Sassy Food Blogger Michelle of Chopstixfix makes the EPIC trek to East TST to visit a brand new design hotel filled with funky restaurants…
I recently found myself taking an epic walk from Tsim Sha Tsui MTR to East Tsim Sha Tsui, and wondering why the government didn’t just make one very, very long travelator from one end to the other. I’m a little lazy sometimes and especially so when I’m investigating eateries in never-before-explored areas, such as East TST. There’s something mysterious about the ‘East’ side, no-one really mentions it, no-one wants to go there, as according to some people, it’s “enough of a trek going to TST, let alone East TST”. But, there appears to be a fair amount to do around there, lots of malls, markets, restaurants and a shed-load of hotels everywhere you look. Worth closer inspection I say.
On this particular day, I was going to the new Hotel ICON, (opened since May), which aims to combine traditional and modern Asian hospitality with local and international art and design. It’s very funky inside and I can imagine, as a guest, a bit like staying in a piece of art.
There are three restaurants in Hotel ICON, all designed by Terence Conran: GREEN – a café and tapas bar, Above & Beyond – which serves Cantonese cuisine, and The Market.
I was trying out The Market, which, barely 2 months into its opening, is already heaving with customers. A buffet-style restaurant offering mostly Asian but also international dishes, it claims inspiration from Hong Kong’s wet markets, with open kitchens and chefs cooking everything from pizza to tandoori chicken.
It has a few signature dishes, two of which are the Laksa Lemak and the Beef Rendang. My family is originally from Malaysia so I know how these should taste, and they were good, especially the laksa soup, which anyone will tell you is the most important part of the entire ensemble of ingredients. Obviously it helps that Hotel ICON has employed a Singaporean chef to cook these classic dishes!
Apart from the noodle congee section where the Singaporean Chef resides, there is also a tandoor oven, a regular oven for roasts, a Japanese, Korean, and Chinese section, as well as an ice-kacang corner, a self-service pancake machine (!) and a brilliant pastry and dessert section, presided over by pastry chef Danny Ho, who seems to be something of a genius with sugar.
Before I swoon over the desserts, one thing I need to mention is how tender all of the meat was. I had a selection of Western-style roast beef and pork and Korean-style grilled beef and pork which were very succulent and juicy. The sashimi from the Japanese corner was of a high quality, though a bit too thickly sliced for my taste and the curry sauces generously thick and full of flavour.
But back to desserts, and what a selection there is on offer! Chef Danny Ho has managed to make the entire dessert section so pretty with its display of mini cakes and puddings that it looks too good to eat. One delectable pudding that stood out for me was his vegetable sorbet. I see you frown at this, but this sorbet made from a blend of cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries and red peppers, is a sublimely refreshing and moreish palate cleanser, and the best way to end a rich meal. I could have eaten a whole tub of it. The overriding flavour is the strawberry, but on first taste, you detect the red pepper with a cucumber undertone, which then gives way to the sweetness of the strawberry. I wonder how he does it.
My only excuse for eating so many desserts is that they were really small, bite-size; which is why I ended up with Green Tea Panna Cotta, Apple Crumble with Vanilla Ice-Cream, Bread and Butter Pudding, Mango Panna Cotta, Baileys Mousse, a Lemon Tart and a Strawberry Olive Oil Sponge Cake. There wasn’t a single one I didn’t like, but I loved the lemon tart and the Baileys Mousse was pretty strongly flavoured! None of them were too sweet, so I didn’t feel sick afterwards – always a bonus.
Prices start at $198 for breakfast, $218 for lunch and $408 for dinner. The selections will vary with each meal, but if the self-service pancake machine tickles your fancy, you’ll have to go along for breakfast.
Don’t let the location put you off. Hotel ICON is one of many places to explore in East TST. The great thing is you’ll work up an appetite getting there!
Hotel ICON 17 Science Museum Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui