Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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Comestibles and Cars at Mercedes Me

I admit, I was a little confused at first. Why was Mercedes, the luxury car brand, suddenly serving food? Was this a new tactic? Ply customers with copious quantities of food and drink and before you know it, hey presto you’ve accidentally bought a Merc, (it could happen). Regretably, none of my friends have unexpectedly left Mercedes Me with a car, (my dreams of getting a free ride have been scuppered), but most of them have reported delicious things happening within the store. Thankfully, you don’t have to be a car lover to appreciate the high quality food that’s on offer and if dishes influenced by Peruvian, Japanese and Spanish cuisines sound like your kind of thing, then you won’t be disappointed.

Boozy Sunday brunch is somewhat of a rarity these days for my friends and I, and the Sunday I visited Mercedes Me for the first time (by kind invitation), was no exception, with me balking at the thought of more alcohol following a Saturday night of a delightful combination of whisky, G&Ts and beers that tasted as awful as its name (The Brown Note). However, gluttony was the order of the day, and what a feast we had in store for us: you can choose from their buffet stations of salad/ bakery/ cold selections, interactive stations of cheese/ eggs/ fish, before choosing a main and dessert which are served in a sharing style for the table. If you want the booze, there’s free flow Champagne Perrier-Jouet, Red and White wine, Bloody Mary and Beer that will get you rapidly merry on a Sunday afternoon.

I opted for the mocktail version of the Bloody Mary which was lovely- nicely balanced, not too fiery nor too tart and was enough to rev my appetite. Greed got to me as I piled my plate high with a wonderful selection of cold meats, salad and tasty morsels such as miso eggplant and fried artichoke hearts, and our table enjoyed the extensive cheese offerings and the gorgeous pain au chocolat and bread. I liked the “interactive stations” where you can ask for sous-vide egg with a variety of toppings and sauces- I asked for a sous-vide egg with salmon – and the fish station which was essentially sashimi and dressing of your choice.

For mains we noshed on Sobrassada Slow Cooked Chicken Thighs with sweetcorn stew and red wine jus that was tender and rich. I am a big sweetcorn fan, and loved the creamy texture of the stew. The Sobrassada and Mozzarella Bikini were tasty cheesy bites but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the Broccolini fried with chilli, garlic and sesame, which were especially moreish and flavourful.

If you don’t wear stretchy pants, you might find tucking into their desserts difficult. Their serving of Catalan Cream Foam is generous, and it was creamy yet light. The Dulce de Leche with Coffee Sponge and Whisky Curd is decadent but if you’re a a Ferrero Rocher obsessive then their Chocolate and Hazelnut Delice will be right up your street.

At midday the Mercedes Me store was very quiet but by 1pm, it was buzzing and completely transformed the atmosphere, so if you want to attack the buffet selection without fighting others, the earlier your reservation the better! Service was good, with very attentive staff. Price-wise $490 for the food is really quite reasonable, but the additional $280 for the free flow may not seem so appealing to some. However, given the location, the quality of the dishes, the guaranteed food coma, plus the chance to ogle some flashy cars, I’d say it’s definitely a lovely alternative to the hotel Sunday brunches that are on offer.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

Mercedes Me, Shop C-D, G/F, Entertainment Building, 30 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Central, Hong Kong/ Tel: +852 28957398 / https://www.mercedes-benz.com/hk/mercedes-me/st

This was by kind invitation. 

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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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Get me to the Shore

The L place is becoming quite the hip and happening spot, with Cantopop on ground level, Linguini Fini on the first and Shore sprawling over the third and fourth floors. The first time I had a meal at Shore, was when its doors opened back in October last year. Though the ambience was pleasing, the decor swish and modern, and the space vast, I was distinctly underwhelmed by the whole experience, not least because the best item on the menu at the time was the chunky cut chips. However, after giving it a wide berth, (a year in fact), to settle in and iron out its kinks, I gave it another shot and this time I left with more than the chips on my mind.The girls at Sassy have organised a very fun and successful Sassy Hour at Shore before, and while many people flock to the third floor for their popular Happy Hour to have laid-back al fresco cocktails on the terrace, it turns out that most seem to be unaware of the restaurant. Perhaps, back at its inception, this was a good thing, but now I can safely say that things are on the up, upstairs.

One aspect of this restaurant that I do admire is the decoration. Taking full advantage of the ridiculous 10,000 sq ft split-level space, Kinney Chan, the designer, has used natural earth tones and soft contours for the ‘Onshore’ fine dining restaurant, and sea hues and coral effects for the ‘underwater’ bar downstairs. It’s all rather soothing and relaxing.The menu has been given a ‘reboot’ and now the open kitchen churns out a wide variety of Western fare. Their main area of focus is their dry-aged “meat on the bone” from Australia, and prime cuts from the USA and Canada and they also have a selection of seafood specialities in keeping with their ‘Offshore’ concept.

I had a bit of a feast as usual, starting with the humble but excellent Prawn cocktail with classic Marie Rose sauce, (posh name for ketchanaise). The Australian prawns were large, succulent and nicely seasoned and the sauce was at its tangy best.Next, I sampled the Baby Butter Lettuce Hearts salad with fresh crab, avocado, spring onions and cucumber with a wonderfully refreshing dressing. The presentation was alarmingly green; it was practically screaming, “I’M FRESH!!” Luckily for Shore, it was, and one of the better salads I’ve had in a restaurant for a while.For mains, I had to try a steak of course. For the steak-clueless, they have the ominously titled “Meat Bible” for you to read and digest before you pick your cut. It’s actually not a huge read, but it is educational and comes with pictures, which always helps.  I had the 12oz all natural grain fed USA Prime Rib-eye steak from Cedar Farms, USA. It was huge and even though I only had half, (I shared with my companion thankfully), I still had a touch of the meat-sweats afterwards. The steak was well-prepared, the meat of a high quality, but didn’t set itself apart from its counterparts in other establishments. Overall it was a solid effort, and yet again, the chips were great.Dessert is a different story. The menu has two sections- the ‘Choco Block’ and the ‘Not-so Choco Block’. In other words, chocolatey treats and non chocolate treats.

I had the “very sorry task” of having their 9 layer chocolate cake, a task that I was extremely reluctant to undertake, as I didn’t want to create food envy when I then proceeded to post a photo of it on Twitter. It’s positively sinful. Chocolate sponge, ganache and praline buttercream elegantly layered and presented teasingly on a plate before me. How’s a girl supposed to say no to that? I’m not going to comment as I think you can probably guess what I thought of it. I’ll let your taste-buds decide for themselves when you pay Shore a visit.

Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5

Shore, 3rd & 4th floor, L Place, 139 Queen’s Road, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2915 1638

$$$-$$$$$$$$$$

You can also read this review on Sassy Hong Kong.


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Refined dining by the Water

I love that I’m so near the sea in Hong Kong, and one of the best things about it is some of the stunning views, one of the most famous being that of Victoria Harbour. There’s nothing like watching the sunset between the skyscrapers and the reflections bouncing off the water, as you journey back from a junk trip or take the Star Ferry.

The Watermark offers a great waterfront dining experience, especially as it has nabbed a prime location at Central Pier. You’ll spot couples enjoying a romantic meal while taking in the 270 degree view of the harbour or groups of friends having a laugh over a chilled bottle of wine, as they see boats pass by. Having never eaten there before, I was taken by the capaciousness of the restaurant, with its high ceilings and open-plan design, yet there is an intimacy to the ambience. I attribute this to the partitioning of the huge glass windows, which break up the views a bit, but still give diners a spectacular view of harbour activity.Last month I was delighted to be invited to an eight-course tasting dinner to sample Executive Chef Pascal Breant’s rejuvenated contemporary continental menu. Armed with an empty stomach and a big appetite, I happily grazed my way through five appetisers, two mains (albeit, reduced in size) and a fantastic selection of Artisan cheese and house petit fours. Watermark prides itself on its dry-aged beef, the beef undergoing a dry-ageing process to tenderise the meat and concentrate the flavours and flies in a variety of fresh seafood every week for diners to enjoy.

To start, the others guests and I were greeted by three of the biggest displays of oysters I’ve ever seen. We sampled the Irish Rock Gigas, which was nutty in flavour and soft in texture, the Tasmanian, which was creamy and saltier and my favourite, the French Pinky which was extremely flavoursome and meaty. I had to walk away and substitute eating for drinking champagne instead, to prevent myself from gorging on piles of oysters.When we were seated, we were first given the Barramundi carpaccio paired with Heirloom tomato and field greens. The carpaccio was very fresh and not too fishy due to the neutralisation of the shallot, ginger and lime dressing.Next was the crispy jumbo lump crab cake, a deliciously huge lump of crab served with a great jalapeno salsa and the seared foie gras with poached pear which was perfectly cooked.Another new creation is the white bean cappuccino with pork sausage. The presentation appealed to all the girls- a tiny white cup of the frothy creamy cappuccino soup with a slice of sausage on a cocktail stick perched on top.If you think your balance is off at the restaurant, don’t panic. At one point I thought my one glass of champers had affected me badly as I kept swaying at the table, until I realised that several boats were passing by and were causing ripples of movement on the pier!

Of the two mains- the pan seared wild seabass and the French tenderloin with fondant potato, the seabass was the highpoint. The fish was beautifully prepared and seasoned and I loved the bulgur wheat and mushroom fricassee. My tenderloin steak was cooked just right, the seasoning was great, but compared to the fish, and other steaks I’ve had, it was at most, good.I adored the Artisan cheese platter. The selection included Pont-l’Évêque, Fourme D’Ambert and Cabécou cheeses. I could’ve eaten the entire tray. Thankfully three others were sharing with me, otherwise several moments on the lips would’ve become several lifetimes on the hips.The petit fours were lovely, but by then I was too full to fully appreciate the tiny chocolate gateaux, pastries and custard tarts. I did squeeze in the world’s smallest strawberry ice-cream cone to end an evening by the harbour.

If you’re stuck on ideas on where to go for a date, a special occasion or even Sunday brunch, Watermark hits the spot with its ideal location, charming views and elegant menu.

Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5

Watermark, Shop L, Level P, Star Ferry, Central. Tel: 2167 7251

You can also read this review on Sassy Hong Kong


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Market fresh

I recently found myself taking an epic walk from Tsim Sha Tsui MTR to East Tsim Sha Tsui, and wondering why the government didn’t just make one very, very long travelator from one end to the other. I’m a little lazy sometimes and especially so when I’m investigating eateries in never-before-explored areas, such as East TST. There’s something mysterious about the ‘East’ side, no-one really mentions it, no-one wants to go there, as according to some people, it’s “enough of a trek going to TST, let alone East TST”. But, there appears to be a fair amount to do around there, lots of malls, markets, restaurants and a shed-load of hotels everywhere you look. Worth a closer inspection I say.

On this particular day, I was going to the new Hotel ICON, (opened since May), which aims to combine traditional and modern Asian hospitality with local and international art and design. It’s very funky inside and I can imagine, as a guest, a bit like staying in a piece of art.

There are three restaurants in Hotel ICON, all designed by Terence Conran: GREEN- a café and tapas bar, Above & Beyond- which serves Cantonese cuisine and The Market.

I was trying out The Market, which, barely 2 months into its opening, is already heaving with customers. A buffet-style restaurant offering mostly Asian but also international dishes, it claims inspiration from Hong Kong’s wet markets, with open kitchens and chefs cooking everything from pizza to tandoori chicken.

It has a few signature dishes, two of which are the Laksa Lemak and the Beef Rendang. My family is originally from Malaysia so I know how these should taste, and they were good, especially the laksa soup, which anyone will tell you is the most important part of the entire ensemble of ingredients. Obviously it helps that Hotel ICON has employed a Singaporean chef to cook these classic dishes!

Apart from the noodle/ congee section where the Singaporean Chef resides, there is also a tandoor oven, a regular oven for roasts, a Japanese, Korean, and Chinese section, as well as an ice-kacang corner, a self-service pancake machine (!) and a brilliant pastry and dessert section, presided over by pastry chef Danny Ho, who seems to be something of a genius with sugar.

Before I swoon over the desserts, one thing I need to mention is how tender all of the meat was. I had a selection of Western-style roast beef and pork and Korean-style grilled beef and pork which were very succulent and juicy. The sashimi from the Japanese corner was of a high quality, though a bit too thickly sliced for my taste and the curry sauces generously thick and full of flavour.

But back to desserts, and what a selection there is on offer! Chef Danny Ho has managed to make the entire dessert section so pretty with its display of mini cakes and puddings that it looks too good to eat. One delectable pudding that stood out for me was his vegetable sorbet. I see you frown at this, but this sorbet made from a blend of cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries and red peppers, is a sublimely refreshing and moreish palate cleanser, and the best way to end a rich meal. I could have eaten a whole tub of it. The over-riding flavour is the strawberry, but on first taste, you detect the red pepper with a cucumber undertone, which then gives way to the sweetness of the strawberry. I wonder how he does it.

My only excuse for eating so many desserts is that they were really small, bite-size; which is why I ended up with Green tea panna-cotta, apple crumble with vanilla ice-cream, bread and butter pudding, mango panna-cotta, Baileys mousse, a lemon tart and a strawberry olive oil sponge cake. There wasn’t a single one I didn’t like, but I loved the lemon tart and the Baileys mousse was pretty strongly flavoured! None of them were too sweet, so I didn’t feel sick afterwards- always a bonus.

Prices start at $198 for breakfast, $218 for lunch and $408 for dinner. The selections will vary with each meal, but if the self-service pancake machine tickles your fancy, you’ll have to go along for breakfast.

Don’t let the location put you off. Hotel ICON is one of many places to explore in East TST. The great thing is you’ll work up an appetite getting there!

Chopstixfix rating: 3/5

Hotel ICON, 17 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon. Tel: 3400 1000

Thanks to CatchOn & Company for the professional looking photos (spot the difference 😛 ) 

You can also see this review at Sassy HK.