It’s fair to say, for those of us living in or visiting Hong Kong, that we are lucky to have such a diverse and constantly evolving dining scene. From premium high end options to the humble Dai Pai Dong, there’s something to suit everyone’s taste and budget.
With so much choice available, I rarely even think about visiting Kowloon for dining and nightlife – the typical excuse seems to be (for Islanders at least) is that it’s too far! I’ve always been slightly amused by this as when you put the time and distance into perspective with other cities around the world it’s really not that far at all. With this in mind, we decided we needed to broaden our horizons a little and planned a visit to the latest hip establishment in Tsim Sha Tsui, MAISON EIGHT.
Actually MAISON EIGHT isn’t just a restaurant and that isn’t even its primary focus – it’s a multi-purpose venue with a whole range of different entertainment, drinking and dining options. We were intrigued to see how a fine dining restaurant (the main reason for our visit) could be blended into this concept.
On arrival, my attention was immediately drawn to the spectacular and well stocked bar. I later learned this is quite unique in Hong Kong being the first cocktail bar in Asia by Salvatore Calabrese. Actually I didn’t have a clue who he was at the time so a quick google later and I am reliably informed he is considered one of the godfathers of the cocktail world. You’ll certainly be impressed by his signature menu and bar design, it’s worth a visit for that alone.
The fine dining restaurant is adjacent to the main bar area – the main reason for our visit after all, while the main bar area is a large and open space with plenty of room for seating, a DJ booth, jazz band and dance floor. You can also eat from the casual dining menu in the bar area. The highlight of the venue is the spectacular view of Hong Kong’s skyline – from the large terrace adding a touch of magic with the beauty of Hong Kong’s nightscape.
You can even opt for privacy in a private dining room for special events or Hong Kong’s first Bollinger Room modelled on the Krug Room – a private and opulent space that can be used for events with plenty of Bollinger in the well stocked wine cellar. In all, it’s a really quite impressive and stylish venue and were keen to get started by sampling a few of the cocktails.
Suitably refreshed, we headed to the fine dining area. While small, holding around 8 tables, it was impeccably furnished exuding a refined aura. Thankfully it was far enough from the bar for an intimate dining experience.
We were impressed with the obvious attention to detail – quality glassware and tableware (not something I usually notice when dining out!) and a minimalist approach to table setting which is adapted to your order. We had really high expectations for our meal having seen the thought and effort (and money!) that has gone into creating the venue and finishings.
Our first reaction (and I think I must have watched too much of Gordon Ramsey’s TV show!) was surprise at such an extensive menu for the small fine dining restaurant. It’s a French restaurant at heart, but some fusion elements are incorporated into the dishes.
We opted for the signature Wagyu steak & fois gras. Being a French restaurant, the steak was served with thick cut fries and a choice of sauce. Perfectly cooked, it was tender and full of flavour. I wasn’t so keen on the red wine sauce which was served on the side, but there are other options. We also thought the lobster Thermidor was slightly overcooked and a little too savoury. The desert for me was the highlight – a wonderful crème brûlée, better than the many I had in my recent trip to Paris!
For those of you attending the Hong Kong Lesbian & Gay Film Festival opening party, you’ll be able to experience this wonderful venue for yourself. Enjoy! And for those Islanders out there that think this is too far, there’s a HK Island taxi rank immediately outside the door to whisk you home in no time at all.
Address: 21/F, 8 Observatory Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: 2388 8160
– Words: Neil Bowen