Looking for a spot to enjoy good food with great company, where you don’t have to spend an extortionate amount on drinks? Well, we’re letting you in on a little known secret, so listen up! Tucked up a quiet street in Sheung Wan is Shelter Lounge, a modern, spacious bistro that delivers on all of the above requirements…
Shelter Lounge is one of the few restaurants in Hong Kong that’s centrally located (it’s literally a minute away from Hollywood Road, just up from SAMBAG) and cheap as chips when it comes to alcoholic drinks. A trendy neighbourhood resto with cheap drinks might sound like a Hong Kong urban myth, but as Shelter Lounge doesn’t have a liqueur license, you can bring your own booze! That’s right, you only need to spend $60 on a bottle of wine from 7-11 to sort out all your drinks for the night, as they have no corkage fee either (check out our guide to drinking on a budget here). Bonus! If you’re off the alcohol though, Shelter lounge has a list of fresh smoothies and juices to keep you happy. I tried the ‘french’ smoothie with orange, strawberry, honey and yoghurt, which was sweet and light. They also do great coffee, with their own customised in-house coffee blend… bring on the caffeine!
This unassuming restaurant boasts a huge space with simple, modern decor. Choose to dine either downstairs – great for big groups, or upstairs which has a more intimate vibe. With a private room and flexible furniture and settings, Shelter Lounge is a great option for parties or private get-togethers. After being comfortably seated, we were ready to order from their enticing menu…
We started off with the forest mushrooms with black truffle cream and natto egg with toast. The egg yolk was deliciously oozy and melted into the truffle-flavoured mushrooms. They were certainly moreish and tasted great on the thinly sliced pieces of toast – I only wish there had a been a bit more of a stronger truffle flavour!
Next up was the smoked parmigiana di melanzane: deep-fried eggplant, mozzarella, smoked scamorza, burrata and parmigiano. I was worried that the eggplant wouldn’t be cooked enough as it seemed a little firm, but it was just right and although this dish wasn’t packed with flavour, the cheesy, tomato mixture made for a great comfort food.
We then moved on to the more substantial sharing plates, which I saw as the ‘mains’. The first dish was seared scallops with pancetta, green peas and mint foam. Now, I’m a huge scallop fan and I was hesitant to try these in case they weren’t cooked to that perfect texture (ruining what so far had been a lovely evening), but luckily they hit the spot! They tasted beautiful with the pancetta and the fresh peas (which still had a nice bite to them) and the foam brought the whole dish together, making it taste really fresh and light. The ideal summer dish!
Carnivores, you won’t be disappointed at Shelter Lounge. We tried the hanger steak, a special of the evening, and it was truly divine. Perfectly cooked medium-rare, the steak practically melted in our mouths and the three different flavoured mustards that went with it were really interesting. My favourite was the blackberry, but my dining companion preferred the tarragon.
We thought that the steak would be the highlight of the meal, but we were wrong. The coffee butter lamb rack with pine nuts, figs and goats cheese was wonderful – again, perfectly cooked medium-rare and not too fatty or chewy like some lamb can be. Although I couldn’t really taste the coffee butter, the creamy, salty goats cheese was perfectly complimented by the sweet figs, and I loved the little bites of pine nuts.
With just enough room for dessert (as always!) we ordered a double chocolate cake and a classic crème brûlée. The chocolate cake was a little on the dense side, but the crème brûlée was very good indeed. Comfortingly creamy with that sweet vanilla flavour, this is one dessert that always goes down well – who can resist cracking the caramelised top with their spoon?
With delicious food, attentive service, a relaxed ambience and an incredible space, Shelter Lounge is a hidden gem in Sheung Wan that’s worth seeking out. The staff are friendly and accommodating, and you’ll have trouble choosing from the scrumptious sharing dishes on the menu. I loved the idea of sharing plates (you get to try more dishes!) and you don’t need to worry that they’ll be tapas-sized small. Each dish is generous for two people, the only problem we had was that when all three of our heavier ‘main’ sharing plates came out together, we couldn’t eat them all in time and they went a bit cold. That being said, the food is very well cooked and I would definitely go back for the scallops and lamb!
If you’re keen to try them out, Shelter Lounge are also taking part in Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day, starting tomorrow – 16 May! With workshops, recipe-sharing and an anti-food waste exhibition, Food Revolution Day aims to promote better food and education for everyone. Find out more about what’s going on here!
We’re also hosting the Sassy Awards Party 2014 (bound to be the Sassiest party of the year!) at this cool new venue. Get all the deets here.
Shelter Lounge, Universal Building, 5-13 New Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 2517 6211; www.facebook.com/shelterloungehk