Review of Spices Restaurant at Repulse Bay, Hong Kong

I visited Spices, the "Asian cusine" (and by that I mean generally Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, and Indonesian) restaurant nestled inside the heritage building known as The Repulse Bay in Hong Kong last weekend for dinner.

If you book in advance, you can usually get a seat inside. For some reason, this time we were seated outside, which was no major problem given they turned on one of the outdoor heaters for us.

For drinks, I ordered a glass of the Veuve Cliquot (HK$188), which was fresh and bubbly (as it should be), and a glass of the Pinot Noir Domaine Chandon 2012 (HK$118), which was bland and uninspiring - something I thought was extra disappointing given its price!

The restaurant is known for running out of its minced beef "cheung fun" rice rolls (HK$128), so we were pleasantly surprised that they had them this time. For those of you who like the traditional light Vietnamese paper rolls, give these a miss - the rice noodle wrapping is beautifully thick and heavy, but balanced nicely by the tart and sour chili dipping sauce. 

As an added bonus, when we had eaten two on one side of the plate and were chatting about moral dilemmas, the waiter unexpectedly came over to turn the plate for us, which was a very thoughtful gesture.

Next up we had the satay sticks (HK$138), which is freshly grilled and presented on a clay grill with a candle lit underneath. Usually we order the beef, but unfortunately this time they had run out - and sadly we couldn't recommend the chicken substitute, which was tender but missing the smokey barbequed flavour that usually accompanies the beef.

The masala lamb curry (HK$198) is usually a favourite of ours (and for those who find lamb too "gamey", don't get it, because it does pack a punch with lamb flavour!), but this time we found that the meat was slightly overcooked and somewhat overwhelmed by the curry. Other additions such as the egg and onions didn't even come through because the sauce was so thick it was difficult to tell whether we were eating food, or whether it was just sauce. 

The garlic naan (HK$45) was also a bit disappointing (but perhaps because it had gone cold by the time we dug into it), with too much of it crispy and not enough soft and chewy the way I like my naan - and it was also light on the garlic.

The final dish was the stir fried garlic beef (HK$258), which was again tender - and mixed with firm peas (something I am quite particular about). If you like ginger, go for this dish, because the ginger strips were large and there was almost no avoiding them. I was less than impressed with this price tag though, so you have been warned!

It is rare for a side to help redeem the meal, but the stir fried morning glory with garlic and chili (HK$98) made it up for us. Although soft and (what most would consider) rather oily, it was fragrant and tasty.

I think I can safely say that we'll be back here again - the atmosphere of the colonial building (which also feels like a resort), as well as our previous positive experiences, and the great service, means that we're not too unhappy about Spices Restaurant. 

Let's be clear: this will not be a very cheap meal. It's probably best not to drink alcohol given the price of the drinks and the fact that cheaper champagne "substitutes" like prosecco and cava are not available. We paid around HK$1,300 for this meal for two people (with a glass of red wine and champagne) - and while I was satisfied afterwards, the boyfriend said he could have easily eaten more (then again, he tends to say that all the time :P). 

xx Carmen

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