Police Officers Kiss Duck at the Mess
Aqua Restaurant Group have launched a trio of landmark new venues in Tai Kwun. Statement; serves modern British cuisine, The Chinese Library; presents a compendium of Hong Kong’s favourite Chinese dishes and The Dispensary is an elegant lounge bar – all of which reflect Hong Kong’s rich East-West heritage and the stories of the magnificent colonial Police Headquarters building.
On March 12, 1921, there were reports of a rowdy police dinner when a batch of new recruits kissed a duck dressed in black tie.
‘Duck Major’ was a long-established ritual to welcome new recruits to the Officers’ Mess; where the force dined for over one hundred years on the top floor of the Police Headquarters on Hollywood Road.
Today, the police have moved, but the Officers’ Mess lives on, reborn in Tai Kwun - the Centre for Heritage and Art. The location of the old Mess is once again the scene of dining and merriment, in a more glamorous contemporary style, but retaining the original colonial features; high-pitched ceilings and glorious verandahs overlooking the Parade Ground.
The Legacy of Captain Caine
On April 30, 1841, Captain William Caine of the 26th Cameronian Regiment was appointed Hong Kong’s first Chief Magistrate. Caine ordered the powers of arrest, conviction and imprisonment to be situated conveniently within one site in Central, now known as Tai Kwun. Suspects were arrested and taken to the Central Police Station, tried at the Central Magistracy and then detained at Victoria Prison without ever having to leave the compound.
As a member of the Cameronian Regiment, Caine was doubtless fond of his Scottish shortbread, and so one of the desserts at modern British restaurant Statement is created in his honour.
Cranberry Poached Pear, Buttermilk Caramel Mousse and Scottish Shortbread is a classic British pudding made with light crumbles of rich biscuit, beautifully presented with pink hues of cranberry-infused pears alongside a sweet mousse.
At Statement there is a focus on selecting the finest and freshest produce from the best purveyors in the British Isles and cooking it with modern techniques. Amongst the must-try dishes is slow-cooked Gressingham duck with plum sauce featuring prized duck reared on oats at Gressingham farm in rural Suffolk.
For reservations: www.statement.com.hk or call 2848 3000
A secret officers’ drinking den is said to have existed within the old Central Police Headquarters, just steps from where suspects were detained, and justice was dispensed.
Officers enjoyed their secret libations on the exact same spot within the Police Officers’ Mess that is now home to the lounge bar The Dispensary. The new bar reflects the building’s colourful 100-year history with design features and cocktails celebrating many stories and moments.
Mango Tree ─ is a bellini-styled cocktail with mango and almond topped with prosecco ─ named after the magnificent 60-year-old mango tree which is still preserved within the grounds of Tai Kwun. Police officers took great care of this tree and believed that an abundance of fruit any year would signify a large number of promotions.
Sip on one of the historic British and Chinese cocktails created by Master Mixologists on the magnificent verandah with glorious views over the old Parade Ground.
Walk-ins accepted or call 2848 3000
Salute to Kwan Kung
Whilst British influences were strong in the old Police Headquarters, Chinese traditions were also widely followed.
The Chinese God of War General Kwan Kung was worshipped by many as a symbol of loyalty and righteousness, but none more so than the police. Officers prayed to statues of Kwan Kung to give them strength to overcome their enemies. Paradoxically so did most of the triads.
The Chinese heritage of the Central Police Station is commemorated in The Chinese Library restaurant which sits in the East Wing of the former Police Headquarters building.
“The restaurant salutes the migrants who came to Hong Kong from all over China and contributed to the city’s amazing cuisine,” said Aqua Restaurant Group founder David Yeo. “The Chinese Library serves a compendium of regional Chinese dishes which are firm favourites in our unique city.”
Chrysanthemum “Thousand Cut” silken tofu in chicken broth is beautiful on the eye as well as the palate with delicate tofu sliced with military precision to look like a chrysanthemum flower.
No selection of favourite Chinese dishes would be complete without Peking duck, and The Chinese Library presents a superior whole roasted 45-day Imperial Peking duck.
Needless to say there is also a dim sum selection by Master Chef Wai who oversees the kitchens at Aqua’s Dim Sum Library.
With so many tempting dishes, this is one library where you won’t want to keep silent.
For reservations: www.chineselibrary.com.hk or call 2848 3088
Statement, The Dispensary & The Chinese Library
Police Headquarters, Block 01, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood, Central, Hong Kong