Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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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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Putting on a Funky Shou

Fu Lu Shou- Good Fortune, Prosperity and Longevity- has been open a little over a month and I have already been three times, something of a record for me when it comes to new establishments. And all because the place is just so darn funky. Two things to mention that make this my new go-to spot for laid-back cool- a fab rooftop terrace and rather yummy cocktails. Ping Lam, the brainchild behind the Nail Library, has successfully turned her attention from beautifying hands and feet to feeding people, and its all about bringing in old skool Western Chinese from her childhood in Australia.  Their motto is “Eat. Drink. And Be Prosperous”; I can do the first two, just hoping that one day Fu Lu Shou magically makes it rain when I next visit. I wish.

Eat, Drink And Be Prosperous

Eat, Drink And Be Prosperous

Fu Lu Shou is ensconced in a rather dodgy looking old building on Hollywood Road by the escalators and takes over the space formerly occupied by TBLS. The only way to get inside is to know the door code which changes every Tuesday. The code, the well-hidden location, plus the jittery old lift, add to the Fu Lu Shou atmosphere and make you feel like you’re in on a little secret. I loved it. Once you emerge on the top floor, you are greeted by a lovely rooftop bar and small, casual indoor dining area and an open kitchen. The bar is made up entirely of mahjong tiles which I was quite fascinated by, and inside, the look is completed by their motto emblazoned on the wall.  The real beauty is the outdoor terrace which is bedecked with inviting, comfy sofas, cushioned swing seats and a huge mural of a couple of happy, old Chinese scholars and one holding a cocktail!

Merry scholars

Merry scholars

Mahjong tiled bar

Mahjong tiled bar

The first time I went it was at the kind invitation of the awesome Rach from Through the Looking Glass and a merry group of us got stuck into the inventive cocktails and mocktails which are all worth trying and utterly delish. Firm cocktail favourites from my three visits are the Joh Sun, “Good Morning Hong Kong”- a feisty concoction of lemon-flavoured vodka, lemongrass syrup, lemon juice, ginger juice, lime and chilli- it certainly woke me up after one tiring day and their Haam Ling Chut “Salty Lemon”  which is a mix of Angostura Reserva 3 Yr Old White Rum, Salted Lemon, Salted Lemon Juice, Preserved Mandarin, Mint, Fever-Tree Lemonade & Fever-Tree Tonic. As someone who really loves the classic haam ling chut from cha chaan tengs, theirs was a lively, alcoholic version that went down a little too nicely! I enjoyed their mocktails too; all refreshing and fruity, especially their Yum Cha made with Chinese tea, homemade red date tea, lemon juice, passionfruit and elderflower syrup which is served in those gorgeous classic Chinese mugs with lids.

Yum Cha

Yum Cha

Joh Sun!

Joh Sun!

But what about the food? It’s NOT authentic first of all, but that’s the point and half the charm. It’s a cheeky and fun medley of Australian, UK and North American westernised Chinese food that owner Ping, wanted to capture and remember from her native Oz.  Ping was very quick to state that Fu Lu Shou is ‘not food-centric’ nor meant to be Michelin-star, the dishes are simply there to be enjoyed with the drinks and not to be taken seriously. In other words, chill out, pig out and smile. Ping clearly has a fab eye for detail as all the dishes came on those amazing melamine retro Chinese plates which I fondly remember eating off from as a child. The plates were shipped all the way from Paris no less- dedication!

Any food item termed ‘Big Arse’ has got to be good. By Big Arse, they are referring to the Ozzie extreme version of the siu mai and this momma was massive when it came as part of the mixed sampler plate. This tasted great, but we especially liked their prawn toast which was deliciously thick and crisp.

Mixed appetizer sample and Big Arse siu mai

Mixed appetizer sample and Big Arse siu mai

The Chicken and Sweet Corn ‘Egg Drop’ soup was soothing for the soul and was just the right consistency.

Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup

Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup

We sampled a variety of mains starting with the Beef in Black Bean Sauce. The sauce was slightly too heavy and intense on the salty black bean for me and should be accompanied by some rice. The Boss’ Honey Prawns’ light, sweet batter was nicely done and the prawns plump to bite into and the Sweet and Sour Pork was also a solid dish. The real crowd pleasers were the Deep Fried Tofu in Spicy Salt which were so addictive- I couldn’t stop piling the chili salt and pepper onto my rice, and the Kung Pao Chicken which was full of flavour and kick as well. For carbs you can go for anyone of the chow meins, though we were served the vegetable version to end the savouries.

Deep Fried Tofu in Spicy Salt

Deep Fried Tofu in Spicy Salt

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken

Vegetable Chow Mein

Vegetable Chow Mein

Beef in Black Bean Sauce

Beef in Black Bean Sauce

Boss' Honey Prawns

Boss’ Honey Prawns

Sweet and Sour Pork

Sweet and Sour Pork

For dessert we tucked into a properly old-skool banana split with ice-cream AND an umbrella- yummy! We also enjoyed the banana fritters and the sticky toffee apples which we dunked into ice water with glee to solidify the toffee.

Banana fritters

Banana fritters

Sticky Toffee Apple

Sticky Toffee Apple

Dunking Time

Dunking Time

Banana Split

Banana Split

If you want a fun night out with delicious drinks and a great rooftop to enjoy the HK ambience, make Fu Lu Shou a regular hang-out. It doesn’t serve authentic Chinese food, but it sure does do a brilliant take on ‘non-authentic’ Chinese grub to make bananas like me nostalgic. I do recommend booking in advance and remember to check the door code or you’ll be stuck outside on Hollywood Road.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

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

Fu Lu Shou, 7/F, 31 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2336 8812

 https://www.facebook.com/FuLuShouHK