A new speakeasy for dinner, drinks (and dessert!)
District: Lang Kwai Fong, Hong Kong
How Much: Dishes range from $138 – $628
Best for: Casual dinner and drinks with friends
Must order: The Hot Smoked Salmon, and Artichoke Taglierini
Although it’s smack dab in the middle of LKF, Employees Only still manages to keep a low profile and maintain that speakeasy vibe. Walk through the doors into a dark room and you are immediately faced with a serpentine bar, and friendly bar staff that will whip up anything you fancy (The Gimlet is powerful, so don’t say I didn’t warn you). But, the dinner here is just as good; there are hearty dishes to be had, and trust me, I enjoyed quite a few.
We tried four starters, beginning with a Smoked Clam Chowder that was incredibly flavourful, with fresh Manilla clams, chunks of French potatoes, peas and a saffron broth that was thick and delicious. We then had a Steak Tartare, which was served with crispy crostini and mixed greens (I’m not a fan of steak tartare in general, but my dining partners said it was yummy).
Next up was the Peking Duck salad with cucumber, beansprouts, chilli, spring onion and a hoisin dressing (which was a little too heavy, so ask for a light serving if ordering). It was fresh and crisp, but had a definite kick to it.
Finishing off the starters were Seared Scallops, with a bone marrow mash and toasted hazelnut. Although tasty, this was not my favourite, and I would pick the Clam Chowder out of all of them as the winner.
Next on the table were the mains, and we tried the Hot Smoked Salmon, which was seared very nicely and cooked to perfection. It was served on a bed of warm caraway potato salad made with crème fraîche. The pairing was perfect, and one I would definitely order again.
Vegetarians will take delight in the Artichoke Taglierini pasta dish, which was prepared with pickled shallots, parsley, chives and garlic oil. The flavours combined very well together and it was fresh, and light enough for these hot summer HK nights. I would go back for this one as well.
We finished the main course with Crispy Skin Chicken, which was served with a Sichuan cucumber salad and served with garlic soy. I’m partial to chicken with crispy skin, and this dish did not disappoint. It was crispy on the outside yet the meat was moist and tender, and I didn’t even get embarrassed when I nibbled (okay, chewed) it completely off the bone.
The sides at Employees Only were also a great addition to the meal, and I would definitely recommend the Hasselbeck potatoes (crispy and seasoned nicely) and the Almond Green Beans.
No meal (in my opinion) is complete without dessert, and we were able to try the Coconut Panna Cotta Sweet Potato Cake, the Orange Cinnamon Churros, with dark chocolate and hazelnut filling, and the Butterscotch Marscapone Cheesecake (which, really, did not taste like a cheesecake and did not really have the texture, either). The winner by far was the churros, which were crispy, cinnamon-and-sugary and had a lovely, rich chocolate inside (making the need to ‘dip’ it in sauce totally moot).
Overall, the dining experience here is great for a group of friends who want to enjoy a fun night out. The music, which starts off quite mellow, kicks up as the night goes on, was awesome, and the atmosphere was lively.