I write the Hot Spots article for SCMP’s Good Eating Guide every issue and mostly I link it directly to the online version. This time however, I am including the original text below.
Tai Kwun, an arts and heritage centre, occupying the former Central Police Station, is home to an interesting selection of restaurants, as is neighbouring Old Bailey Street.
Aaharn provides an exemplary dining experience that showcases the creativity of Thai cuisine expert, David Thompson, and the talent of executive chef Dtoy. Dishes are inspired by long forgotten recipes and royal cuisine, with every one as delicious to eat as they are as stunning to gaze upon. Opt for the tasting menu, with fantastic wine pairings, for an enticing insight into balanced Thai cuisine at its finest. Personal favourites included marinated tiger prawns, young ginger and kaffir lime juice on betel leaves; crispy noodles with crab, beansprouts and pickled garlic; and stir fried snow peas with squid and ink paired with a fragrant relish of yellow beans, pork and prawns simmered in coconut milk served on a deep fried soft-yolk egg.
Choose to dine inside for a relaxed fine-dining experience or on the terrace for a casual ambience. Service here is stellar. A range of new seasonal menus has just been introduced, including a specially priced mini tasting menu in celebration of the restaurant’s first year anniversary, available until end of November.
1/F Armoury Building, Block 2, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, 2703 9111, www.aaharn.hk
Café Claudel serves homey comfort food French bistro style. Classic options include the super tender Burgundy snails bathed in garlic butter, the spilt roasted spring chicken imported from France, served with roast potatoes and carrots, and the delicious oven baked cod with fennel, asparagus and grenobloise butter. There are also a few Asian influenced dishes on the compact menu, including the salmon tartare with a mild wasabi mayonnaise topped with salmon roe, served with crispy fish skin, and the mini Peking duck burger.
New to the menu is the warm spicy octopus salad, while the croque monsieur and madame are both popular choices. With an outdoor area it is also a bustling after-work drink option.
G08, Block 1, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, 2411 1310, www.french-creations.com
LokCha Teahouse offers an extensive selection of Chinese tea served with a variety of vegetarian dim sum. Chef’s recommendations include porcini dumplings in soup, steamed truffle siu mei, fried basil and enoki spring rolls, and seasonal green tempura. One dish that showcased the chef’s creativity was the roasted, pickled and rolled bean curd skin, with a smokey flavour and almost meat-like texture.
The restaurant, with its charming teahouse interior, also serves its own craft beer, with four tea flavours available, and runs tea appreciation classes. There is also an outdoor area for a more casual experience, plus a retail outlet opposite the tea house to purchase tea and accessories.
G06-07 Block 1, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, 2276 5777, www.lockcha.com
hc:Bistro was established by the Hong Chi Association, which provides support for people with intellectual disabilities. The bustling restaurant, located in the oldest preserved building, with a semi-open kitchen, serves international cuisine, with different set menus available for lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner. A signature is the spicy D Hall curry chicken served with rice or roti and a selection of condiments, so popular it often appears on all three menus.
Other popular choices include its range of burgers and pasta, and for dinner crispy skin suckling pig. Vegetarians are also catered for, and for an alternative to coffee or wine, there are a selection of on-trend cold pressed juices.
G01 Block 14, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, 2884 0334
Statement, so named as it occupies the former Police Station’s statement room, that back in the day were mostly taken by British officers, hence the cuisine is British. In making a statement about the majority of dishes we tried on the evening of our visit, overall, I would call upon my right to remain silent.
We did enjoy the marmite butter served with the bread, the Newlyn cod served with oyster leaves and a shellfish broth, and the cheese platter with generous portions of five British artisan cheeses served with oat cakes and relish, both made in-house. New to the restaurant is its table-side gin and tonic trolley, with a range of British gins.
1/F, Block 1, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, 2848 3000 https://statement.com.hk
MiMi2Go is a bustling compact restaurant that focuses on healthy and delicious home-cooking style Korean cuisine. Free of MSG, refined sugar or salt, with plenty of gluten free and vegan options. Menus include a variety of set lunches that all come with purple rice and sides, as well as bibimbap options, and gimbap rolls.
There are also fried dishes, including an excellent gluten-free crispy fried chicken (and a spicy option), with an uber thin crust and moist meat using antibiotic-free chicken from Denmark. It pairs perfectly with a cold beer or a soju cocktail. There is also a range of healthy teas, including the house detox brew. Super friendly service completes the experience.
15 Old Bailey Street, Central, 2786 9228
La Brata serves moreish rustic Italian cuisine, with a spirit of generosity that quickly transports the diner to Italy. Sitting somewhere between a trattoria and the home of an Italian friend with mama serving up one delicious dish after another. The restaurant is known for its cured meats and cheese platters, that are great for sharing, with the largest measuring one metre – suitable for up to six persons; and its creamy burrata options.
It is also noted for making pasta fresh every day. Try the egg tagliatelle with a slow cooked duck ragu, or opt for a classic bolognese. Vegetarian selections are also available. Other standouts include the pizzas, which feature a focaccia base (also made by the restaurant) giving the pizza a defining crispiness, and the tiramisu, which is a dreamily light must-try.
11 Old Bailey Street, Central, 9080 7859, www.labratahk.com