Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Lunch at the Museum

While we were staying nearby for the weekend, I felt a visit to the Hong Kong Museum of Art is a must, partly because I have never been back since they re-opened a few months ago after years of renovation (which took almost 4 years thanks to government bureaucracy), shut again in January because of virus outbreak and re-opened only a few weeks ago; and partly because their special exhibition featuring works from Tate was ending in a week. And I only came to realize it’s also the “International Museum Day” weekend, as if we need any more reason to go.

The renovation did give the museum a nice facelift from inside and out, starting from the modern façade above the main entrance and the wave pattern on the side facing the Victoria Harbor. The dull interior which looks more like old offices was changed to the more contemporary style using black, white and grey color scheme with the light-colored wooden floor. They also added an annex block right next to the Cultural Center with additional exhibition space, plus a new level on the top floor with floor-to-ceiling window on two sides letting plenty of light in during the day. I also love the space they intentionally left off on all floors, so visitors could come in and just chill or meditate, or immense in the artsy atmosphere.

In addition to special exhibitions they hosted from time to time, they have expanded on their original focus on paintings and Chinese antiques in their permanent collections to a wider variety of artefacts. At the time of our visit, we particularly enjoyed looking through the Chater Collection of old Hong Kong, or the one on the top floor featuring works by contemporary local artists. Plus of course, the special exhibition featuring some of the landscape paintings and artwork from Tate – worth a detour.

With the renovation also came a new dining outlet at the museum which was clearly an upgrade to its predecessor. Hue Dining was said to be specializing in Australian cuisine, offering casual fare at the coffee stand with alfresco seating downstairs facing the harbor, and a well-designed dining area upstairs in the long dining area stretching across the harbor-facing side of the building. On weekends they offer the long lunch menu with a choice of 2 or 3 courses plus cheeses and drink pairing options.

Having stuffed ourselves pretty much non-stop at various outlets at The Rosewood during the weekend we opted for a lighter 2-course lunch this time. The warm sourdough served with smoky butter was impressive, and I began with the white fish ceviche as my appetizer. Chunks of white fish (sea bream, I believe) was marinated and cured in beetroot juice giving it a nice red color, and served with thinly sliced purple radish and a generous drizzle of olive oil. I like the nice, refreshing flavor with a hint of acidity and the fish was firm with a good bite.

With a choice from seafood to meat to pasta, I went for the scarpinocc dish for my main course. Housemade dumplings with ricotta filling and in the shape of a wrapped candy were served with white and green beans, butter sauce and grated Parmagiano served in a rustic ceramics dish. The pasta was well made with rich flavor served simply with a spoonful of sauce made with butter and pasta water and thickened with the stewed white beans which still retained their firm texture.  The green peas added to the colorful presentation and a garden-like taste. This is an enjoyable home-style  Tuscan dish that’s perfect on a lazy day like this. Again, loaded with booze at the hotel I went for the non-alcoholic option, which they got plenty with their mocktail menu. My “Burnt by Modern Art” mocktails served in a small coupe was fun, with Seedlip and cranberry juice with burnt orange garnish. I love the acidity but probably wanted a bit more orange zest flavor.

What planned to be a quick hour-visit to the exhibition and then lunch turned out to be longer than we thought plus a trip to the museum shop next door. And we probably need to go back some time to finish the rest of the exhibitions on a couple floors that we didn’t manage to go this time. And a longer meal to check out more of its cooking. Did I also mention admission is free for most of the exhibitions and the restaurant offers tremendous value?

When? May 16 2020
Where? Hong Kong Museum of Art and Hue Dining, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsimshatsui, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Ricotta Scarpinocc with white beans, green peas and parmesan
Hong Kong Museum of Art: hk.art.museum/en_US/web/ma/home.html
Hue Dining: huedining.com.hk

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