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There are more cafés opening in Hong Kong than we can shake an espresso at, but we’ll attempt to place a spotlight on the cream of the crop.
Natura: was opened earlier this year by floral design studio Origami Florist, and it’s Instagrammable to the max, decorated with a seasonally changing design of preserved flowers, assorted woods and dried plants. The café is spacious too and boasts high ceilings, a place where an intimate chat really is possible.
With summer in full swing, Natura: has collaborated with eco-social enterprise HK TimberBank for its new wooden and floral installations that reinterpret local historical trees using repurposed timber, hoping to place a spotlight on both conservation and commemoration.
We’re fascinated by the register of OVTs (Old and Valuable Trees) in Hong Kong, special trees that fit into one of these categories: large size; precious or rare species; old age; cultural, historical or memorable significance; outstanding form. There are now only eight OVTs left that are 100 years old or older. One of them, the Chinese banyan tree at Muk Lun Street Playground in Wong Tai Sin, pictured above, is the inspiration for the “Islands in the Sky” installation floating above the coffee bar, featuring dried maranthus, baby’s breath and preserved hydrangea to mimick the historical tree’s aerial roots. If you take a selfie with any of the OVTs in Hong Kong in the flesh – check out #naturatreetour – you’ll get a $5 discount on your bill for an unlimited number of times.
Some of the Natura: x HK TimberBank upcycled wooden furniture and lifestyle products, such as log coasters that retain their natural tree rings and long stools made of camphor wood, can even be purchased at the café (prices upon request). There will also be hands-on workshops held at Natura: next month, where participants can make their own small wooden pieces; follow Natura: on Instagram for details.
The new summer menu items (food items available after 3pm) are inspired by natural elements and feature Japanese influences. The refreshing nitro Earl Grey tea with floral espresso ($75) is subtly sweet, with a strong, smooth floral undertone.
We tried both the avocado and portobello sourdough with onsen egg ($128) and the seared akami tuna sourdough ($128) and preferred the latter for its freshly seared Japanese yellowfin tuna complemented by a punchy shiso-ginger-lime dressing.
The creamy carbonara with konjac noodles ($128) is a great low-calorie and low-carb way to eat this beloved pasta dish, using Japanese shirataki noodles made from the konjac yam. The sauce is a mixture of bacon, onion, shimeji mushroom and Hokkaido cream, but it’s not as creamy or flavourful as the original.
We didn’t get to try the two newly launched, pretty-as-a-picture waffle dishes, but there are both savoury and sweet options: unagi and egg waffle ($168; top) and pistachio-flavoured waffle ($138; bottom). You’ll definitely eat with your eyes first with these babies.
We also missed out on the two new vegan desserts by IG-famous vegan pastry shop Koke Lab. Island and the Mountains ($78; top) is a matcha-yuzu tart, and Grass after Rain ($78; bottom) is a passion-fruit-pistachio cake. They certainly do look tempting!
We’d usually be dubious of a café with a colon as part of its name (we’re told it’s a symbol of the owners’ hopes to start a dialogue with their guests), but Natura:’s moniker is fitting for such a thoughtfully created space. We love the current focus on historical trees and conservation, and we think the beautiful installations and new menu items mirror this theme well. With the decor and menu updated quarterly, Natura: will change with the seasons, and we can’t wait to see what’s up next for autumn.
8 Fleming Road, Wanchai, 2816 1601 (open daily, 8am–8pm)
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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