ChopstixFix

Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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The Crêpe Escape

One of my first memories of a stonking good crêpe was back in uni days sinking my teeth into a glorious example of one from La Crêperie de Hampstead, which is London’s most typical Parisian Street Crêperie and rather legendary amongst North Londoners. Fast forward an X number of years (I cringe at the actual number) and a different part of the world, and I’m sitting down in La Crêperie in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. This Brittany restaurant chain is going from strength to strength, with branches in Sheung Wan and Wan Chai, as well as in Shanghai, Vietnam, Taipei and Phnom Penh. Their latest location in L Square in Lockhart Road is more spacious than the others but somehow still feels cosy, with little details that reflect the maritime culture of Brittany.

La Crêperie Causeway Bay

By kind invitation to their new Causeway Bay restaurant, I was able to take my temporary guy-tai friend along with me to nosh on some savoury and sweet pancakes. I was honestly rather excited, as for reasons that escape me, whenever I have tried to go to their Wan Chai branch randomly over the years, it’s always been shut! Though that is probably more my fault than theirs as I recall being struck by a hankering for pancakes at bizarre hours. Anyway, moving on….

So, they did try to tempt me with their Brittany cider (which I later had when I finally went to the Wan Chai branch for dinner with friends a fortnight later, which was delicious – tart with a sweet edge and very refreshing), but as it was a working day, we felt it safe to stick to their apple juice. Whilst this information is not of any import, what I’m trying to express is how much I loved their dinky little bowls that the cider and apple juice were served in. Très mignon! It reminded me of the bowls of hot chocolate my French exchange’s mum used to serve me for breakfast (the only highlight of that hideous exchange programme).Apple cider

La Crêperie’s menu is quite extensive, with most of the ingredients imported from France. The main feature of the menu is of course the famous dish for which Brittany is known for- the galette. Most people are familiar with the normal dessert pancakes, but galettes are the savoury counterparts made with buckwheat and loaded with a variety of tasty fillings.

To accompany the launch of the new branch, there are naturally, new dishes on the menu. Nothing quite whets the appetite, especially when in a ravenous state, than the tempting wafts of black truffle. The black truffle made an appearance on our first dish- two mini galettes ($98). These were cooked (a little on the crispy side) with a quail egg bouncing seductively in the middle, emmental cheese and slices of French cooked ham draped around the egg yolk, before being finished off with aromatic blobs of black truffle paste. These were actually delightful little bites and although the galettes were a tiny bit overcooked on the bottom, they definitely left guy-tai K and I in eager anticipation of the full-scale versions.Mini galettes

Our next starter was the pan-fried foie gras with caramelised apples, apple cider and salted butter caramel sauce. This particular dish was no different to many of the standard foie-gras dishes peppered about HK restaurants, but I was happy to see a generously sized piece and the foie-gras had a gorgeous, crispy, sweet glaze and I did enjoy the accompanying apples which gave the dish a bit of a lift.Pan fried Foie gras

For mains, we shared the new galette on the block- La Capitaine ($128). This seafood creation boasted pan-fried scallops (on point) nestled on a fondue of leek, bacon, cream and flamed with Jameson Irish Whisky. The flavours came together excellently and we wolfed the entire galette down in silence- such was our enjoyment. I love how simply the dish was presented, but don’t be fooled as it is quite filling.La Capitaine

To end, we had the “Sexy Suzette”, which is a celebration of the famous “Crêpe Suzette” and in this version, is served with Mövenpick passion fruit and mango sorbet, lime juice, grilled almonds and flamed with Cointreau (HK$88). The Crêpe was lovely, the sorbet delish (it’s Mövenpick, what’s not to love?), but the Cointreau was just a tad too strong for my taste, though it did jolt me awake just as I was skimming the surface of a food coma.DSC_1893 Sexy Suzette

K and I had a great meal at La Crêperie, and in fact, I returned, this time to their Wan Chai branch, a mere two weeks later (you don’t go in 4 years and then you go twice in a fortnight!). This time I had a more cheesy galette- Les Poulains, which had French raclette cheese, ham, smoked ham, potatoes and pickles lovingly wrapped in a crêpe. Omnomnomnom. Highly recommend this one if you like raclette, and what could be better than raclette in a galette?! And because I was extremely hungry, I followed that up with a sweet pancake. Le Sextant is a deliciously sexy concoction of Vanilla ice cream, caramelized apples and the all popular salted butter caramel. Pancake heaven. Unfortunately my friends, no photos of that particular outing as we were all too busy eating, or perhaps I should just blame it on poor lighting. In any case, if you are craving a serious crêpe escape, look no further than La Crêperie, which is probably coming to a neighbourhood near you, if their popularity is anything to go by!

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

La Crêperie Causeway Bay, 8/F, The L Square, 459-461 Lockhart Rd. Tel: +852 2898 7123 / La Crêperie
WanChai, 1/F, 100 Queen’s Road East. Tel: +852 25299280 / La Crêperie Sheung Wan,G/F, 69 Jervois Street. Tel: +852 26794666

Meal at Causeway Bay was by invitation- many thanks to the kind hospitality at La Crêperie and Jin Communications.


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Mid-Afternoon Tea at The Continental

Tea. Boy, do I love tea….and scones. And what better time is there than to have it on a random day when I don’t have to shove people out of the way in a queue and fight for a table on a Sunday? Sometimes a girl just wants to have Afternoon Tea in the middle of the week and pretend to be a tai-tai. Even better yet, is being able to drag a part-time tai-tai and guy-tai (using the term tai-tai very loosely indeed) with me for a spot of gastronomic indulgence and a good chin-wag. The perks of having a flexible work schedule!

As an expat-Brit, I can say without a doubt, that a good Afternoon Tea is something that most of my friends and I are constantly on the look-out for in Hong Kong. Not that there is a lack of choices in our home away from home, but the hunt is always on, plus, I like admiring the tea sets (God, I’m turning into a granny..not to insult grannies, but you catch my drift). I realised quite recently that a friend of mine (also Brit) and I spend about 50% of our time together a) talking about b) making, and c) drinking tea. So you can imagine my delight when The Continental, a beautifully elegant, art-deco styled restaurant above Pacific Place, rolled out an Afternoon Tea set at a very reasonably priced $365 for two. Cheers to Rach of Through The Looking Glass who can always be relied on to scout for good teas!

Gorgeous interior

The Continental, as the name suggests, is a little homage to European grand cafes with a menu that they say is, “Anglo French with a British sensibility”. The restaurant itself is gorgeous with a cavernous interior and classic bankers-lamp green leather booths that look good for a nap, and bronze orbed lights which always induce murmurs of, “Oooohh, so pretty!”. I dragged my friends to tea mid-week on two occasions, one including a baby in tow, and I was very impressed by how child-friendly this establishment is and how accommodating the staff are, especially with infant grabby hands and a penchant to crumble pastries and cake all over the table.DSC_1630

Scones, scones, scones

Presentation approved

Tea was presented very prettily on a three-tiered cake stand with an array of savouries and sweets to tempt all palates. The Coronation Chicken and egg mayonnaise sandwiches were a hit and the most favoured sweets both times were the salted caramel chocolate bites, the crème fraiche mousse on shortbread and the green apple panna cotta. Part-time tai-tai friend made the rookie mistake of having a rather large lunch a mere 1.5 hours before tea, leaving me and guy-tai (also with absurdly small appetite), to clean up. I must say that although the tea is meant for two, it does feed three quite well! Best of all were the scones which were lovely and warm, a good size and not as heavy as some of its counterparts in other establishments. Baby E, on the second tea outing, seemed to enjoy the scones immensely, much to the exasperation of her dad who was trying to distract her with blander baby food. The only downside was the mini pot of frozen-solid clotted cream which was impossible to spread on the scones- this needs to be addressed toute suite, or else I’ll smuggle in my own cream.

Bellies and friends were happy and we all agreed that the atmosphere coupled with solid service and what is a frankly, decently priced afternoon tea for Hong Kong, makes The Continental a go-to restaurant for enjoying my Earl Grey and scones in style.

Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5 (because of that solid clotted cream)

The Continental, Shop 406, 4/F Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong, +852 2704 5211 www.thecontinentalhongkong.com [Afternoon tea is served 3-5pm]


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South Island School MasterChef

When I was young, one of my favourite TV programmes was MasterChef. This programme utterly fascinated me and was a source of great entertainment for my parents and I- a sort of guilty pleasure every Sunday afternoon. Loyd Grossman, the American-British host of the show amused me aplenty with his famous catchphrase, “We’ve deliberated, cogitated and digested” before he and his fellow judges would approach the three contestants and their masterpieces.

Fast forward twenty years, and the original MasterChef has since been revived and now there are the spin-offs Junior MasterChef and Celebrity MasterChef. I have to say I haven’t really kept track with the latest versions, but I’ll always hold fond memories of the original.

One day late last year, I found out with great surprise and pleasure that a MasterChef set-up exists in Hong Kong. Not in the form of a TVB programme or anything of that ilk, but at an international school called South Island School. SIS MasterChef is an Inter-House cooking competition that was launched in 2012 and much like TV’s Junior MasterChef whereby students between the ages of 11 through to 17 are put through different cooking challenges in a bid to claim the title of SIS MasterChef. There are two sections to the competition- the Junior section, aged 11-13 whereby they compete in teams of two, and the Senior section, aged 14-17 who compete individually.

The Judging Room

The Judging Room

SIS

 The overall competition is broken up into four events; Entry, Quarter Finals, Semi-Finals and Finals. The Competition starts off with an unlimited number of applicants for the first challenge. The quarter finals has 22 contestants in each house that compete. In the semi-finals there are four students from each house. In the finals there is only one member from the senior section and one team from the juniors in each house. The school houses are Bahay, Casa, Shtepi, Kuca, Maison and Namas. The winner of the event will be awarded points for the house, which is to see which house performs the best in events throughout the year.

What is so fantastic about this event is how it not only encourages students to participate in a fun, competitive atmosphere, but it enables budding young chefs to display their talent and passion for cooking and gain a valuable learning experience at the same time. I was thoroughly impressed that the organisers were sixth-formers who oversaw every step of the competition. The two Heads of Events, Dominic Clark and Alex Llewellyn are both passionate about food and participated in previous MasterChef competitions. They also both have a GCSE in Catering and are keen to carve out careers in International Hospitality and Event Management; areas in which I’m sure they’ll be very successful in, given the smooth running of this competition.

But what does this have to do with me? I was one of a great crew of fellow bloggers and F&B influencers, including Lindsay Jang of Yardbird and Ronin, Gregoire Michaud and That Food Cray founders, Nicola Fung and Eugene Kan to be judges for the quarter-finals in February which I was more than delighted to accept! The QFs were spread over a few days, so on the 2nd day it was Stephanie Ko of Stephs852Diary and myself judging Houses Shtepi and Kuca.

Yours truly on the judging panel

Yours truly on the judging panel

The food technology rooms were huge and the first thing that struck me was how professional and serious all the participants were. The children were completely focused, answered our questions politely and explained what they were doing in a very clear manner. The QF challenge this year was Pastry and they had 90 minutes in which to prepare and present their dishes to us. Judging with us were the two Heads of Houses, who were visibly proud and equally impressed with their students’ efforts.

Food technology rooms

Food technology rooms

We couldn’t believe the creations the students were whipping up, some of which, as you will see in the pictures, are professional enough to rival those we see in restaurants and bakeries across HK.DSC_0331 DSC_0325 DSC_0320 DSC_0346DSC_0326

Seeing the students’ impressive repertoire of cooking skills and how passionate the sixth-formers were about the event and how they helped the younger years, got me in the mood to be more experimental in my own kitchen as well as inspiring me to approach my own lessons (in my day job as a tutor, not food blogger!), with a different perspective. Teachers are always looking at news ways of teaching, making lessons interesting and interactive as well as inspiring our students. And as I watched one student diligently watch his pastry rise in the oven, it dawned on me how cooking is such a wonderful way of teaching younger students a broad range of subjects: history (the origins of dishes, how our ancestors prepared food), language and culture (food from different countries, how to pronounce the various ingredients), science and maths (methods in cooking that doesn’t involve blowing things up (!), the food groups, where does our food come from, weighing and measuring ingredients).

Decision time!

Decision time!

Given how food-orientated Hong Kong is, I think South Island School has done a wonderful thing setting up this competition, and I hope that it continues to gain more coverage and motivates children to want to learn and enjoy cooking. Walking around the SIS kitchens and chatting to most of the students as they cooked really brought a smile to our faces. The dishes were judged according to 5 criteria- taste, texture, appearance, overall impression and food wastage (as the SIS team have partnered with Feeding Hong Kong) but when it came to making the final decisions, to me, all of them were winners, even those whose creations didn’t quite come out as planned. What counted were their efforts, tenacity and fantastic attitude to honing their skills. Enjoy the photos, (you’ll see which one we thought was the best all round), and maybe this weekend, you and yours can whip up a storm in the kitchen rather than eat out.IMG_1990 IMG_1995

This was voted best for overall taste, texture and appearance- it was an almost perfect fruit tart, hard to fault!

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A deconstructed Thai Green Curry Shepherd’s Pie by a Senior Shtepi student

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Well done again to the students of Shtepi and Kuca! I look forward to seeing the results of the final :)

South Island School MasterChef http://sismasterchef.weebly.com/

Many thanks again to the SIS team for the kind invite!


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Macaron Magic at Pierre Hermé

Macarons are evil. These bite-sized, girly-coloured meringue-based nuggets of sugary goodness somehow make most girls weak at the knees or lose their minds, not to mention very grabby and extremely possessive once they get their mitts on a box. Call it the Gollum effect if you will.. and I’m no exception. So of course, the first thing many of my girlfriends and I did when Pierre Hermé finally opened its doors in Hong Kong in 2013, was immediately trot to IFC to gawk at the display of macarons, buy a box of 7 precious confections, stroke said box in a Gollum-like manner and then proceed to elegantly cram the goodies in our mouths.

Pierre Hermé Macaron heaven in IFC

Pierre Hermé Macaron heaven in IFC

Fast forward to last month and Pierre Hermé opened its third shop inside The Ritz-Carlton. Sadly I couldn’t make it to their afternoon tea party to celebrate and sample their afternoon tea sets  which were crafted especially for Valentine’s Day. However, I was lucky to have a chance to pop to their IFC shop for a sinful breakfast of macarons so I could try a couple of their non-regular flavours. The terrible feeling of having a breakfast of macarons was short-lived once I stepped inside and proceeded to gaze lovingly at the selection in front of me.

My precious

My precious

My normal go-to’s are Isaphan, Huile D’Olive, Celeste (Passion fruit, strawberries and rhubarb) and the Infiniment Pistache, so I was delighted that I got to try and now fall in love with different 5 flavours which were:

– Infiniment Rose (Rose & Rose Petals)
– Rose & Coing (Rose & Quince)
– Mogador (Milk Chocolate & Passion fruit)​
– Chuao (Chuao Chocolate & Blackcurrant) Not part of the usual line-up!
– Truffle Blanche & Noisette (White Truffle & Roasted Piedmont Hazelnut Slivers) Winter selection only

The amazing line-up

The amazing line-up

Honestly, all 5 were sensational, but I must say that the Mogador is my new favourite, with its delicate balance of milk chocolate and the slightly tart Passion fruit coming through. Another new love is the Truffle Blanche which I saved till last and really savoured. (Though I think the girls watching me eat would probably beg to differ as I doubt I spent more than 5 minutes in total wolfing all 5). The truffle was extremely aromatic and frankly, this macaron blew my mind. Thankfully the truffle is only available during the winter season otherwise I’d be tempted to constantly buy a box of ONLY this flavour.

Hello Truffle Blanche

Hello Truffle Blanche

One of my best friends in Singapore reaped the benefit of my “taste testing” when I visited her the following week with a box of all the above. It was one of the more hilarious things I’ve seen, seeing D’s eyes go wide at the sight of the macarons and trying really really hard to eat them slowly and painfully, with more will-power than I have, saving half, maybe a quarter, of some of the flavours for her husband. That’s true love right there.

Chopstixfix rating: 5/5 BECAUSE I LOVE MACARONS

Pierre Hermé Paris- IFC Mall Central, Shop 1019C Podium Level One (10am-9pm)/ Harbour City, Kowloon, Shop 2410, Level 2, Gateway Arcade (10am-10pm)/ The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, Kowloon, ICC, 1 Austin Road West (10am-8pm)

Many thanks to Pierre Hermé Paris- Hong Kong and Catch On for the kind invitation and letting a girl enjoy macarons with unabashed delight. 


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Sunday Brunch Blowout at the Intercontinental

I’m not usually one for a huge Sunday buffet these days, as my days of fast metabolism are behind me *sob*, and I can’t quite eat EVERYTHING I want without feeling as though my gut literally wants to explode. However, The Intercontinental was very generous and extended a kind invitation to myself and a friend to try their Sunday buffet lunch a few months back. (Bit behind schedule writing, whoops! But don’t worry nothing has changed with the buffet!) If a lazy Sunday sipping free-flow Perrier-Jouet Champagne, nibbling leisurely on seafood, imported cheese, pizza, noodles and carved meats to name a few, whilst enjoying the views of the Hong Kong harbour sounds like heaven, then look no further than the Harbourside’s elaborate Sunday Brunch.

Harbourside - Image courtesy of Intercontinental

Harbourside – Image courtesy of Intercontinental

The spread is highly impressive with tonnes of choices, so even the fussiest of eaters have something to tickle their fancy. On one fine Sunday a girlfriend and I basked in the sun and took in the hustle and bustle of hungry patrons and wait-staff enthusiastically passing around specialty items such as pizza and ‘Shooters’ of sweet or alcoholic delights. Unfortunately, we missed a few of these mini items as we were almost always otherwise occupied at the stations devouring the spread with our eyes.IMG_0268

Mini treat from the Pass Around schedule

Mini treat from the Pass Around schedule

The fresh seafood section is always a hit at buffets, but I was thoroughly excited by their “action stations” with Peking duck, curries, pasta, dim sum and the carving station with plenty of succulent meat. I loved the rack of long bone-in beef but we were sad that their Yorkshire Puddings were on the more doughy side and weren’t crispier. I was also happy to tuck into freshly pan-fried Foie Gras (very decadent) and as a self-proclaimed cheese and cold cuts fanatic, went wild over their selection of Italian and Spanish hams and salami as well as their delicious display of French cheeses. Cheese baked crab meat still in the crab shell was a hit with us, but with so much to choose from, we had to put our spoons down after one.IMG_0278IMG_0272 IMG_0271 IMG_0265 IMG_0281 IMG_0291

If savouries aren’t your thing, the dessert buffet will definitely be. Macarons, cookies, mille feuille, chocolate fountain, pastries and other cakes, is enough to make one diabetic just looking at it. Crepes made-to-order certainly made a few children excited. If you want something a little less sweet, there is also an array of Chinese desserts on offer as well as fruit smoothies for a lighter end.IMG_0259 IMG_0258 IMG_0263 IMG_0261

So what is the wallet damage after a buffet such as this? It doesn’t come cheap at $888 per person for the free-flow champagne or $838 for soft drinks only and for children it’s $588. However, if you are looking for a special occasion brunch, have hours to ease into the meal and slowly nibble your way through, it is a delightful afternoon spent by the harbour. And let’s face it, sometimes, you just need to treat yourself to a sumptuous feast on a Sunday.

Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5 

Harbourside, Intercontinental Hotel, 18 Salisbury Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong Tel:  +852 2313 2323 Opening times on Sunday: 11am- 3pm

This review was by invitation. Many thanks to The Intercontinental.


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Itsy Bitsy Cider

I’m back! Hope you all had a wonderful gluttonous Christmas and New Years and like me, are now trying to undo the waist damage done! And yes, I have managed to a get a blog post in before the end of January, so I can still say Happy New Year readers! Or, in this case, Bonne année et bonne santé for the Francophones, as I’m writing about delightful French cider in this post.

A little before Christmas, the two founders Alex and Pierre of “La Chouette Cider”, which landed on Hong Kong’s shores last August, very kindly sent me 3 bottles of their pure apple juice cider (4.5% alc/vol), which is produced and bottled in Normandy where Pierre’s grand-fathers made cider. I LOVE cider as it’s far more palatable for me to drink versus beer (except for the Belgium fruit beers), I like fruit-based alcohol, so was more than happy to give La Chouette a try. It was great timing as well, as they sent me a packet of spices to make mulled cider!

La Chouette

La Chouette

So how does this cider differ from others? I was interested to find out that they use 100% French “cider apples”, which are specific apple varieties such as Crab Apples dedicated to cider making, whereas most ciders are made from “table” or “dessert” apple varieties. The cider apples provide a more complex aromatic profile with a hint of bitterness (not detectable when I tried it) and a lovely tart edge.

Another attractive aspect of La Chouette is that it is a pure apple juice cider with no added sugar, no added colouring and no added flavouring. Unfortunately most ciders are made from reconstituted apple juice with added sweeteners and sometimes added colourings and flavourings. And what does La Chouette mean? La Chouette, or The Owl, is so named to reflect the relationship between the farmers in the North-West of France who made their own cider with apples from their orchards in barns where owls would nest. Aww.

When my samples arrived I was excited to whip out my saucepan and make mulled cider for myself and the other half. The packaging is clever and cute with an owl face superimposed on an apple outline. Their spice packet of 4 cloves, 1/8 tablespoon of nutmeg, 2 cinnamon sticks and 2 star anise were plonked in the saucepan and 2 of the bottles of cider cracked open and poured in. After 15 minutes of gentle heating over low heat, I served our first homemade brew of mulled cider.

Making the mulled cider!

Making the mulled cider!

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Christmas was served in a mug. It was warm, soothing and delicious. The other half was too busy on the PS4 to fully appreciate the fruity aroma so I pretty much finished 1.5 bottles of mulled cider on my own. Oh well! Due to the natural sugars from the apples, there is no need to add sugar to the mulled cider mix. Whilst I liked the sour note, this may not be to everyone’s taste. When drunk chilled, La Chouette is fruity, crisp and tart and has a lovely golden hue when poured into a glass.

Christmas in a mug! See my tree?

Christmas in a mug! See my tree?

I’m excited that La Chouette is available in 35 points of sale in Hong Kong (bars, restaurants, delis) as it means that I can now enjoy a pure apple juice cider without any of the additives, as well as make mulled cider whenever I feel like! You can find your nearest shop on their website: http://www.lachouettecider.com/en/ and also learn about the history of French Cider if you want to impress people with your knowledge!

Merci Beaucoup La Chouette pour la cidre!


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If You Go Down To The Woods Today

And I’m back! After my Nood experience (let’s NOT relive that again), I had a few pig-out sessions and a night out on the town drinking cocktails to make up for losing several days’ worth of calories. Then I upped and left for London for a couple weeks, hence, you have been subjected to my juice cleanse post for a while- sorry!

I don’t think I have ever done a full-scale post on drinking, mostly because I have the dreaded Asian flush which strikes after 1 drink and therefore have a pathetic tolerance towards alcohol, but I make an exception for this post on The Woods. This relatively new bar in Central can be found off Hollywood Road, down a dainty, invitingly lit flight of steps. One sleek sliding door later, and into The Woods you step- all decked out in wood and marble. The whole interior is quite striking and one certainly gets the impression of nature and foliage. I have been back a few times now, and whenever I visit, I always feel like I’m holed up in a sophisticated, yet comforting wooden barn.

A peep through the woods

A peep through the woods

The bar display

The bar display

The Woods opened back in July and is the brainchild of the three Chow sisters, but the youngest, Victoria, is the lovely lady responsible for the food and drink. The cocktail bar is split into two distinct areas- the lounge and the Prix-Fixe Bar, which seats eight and needs prior booking. The interesting concept behind The Woods, is that the cocktails are themselves the culinary art, so if you’re in search of a pint of beer, don’t go here!

The photos that I have for this post were from back in August(!), so some of the seasonal cocktails may no longer be there, and the Prix-Fixe menu I would think is changing very very soon, but I’m sure that you will find a drink that tickles your fancy. The words market-fresh, seasonal and artisanal sum up the core principles of The Woods.

From the a la carte, I tried The Caprese ($120), which was basically a salad in a glass. As someone who can’t take the taste of strong booze, this was rather perfect- light on the Tito’s Vodka, and heavier on the fresh tomato water. I love sour and salty things, and the combination of aged balsamic vinegar with the vodka, tomato water, Himalayan pink salt and black lava salt rim was highly enjoyable to the point where I was half drunk by the end of it. In addition, the cocktail itself was pretty to look at, bursting with colour from the cherry tomatoes.

The Caprese

The Caprese

The Caprese The Caprese

I took a sip of someone’s Watermelon Cilantro, (that’s coriander for the Brits among us), and was pleasantly surprised my palate wasn’t assailed by the cilantro flavour, which I’m not normally a fan of.

Watermelon Cilantro

Watermelon Cilantro

The biggest surprise for me was their Oak Whiskey Sour, which was finely balanced and had a lovely hint of a smokey flavour. This was a surprising drink because I usually really dislike whiskey, (I can trace this dislike back to uni days of cheap whiskey shots and feeling very unwell afterwards), and not only did I think it was tasty, but I think I might have been converted! But only at The Woods will I drink this, I will proceed with caution at all other, as yet untested establishments.

Oak Whiskey Sour

Oak Whiskey Sour

So what about the Prix-Fixe menu? For hardcore drinkers who like arty drinks and enjoy 4 courses of alcohol with very small nibbles. People with Asian flush, will start to feel very drunk 1 course in- yep, yours truly was pretty merry at the end and needed to go to Tsui Wah for noodles; no judgement please.

The Prix-Fixe menu is creative, interesting and definitely unique in Hong Kong. For $688 per person for 4 courses, (essentially 4 drinks), this may be a little pricey, and I for one, prefer the a la carte, but that’s because I normally can’t take 4 drinks in a row anyway!

The menu we had started with the Basil Smash (Sipsmith Gin and Thai and Sweet Basils), which was fun as we got to smash a hollowed ice sphere with a little hammer to release the cocktail. This was served with watermelon and feta cheese on the side. Next, we had the Bacon Bourbon Luge for mains. This was STRONG. I’m not a bourbon drinker, and I admit, I was way more interested in the accompanying roasted bone marrow (delicious by the way). However, this bacon infused bourbon was smooth and I like the savoury taste. I completely failed to use the bone marrow as a luge to pour the cocktail in my mouth as I was starting to feel tipsy at this point!

Basil Smash

Basil Smash

Bacon Bourbon Luge

Bacon Bourbon Luge

For dessert there was the Absinthe Floss. This was messy. Instead of the traditional absinthe served poured over a sugar cube, The Woods replaced the cube with candy floss. This was far too strong for me. To end, our Digestif was a Tanqueray Gin and Jasmine tea infusion with lemongrass, galangal and lemon peel. Like a hot toddy, this was warming but not aromatic enough for me and the gin was overpowering. Not sure if this combination really works in its favour.

Absinthe Floss

Absinthe Floss

Tea Infusion

Tea Infusion

Tea Infusion

Before I forget, we also tried their fries from the a la carte nibbles section. One word- addictive.

The Woods' Fries

The Woods’ Fries

I’m happy to see a concept cocktail bar like The Woods spring up in Hong Kong, and it’s refreshing to have a place to go for consistently well-made drinks. I didn’t mention mocktails, but one of my favourites is the Virgin Galangal Mojito which is delicious. And now that I’m a whiskey sour convert and a few friends have also given it their nod of approval, I think The Woods will be a regular haunt (alongside The Envoy, which is another go-to), for my friends and I, who aren’t hardcore liquor-lovers but who definitely appreciate the delicate touch with cocktails.

Virgin Galangal Mojito

Virgin Galangal Mojito

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5 for decor, ambience, good mocktails, their fries and that whiskey sour

The Woods, L/G, 17 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong Tel: +852 2522 0281 http://www.thewoods.hk

The Prixe-Fixe tasting was by invitiation. Many thanks to The Woods for a fun evening!

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