In the words of Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt: "food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate" - in other words, actions speak louder than words. So, on a day like Valentine’s Day, a day solely committed to showing your adoration for one another, what better way to express it than by treating your better half to a spectacular, candle-lit dinner? There are hundreds of places all over town that will be serving up a special Valentine's meal, but you don't want to take your darling to any old place. The 14th of February is about appreciating them, and thanking them for putting up with you every day, so a little more effort than usual is required!
So to help you out, we've compiled a list of the five most special dinners this year, that will guarantee you entry into your dearest’s good books for a week, at the very least! And ladies, don't forget: they say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, so study his preferences in advance and choose very wisely!
G-LG/F, 16 Arbuthnot Road, Central; 6821 2801; www.alchemy-concept.com
Since opening its doors last summer, Hong Kong’s first “dans le noir” French restaurant has created quite the buzz around town with its unique dining concept of sensory stimulation. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by a visually-impaired guide who’ll lead you two through the plush gastro-lounge, reminiscent of a 19th-century reading room, and down to the mysterious dining area. As the pitch-black darkness envelopes you, triggering your senses to jump in and compensate, your “blind date” begins!
Though we’re all wondering what’s on the menu for the Valentine’s Day special, as always, Alchemy’s lips are sealed (just for the sake of torturing us!) But based on their track record, you know you’ll be fighting an internal sensory explosion waiting anxiously for your 3-course dinner - the nerve endings on your tongue will be throbbing and your nose tingling with anticipation. Enjoy!
Price: $1,998 for two; incl. 1 gls of champagne + 1 gls of wine
The Salted Pig
G/F, 1 Knutsford Terrace, Tsim Sha Tsui; 2367 0990; www.thesaltedpig.com.hk
Known for its English farmhouse setting, and chatty, light-hearted ambiance, The Salted Pig is inviting you over to pig out with your honey on Valentine’s Day. It’s advisable that you head there with an enormous appetite, as the Valentine’s Day menu (and generous portions) is designed for true piggies.
With a mezze platter of serrano melon, potted tuna tartar, pan fried foie gras, crab meat pastries and more, plus a hearty bowl of classic lobster bisque, you know it’s going to be good - and that’s just to start! Make sure you save room ‘cause next up, you’ve got a choice of Iberico Presa steak, chicken parmesan or pan-fried coral trout fillet on a bed of saffron risotto. Last but not least, you and your pig-in-crime get to share not one, not two, but three desserts: pineapple panna cotta, chocolate brownie and lemon cheesecake.
Price: $828 for two
3/F Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell Street, Central; 2525 9191; www.duddells.co
Set in a cozy living room-style space, featuring colourful sofas and walls lined with ink paintings and modern Chinese art is Duddell’s, a trendy Hong Kong-in-the-50s themed Canto dining salon and artsy hangout. And aside from the exquisite menu of authentic Cantonese specialties, the main crowd puller is perhaps the large, leafy outdoor terrace complete with deck tables and sofas surrounded on all sides by Central’s office towers and buildings.
Rather than dainty starters and voluminous mains, the Valentine’s Day menu offers eight light appetizer-sized plates flaunting a range of beautifully-prepared delicacies - all creations of Duddell’s resident two-Michelin starred Chef Siu Hin Chi. Starting with mixed platters: salmon with caviar, taro puff and roasted duck and goose liver, followed by crispy suckling pig, Australian Wagyu, shredded chicken with jelly fish. Next up, braised Imperial bird’s nest before three seafood dishes: sauteed prawns, braised abalone and fish maw, then a bamboo basket of steamed giant garoupa. To finish off, one more savoury course - Japanese noodle with wontons - before a refreshing dessert of chilled avocado sago cream, chocolate and preserved ginger egg puff. Wow!
Price: $1,200 per head; incl. 1 gls of “R” de Ruinart Champagne
Stables Grill, Hullet House
1881 Heritage, 2A Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; 3988 0000; www.hulletthouse.com
What could be more romantic than dinner with your valentine inside the old horse stables of Hullet House? Dating back to 1881, the elegant heritage hotel encapsulates secrets of old-Hong Kong’s colonial days and is living proof of the city’s unique history. Within the hotel, The Stables Grill is a salvaged reminder of days gone by, and the original antique touches and classiness that lingers in the atmosphere will have you both daydreaming and feeling like you’ve travelled back in time.
But more importantly, the food! The four-course set kicks off with a cold platter of Iberico ham, fresh oysters and mussels shoot, followed by a hot starter of mushroom cup with snails and piquillo pepper crab-meat. Grilled lamb chops and Boston lobster comes next for the main course, then for a sweet finish, a decadent chocolate delight. What more could you ask for?
Price: $700 per head (Feb 13); $718 per head (Feb 14, 1st seating); $788 per head (Feb 14, 2nd seating)
9 Star Street, Wan Chai; 2563 3444; www.theprincipal.com.hk
Renowned for its ingredient-based European menus and impressive “wine atlas” (featuring over 750 labels from wineries worldwide) is The Principal, The Press Room Group’s most high-end dining hotspot. And here’s a lovely piece of historical trivia: it stands on the exact spot as the school where the Press Room Group’s co-founder’s late mother was principal for 14 years.
Just like the regular a-la-carte, the Valentine’s Day menu dabbles in a mix of this-and-that, with starring ingredients ranging from lamb to seafood to foie - and you’ll get to try it all as it follows the same format as the menu at Duddell’s. Sit down to a surprise “amuse bouche” - or a light welcome snack to whet the appetite. Then comes the good stuff: carabinero prawns with bomba rice and cepes; turbot with tomato, fennel and arugula and more. And of course, with a dinner like this, you’d expect a dessert to match - how about a chocolate gelato with coconut and semifreddo, “petit four” (bite-size, frosting-covered cakes), and in keeping with the Valentine’s theme, a rose sorbet (ooohh…) with raspberry and yoghurt?
Price: $1,488; optional wine pairing at $800