Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Pawn - The British invasion continues

In 1997, after over 150 years of ruling Hong Kong, the British handed back control to China amongst much fear and anxiety. That anxiety was largely unfounded.  In 2015, it seems as if Briton's imperialist aspirations have returned, only this time it takes a very different form.  It's UK chefs that are taking control of Hong Kong, and it's the dining scene that is seeing an invasion of the UK's top chefs.  

When you think of the UK chefs establishing themselves in Hong Kong, it's usually names like Gordon Ramsey (see post here), Jamie Oliver and Jason Atherton (see post here and here) that spring to mind.  However, they're not the only well known celebrity chefs expanding their global network of dining establishments.  Tom Aikens may not be the first chef you'd think of when talking UK chefs, but that could be about to change.  One of the stable of well known chefs that have dominated Great British Menu, Tom was over visiting his Hong Kong outpost, The Pawn.  Of course, we had to get along and check it out.

The Pawn is located in one of the last remaining heritage buildings left in Wan Chai. The Pawn recently went through major renovations, which thankfully kept much of it's heritage charm. Aikens, working with HK group the Press Room Group, has collaborated as consultant chef and brings his uniquely British take on casual fine dining.  The dining room sits atop two bar areas, which we had to traverse to get to the restaurant, having failed to notice the main entrance on Tai Wong Street.  Instead, we'd taken a dark and narrow staircase up through one of the bars, before finding our way to a rickety elevator to take us the dining floor.

Quick Bites - Beer and Fish (where's the beer)

Beer & Fish HK

One of the things I miss most about my former home, a country that is one big island where most of the population lives on the coastline, is the variety of fish available when visiting a fish and chip shop.  In most fish and chipperies in Australia, you have a myriad of options available, all of it amazing quality.  So far, I've discovered that there is a distinct lack of fish and chip joints, and the few good ones I've found, there are limited options available.

My favourite so far has been Hooked in Soho (see post here), but even this New Zealand run little joint has very few options for an adventurous diner.  So, it was with a little trepidation that we visited the new the SoHo fish and chip joint, Beer & Fish.  We'd had a few false starts over the last few weeks, walking by  a couple of Saturday afternoons in a row, only to find that Beer & Fish was 'not quite open' yet.  Then, one day, it was open!

Being brand new, Beer & Fish had that shiny new feeling about it, everything was shiny and clean and it looked pretty cool.  Exposed light fittings gave it a slightly industrial feel, as did the metal benches that doubled as serving benches.  Like a lot of dining spots in SoHo, Beer & Fish took up very little room, in fact it was tiny, and would probably only hold half a dozen diners at any one time.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

22 Ships - tapas at the cool end of town

I've not really been in Hong Kong long enough to have witnessed the gentrification of parts of Wan Chai. I mean I can still see elements of the old Hong Kong in the hip Hong Kong district, but it seems as if a large part of the area has already changed.  It's not for me to say whether that's a good or bad thing, I have a natural predilection towards urban renewal, but there are some parts of Wan Chai that are now pretty hip and cool.

Ship Street is probably one of the leading lights in the gentrification of Wan Chai, with an ever expanding number of cool little restaurants and bars, along with some of Asia's top restaurants (see post here and here).  It was with this in mind that we decided to catch up with local food buddy Cynthia from JustCozitsTuesday for dinner, it also helped that it was in Cynthia's neck of the woods for a change!  Big fans of Aberdeen Street Social (see post here), we went to Jason Atherton's other Hong Kong restaurant, casual diner 22 Ships.

Named after it's location in Ship Street, 22 Ships is easy to spot from the street.  As with a lot of small, hip restaurants, there's a no reservation policy at 22 Ships, which normally means you need all parties together to score a seat.  We'd arrived a little earlier and with puppy dog eyes, asked if we could take our seat as our friend would be joining pretty quickly.  The waitress took pity on us and led us to one of the few tables that was still available inside and as we waited for our dining companion to join us, we looked over the menu.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Linguini Fini - biggest pizza ever!

Always on the lookout for a quick and cheap dining option on the way home from work, we've had our eye on Linguini Fini for the last few months.  Located on the corner of Elgin and Shelley Streets in Soho, Linguini Fini immediately met one of our two requirements for a regular dining haunt, we walked by it every day on our way home from work, so convenient: Check!  There was only one way for us to find out if it met our other criteria, great tasting food, and that was to finally check it out.

Ironically, we went to Linguini Fini on a Sunday evening for dinner, so even though it was conveniently located on our walk home, we ended up coming at it from the wrong direction. Being a Sunday, we didn't think it would have been necessary to make a booking, and while the restaurant was quite busy with Sunday afternoon/evening expat drinkers, there were still tables available for diners.

If you've walked up the escalators through Soho, then you'd have seen Linguini Fini before, it's pretty hard to miss.  What makes it stand out so much is its open facade and its bright red neon sign, shining like a beacon calling in weary travellers for a beer and a pizza.  We were led around the back of the restaurant and given a seat that had a prime view of the kitchen, which gave me a bit of a sense of Linguini Fini.  Know for it's fresh produce that's locally sourced, I could see fresh pasta hanging from the ceiling and one of the chefs handling a huge fish that looked like it was squirming about, it was so fresh.


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