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.
Read the first installment of Traversing the 5 Stages of Love: Stage 1 - The First Date
Stage 2 - In the Mood for Love
“The Firsts” are one of the most exquisite things about a new relationship. The first date, the first kiss, the first… well. That time early on when you’re utterly euphoric and a little terrified. Your senses are heightened, your head is awash and your heart pounds at the mere mention of a name. Subtle, intimate and as delicious as the meal you are about to share, this list is all about enjoying the anticipation of things to come. From mood lighting to breathtaking views, seduction is the name of the game.
Being perched on a stool may not be an obvious choice for drumming up romance, however it scores top marks for subtlety. 22 Ships is a hip little Spanish eatery that specialises in innovative tapas - cue the baked smoked bone marrow and salted peanut caramel. Space is a rarity and it consistently draws a crowd so it’s likely that you’ll find yourselves sitting practically on top of each other. Conveniently, this facilitates all sorts of body contact. Their no reservation policy is a bit of a pain so it's best to aim for a weekday. However should you encounter a short wait, you can always appreciate the chefs’ handy work in the open kitchen.
Address: 22 Ship St, Wan Chai
Website/Tel: 2555 0722
In a nutshell: Subtle, tactile, made for sharing. Dinner for two approximately 1,000 HKD.
22 Ships' Iberico pork & foie gras burger with avocado
Has there ever been a greater social lubricant than tequila? We think not and hence why a taqueria makes it onto the list. Mind you, not just any taqueria will do. Hidden in the back alleys of LKF, Brickhouse is edgy and has arguably some of the best Mexican in town. Walls are shrouded in graffiti and heavy industrial framed windows open up onto the alley. Mexican food can be heavy so we suggest sticking to the lighter options and for the love of humanity, go easy on the beans. Their Peruvian ceviche, Fat Man Dancing Tacos and watermelon salad are winners. Wash it all down with a Diabola or two - a delicious concoction of raspberries, jalapeños and tequila. Naughty.
Address: 20 D'Aguilar Street, Central
Website/Tel: 2810 0560
In a nutshell: Edgy, playful, naughty. Dinner for two approximately 900 HKD.
Brickhouse's watermelon salad; photo credit: hkyantoyan
A tucked away French gem that has romance written all over it. Luxurious brocade wallpaper, velvet seating and black marble tables set an intimate scene that oozes sex-appeal. Cocotte’s menu cleverly offers a fresher and lighter take on traditional French favourites so you won’t feel weighed down for your post-dinner activities. It's got beautiful lighting, an impressive wine list and the service is casual yet attentive. If you can secure a table on the terrace, you may even forget you’re in HK for a night.
Address: 9 Shin Hing St, Central
Website/Tel: 2568 8857
In a nutshell: Intimate, casual yet chic. Dinner for two will set you back approximately 1,200 HKD.
Cocotte's U.S. black Angus short ribs; photo credit: expatlivinghk
Sexy, dark and exotic, Mott 32 is fine dining without the pomp by famous Michelin Chef Fung. The underground chamber where Oriental meets industrial is deceptively large however the clever separators create intimacy and make it a perfect place to woo. Start with a Chinese-inspired ginseng or goji berry cocktail. You can easily get carried away with the expansiveness of the menu. Elegant Cantonese, Sichuan and Beijing dishes, including an irresistible BBQ Iberia pork char siu, are generously served up so it's best to exercise restraint - at least for now.
Address: Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4-4A Des Voeux Rd, Central
Website/Tel: 2885 8688
In a nutshell: Exotic, sexy, dark. Dinner for two approximately 1,500 HKD.
Mott 32's BBQ Iberia pork char siu
Skip dinner entirely and head straight for a view that's bound to get the heart fluttering. Woolloomooloo is a casual yet classy rooftop oasis above the Australian steakhouse of the same name. Featuring wooden and rattan decor and an Aboriginal-inspired colour palate of brown and burnt orange, it overlooks the Happy Valley race track, Wan Chai and Victoria Harbour. Their cocktail list is extensive and the service is attentive, however this place is really all about the ambience. Mid-week is best when the crowds are small and the music is chill.
Address: 256 Hennessy Rd, Wan Chai
Website/Tel: 2893 6960
In a nutshell: Breath-taking, inspiring. Given the view, cocktails are very reasonable at 100 HKD.
Wooloomooloo overlooks the Happy Valley race track, Wan Chai and Victoria Harbour via GeoExpat
Few places know how to set the mood quite like Cafe Grey. From the lengthy escalator ride to the golden-lit corridor that leads to reception, it’s all about creating a steady build-up of warm anticipation. Inside, tones of brown, teal and beige emanate an elegant and sophisticated mood whilst dark wooden furniture and wall panelling frame a spectacular view. And the food is just as good. Expect refined European cuisine infused with vibrant Asian flavours and paired with impeccable service. Everything is done exquisitely and this is the perfect choice if you want to pull out all the stops.
Address: The Upper House, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty
Website/Tel: 3968 1106
In a nutshell: Impactful, sophisticated, classic. Dinner for two approximately 1,500 HKD.
Cafe Grey's duck shepherd’s pie with cranberry relish