Journeys of discovery: Wong Chuk Hang’s changing dining scene
Wong Chuk Hang is changing, with design offices and art galleries moving into former industrial buildings, and hotels springing up in between them. There’s also an interesting crop of new restaurants being part of this transformation.
Shop G09, G/F, One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang, Aberdeen, tel: 2528 0772
In a commercial building right next to the new MTR line, the Grappa’s group has brought its Italian offerings to Aberdeen with GCX. The tiled entrance functions as a deli and wine shop, and behind this you’ll find the cosy dining area. Each table has a view of the flaming pizza oven, and this arrangement successfully creates a warm, welcoming ambience. You’ll find all the usual pastas, paninis and thin-crust pizzas here - though the garlic-infused linguine al pesto comes with a warning that post-prandial romance may be off the menu - and on weekends they offer brunch options with an Italian take on the full English breakfast.
MUM VEGGIE + COFFEE + SWEET
G07, G/F, One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang, Aberdeen, tel: 2115 3348
Two doors down, a vegetarian cafe called MUM has a mismatched collection of chunky wooden tables and bookshelves that make it look a bit like a Victorian schoolroom - if such institutions ever served coffee and cake. Menu items include miso soup with sweet potatoes and leek, veggie burger with Portobello mushrooms and beetroot, and even a fruit curry: apple, pear and pineapple curried and served on steamed rice. They’re serious about the healthy lifestyle; every now and then they hold a “yogi veggie lunch” after morning yoga on the premises. MUM is not an option for dinner, as it closes at 5pm.
4/ F, Ovolo Southside, 64 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, tel. 3460 8100
You’re almost within line-casting distance of Aberdeen Harbour here, and Cirqle at the superstylish Ovolo Southside hotel makes the most of seafood with dishes such as Gibraltar shellfish soup, Moroccan spiced swordfish Nicoise and broiled Alaskan black cod. At weekends, there’s an extensive buffet-style brunch with barbecue stations on the outdoor terrace, a seafood bar and a dedicated sangria station to ease you into a Mediterranean mood. After eating, you can head up to the roof bar on the 23rd floor for mixologistmade cocktails; it has great views out across Ocean Park to Repulse Bay.
Level 3, L’hotel Island South, 55 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, tel: 3968 8833
Just over the road, and raised a few floors above street level to be free of traffic noise, Lis Cafe is another destination for weekend buffet lovers. It is part of a hotel - in fact located one floor below the lobby - and you exit the lift to a small bar area. Beyond this, the open-plan dining hall makes the most of its space, with glass hangings reflecting light from the windows to the open kitchen at the back. The central buffet station is well stocked with seafood of all kinds, including crab, shrimp and sashimi, and in a welcome nod to its location, the restaurant also serves Aberdeen fish ball noodles.
THE BUTCHERS CLUB DELI
16/F, Shui Ki Industrial Building, 18 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, tel: 2884 0768
The Butchers Club made its name from its locations in Wan Chai and Central, and has become as well known for its duck-fat fries as for its luxury burgers. The Wong Chuk Hang location is larger, covering two floors, and is run as a New York-style deli by day and a sort of private kitchen at night. At lunchtime, there are salads, pies and sandwiches, besides the burgers. In the evenings, set dinners include T-Bone Tuesday and Wellington Wednesday, and the latest event is Burger and Lobster Friday; following a popular London trend, you choose either a burger or a lobster, and that’s the whole menu.
Unit 22D, Yally Industrial Building, 6 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk
Hang, Aberdeen, tel: 3462 2951
On the top floor of another factory building nearby, with tall ceilings, polished concrete floors and large windows, 3/3rds showcases the loft-style environment that these big spaces lend themselves to. The cafe serves up healthy salads such as chargrilled broccoli with fried garlic and chilli, and wild rice with apricots and pistachios, and hot dishes: ox tongue hash with poached egg and Hollandaise sauce, cheese toasties, and pizzas with 1mm-thin crusts. Fill a salad box with vegetables of your choice, seat yourself at one of the assorted wooden tables and enjoy a view of the harbour while you eat.
28/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, Aberdeen,
tel: 2870 1586
Just over the water on Ap Lei Chau, and on the top floor of another former industrial building now full of interior design shops, there’s a cafe inside the Tree furniture showroom. It serves quiches, salads and sandwiches - chicken and avocado or smoked salmon, for instance - and hot dishes like cottage pie. Desserts such as cheesecake, chocolate brownies and carrot cake are sourced from the Sift patisserie in the same building. An open kitchen-style window lets you watch not chefs but Tree’s carpenters creating pieces of furniture in their workshop. All children get a free cupcake when you visit, and there’s also free Wi-fi.