Type of food: Pan-Asian
Rating: **** (4 out of 5)
During the Jazz Age of the 1920s, The Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels group commissioned the construction of several new hotels in the city. Among them were the legendary Repulse Bay Hotel and the Peninsula on Salisbury Street, Kowloon. In the late 1980s, the Repulse Bay Hotel was converted into blocks of serviced apartments and a three-story shopping mall called the Arcade. The mall houses two restaurants operated by the Peninsula group: Verandah and Spices. The former is an upscale European restaurant and one of Hong Kong’s most coveted venues for wedding receptions. The latter is the subject of this review.
|Spices at the Repulse Bay Arcade|
I have dinner at Spices twice a month -- there is a Jason’s Marketplace downstairs where I get my groceries -- and I am constantly impressed with the way that little kitchen churns out authentic and delectable food night after night. Call it the Peninsula’s magic touch. Known for its diverse Asian cuisine, the restaurant serves dishes from India, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. The menu is a hodgepodge of Asian crowd-pleasers, which may be off-putting to the purist; but as soon as the food arrives, even the skeptic would be pleasantly surprised. Among my favorites are the spicy Thai salad with beef and the chicken tikka marsala that goes sublimely well with saffron rice.
|Delicious saffron rice served in a brass pot|
Designed to recreate the warmth of a bustling Asian spice market, Spices features rattan furniture, teak wood paneled walls and a false mezzanine floor that takes full advantage of the vertical space. The tasteful interior is complemented by a spacious courtyard on the other side of the French doors. Given the restaurant's idyllic location, al fresco dining is popular all year around. But those who dislike reptiles and insects may want to rethink that idea, especially during the evening when they all come out to catch the ocean breeze. You are not the only one who knows how to enjoy life.
|Outdoor seating, not for the faint-of-heart|
Compared to Verandah upstairs, Spices is affordable but only in relative terms. Dinner for two with a glass of wine will set you back around HK$800. Avoid buffet nights because they are expensive and the food is not cooked to order. Since the menu is filled with mouth-watering dishes, there is a tendency to over-order and you may get a minor heart attack when the bill comes. If that happens, find solace in the fact that parking is free and that you have adequately impressed your guests with your restaurant choice.