A Guide to Living, Travelling, and Enjoying Hong Kong

A Guide to Living, Travelling, and Enjoying Hong Kong

Saturday, 18 June 2011

The Challenges of Saturday Brunch in Hong Kong

Brunch should not be a challenging affair. It should be simple, clean, and easy. And fun.

Bearing in mind that reservations in Central on Hong Kong island are fairly imperative, especially on weekends - whether it be a 11:30-noon booking or a 3pm brunch-lunch-tea-into-dinner affair.

This is how one brunch excursion of one group of friends panned out:

The idea was to go for local dim sum. A reservation was duly made at Luk Yu Teahouse on Stanley Street - a renowned Cantonese institution in the city. Famed for dim sum, and also because many of the city's wealthy continue to frequent it, even after making their billions, we thought it was high time for us to try the food there too.

Arrive 10 minutes prior to fixed reservation, the billing desk points me to the waiter. The following conversation could have Seinfeld's soup guy a run for his money:
Waiter: "Awfull. Awfull."
Me: "What do you mean, all full? I made a reservation two days ago" (There was an array of open tables, this being an early time for lunch)
Waiter: "No table for you."
Me: "Ok, so when will there be an open table"
Waiter: "No table for you today."
Me: "So what about my reservation?"
Waiter: "NO table for you. You leave."

Apparently this is not an entirely unknown and unusual conversation to hold with staff in Hong Kong restaurants. If you're lucky enough to be "accepted" into the restaurant, you might find yourself seated in the darkest, dingiest corner, fairly unforgotten in terms of service (which is already usually bad enough).

To the rescue for our party of six: Oolaa.

Owned and operated by Australian Castelo Concepts (who own the other well-known brunch place, Wagyu on Wyndham Street, among other top-notch places in town), this is an all-day dining, drinks, coffee, just hang out for a glass of juice kind of place (with an outdoor terrace, a white-table-clothed dining room, brick-wall NY-coffee shop, and leather benched, wooden table bar area - all in one open stretch of 6,000 ft real estate - how much rent are they paying, we wonder?).

Despite being full-house, amazingly we were accomodated with incredible speed (literally a 2-minute wait) - and given a lovely, large table at which to stretch our gaze across the light and airy dining area.

Service was very efficient, the extensive western menu yielded some good, reasonably priced and fresh food - along with excellent fresh juice. And illy coffee!

The pizza menu is highly recommended, and the kitchen is flexible about putting in and taking out specific ingredients from fussy diners :)

It's the kind of place you can spend a few hours dilly-dallying -
and seeing it always packed with a solid return crowd is another nice reason to go visit.

Oolaa is located in an up-and-coming part of Sheung Wan, but it's a three minute walk from Soho.

G/F CentreStage, Bridges Street
tel: 2803-2083

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