Like in most major capitals of the world, the eating in Hong Kong is undeniably exciting. But finding excellent food worthy of an intimate family celebration that fits most budgets can be a challenge. Until we found this place.
POSTED BY PINKY
Hong Kong has always been our family’s happy place.
It was among the first countries I remember my father ever going to in the ’70s during the martial law years. And while living overseas as an expat family in a Muslim country in the ’80s, we would spend our Christmas holidays either in Hong Kong or Singapore.
A tradition that continued well into the ’90s, major milestones in our lives thereafter have been celebrated in these two cities as well – but more so in Hong Kong. In fact, my parents continue to visit annually to this day.
So it made absolutely perfect sense for them to whisk us, their three daughters and our respective families, to a place that had meant so much to all of us over the years, to celebrate their 50th anniversary.
It helps that finding a place to eat in Hong Kong isn’t usually a problem. The choices are as varied and exciting as it is endless and (possibly) overwhelming!
And on this visit, we definitely wanted to try something new.
Going Beyond Our Old Favourites
Maxim’s at City Hall for a fantastic dim sum meal (love the colonial setting!), Din Tai Fung for some heavenly xiao long bao (Crystal Jade and Peking Garden serve them, too), Yung Kee for their famous roast goose, the fun bars and restaurants in Lan Kwai Fong, a romantic meal with a great view of the city at The Peak Lookout in Victoria Peak, Macau Restaurant on Lock Road and just a few steps away, my husband’s new discovery – Sing Lum Khui for some rice noodles.
All great and pretty dependable. But we were set to do the rounds of these familiar haunts anyway.
So search we did until we found…
Scarlett Cafe and Wine Bar
Serving French bistro-type food that appeals to both the kids and the adults in our group (their menu actually reminded me of another great find in Marseille), the restaurant’s casual yet trendy look and reasonable prices (for a city like Hong Kong) didn’t hurt either.
Plus, it’s in the Tsim Sha Tsui area on Kowloon side, where our favourite Marco Polo hotel chain is located.
So I emailed the restaurant to book our table, explaining that we were celebrating a special occasion, and I immediately received a reply from their senior marketing manager, Alice Targett.
It is slightly off the beaten path and can be tricky to find, but it’s close to the area of the Hong Kong Observatory. No. 2 Austin Avenue (not to be confused with Austin Road) is just off Chatham Road near the Rosary Church.
Capping a Long Day
To give you an idea of how this particular day went, our supposed evening flight from the previous day was delayed by 4 hours and we finally got to our hotel at 2:30 a.m.
Sleep deprivation, however, didn’t stop us from hopping on a ferry immediately after breakfast for our customary crossing of Victoria Harbour between Kowloon and Central. Neither did it prevent us from doing a bit of shopping, which alas, had to be cut short.
For we had scheduled an hour-long photo session with a fantastic family photographer, who decided that we do it on location outdoors at the lovely and historic former marine police headquarters, now the 1881 Heritage complex.
Afterwards, the parish priest at the church we’ve been going to in the last few years whenever in Hong Kong, located a mere walking distance from our hotel, gave my parents a special blessing after Sunday’s evening Mass.
So yes, it had been a long day, and we were running a little late. But a quick email I sent informing the restaurant of this was responded to right away by the assistant manager, Pauline, who assured me they’d hold the table for us.
As soon as our big group got to Scarlett, we knew we had chosen the right place. From the restaurant’s cool, urban design to the warm reception from the staff, who (surprise, surprise) turned out to be Pinoys!
We were then led to the second floor, where kababayans Jonci and Ryan showed us to the long table that had been reserved for us. A view of the open kitchen and the large windows certainly helped set the tone for what was to come. For the proof is still in the pudding, as they say.
Now, to the business of food.
Ordering for a big group like ours can be tricky, but trying some of Scarlett’s signature dishes was definitely a must.
To start our meal, we ordered red wine, Caesar’s salad, and the G charcuterie and cheese Board. They’ve got their popular 1-Metre-long Tapas Board but we decided to order the shorter one as we needed a couple of them to spread over our long table.
The staff also served the kids some complimentary non-alcoholic cocktails, which I think was a fun idea.
Next came the Scampi pasta and Olio pasta (with a hint of truffle) to accompany our chosen main dishes – La Cote de Beouf, each order of which is 1 kilogram of delectably tender, perfectly-cooked prime rib with bone, and their Roasted Baby Chicken with Provençal Herbs, which was tasty and moist beyond expectation.
For dessert, we chose a trio of Creme Brûlée, Molten Chocolate Cake, and Apple Tart, which they served on a long wooden board with a special Anniversary greeting written in chocolate syrup, along with matching complimentary champagne for my parents. A really nice touch!
And on top of that, they gave a discount as a gift to my parents! This was totally unexpected but highly appreciated, I must say.
A New Fave in Hong Kong
So yes, Scarlett now holds a place in our list of favourite restaurants in one of my all-time favourite cities in the world.
Delicious, well-presented food, check. Great ambience, check. Efficient, friendly service (fabulously responsive with an attentive, knowledgeable staff that didn’t hover), check.
It’s a perfect place to bring a date, a bunch of friends, or even a large family like ours, for some fun tapas and drinks or a wonderful, hearty meal.
Still so many more dishes to try, wines to enjoy…..
Scarlett, oh Scarlett, you guys haven’t seen the last of me yet.
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Photo Credit: all restaurant and food shots from Scarlett Cafe and Wine Bar