If you ask someone to travel from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui, they’ll probably look at you as if you had asked them to travel to the other side of the world. That said, travelling across the harbour on the Star Ferry has got to be one of my favourite things to do in Hong Kong. The iconic ferry trip, plus the promise of delicious French food was therefore enough to make me plan a visit to Scarlett Café and Wine Bar.
Although it’s part of boutique hotel Residence G on Austin Avenue, Scarlett is a destination restaurant of its own right. It spans over two floors – the downstairs, with its open façade, more of a wine bar; the upstairs more of a casual bistro. It is the sister restaurant to another Scarlett Café in Bangkok and apparently there are plans in motion to open several more this coming year.
Having the title ‘wine bar’ in its name, naturally, Scarlett has a decent selection of wines – all French, of course – which are very reasonably priced too. Wines by the glass change frequently, whilst bottles start at only $242.
I don’t care how bad it is for me, but if I see pork rillettes on a menu, I need to order it. Scarlett Café’s pork rillettes was absolutely amazing – so smooth, so full of flavour and good enough to eat directly from the pot with a spoon, although the buttered country toast was also too good to resist.
I would have gone for the beef tartar, but was recommended to try the tuna tartar instead. Marinated with soy sauce, wasabi, ginger and coconut, this boasted lovely Asian flavours and tasted absolutely divine.
We tried to stop at just two starters between two of us, but I saw the baked Camembert from the new “festive menu” and just had to! Thankfully it was a relatively small one, although we still struggled to get through it all. I’ve had Camembert recently that has cooled, leaving a slightly rubbery centre; this, however, was so melted, so gooey and so perfect that it oozed right out of the box.
The Hokkaido scallops with mashed potato were quite simply cooked to complete perfection. The dollop of black truffle atop each one was enough to add a touch of decadence, without masking the delicious flavour of the scallops themselves.
The Australian Wagyu rib-eye had a great deal of flavour, but it was a little too fatty and chewy for my liking. I could not get enough of the accompanying potato wedges, however, which were perfectly crispy and moreish.
To complement our third glass of house wine each – we tried both the Merlot and the Pinot Noir – we, of course, had to try a dessert. The apple tarte tatin was just the ticket – enough sweetness to round off the meal, yet light enough to not sit too heavily in our stomachs after all the rest!
Prices at Scarlett Café and Wine Bar are very reasonable, much more so than many other French restaurants around town. Perhaps that comes with the fact that it’s over on the ‘dark side’, but for the quality of food, lovely, casual setting and value for money, I could certainly be persuaded to take another tour across the harbour.
Scarlett Café and Wine Bar
2 Austin Avenue
Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852 3565 6513