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Archive for the ‘Brunch’ Category

Just in time for your all-important weekend brunch decisions, here comes Best of Brunch part saam. This post is on one of my favorite places for dinner, too: The Press Room. My friend J was in town from China last weekend so we all had a little get-together over our favorite meal of the week. We booked an early table at 10:30. When we got to the restaurant, it was half-full, though it filled up rapidly during our meal. When I called, the staff member I talked to said we’d have to return our table by noon. It wasn’t really a huge problem, although I felt the staff were extremely anxious for us to return our table on time. At one point, someone (I forget who, but it might have been the captain, dressed in his nice suit) reminded us that we “have to return the table by noon!” when we ordered a second round of coffee. Come on, now, we’re contributing to your bottom line!

Anyways, on to the food! We ordered six things in all for us to share: the greek yoghurt with roasted hazelnuts and honey, waffles with blueberries and strawberries, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and caviar, an omelette with everything (bacon, ham, cheese, spring onions, herbs, and peppers), freshly baked scones with homemade jam and clotted cream, and pomme frites. Yes, I ordered french fries at 10:30 in the morning – but these are not just normal french fries. They’re the best pomme frites in Hong Kong and if I ever go to the Press Room and not order them, well…I think the world may just collapse.

The greek yoghurt came first. The yoghurt was thick and creamy with a great tang. Personally, I’m torn on the inclusion of the hazelnuts because once they were stirred into the yoghurt, you only got little shards once every few mouthfuls. But, that said, when I did get a hazelnut, the roasted flavor fairly exploded in my mouth. The general verdict was that the dish was good, but too small of a portion for $47.

Delish but a bit pricey

The next to come out were our egg dishes. The omelette with everything was wonderfully fluffy, though unfortunately it lacked a bit of seasoning on the inside. The ham wasn’t very prevalent, and I don’t remember getting any bacon bits at all. Maybe if you select everything, you get all the veggies and your choice of bacon or ham? Not too sure.

Our fully loaded omelette

The scrambled eggs with salmon and caviar was really unique. The eggs had a kind of salmon-infused flavor, if you will – a very distinct taste. The caviar was not on top of the eggs, as I’d imagined, but mixed into the scramble so every once in a while, you’d get a burst of caviar. P said this dish was his favorite and J was luxuriating in her first taste of caviar after her gradual cessation of vegetarianism.

They definitely did not skimp on the salmon

Then came my favorite! The pomme frites! You already know how I feel about these, but…all right, I’ll just reiterate that they were still magically crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. How do they do that?

Pomme frites for President! (Or Chief Executive!)

The last two dishes to arrive were the waffle and the scones. The waffle was groaning under the weight of a massive dollop of whipped cream (not that I was complaining). With blueberries and strawberries to the side, the dish looked like a delicious, abstract interpretation of the star-spangled banner.

A patriotic waffle?

The homemade whipped cream was amazing – I must confess I was scraping the leftover smears off the plate after the waffle was gone. The waffle itself had a nice texture, a little sweet on its own, but well-complemented by the fresh fruit and whipped cream.

The scones were delightfully crumbly, and beautifully browned on top. The clotted cream was smooth and soft enough for spreading. I’ve had tea at many places in Hong Kong where the clotted cream was a bit too hard for my liking, and trying to spread it on my scones was like trying to spread dried plaster. This cream was great, and the jam was nice and tart.

Its like cream tea for breakfast!

Oh, and I forgot to mention I ordered a fresh orange juice as well. It came all natural, sans sweeteners, and tasted very refreshing. They’ve also got a long list of tipples, including Kir cocktails and absinthe, along with the usual Bloody Marys, coffee and tea.

Fresh!

Now that I’m done writing this post, I would love to go back again and try some other menu items, including their pancakes with blueberries, bacon, and maple syrup; french toast with bananas; steak and eggs with hash browns; macaroni au gratin; lobster benedict (how decadent would it be to have lobster for brunch? Swoon!) and any of their desserts, like the banoffee sundae. They’ve also got a long list of soups and salads, sandwiches served with pomme frites, and their oysters on offer. Yes, I will be going back.

So I guess now, the only questions are: Do you distinguish between pomme frites and french fries? And do you think there’s another place in Hong Kong that serves even better pomme frites? (Or perhaps, even better brunch?)

The Press Room
108 Hollywood Road
2525 3444
Cost: ~ $180 HKD/person

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Another restaurant I quite like for brunch is Life, located in Mid-levels. Yes, it’s a vegetarian restaurant. I know there are plenty of carnivores out there who gasp at the thought of a bacon-less brunch, but fear not: brunch at Life won’t have you missing meat at all. P and I have gone there a couple times now and even he’s been convinced.

One menu option that’s substantial and full-flavored is the Mushroom and Herb Omelette. It’s fairly bursting with mushrooms; if you looked up “stuffed within an inch of its life”, this omelette would be there! The caramelized onions add a hit of smoke and sweetness – really well done.

Omelette with all the trimmings

Omelette!

P and I also get the Gluten Free Flax Seed Pancakes. The name might make you expect a sterile, bland stack, but actually, these flapjacks are quite fluffy and a bit sweet. You can amp up the sweetness by adding some of the wonderfully-made mixed berry jam. The chunks of berry are tart and tasty, and this jam really reminds me of the homemade stuff P’s mom sends us when she jars her own jam at home.

Flavorful flax!

And though these two dishes are enough to fill us, we always end up ordering a couple extra pieces of their sunflower toast. It’s loaded with grains and so delicious.

Also served with a side of berry jam

The rooftop is open from noon on the weekends, I think, and it’s the perfect place to zone out and forget you’re in the middle of hectic Central. I just saw on their website that they don’t take reservations for the weekends, though. Must be a new thing, as I remember you could book ahead before. Also, downstairs they have a take away deli with daily soup and dahl, in addition to a selection of cold deli dishes. If I remember right, the prices are really reasonable – something like $50 for three choices of deli selections and a bit more for five choices. I haven’t gotten their takeaway yet, but someday soon, I will.

I really enjoy brunch at Life because my belly never feels overly heavy when I leave. There’s none of the lethargy associated with eating some traditional brunch foods (not that I avoid that all the time, mind you – the next brunch entry will induce anyone into a food coma, I promise). I also like that Life doesn’t make me miss meat at all; rather, they use interesting flavors and fresh ingredients to make the meal great.

Life
10 Shelley Street
2810 9777
Cost: ~ $150 HKD/person

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After a frenzied fall of applying for grad school, I was finally able to take a breath and enjoy one of my favorite things on earth – lazy weekend mornings. Well, actually, my favorite thing on earth is what you eat on lazy weekend mornings: Brunch. There’s nothing I love more than having a nice, leisurely chat with friends while stuffing my face with 2,000 calories before noon (or after noon, in some cases) and not feeling too guilty about it because hey – it’s brunch.

P and I have been casually scouring the city for brunch spots, and one of our favorites is Classified on Wing Fung Street in Wan Chai. The space itself is a bit small – only two big tables with shared seating and some stools along a counter – but the food is great AND you can get coffee in soup bowls (that’s right, soup bowls). Our must-order dish is the baked camembert, served with homemade toast.

This dish may change your life

We first ordered this because I saw a couple next to us spreading the obscenely creamy butter on their toast. After we ate it, a mom-and-daughter pair asked what we had, then promptly ordered one for themselves. It’s not hard to love. The cheese fairly oozes out when you poke the top, like a gooey, savory creme brulee. There are bits of truffle on top, just to make your day that much better.

Another of our favorite dishes is the french toast, which comes in a formidable stack. I also recommend the chorizo and beans on toast. The chorizo is so plump and salty, just the way Spanish sausage should be. Lastly, we usually get the homemade granola with fruit and yogurt. Every time we go with J, she happily digs to the bottom of the bowl and exclaims, “Oooh, watermelon!”

Granola heaven

As a bonus, this place always has bakery items on sale. We grabbed a loaf of multi-grain on the way out the door and it was promptly consumed on the same day.

I do wish this place had more seats, as I feel a little guilty lingering over my coffee/tea/Vero hot chocolate and newspaper/ipod/engaging conversation as others wait by the door. However, if you come early enough (around 10), you’ll have the place nearly to yourself.

Classified Mozzarella Bar
31 Wing Fung Street
2528 3454
Cost: ~ $120/person

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This morning, M, W, and I went to Ali Oli Bakery Cafe in the mid-levels for brunch. I ate there last weekend and was really impressed with the super-affordable prices and top-notch ingredients. My apologies, though, for not having photos just yet – though I’m sure I’ll go back, so check this space for updates.

Anyways, Ali Oli serves breakfast all day on Saturdays and Sundays. Snag a window seat if you can; it’s great for people watching! All iterations of adorable children parade by. Combined with the giant cups of coffee and abundant rays of sunshine warming your face, it’s my definition of a leisurely weekend meal.

The menu covers all kinds of breakfast, from a full English to yogurt with homemade granola and fresh fruit to omelettes to pancakes to brunch pies and chips. Today I had the latter (an Australian meat pie, to be exact), which was my first experience with savory pies. Admittedly, I’m not an expert in that area, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the buttery crust and well-seasoned meat. The chips were also great with their crunchy outer shell. Last time I came, I had a roll with two sausages and a fried egg in the middle. I will say, the sausages are delicious – plump and savory – and may be my favorite things on the menu. Last time I also tried the granola, which runs a close second in my mind.

This has definitely become one of my favorite breakfast spots on HK Island. Mind you, the service is sometimes lacking (the first time I came, I had to ask for multiple things at least twice), but I think it’s because they’re training some young, new-to-waitressing girls. Today we had very amiable man serving us, and he was great – very friendly and accommodating. In any case, once the food gets to your table, it’s hard to find a fault.

Also, I noted they have set lunches starting from $48 HKD (!) with sides, and options to include dessert and drinks for about $10 extra. There’s also a “pre-summer” special on gelato, priced at $20 per scoop. Oh and did I mention they have homemade artisanal breads, hummus, pesto, and other goodies as well? Heaven.

Ali Oli Bakery Cafe
53 Caine Road
2898 9000
Cost: ~ $70 HKD/person

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