The curtain is coming down on another Hong Kong institution. Napa, in the Kowloon Shangri-La hotel, has been serving excellent Californian cuisine since 1993 but its kitchen will close for good on June 30.
This is the second Kowloon Shangri-La fine dining outlet to shut down this year. The luxurious French bistro, Margaux, said au revoir earlier this spring, but the good news is the room is being turned into an Italian restaurant, which will open later this summer.
The fate of Napa's 21st-floor space, with its warm and relaxed atmosphere and panoramic view, is not as fortunate. The hotel plans to use the space to expand its business-oriented Horizon Lounge.
Napa was the first Californian fusion restaurant of its kind in a Hong Kong hotel. Its original chef, David Monson, was a disciple of celebrity-chef-to-the-stars Wolfgang Puck. Besides presenting lighter, healthier food, the restaurant was known for its modernist paintings and extensive West Coast wine list (featuring 100 reds and whites from 41 Californian wineries). Its esteemed reputation was cemented by the legendary Table 1 (below right), located in a quiet corner and well known as the table of choice for marriage proposals.
'We had someone call yesterday at 7am reserving that table,' says Kowloon Shangri-La's communications executive, Michelle Ting. 'It's going to be another wedding proposal. Now that people realise Napa is closing, there is a real sense of nostalgia and some of the couples who got engaged want to eat here one more time since it holds a special place in their hearts.'
Until it closes, the restaurant will serve a Best of Napa menu featuring its most popular dishes over the years, including the Caesar salad in a parmesan basket and garlic focaccia ($128). According to Ting, 'It's been on the menu since the restaurant opened. It's not your usual Caesar. It comes in a basket made of parmesan and dough and deep-fried so it's like a bird's nest.'
Other favourites include the spicy tomato soup with tiger prawns ($80) and the Boston lobster, grapefruit and mango salad with jellied lobster, chives and salmon caviar (above right, $198).
Napa is at 21/F, Kowloon Shangri-La, 64 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, tel: 2733 8752.