Growing up in Hong Kong, you’d think I’d be familiar with the ins and outs of the city, but alas, I’ve always stuck to my usual chain store coffee shop haunts. It’s unfortunate though, because Hong Kong is full of some hidden gems where you can sit down and nibble on a light lunch, sip on a cup of good, artisanal java and a enjoy a buttery pain au chocolat for dessert (check out our top hidden coffee spots here!).
So at their invitation, I trotted over to Ali Oli, a bakery and café in Kwun Tong for a quick and quiet lunch. I had heard of their first branch in Sai Kung, which is where the magic happened according to Jasmine, the owner’s daughter. There was also an expert pastry chef working out of their kitchen, creating some delicious-looking treats (which I had to unfortunately avoid because I’m on an indefinite sugar hiatus).
Established in 1986, Ali Oli has been a favourite of Sai Kungers. Jasmine assured me their Kwun Tong branch was always popular for lunch as there were many offices in the area. One particular customer came back weekly for one of their tasty pies! (Looking for more dining options in Kwun Tong? See our guide here.)
On her recommendation, I ordered the salad lunch set. A small portion, which was what I ordered, included a plate full of two types of salad. The choices were Greek salad, Organic Quinoa and Beetroot, Roasted Pumpkin Salad, German Potato Salad, Pasta Salad with Mushrooms & Peppers, Garden Green Salad and Beans Salad.
I opted for a mix of the German Potato Salad and a Spinach Salad with Orange slices that was on offer that day. The potato salad was just what I was after: creamy, comforting goodness. While I normally wouldn’t have paired orange with spinach, it added a tangy element to the leafy greens.
My light lunch included a cup of coffee, tea or juice (all for $55 – score!), so I opted for a latte sans sugar… I’m really no fun these days! Piping hot, it went down a treat and was a great pick-me-up before I headed back to the office.
As I left, I couldn’t help but eye up the pastries and cupcakes on display. They looked so inviting, like something out of Mary Berry’s kitchen! I’d have to indulge another time, as going back to the office wired was one thing, but on a sugar high, too?!
I’m definitely looking forward to popping by the Sai Kung branch on a lazy Saturday to scoff one of their gourmet pies or a freshly made sandwich. Although it’s not a crime to eat a whole cupcake or three for lunch… is it?
Ali Oli Bakery Café, Shop 201, One Pacific Centre, 414 Kwun Tong Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2779 1828, www.alioli.com.hk