,485 for two including two glasses of wine.
WHO TO BRING Guests to impress, significant others.
TURN-ONS The steak tartare was presented with sculptural waffle chips and slices of beef carpaccio. The taste was light with a slightly spicy kick from the Kunz ketjap. The main of seared foie gras and roasted quail was tender and flavourful. The dessert of passion fruit and calamansi pavlova was devoured without hesitation while the key lime tart was a piquant finish. We couldn't resist the chunks of chocolate as petit fours.
TURN-OFFS Diners are packed in, so conversations are easily overheard. There was no offer to refill the bread and creamed olive oil spread. Contents of the vegetable tart were bland, the pastry hard rather than flaky.
DRINKS Extensive wine list covering New and Old Worlds, cocktails. Bernice Chan
TASTES OF SHANGHAI
28/F, ONE PEKING
1 PEKING ROAD
TSIM SHA TSUI
FARE Modern Shanghainese.
AMBIENCE City chic with dark wood interiors and faux hutong-style entrances leading to private dining rooms.
WHO TO BRING Small group dinners, business clients.
COST HK$1,200 for two with drinks.
TURN-ONS Easily one of the best skyline views, thanks to the obstacle-free windows and close proximity to the edge. It has an upmarket but casual feel. Highlights were the chicken with Sichuan pepper and chilli sauce, with moist, tender pieces of meat and a punchy topping of mouth-numbing spice, and the wok-fried beef tenderloin with scallion and leeks in a hot stone pot, which was not spicy but complex in flavour. Make sure to try innovative ice-cream flavours such as oolong tea or Shaoxing rice wine.
TURN-OFFS Despite an impressive entrance to the table, the crispy deboned lamb was too chewy.
DRINKS Extensive list of wines and beers. Try the lychee wine. Lana Lam
8/F, CONRAD HONG KONG
FARE Northern Italian.
AMBIENCE Subdued and quiet.
WHO TO BRING Parents, clients to impress, pasta and risotto lovers.
COST HK$2,000 for a four-course meal for two with drinks.
TURN-ONS Come for an immersive view of the city within its skyscrapers. Eat the beef carpaccio with your eyes before you savour the subtle flavours. Veal tagliolini was stunning with the pasta and sauce well matched and seasoned. The complex flavours in the veal osso bucco and saffron risotto, which was creamy, showed superb dexterity. The soufflé was like soft clouds, with a lift worthy of a Dirty Dancing scene. The profiterole had an artistic presentation.
TURN-OFFS Super-attentive service was rushed to start but settled after orders were taken. An Asian take on presenting the ravioli did not work and, while the tomato lobster impressed, the accompanying angel hair pasta was overdone. The tiramisu was a let-down at HK$160, heavy-handed on the cocoa powder and pretentiously presented.
DRINKS Extensive by the glass wines, dependable reds and great prosecco. Lana Lam
WORLD IS YOUR OYSTER
OYSTER & WINE BAR
18/F, SHERATON HONG KONG HOTEL & TOWERS
20 NATHAN ROAD
TSIM SHA TSUI
FARE Oysters and seafood.
AMBIENCE Stunning views of the harbour and Hong Kong Island combined with cosy décor and seating.
COST About HK$2,600 for two including two glasses of wine.
WHO TO BRING Friends and family.
TURN-ONS Oyster varieties from Australia, New Zealand, the United States and France. They are priced from HK$50 to HK$75 each. Seafood choices include tuna, sea bass, salmon and Maine lobster. We started with lobster salad, which had fresh greens, and moved on to tuna with foie gras and beef rossini. The foie gras did not overwhelm the perfectly cooked tuna. Likewise, the steak, medium to well done, was still moist and went down well with foie gras and mushrooms.
TURN-OFFS If you want a window seat, you must book well in advance.
DRINKS Some of the best New Zealand and Chilean whites this side of Kowloon. Good selection of New World reds. Mukul Munish
25/F, MANDARIN ORIENTAL HONG KONG
5 CONNAUGHT ROAD
FARE Contemporary French.
AMBIENCE Sophisticated décor and views of Central and Victoria Harbour.
COST HK$2,820 for two including drinks.
WHO TO BRING Significant other.
TURN-ONS Chef Pierre Gagnaire gives a quartet of amuse bouches. The sea bass carpaccio was decorated with French caviar and came with poached langoustine in a bisque sauce. The razor clams and clams in a baby fennel and enoki mushroom salad were refreshing. French cheeses ranged from a salad to a delicious Camembert mousse with apple ice cream, and came with onion soup. For mains, the roasted lamb shoulder was flavoured with olives, coated in tamarind sauce, with eggplant and lamb sweetbreads. The beef tenderloin was medium rare, tender and juicy.
TURN-OFFS We were unfortunately too full to fully appreciate Gagnaire's deconstructed apple tart.
DRINKS Focus on French wines. Bernice Chan
BRIDGING THE GAP
SHOP 3071-75, LEVEL 3, IFC MALL
8 FINANCE STREET
AMBIENCE Modern all-white décor inside and an unobstructed view of the Kowloon skyline outside. The open kitchen provides a bit of excitement.
COST HK$1,300 for two including wine by the glass.
WHO TO BRING Anyone from clients and colleagues to friends and family.
TURN-ONS Isola manages to fill the gap between cheap pizzeria fare and high-end hotel Italian with well-executed dishes at reasonable prices. We particularly enjoyed the aged Langhirano Parma ham with burrata cheese, the large and thin-crust margherita pizza and the hand-twisted pasta with seafood and fresh tomato sauce. The vanilla panna cotta and signature gelato provided a light finish. Service was quick and attentive.
TURN-OFFS As a big and often busy place, it can get a bit noisy.
DRINKS An extensive and almost exclusively Italian wine list. Tama Lung
2/F, GRAND HYATT HONG KONG
1 HARBOUR ROAD
AMBIENCE Contemporary spin on Old World décor.
COST HK$1,400 for two without drinks.
WHO TO BRING Friends or business associates.
TURN-ONS Grissini offers panoramic views of Victoria Harbour and the Kowloon skyline. The food was equally easy on the eyes. We tried not to fill up on breadsticks from which the restaurant gets it name so that we could enjoy the generous helping of beef carpaccio and smaller zucchini flower stuffed with vegetable caponata and buffalo mozzarella cream. It had been a long time since we had osso bucco and Grissini didn't let us down, with perfectly al dente risotto and melt-in-your-mouth meat off the bone. Service was attentive and efficient.
TURN-OFFS It was puzzling why the breadsticks kept being replaced after only a few bites.
DRINKS A wide selection of Italian and other wines. Tama Lung
LA BONNE VIE
6/F, FOUR SEASONS HONG KONG
8 FINANCE STREET
FARE Contemporary French.
AMBIENCE Tables by the floor-to-ceiling windows offer panoramic, tranquil views of Victoria Harbour, Kowloon and beyond.
COST HK$3,360 for two including drinks.
WHO TO BRING Your significant other or close friends to celebrate.
TURN-ONS The seasonal vegetable meli melo was a gorgeous presentation, like a garden patch on a plate that was very refreshing. The langoustines were plump in the ravioli with veal sweetbreads and chanterelle mushrooms in an intense shellfish bisque. We also enjoyed the watercress veloute, a deep green soup full of flavour but was also light and complemented with frogs' legs on a brochette with onion confit. The Japanese wagyu striploin literally melted in the mouth. The Normandy sole meuniere was cooked perfectly.
TURN-OFFS Overall service was prompt and friendly but we waited a long time for the main courses to arrive.
DRINKS Emphasis on French wines. Bernice Chan