Traversing the 5 Stages of Love: Stage One - the First Date

Traversing the 5 Stages of Love: Stage One - the First Date

The first date - five bars and restaurants designed to woo.

Ayana  Ayana  on 12 Feb '16

Cover photo credit: M Prince Photography (Flickr)

Navigating a relationship in Hong Kong can be an emotional roller-coaster ride; the sweetest of highs followed by the most devastating of lows. And in city as social and food obsessed as this one, location is everything. From dimly lit watering holes to breath-taking eateries, Traversing the 5 Stages of Love, presents a thoughtful list of restaurants, bars and experiences to help you woo, seduce and break hearts in our vertical city.

Stage 1 - The First Date

Online dating apps have many a blind-date horror to answer for. Even at the best of times when you've met someone in the flesh, a first date can go either way. In the land of never-ending options, availability is low and chemistry is elusive. Therefore, flexibility is key, and nothing is more flexible than casual drinks at a bar that offers plenty of food options nearby, should things go well. And if the energy between you is equivalent to that of a tea light, you can both graciously part ways without too much damage done to your ego or wallet.

Stone Nullah Tavern

In a town that lives and breathes finance, you'll find no shortage of bankers at this chilled-out watering hole. But don’t let that stop you. With French doors that open up onto the street and plenty of wood panelling, Stone Nullah Tavern has perfected modern American fare in a warm, casual setting that’s comfortingly disarming. The menu is extensive and delicious (their mac and cheese is a standout) - however on a first date, it’s all about drinks and Stone Nullah has one of the best happy hours in the city. At 5pm sharp, standard drinks cost a measly 1 HKD and double in cost every 20 minutes until 7pm. Leave work early!

Website/Tel: 3182 0128

Address: 69 Stone Nullah Lane, Wan Chai

In a nutshell: Warm, casual and well priced. Starters are approximately 100 HKD and mains hover around 150 HKD.

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Despite being tucked away on a tiny, quiet lane, Djibouti is anything but. Loud and always fun, this cool little bar is perfect for a first date. Upon entering, you’ll find a mishmash of eclectic decor and recycled furniture juxtaposed against jungle-themed wallpaper and purple lighting. The result? A dimly lit, sexy, laid-back lair with exquisite cocktails and a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern menu with plenty of vegetarian options. And importantly, whether it's the barman flipping bottles of vodka or a festive bunch of patrons, you'll never have to look too far for a conversation filler.

Website/Tel: 9449 0777

Address: 2 Landale St, Wan Chai

In a nutshell: Eclectic, fun, flirty. Dishes are very affordable at around 100 HKD, cocktails are on the upper end at 100 - 130 HKD.

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The Pawn

Set in a lovely heritage listed mansion, The Pawn is an institution. After some major renovations last year and a complete rework of its menu under the guidance of Tom Aikens, this Hong Kong favourite is fresh like spring. Bright and airy with light-wooden decor, it offers up a delicate menu of modern and traditional British food. While the restaurant is a little fancy as far as first dates go, the Botanicals Bar on the first floor with it’s outdoor terrace, hits the spot. Start at the high tables and if all goes well, sink into one of their comfy couches. Better yet, head to the rooftop filled with the aromatics of a herb garden that’s carefully tended to by the chefs themselves. Rather romantic, isn’t it?

Website/Tel: 2866 3444

Address: 62 Johnston Rd, Wan Chai

In a nutshell: Light, fresh, a little fancy. Very affordable bar menu from 60 - 190 HKD, cocktails are also reasonably priced at approximately 100 HKD.

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Mr & Mrs Fox

Emitting a vibe between casual cool and quirky carnival, this new addition to dining options in Quarry Bay is great for an after work date. Inside Mr & Mrs Fox you find exposed copper piping, rusty beams, book-filled walls and cuckoo clocks give you the sense that you’ve entered a slightly alternate universe, however we suggest you pull up a seat under a string of lights on the terrace upfront. Best of all, they don’t just have delicious craft beers on tap, they also have draught wine. Ingenious. The food menu, should you get hungry, is just as impressive offering everything from oysters to BBQ cheddar burgers and green curry mussels.

Website/Tel: 2697 8500

Address: 23 Tong Chong St, Quarry Bay

In a nutshell: Whimsical, laid-back, very affordable. Cocktails are around 80 HKD, small plates from 65 - 175 HKD and charcuterie boards from 175 HKD.

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Located in the heart of PoHo on a sleepy street, is Mitte, an Berlin-inspired Italian oesteria. With exposed concrete walls and low-level lighting, Mitte is moody and effortlessly cool, attracting a local crowd that creates an intimate and friendly vibe despite the hard, industrial look. Their renown Negroni cocktail is a winner if you need to take the edge off and if you get peckish, a delicious and rather expansive Italian-inspired menu is dished out of the tiny bar. The music can get a little progressive so we suggest a mid-week visit and although they have table seating, the bar is a lot more fun. Look for the singular bright blue neon M on the exterior.

Facebook/Tel: 2803 7080

Address: 1A Upper Station St, Sheung Wan

In a nutshell: Moody, intimate, cool. Cocktails are approximately 80 - 130 HKD, dishes from 120 - 330 HKD.

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