I have to confess to getting a little bit frustrated with people who seem to think that Hong Kong begins and ends with Central. There’s so much great stuff to do, shop and eat around the city that you are truly are missing out if you’re stuck solely in Soho! And we’ve got another great example to add to the list – FEAST restaurant at the EAST hotel in Tai Koo.
Admittedly, being an Island East girl, I am biased – but Sugar, EAST’s rooftop bar, is stunning enough to compete with Soho’s finest (and the views are simply to die for). Having knocked back some great mocktails at Sugar in my time, I thought it was about time I catered for the non-liquid part of my diet and checked out the restaurant at EAST too!
Maura and I headed for lunch at FEAST… and I think it may just have converted Central-loving Maura to the joys of Island East! The restaurant itself is bright, modern and spacious with an entire side of floor-to-ceiling windows letting the light come streaming in. The lunchtime crowd is mostly made up of office workers from nearby but, combined with the semi open-kitchen that you can peer into, it feels bustling in a good way!
You’ll be immediately enticed by the huge array of dishes at the buffet as soon as you walk in. For lunch, you can either go for appetizers and desserts from the buffet together with a choice of six main dishes (for dinner, apparently the buffets are brought to you!) or order completely from the a la carte menu – so Maura and I decided to cover both bases and do one of each!
(They also have a grab-and-go FEASTaway section of takeaway lunch options, a nice alternative from Pret.)
The buffet has a slightly Mediterranean theme that sets it apart from some of the more bog standard buffet fare you’ll find around the city. I loved the slightly homespun feel it had, with hand-written labels, food plated up on chunky chopping boards and dish upon dish of colourful vibrant salads. There was enough of an antipasti selection to feed an Italian family for months on end! What’s more, everything was clearly bursting with freshness; there were no sad empty dishes or wilted looking greens here – as soon as a salad dish was even half-finished, a chef would sweep it away and replace it with new, freshly-made goodies.
Whilst Maura tucked into that, I opted for an a la carte starter of scallops, crispy bacon, butter beans and a creamy sauce. I’m obsessed with the combination of juicy sweet succulent scallop paired with crispy salty bacon, and this didn’t disappoint. The sauce was a little on the salty side but it was a mostly delicious start to the meal.
FEAST’s mains cover both Western and Asian cuisines, with more substantial entrees offered alongside hotel staples like club sandwiches and burgers (we saw one of these go past to a different table and let’s put it this way… we know what we’re trying next time!). They also do a mean selection of Indian dishes – plus a very popular Indian night every Wednesday – so Maura decided to go for the chicken curry (sorry… we’re both having a total mental block as to which kind!) as her main. This was a generous serving of tender chicken, expertly-spiced and aromatic curry sauce and plenty of naan to soak it up with!
Meanwhile, I went for the tenderloin steak served with caramelised onions, herb gnocchi and roast vegetables. One bite and I was in heaven. The onion topping was total soft gooey goodness and made a positively-perfect pairing with the rich tender steak. The gnocchi were little parcels packed with much more flavour than you’d have imagined – light, fresh and bursting with herby flavours (sorry I’m not a herb connoisseur but I do know whatever combination they used tasted gooood!). These made for an unusual but neatly judged accompaniment to the steak and frankly, put the gnocchi found in many Italian restaurants here to shame. Other than the asparagus, the vegetables were a little undercooked for my taste and again, as a dish it was rather salty, but I absolutely adored it… and it meant I was too full for dinner that night too!
Maura and I then hit up the dessert buffet, even if we were already fit to burst. I’ve often found that hotel dessert buffets tend to look fabulous but let the side down on flavour… but FEAST’s was anything but! There were simply too many delectable choices to pick from and talk about, but I have to mention the mini ice-cream cones.
Although we initially got them merely for the cute factor, it was soon apparent that this homemade ice-cream boasted a definite wow factor too. A creamy concoction of cinnamon and crème brulee, it was a subtle but heady flavour combination that almost crept up on us with how good it was – it just got better with every bite. When I said I was thinking of grabbing five to go, I was only half joking. Simply divine.
As someone who eats in and around Island East regularly, EAST is a definite stand-out. The range and quality of its cuisine easily puts it amongst the top dining spots in the area, the prices are reasonable (especially for the set lunch) and, despite the number of people bolting food down in their lunch break, I still felt comfy, relaxed and unrushed. If you do happen to find yourself in Tai Koo, give the average eateries in the Cityplaza mall a miss and head here instead!
So now I’ve converted Maura… who else is next?!
Feast 1/F, EAST, 29 Taikoo Sing Road, Tai Koo
3968 3777 www.east-hongkong.com