Foodies in the know often gather in Tai Hang, a quiet and formerly residential area between Causeway Bay and Tin Hau, for the best new café in town. But gone are the days when afternoon tea sets, desserts and auto shops encapsulate the essence of this old neighbourhood, a whole range of restaurants are popping up and showering gourmands with a constant wave of pleasant surprises and new finds.
The most intriguing part about these new Tai Hang eateries is perhaps the wide variety of new quality cuisines it houses. From a French-inspired restaurant specialising in sous vide to a local Chinese private kitchen, we take you to Tai Hang and introduce to you six of the latest additions that we think most worth visiting.
Tucked away in a quieter alley in Tai Hang, Ramen Tatsuya is simply decorated and houses no more than 20 people at a time, making it a true replica of ramen houses in Kyushu.
Its menu features eight delicate side dishes and ramen in three different soup bases from HK$79: white, black and red dragons, all prepared MSG-free by a Japanese chef overnight. Due to quality control reasons, says the store manager, only 120 bowls of ramen can be prepared a day. Even more interesting are the three condiments that arrive with your ramen, patrons are advised to add them into their food, in order, as the soup level gets lower. Although new to Tai Hang, Ramen Tatsuya has already proven a worthy rival to the older Daruma Ramen nearby.
Shop C, 16 King Street, Tai Hang. Tel: +852 2890-3268.
C'est la B
Not every restaurant can pull off a light-hearted reference to "c'est la vie", but this chic café-bar manages to do so easily. For starters, the decorations do not disappoint – tabletops are in bright red and turquoise, and tableware in some of the most playful tones one can imagine, giving the impression that one should embrace life as seen by its creator, lifestyle maven Bonnie Gokson.
Similar to the interior, foods are in petite portions but delicately arranged. We especially love C'est la B's beef pot pie, which is generously filled with beef, mushrooms and tomato concassée. Sweet treats that take up half of the menu are also highly prized, with cakes named "Better than Sex" and "Lady Gaga" that is bound to induce a little smile on your face. Similar to Gokson's other restaurant Sevva, C'est la B is definitely a great place to hang out and catch up with friends.
Shop 3, G/F, 110-114 Tung Lo Wan Road, Tai Hang. Tel: +852 2806-8168.
Being one of the first independent restaurants in Hong Kong to specialise in sous vide cooking, a method that keeps meat succulent and flavours intact by slow cooking with airtight plastic bags, The Helenia has lured in many curious eaters and connoisseurs alike to Tai Hang. The setting at The Helenia resembles a small but cosy European home, seating fewer than 20 customers.
Its sous vide Norwegian salmon is highly acclaimed for the succulent meat, while the wine list is solid for a restaurant of that size. Since sous vide cooking requires hours of preparation, The Helenia regrettably do not cater to walk-in customers and is currently only open for dinner. But early risers will be glad to learn that The Helenia will soon start serving Sunday brunches.
25 School Street, Tai Hang. Tel: +852 2972-2993.
From having a non-existent pizza oven to a full house, this new pizza joint in Tai Hang has come a long way in merely three weeks' time since its opening. Much like its competing neighbour, Piccolo, Mist Pizzeria is located conveniently on busy Wun Sha Street, and both have long and narrow interiors with high ceilings.
Similarly, both restaurants have a mouthwatering list of pizzas. But Mist Pizzeria edges past its competitor with an additional selection of pasta, which its staff highly recommending a linguine with prawns, lemon, orange zest and lobster sauce (HK$148). Reservations are recommended.
G/F, 7 Wun Sha Street, Tai Hang. Tel: + 852 2881-8287.
With the end of this chilly winter nowhere in sight, an old-fashioned dinner of clay pot rice sounds especially enticing. Being the newest clay pot rice expert in Tai Hang, the Choi's Kitchen is, like many local stalls, tiny and unassuming. Its top sellers are chicken and mushroom clay pot rice and an appetising sweet and sour pork.
As its Chinese name suggests, the Choi's Kitchen has a private-kitchen style of cooking, which in this case translates to an open kitchen and a daily updated but slightly pricier menu: many items are easily in the north of HK$100. But the staff are friendly and dedicated to bringing attentive service, beautiful tableware and always-filled teacups to wash down your favourite local dishes.
Shop A1, G/F, 9-11 Shepherd Street, Tai Hang. Tel: +852 3485-0501.
Before coming into sight, Hamayaki Taisho already exudes an irresistible smell of seafood barbecue that draws one towards it helplessly. Sparingly decorated with a bilingual menu hanging off the wall, Hamayaki Taisho is unpretentious and its Japanese-speaking servers attentive.
Known for shellfish that are brought in fresh and alive, this new Japanese restaurant is perfect for couples or friends, as the cooking and grilling process is an entertainment of its own. Each table is topped with at least one miniature barbecue grill, to which a trained server is assigned but is also more than happy to give suggestions on cooking time and methods if diners insists on taking over. The set menu for two is priced at HK$576. The grilled scallop is highly recommended by the staff, while the mildly battered and seasoned deep-fried octopus is also on the bestseller list.
G/F, 8 King Street, Tai Hang. Tel: +852 2895-5000.