Thursday, August 12, 2010

the varandah

some close friends of ours came over from japan as it's now their summer vacation/festival of the dead (obon) (um, why don't workers in hong kong get a summer holiday!?).
we met them in stanley for a few afternoon drinks out in the sun before grabbing a taxi and heading over to repulse bay (淺水灣).
i've always wondered why would you even consider naming a bay "repulse" unless it was actually repulsive; which it's not. it's actually one of the most expensive residential areas on hong kong island.

three things spring to mind when you hear "repulse bay".
1. the beach.
which when written in chinese (淺水灣) it actually translates to "shallow water bay"; nothing about the english word "repulse".
but we weren't here for the warm sea of the soft sand.

2. the hole-in-the-building apartment (below)
the saying goes that a hole was needed bang slap in the middle of this apartment because it's the blocking the route taken by the dragon so he/she (??) could swoop down over the mountain and take a drink from the water in the bay.
nice marketing ploy if you ask me.

3. some would say the third thing that springs to mind are the scantly clad tanned bodies on the beach but really it should be "the varandah".
and this ain't no ordinary varandah!
the varandah is actually the name of the upmarket restaurant run by the peninsula (one of hong kong's most expensive hotels).
as with many historic buildings here in hong kong, the original grand repulse bay hotel was demolished during the 1970s and now a replica has been built to try to mimic some of the long lost colonial architecture.
the sunday brunch here is said to be pretty good but at HK$400 something odd dollars plus tax per person it's a bit steep so we instead went for afternoon tea and nibbled on tasty finger size sandwiches, mouth-watering cakes and french savories.

we were so engrossed in conversation that we had to be asked to settle our bill and basically leave as they needed to set the tables for dinner. oops.

and my pick out of afternoon tea at the peninsula hotel or the varandah?
definitely the varandah. although the peninsula is very grand, dining in the lobby with hordes of other people can feel a bit touristy.
and even though the varandah is a bit out of the way (hong kong island south) it has a more relaxed environment and i felt the quality of the food was better.

restaurant info:
the repulse bay
the varandah
109 repulse bay road
hong kong island
tel: (+852) 2292-2822 (reservations required)

afternoon tea: 
tuesday to saturaday & public holidays - 3pm to 5:30pm
sunday - 3:30pm to 5:30pm
monday - closed

* dress code: smart casual, no shorts/swimwear and sandals for gentlemen
(what!? no sandals for guys!? i find this kinda crazy as there are some pretty snazzy dress sandals out there for guys now days. maybe they should say no jandals? err, i think this is kiwi slang...)


Life for Beginners said...

Feels like a summery, post-colonial brunch, no? :)

Like the hole in the apartment too, and the story/justification behind it. All these beliefs that still persist even in modern times - there's something warm & heartening about that.

Lavender Playground said...

The hole in the apartment is so interesting, as well as the stories behind them.

Luuworld said...

wow, what a fancy place! you're classy! the food looks delicious too. :)

world of sekimachihato said...

* Life for Beginners
it is cool that old traditions are still recognized but it's a real shame that the original building on this plot of land was demolished to make way for a semi-highrise apartment.

world of sekimachihato said...

* Lavendar Playground
these stories are pretty neat.
i bet there are a lot of people who visit this area and just marvel at the architecture and not realize that there is a cool story behind it.

world of sekimachihato said...

* Luuworld
oh you know me, classy mr sekimachihato (yeah right...)
anyway, i try to live/experience a bit of both worlds, classy and very local; it's the way to go if you ask me.

pascale said...

you sure know where to go :)
one of my favorites too :)

world of sekimachihato said...

* pascale
oh you have such good taste in places *wink wink*

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