We visit the new Kennedy Town branches of two favourite Sai Kung restaurants, Shoreditch and Casa Tapakaya Kennedy Town.
Right in the heart of Kennedy Town, Shoreditch is a new gastropub opened by Hebe One O One owner, Scott Wrayton. It’s a totally different concept to Hebe One O One. With its paint-splattered bowler-hat logo and rhyming slang slogan, the “urban eatery and battlecruiser” (boozer) aims to bring a taste of London’s trendy East End to Hong Kong’s most happening neighbourhood.
Designed by Stickman, the industrial-chic interior is relaxed and contemporary: white- painted brick walls daubed with stencils, black iron-framed glass walls, and Edison lightbulbs dangling overhead. A long dining table for large groups runs down the middle of the restaurant, surrounded by smaller tables for more intimate dining.
“We had been looking for a new location for many years. There were many considerations such as rent and easy-going landlords,” Wrayton says. “We looked in many areas, such as Tin Hau, Sai Wan Ho and SoHo, but we wanted a great location with big windows and open space and that’s what we found in Kennedy Town.” Shoreditch has little overlap with its Sai Kung sister restaurant other than a few wines. “Kennedy Town has a much denser catchment of Hong Kong’s population. The cuisine had to be more specific, allowing us to concentrate on the quality of each dish,” Wrayton says. “People have to travel to Hebe One O One and so we have a much more open and varied menu, serving international cuisine.”
Specialising in modern British cuisine, the menu at Shoreditch took months to perfect, sourcing the best and freshest ingredients from all over the world for classics such as fish and chips, braised beef cheek and apple and blackberry crumble. Rather than get hung up on sourcing entirely British ingredients, Wrayton says, “we just want to give each dish a bit of British identity”. So there are mussels sourced from the US, but cooked in cider British-style.
Shoreditch prides itself on its Sunday roast ($358), a three-course feast of cream of field mushroom soup, roast leg of lamb and sticky date pudding. And look for the special set lunch menu. The bar has a comprehensive list of wines, champagne and beers, including St Mungo from Glasgow, which is exclusive to Shoreditch in Hong Kong.
18 Catchick Street, Kennedy Town, 2242 3777, www.shoreditch.hk.
Casa Tapakaya Kennedy Town
Voted Best Restaurant and Best Bar in this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards, Casa is riding the wave of its success all the way to Kennedy Town, in the west of Hong Kong Island. Owner James Bradshaw opened Casa’s second branch there last month, just around the corner from the new Hong Kong University MTR station.
Casa Tapakaya Kennedy Town has a familiar look and relaxed vibe, with high ceilings, long wooden bar tables and stools, and the drinks and food menu chalked up on huge blackboards. But where the original makes the most of its seaside location with an open- fronted bar, Casa K-Town is – appropriately – more urban. The main bar is in a basement, while the ground floor will be a deli.
“We were happy with the size of the place. There’s enough space for big groups but it’s also an intimate surrounding,” says general manager, Steve Keys. “It wasn’t money that drove us to open a new Casa in Kennedy Town. We tried things and took a risk when we opened in Sai Kung but we want to fine-tune everything at Casa Kennedy Town.”
The bartop is one of the longest in Hong Kong at a whopping 11.3 metres and is fitted with 15 taps. As in Sai Kung, beers will be reasonably priced, starting at $40 a pint. The basement bar is open for drinks and tapas, while the ground-floor deli and bar will sell sandwiches, meat and beer by the bottle. It will offer a condensed version of Casa’s tapas menu, drawing on influences from cuisines around the world. As well as tried- and-tested favourites (pulled-pork sliders, tuna tartare), there are some new inventions suggested by customers (smoked chicken and kimchi sliders).
“We always change it up to keep it fresh so our menu will change every three months,” says Keys, who is a trained chef. “Our dishes are inspired by the entire Casa team and, of course, the customers.”
14-16 Woo Hop Street, Kennedy Town, www.facebook.com/casatapakaya.