1/F, 63 Wyndham Street, Central
One step inside Restoration and you feel transported. Scattering the space is the eclectic yet elegant touch of New Orleans decor, with rooms dimly lit yet still lovingly warm and inviting. Bar stool diners had a better view of Chef Jack Carson and the team in the hot kitchen, but our table was cosy, humble and gave us enough privacy. From the window-side, one could look down from the first floor to the seemingly distant Wyndham Street and grating pace of Hong Kong’s party district.
What looked like painted and restored vintage furniture pieces could be found in the corners of your eyes, in the small details but in a big way. A few quaint gerber daisies at the center of our table was the clincher, bringing me somewhere I’ve surely never been. But immediately, I felt at home, or at least somewhere familiar. The service was similarly warm, as well as knowledgeable and attentive.
I was excited to taste what I already felt comforted by: The Big Easy.
19 Hollywood Road, SOHO, Central
The origin of tapas is nothing short of cool for any history buff. ‘Tapas’ means ‘lid’ or ‘cover’, and food at bars in Spain were, once upon a time, placed on little plates used to cover the glasses of wine or beer or whatever Spanish yuppies were drinking back then after a hard day of siesta. Other variations include how it prevented the peasants or lower classes, who could not afford a full meal, from drinking on an empty stomach. However, out of all these explanations for why the Spanish take little meals with their drink, I quite like the story of the once ill stricken King Alfonso X – also known as Alfonso the Wise, and wise he was indeed – who issued a decree that all wine must be served with a small meal. If he had the reins over LKF, I’m sure we’d find much fewer underage kids throwing up in the public toilets next to Beijing Club.
I would’ve thought tapas would have more presence in HK. For one, people of Guangdong province are notorious for talking about food way more than any of its neighbours (I’m not even going to give the Northern provinces a second thought), Hong Kong itself is a foodie heaven, and the drinking culture in the more Westernised districts of Hong Kong, like Lanks, could do way more to cater to this Hongkie love for food. I suppose that’s what we’re seeing with Ronin HK and Three Monkeys in Sheung Wan, with delicate bites (albeit not ‘tapas’) paired with premium whiskies and elaborate cocktails, but with a price tag like 50 bucks for a single skewer of ox tongue, who is really going to get even remotely full as fast as they get fucked?
This is where Tapeo comes in, and where tapas bars should make some headway in the Hong Kong dining scene. With the incredibly reasonable prices for Soho and delicious, uncomplicated, authentic Spanish fare, I love this place and will be returning. From 5 to 7 they offer an early bird dinner special, and it is rather small, so booking is a must. An unpretentious open kitchen greets you as you slide the simple glass doors and settle yourself on their plush, burgundy stools – surprisingly comfortable – and in true tapas bar style, we changed our seats around to talk to eachother as we munched through dishes and chugged our jug of refreshing red sangria. A jug of sangria is a no-brainer here, by the way.