Head to the West Wing of the old Police Headquarters in Tai Kwun to check out Aqua Group’s newest opening, Statement, making a grand entrance into the British food scene in Hong Kong.
District: Central, Hong Kong
Cuisine: Fine English Dining
How much: Starters range between $168 and $228, Mains range between $218 and $398, Sides range between $68 and $88, Puddings range between $118 and $288 (for two);
Must Order: Pan-fried Hokkaido scallops with smoked cabbage heart, and slow-cooked Gressingham Duck with plum sauce and salt baked carrot
The Best For: A special date night or celebration dinner
Sassy Tip: Mention ‘MESS’ when placing your booking between now and Wednesday 21 November to enjoy a complimentary Gunner at The Dispensary before your meal.
Statement is the latest restaurant opened by the Aqua Group, and its first move into fine English dining. Occupying the first floor of the historic Police Headquarters in Tai Kwun’s West Wing, the restaurant is a classy complement to The Chinese Library in the East Wing. We were excited to see how Aqua is continuing the success of the brand with a new style of cuisine.
We started the evening at The Dispensary, the beautifully renovated bar that stands between Statement and the Chinese Library, where the unofficial police bar originally stood. The interior gave a nod to the original heritage, with an old-world opulence and a blend of East meets West in the design. Think: dark velvet furnishings in original police uniform colours, backlit silver police badges with etched writing and some seriously creative cocktails. You can instantly recognise the hand of AB Concepts in the design of both the bar and the restaurant – there’s an unapologetic approach to luxury and fine detail.
The British Collection of cocktails, prepared by Head Mixologist Isabella Vannoni, were each inspired by the stories that surround the building and its former tenants. I went for the Brave Burlingham ($108), named after a former policeman at the barracks, and his successful fight with a tiger. This charcoal-infused creation was a perfect balance of sweet and sour, combining maraschino and almond with grapefruit and lime, all topped by a smooth rum base. It was so delicately fruity, you almost didn’t notice the alcohol, although there was definitely a health shot of rum in it! The outdoor terrace that runs the length of the first floor is a great place to have pre-dinner cocktails whilst people-watching the main square below.
As we moved into the restaurant, where the use of reclaimed materials give a real sense of the history of the location, the first thing you notice is the space and intimacy of the table settings. In Hong Kong, where space is at such a premium, AB Concepts and Aqua Group have done a spectacular job of ensuring you can enjoy dinner without hearing the conversation of the table next to you! Moving on to the food, we were treated to an amuse-bouche to start the meal, tangy and creamy citrus foam enveloping a firm fillet of white fish. A small start, but big on flavour, cleansing palates before the meal began. To start, I chose the Pan-fried Hokkaido scallops with smoked cabbage heart and welsh laverbread butter ($198). One of the delicately flavoured butters was infused with Marmite, that staple British spread, and started the usual ‘Love it or Hate it’ debate. I am a confirmed Marmite lover, so was thrilled at this twist. Plain salted butter was also served, so there was something to suit every taste. The Kettyle Farm lamb tartare with dandelion salad and heritage tomato chutney ($188), was another fresh, delicately seasoned dish worth trying on the menu.
For the mains, I chose the Slow-cooked Gressingham duck breast with plum sauce and sale baked carrot ($298). The tender duck breast had a salted and crispy skin, without any hint of fat, and the carrot accompaniment was dressed with duck confit and tiny edible flowers. We sampled each of the side dishes: baked carrots, goat curds and buckwheat ($78) baby new potatoes with red onion and rosemary ($68) roasted whole cauliflower with olives and blackcurrant ($88) and pan-fried spinach and pan choi with pine nut granola and lemon ($68). The portion sizes stood up well without the sides, but they were too delicious not to try. Our table loved the addition of the pine nuts and buckwheat to give an unexpected crunch.
It was hard to pick a favourite dessert between the Chocolate mousse with British cherries and black cherry sorbet ($118) and the Cranberry poached pear, buttermilk caramel mousse and Scottish shortbread ($118), but the caramel mousse won us over in the end. All the desserts were full of flavour, and a healthy size – worth saving space for at the end of the meal.
Statement is a gorgeous restaurant for special events in and intimate date nights. The thoughtful surroundings, combined with the creativity of the culinary team, the quality of the ingredients, and the discreet service leaves you to fully enjoy every mouthful (and we did!) whilst relaxing and soaking up the history. Aqua Group have entered the British Food scene in Hong Kong with more of a royal fanfare than a bang, and we love it!
Statement and The Dispensary, The Police Headquarters, Tai Kwun, Central, +852 2848 3000, www.statement.com.hk
All images courtesy of Aqua Group