Globally, the artisanal movement has been around for awhile. One of the clearest examples of this is the rise of organic American supermarket chain Whole Foods. With greater awareness of food safety and ethical practices, customers are willing to pay extra to make sure what they are eating is of good quality.
Because of this, it came as a surprise when we visited Artisan Room in trendy Shek Tong Tsui (just behind HKU MTR station, exit B2) and found the food prices very reasonable. OK, the coffee is expensive, but cold brews and inventive mocktails always are. But in Hong Kong, I really can’t think of the last time I went to a polished café and found pastas, salads and sandwiches under $60. At such affordable prices, I was surprised to find that the vegetables were locally sourced, the bread was of artisanal quality and the meat came as a generous portion.
We‘re expecting the warm, humid months to last well into autumn, so there’s still plenty of time to enjoy Artisan Room’s summery offerings.
The space is divided into three main areas: an outdoor spot with comfortable lounges, an indoor area with a long communal table and an upstairs area with more generous seating. All sections have lots of natural light, and there are touches of white marble and light wood throughout. Keep an eye out for the art on the walls, the cups in which your coffee is served and other small decorative items around the café. Each object was sourced by owner Adrian Cheng, also founder of the K11 Art Foundation (amongst other things; the man’s CV is quite long!).
Hong Kong–grown organic salad box with cheese and quinoa ($52)
Don’t let the casual presentation fool you – the make-up of this box was quite impressive. The greens and tomatoes were extremely fresh and flavourful. However, being sinful food lovers, we were most impressed by the generous amount of Camembert and Emmental cheeses served alongside it. This box was good value for money.
Spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce ($56)
This homey pasta dish was simple but quite tasty. No tinned or jarred sauce is used, just lots of fresh tomatoes and other locally grown vegetables. This is a good option when you’re craving carbs but still want to be a bit virtuous.
Smoked salmon sandwich ($48)
This isn’t new for summer, but I think it deserves mentioning. Coming from Canada, I’m used to eating lots of sandwiches. So I’m quite picky about my sarnies and get a bit irritated if a shop is stingy with their ingredients. I was happily surprised when I bit into this treat because not only was the bread moist and flavourful, there was also a decent amount of smoked salmon in there. I’d definitely order this again.
For summer, there are two new desserts. The orange blossom bavarois ring is gorgeous. Part sponge cake, part fruity jelly, it’s a satisfying yet low sugar option. The same cannot be said for the genmaicha chocolate dome, which was much more decadent. We liked the subtle nuttiness of the tea-infused chocolate mousse, though we found the chocolate shell slightly too hard. It took us a number of not so ladylike taps before we could break through it.
My weekend doesn’t start until I’ve been properly caffeinated, so I was happy to try a few of their java offerings. The Vader is a coffee mocktail that‘s new for the summer. It’s part ice-drip coffee and part cranberry juice, with some black pepper to add a bit of kick. Unfortunately, this one wasn’t my favourite as I felt the juice and ice diluted the coffee too much. I liked the intensity of the simple cup of slow-drip coffee much better. It came from their three-and-a-half-foot-tall Gothicism machine and was served along with a small information card.
This café is in my neighbourhood, so I almost don’t want to share it in case it becomes so popular that I can’t get a seat myself! As far as Hong Kong cafés go, Artisan Room is truly a gem. The quality and thought that’s been put into everything – from the design, to the selection of the art and earthenware, to the sourcing of ingredients – sets it apart. When it comes to the prices, they‘re about what you’d expect to pay for coffee and desserts in Hong Kong, but the salads, pastas and sandwiches are a real steal.
8 South Lane, Shek Tong Tsui, 2656 3198
This post also appears on www.jenniexplores.com
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.