Fresh pasta, ‘exceptional’ wine, delicious duck: where an Australian eats and drinks in Hong Kong and beyond

Originally from Australia, Kate Oliver is the Hong Kong executive producer of the theatrical version of The Sound Of Music, the first musical to be staged at Xiqi Centre’s Grand Theatre, running until June 9. She spoke to Andrew Sun.

Growing up, dinners were often a simple affair, focused around family. Our usual staple was “meat and three veg”.

Although we were on a lean budget, Mum always managed her “heavenly” dessert of white pillowy marshmallows, sour cream, coconut, crushed pineapple and tinned mandarin segments.

Meanwhile, Dad’s passion was avocado. He would halve, shell and pit them, pour vinaigrette into the centre, salt and pepper and just spoon it out. It was the most delicious thing I had ever eaten.
Gaia Ristorante’s burrata-filled tortellini. Photo: Instagram/@gaiaristorante

I do not spend a lot of time in high-end restaurants; however, for celebrations, Gaia Ristorante (G/F, Grand Millennium Plaza, 181 Queen’s Road Central, Sheung Wan. Tel: 2167 8200) is my go-to place. It has been a tradition over many years, and it never disappoints, especially the house made fresh pasta with burrata and pomodoro.

Closer to where I live in Tseung Kwan O, in the New Territories, we have had lovely and simple celebratory evenings at Oolaa (Shop G16, G/F, Capri Place, 33 Tong Yin Street, O’South Coast, Tseung Kwan O. Tel: 2369 2866). It is hard to beat their slow-roasted pork belly lollipops.

Oolaa’s BBQ and hoisin glazed pork belly lollipops. Photo: Facebook/Oolaa Star Street
Dim sum at Maxim’s Palace Chinese Restaurant. Photo: Facebook/@Maxim’s Chinese Cuisine
I have shared many happy dim sum visits to Maxim’s Palace Chinese Restaurant (2/F, City Hall, 5-7 Edinburgh Place, Central. Tel: 2521 1303). It is a must for visitors and friends. My girls absolutely love it and know to watch for the trolleys searching for their favourites.

For a special dinner it has got to be Grissini (2/F, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai. Tel: 2584 7722). The food, wine and service are exceptional. The warm aroma of freshly baked grissini bread hits you as you walk in and is irresistible. Their wine list is absolutely next level. Try the Ben Rye Passito.

I would also take visitors to Tai Kwun, a wonderful place to walk around and the range of restaurants is fantastic – Madame Fu (3/F, Barrack Block, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central. Tel: 2114 2118) is another favourite. The setting is gorgeous and their range of dim sum, both traditional and vegetarian, is next level. The Peking duck is delicious too.
Madame Fu crispy chicken with foie gras paste. Photo: Instagram/@madamefugrandcafe

Across the Parade Ground, Cantina (1/F, Block 1, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central. Tel: 2848 3000) has a wonderful ambience. It is a special spot with the New York-style Italian feel in a Hong Kong heritage building.

In London, I love The Breakfast Club (various locations including 1 Crossrail Place, London. Tel: +44 20 7871 9986). The slightly grungy decor with photos on the wall and yellow painted stucco all adds to the experience. Their breakfast menu is so much fun. The smashed avocado with mojo picon is a must.

Croissants are a passion and I would almost travel to Milan just to have, what I believe, is the best simple croissant I have ever had, at roadside Lambretta Café (Via Fabio Filzi 41, Milan. Tel: +39 02 4548 9342), directly opposite the Milano Centrale train station.

Squid ink spaghetti with cuttlefish and sea urchin at Cantina, Tai Kwun.

My hometown, Melbourne in Australia, has a phenomenal restaurant scene. I recently dined at Di Stasio Città (45 Spring Street, Melbourne. Tel: +61 3 9070 1177). The decor is almost industrial, concrete with projections on the walls. The food was absolutely wonderful, especially the slow roast lamb shoulder.

In Victoria, on the edge of the Yarra Valley, is Fondata 1872 (150 Eltham-Yarra Glen Road, Kangaroo Ground. Tel: +61 3 9712 9742). The restaurant overlooks the rolling hills on the outskirts of Melbourne, the menu is generous and the setting is breathtaking.


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