Top 5 Spots for Alfresco Dining
While the term “alfresco” is a relatively recent addition to the local vernacular, Hong Kong’s residents have been dining in the great outdoors for centuries. However, a lot has changed since the times of street noodle carts and the government has taken to meddling with outdoor dining policies, resulting in the closure of street side joints and beach bars. Nevertheless, alfresco dining still remains popular, with a plethora of options in every conceivable cuisine and price range. This week, we celebrate the world’s greatest decorator, Mother Nature, with a look at the top five alfresco dining options in the city.
Although it is devoid of sandboxes and swing sets, The Backyard at the trendy Langham Place hotel in Mong Kok is a playground for adults. Set in a large 6,000 square foot space, The Backyard features lounge furniture, oversized bean bags, mango trees, a waterfall and a stream that runs through the premise. While the décor may seem over the top, it succeeds in transporting patrons far away from the heart of Mong Kok. The lounge is better known for its extensive drinks menu but the food menu goes far beyond typical “pub grub”, offering gourmet pizzas and a large variety of small plates. The pizzas are true gourmet creations, featuring toppings such as sautéed beef sirloin, spicy lamb sausage, cambonzola cheese and smoked duck. As for the small plates, they range from Asian delights such as grilled Szechuan lime scented prawns to North American staples like poutine. For those wanting to lounge the afternoon or evening away, the “Lazy Daze” promotion offers up three hours of unlimited champagne, spirits, wine, beer and gourmet pizzas. Additionally, there is a “Snack Attack” combo, featuring a choice of an appetiser with a glass of house wine, sparkling wine, draught beer or soft drink, all priced at a very reasonable HK$98.
4/F Langham Place, 555 Shanghai Street, Mong Kok. Tel:+852 3552-3250.
Beyond being a place to entertain out-of-town guests, this perennial favourite on top of Victoria Peak makes a good spot for a relaxing meal with family and friends. During the day, the restaurant’s patio is bright and airy while dim lighting in the evenings turns meals into a more romantic affair. The Peak Lookout is also perfect for families, being one of the few dog-friendly restaurants in Hong Kong and boasting an extensive menu that will please a wide range of tastes. The food is hearty and unpretentious, with favourites such as Hainanese chicken rice and a wide range of tandoori dishes. Seafod lovers will also appreciate the oyster bar, offering freshly shucked oysters from all over the world. Despite the Peak’s popularity with tourists, the Peak Lookout remains relatively peaceful even on the busiest of weekends, making it a good choice for a more serene meal in the great outdoors.
121 Peak Road, The Peak. Tel: +852 2849-1000
Ultra-cool club by night and elegant dining room by day, Azure never fails to impress, no matter what time you visit. While the dining room is located on the top floor of the trendy Hotel LKF, the restaurant’s rooftop deck offers even more spectacular views of the harbour while being right in the middle of all the buildings that make up the island’s skyline. The food menu is long, with over ten different pastas alone, and is sure to have something to suit every taste. Food is made with the freshest ingredients and prepared to very high standards. As expected for a restaurant that turns into a club after dark, the drinks selection is superb with an extensive wine list to boot. Whether you’re entertaining guests or just having a night out with your friends, a visit to Azure makes for an amazing experience.
29 & 30/F, Hotel LKF by Rhombus, 33 Wyndham Street, Central. Tel: +852 3518-9330.
Walk into Element’s Civic Square in West Kowloon and it is as if you’ve walked onto a movie set of a typical Italian piazza, replete with a picturesque water fountain that sits in the middle and is completely surrounded by restaurants. Among those restaurants is Joia, serving up modern Italian cuisine in a pleasant and refined setting. Taking a seat on the outside terrace, you can feel the refreshing harbour breeze and take in the view of the neighbouring towers, including the impressive ICC. Despite claiming to serve “modern” Italian cuisine, the restaurant doesn’t stray too far from the traditional favourites, resulting in a menu that is unpretentious and easy to understand. Recommended dishes include lamb’s loin served with artichokes, potato and yellow corn polenta, and red prawns tartar with avocado, melon, buffalo mozzarella and green apple sherbet. Both dishes are house specialties and perfectly combine a variety of tastes and textures. Like all the dishes, they also benefit from the best ingredients, which was particularly evident in the lamb’s loin. For the alcoholic in all of us, there is a large selection of Italian wines, prosecco and sparkling wines. While other restaurants may have great Italian food, Joia pairs it with a great Italian alfresco atmosphere, making for a great experience even if you don’t spend the entire meal in oversized shades.
Shop R010, 3/F Elements, 1 Austin Road West, West Kowloon. Tel: +852 2382-2323.
Located in the mostly residential district of Tai Koo on the rooftop of East hotel, Sugar promises stunning views and a menu that goes far beyond the typical bar menu of burgers and fries. In addition to its usual menu, which includes delights like deep fried risotto and mozzarella bites, pizza di parma and Thai beef salad, Sugar is also introducing Sunday barbecues this summer, priced at HK$285 per person. The barbecue includes a selection of five different salads, three mains chosen from resident chef Collin’s weekly recommendations and a full spread of desserts. In addition to the stunning views and special summer cocktails, diners are also entertained by resident DJ’s. Perched high up and away from the crowds, the barbecues are a great option for relaxing Sunday afternoons.
32/F East, 29 Taikoo Shing Road, Tai Koo. Tel +852 3968-3738.