As the weather warms up, it’s a perfect time to check out some of the new al fresco dining spots at ifc. Here are three top picks from food blogger Melissa Tse aka @supertastermel
Hong Kong has had a relatively harsh winter, but with the arrival of spring, it’s time to take advantage of our beautiful, warm weather with a slew of outdoor activities – and, of course, al fresco dining. The restaurants at ifc are known for their gorgeous views of the iconic Victoria Harbour,so here are three fantastic outdoor dining options.
After five years in Wan Chai, popular Spanish restaurant Catalunya has expanded to ifc with a new concept – La Rambla by Catalunya, which offers avant-garde Catalan and Mediterranean cuisine. Spanning more than 5,000 square feet, the restaurant provides a sense of calm within the bustling mall in its modern dining room. The indoor space is sleek and playful, with plush sofas, woven chairs, colourful paintings and even a tree in the middle, while the relaxing outdoor terrace features a custom-made wooden deck with designer pieces by Barcelona-based furniture manufacturer Kettal.
The menu includes a selection of tapas, mains and paellas by chef Ferran Tadeo (formerly of elBulli and Minibar by José Andrés) and has a focus on seasonal ingredients flown in from Spain, other countries in Europe and Japan. For the very first time in Asia, 90-day and 120-day aged Galician beef from Barcelona’s top steakhouse, Lomo Alto, will be available at La Rambla. At the weekend, the brunch buffet features various food stations of Catalan classics along with paellas, traditional suckling pig, Josper-grilled tomahawk and salt-crusted fish – it’s all sure to be popular for the whole family.
Signature dishes that come highly recommended include the Perfect Egg – a rich potato foam with quail egg and truffle oil, served in an eggshell and topped with caviar. The Truffle Bombas, which is a deep-fried minced meat and potato croquette, is another standout dish with its spicy brava sauce and garlic aioli. Finally, the fried-to-order churros, served with your choice of dulce de leche, chocolate and vanilla whipped cream, are also not to be missed.
Right next to La Rambla is Market S.E.A., which takes diners on a voyage around the Gulf of Thailand with flavours inspired by Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore. The bright, airy space features an animated open kitchen and dangling rocks from the ceiling, while the terrace offers a more laid-back atmosphere with wooden sofas and bright-red sun umbrellas. Diners can expect classic Southeast Asian dishes with a twist, such as coconut water tom yam kung, lobster laksa, slow-cooked beef red curry and Singaporean-style black-pepper lobster.
Start the meal with the refreshing mango calamari salad with quinoa and a zesty fish sauce that’s sure to whet the appetite. The roasted chicken with caramelised palm sugar crumb is another dish that’s highly recommended – limited to only 20 dishes per day, the fresh chicken is marinated overnight with myriad herbs and spices before being roasted to perfection. Served with kale and a custom-made spicy-and-sour sauce, it’s a tantalising dish with crispy skin and succulent meat; be sure to reserve yours before the restaurant runs out. Also available in limited quantities is the salt-crusted goby fish, stuffed with a mixture of dill, lemongrass and parsley before being roasted with a sea-salt crust to preserve the juiciness. End the meal with grilled pineapple and pandan ice cream, then enjoy one of the tropical cocktails on the terrace – you’ll feel like you’re on a beach in Thailand without all the fuss of a flight.
Located on the rooftop of ifc, The Glasshouse takes its design inspiration from potting sheds in old country houses – imagine a room filled with wheelbarrows, rakes and terracotta pots. The outdoor area is an extension of the theme, with lots of greenery and garden furniture making guests feel like they’re actually dining in a garden. Focusing on fresh ingredients and organic vegetables, the restaurant serves Asian cuisine with a Western twist. With a menu that’s divided into Small Bites, Bigger Bites and Main Bites, the dishes are intended to be shared with a group. Designed for all-day dining, the space transforms from casual dining during the day to a lively bar at night.
Recommended dishes include the raw scallop carpaccio salad with chilli and lime dressing, which is an appetising starter with amazingly fresh bivalves; the tangy and spicy sauce brings out the sweetness in the raw scallops in a refreshing way. The classic Singapore noodles are served with a Western twist here, using luxurious ingredients such as red lobster, Serrano ham and goose liver. And flambéed in front of diners, the banana crème brûlée with muscovado sugar is a fun dessert to share. To round things out, sip a pandan leaf and coconut cocktail to complete the East-meets-West dining experience.