Savour the flavours
From French takeouts to spicy Sichuan, there is something for everyone in Sai Ying Pun
Sai Ying Pun started life as an army barracks and was ground zero for an outbreak of the plague in the 1890s. But Sheung Wan’s neighbour to the west has recently caught the gentrification epidemic, owing in part to the upcoming MTR station and new escalator making the steep climb from Queen’s Road West to High Street a breeze. The district has become a foodie’s paradise with Italian, French, American and healthy restaurants joining the already-established Chinese and Japanese eateries. The result? A cosmopolitan gastronomic destination with a fun local vibe.
G/F 46 HIGH STREET, SAI YING PUN, 6271 6102
Look out for the tempting terrace that fronts Metropolitain’s bistro-style restaurant. Sit under the whirring ceiling fans and tuck into escargots, steak tartare and poulet roti served on a wooden board, all beautifully cooked and presented. Try to save space for another mouthwatering French stereotype, the tarte tatin, which is flaky and absolutely delicious. The service is Gallic and charming.
2 CAFÉ HUNAN
SHOP B, G/F, KOON WAH BUILDING,
420-424 QUEEN’S ROAD WEST, WESTERN
DISTRICT, 2803 7177
This casual, rustic restaurant is a narrow space of wooden tables and chairs below murals of Chinese masks and an imperial landscape. The menu is reminiscent of Sichuan food, but with spicy rather than numbing heat. Try the long green beans with chillies, which arrive sizzling on a hot plate, and the Farmhouse stir-fried pork with green peppers, which is a hearty dish of thin slivers of pork with crunchy veggies. Although
there’s not much English spoken, the service is friendly and welcoming.
3 GRASSROOTS PANTRY
12 FUK SAU LANE, SAI YING PUN, 2873 3353
High-end, seasonal cuisine meets healthy, vegan fare at Grassroots Pantry, where the standout dishes on the menu devised by owner and chef Peggy include mixed mushroom linguine with white truffle oil, raw Lebanese kofta with fattoush salad and happy cow dairy-free ice cream. Ingredients are sourced locally and organically where possible, and the sweetly decorated restaurant with a peaceful terrace will easily tempt you back.
4 LA ROTISSERIE
71 THIRD STREET, SAI YING PUN, 2857 0818
Although The Chicken Man didn’t last the course, Sheung Wan’s successful roast chicken takeaway has just moved in. While the service is still rather tentative, the chicken is as incredibly flavourful (in quarter, half or
whole sizes) as it is at its Sheung Wan shop, with set meals including side dishes such as veggies and roast potatoes. Other options to the main ingredient include sandwiches, croque monsieur, salads, quiches and desserts.
5 LA VIOLA BISTRO & GRILL
G/F ISLAND CREST, SECOND STREET, SAI YING PUN,
Set well back from the road, La Viola is a restaurant of two halves. Perch at their marble bar while looking out at the neighbourhood with a glass of wine and a plate of bruschetta or mozzarella and listening to the chilled tunes. Or venture further inside to the stylish high-end dining room for plates of their signature pastas and mostly meaty main meals. Finish up with a cleansing lemon sorbet or, naturally, tiramisu.
6 AWAKENING CAFE
G/F, 1-6 YING WAH TERRACE, CENTRE STREET, SAI YING PUN, 2858 0005
A relaxed American diner (without the booth or bar seating), Awakening’s brunch of continental breakfasts, French toast with caramelised banana and blueberry pancakes (superfluffy) are extremely popular. Be
warned, you can’t book. Throughout the week, check out the rest of the menu, with the Cincinnati chilli, authentic biscuits and sausage meat gravy, and burgers such as the California burger with avocado and blue
cheese dressing, all good honest American choices. Owner Dan comes from San Francisco and is as passionate about food as he is about creating an Awakening community – look out for special nights coming soon.
7 BBQ TEPPAN YAKI
142B THIRD STREET, SAI YING PUN, 2548 9880
Local cuisine on a stick, this hole-in-the-wall is a great place for cheap beers and a quality snack-style dinner. It is worth queuing up to sit at the counter and watch the chefs flipping the sticks at lightning speed, or bag a table by the street where the open front gives an almost alfresco feel. Basic choices such as corn on the cob are somehow just as tasty as the scallops in their shell, lamb chops or grilled mackerel. The service is
rudimentary, but fits the location.