Sampan in the way she moves. ♦
This writer is a fan of Andaz hotel’s stereotype-busting AnnaMaya restaurant, with its locally sourced vegetables and wall of micro-greens juxtaposed against an over-the-top dessert display. When AnnaMaya opened last year, it proved a welcome departure from the stuffy banality of most upscale hotel coffee shops with their salmon-steak and burger-fries menus. Now that Andaz’s second act—a lounge specialising in Cantonese food—has launched, we went to find out if Hong Kong Club also earns its chops(ticks).
A selfie-spot complete with harvest moon and fake cherry tree marks the restaurant’s elaborate entrance. Inside, the club is spread out over two huge floors, with sweeping staircases and lights suspended like dangly earrings from the ceiling. The decor is borderline Sino-kitsch—eyebrows will rise at a caged red crystal tree—with long party-friendly tables and nooks for two surrounding a glistening central island bar.
While waiting for cocktails inspired by the Chinese zodiac to show up, we work our way through a bowl of deep-fried cashews, hungry as horses after a long drive from Delhi. Sun Wukong, named for the mischievous hero of Journey to the West is more business, less monkey: a wonderfully restrained banana liqueur concoction, with coconut scotch, five spice, yuzu, bitters and a burning cinnamon stick that wafts spicy smoke into the nose with each sip.
Sun Born Ruler, a girly rooster-inspired cocktail, doesn’t have us crowing, but it’s pretty and sweet, combining cognac, yuzu, raspberry and orange blossom flavors in what tastes like the world’s most ambrosial, and alcoholic, cough syrup.
Year’s the deal, reader: we’re greedy as pigs for more zodiac drinks, but realise we cannot afford to get drunk as dogs here, as cocktails cost an eye-watering Rs 1250 each before tax. Rats.
Steam Sha Tsui
The first item to arrive off a sharing-optimised food menu (with plenty of vegetarian options), is a steamer of xiao long bao, sized to fit a soup spoon and filled with hot, scallion scented chicken broth. These don’t blow the Shanghai Soup Dumpling Index out of the water, but the dried goji berry topping each one is a cute touch.
An order of steamed chicken feet in garlic sauce is an appropriate gateway dish for those who haven’t tried this part of the bird before, full of gelatinous goodness. Our waiter warns us away from a “not so exciting” marble-boiled duck egg, which perversely makes us insist on ordering it. We should have listened: the egg’s tea-veined surface Instagrams beautifully against the marbled table top, but the thin slivers of cured pork and crunchy beans it’s served with do all the heavy lifting in terms of taste.
Exquisitely browned quail, meanwhile, bursts with flavour, mostly of the ceps and bamboo shoots with which it is stuffed. But more than any other dish we try, the “Hong Kong duck” hits that sweet spot—which by now we’ve realised HKC is aiming at—between familiarity and an excuse to splurge on something a little different.
If we can’t quite Handover our hearts to HKC, it’s mostly because we’ve had to concede the contents of our wallets. With drinks and dinner for two totting up to nearly half the price of a flight to Hong Kong, we’d recommend the club for groups of friends with cash to liquidate, and singles looking to impress dates. If the lounge’s capacity of nearly 300 seats is anything to go by, there’s apparently a lot of you out there.
Getting there: Andaz Delhi, Aerocity. Metro Aerocity. Drinks and dinner for two from Rs 7,000.
This story was originally published on Brown Paper Bag.