Bar review: The Diner in Sai Kung – friendly spot for burgers, shakes and American whiskeys
This 60s-style diner offers fiery Hellnbacks, with jolts of Jack Daniels and jalapeño pickle juice, and Texas Iced Teas that pack a real wallop, a fine selection of American whiskies and healthy Morning After Smoothies
The vibe: a 1950s-early 1960s American diner, with a soundtrack to match. You can book the showpiece booth, constructed from the rear end of a 1957 Chevrolet, and watch silently screened Hollywood films such as Back to the Future and American Graffiti. Habitués of the original Central outlet in Arbuthnot Road will have a pretty fair idea of what to expect, although not everything from the Central menu or drinks list is available in the rural outpost. Service is friendly and obliging.
The drinks: in true diner tradition, (upmarket) burgers and milk shakes are the focus. There is also an interesting collection of American whiskeys behind the bar, and a shortlist of cocktails. The Mojito (HK$60) – made dry with Mount Gay Eclipse rum and no additional sweetener – was pleasantly refreshing, although it could have used a bit more spirit. The Texas Iced Tea (HK$65) conversely packs a wallop, as you would expect of a drink containing a combination of vodka, gin, rum, tequila and triple sec. Sip slowly.
A Hellnback comprises a shot of Jack Daniels Tennessee Fire with a chaser of jalapeño pickle juice. According to the drinks list,the tradition of chasing whiskey with fluid from the pickle jar originates in Philadelphia, and if this is the case I’m not at all sure that it travels well. The choice of wines is limited to two, and the beer list is short and not terribly American, although they do have Brooklyn Lager (HK$60) on tap. For teetotallers who don’t care for milk shakes the list of mocktails includes a “Nojito” (HK$40) without the rum. The Morning After Smoothie (HK$68) comprising blueberries, coconut water, Madagascan vanilla, Greek yogurt, honey, milk thistle extract and banana suggests that it might not be a bad place to medicate a hangover.
The verdict: a smart diner and bar, notable for being the first Sai Kung outlet to fly the flag for American whiskeys.
The Diner, 72-74 Po Tung Rd, Sai Kung, tel: 2725 2899
Open: Monday to Thursday noon-11pm (late Fridays, weekends, public holidays), opens 9am weekends, public holidays.
Happy hour: opening time -10pm
While you’re in the area: