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Guest Blogger: BYOB and Low Corkage Favourites

Guest Blogger Julie Chiu, founder of Mindful Eating Lifestyles Limited, gives us the inside scoop on her favourite BYOB and Low Corkage Restaurants in town!


My husband and I enjoy drinking a good bottle of wine with food. We enjoy drinking German Rieslings (goes well w/Asian and spicy food) and French White & Red Burgundies (goes well with practically everything). I also enjoy California Pinot Noirs and Cabernets. Since we shipped over a bunch of wines from overseas and hubby continues to buy wine here in Hong Kong we’re always on the hunt for a good BYOB (bring your own booze) or low corkage restaurant.

Here are some of our favorites (thanks to hubby for some of his review comments):

No Corkage

Liberty Private Works
Our favorite place currently…that is when we can get a reservation! Reminds me of a good NYC restaurant. News has spread about this place and it’s getting harder and harder to get a reservation. The menu changes daily and every meal is omakase style i.e. chef’s choice which he writes on the chalkboard on the wall behind him. It’s a private kitchen with 13 seats so you need to book in advance. The seating is not conducive to parties greater than 4 (bar style seating), but we think the food is phenomenal and unique. I love the chef’s play on food texture. Cash only. One seating each night between 730-8pm. Dinner is ~HKD500 per head not including drinks or tips. They also opened up Liberty Exchange in Exchange Square…they have a liquor license unfortunately.

ABC Kitchen in Sheung Wan Cooked Food Center **Just off of Des Vouex Rd**
Decent Italian food. Very reasonably priced and good value for money. I would take a pass on the seared tuna and go for the other protein entrees instead. Can accommodate large crowds. VERY local. No need to wear your Manolo Blahniks. I’ve seen a woman dress in what I thought was a nightgown (she was eating at one of the Cantonese restaurants there in the open food hall). We enjoy the Thai restaurant that’s also on the same floor of this food center. Don’t confuse it with the Sheung Wan Cooked Food Center on Queen’s Rd. That’s a totally different place. Make sure to take a look at the map on openrice.com. Reservation needed. Dress is very very casual.

Bonheur, Pemberton Building Sheung Wan
Food is good, but the menu doesn’t change much. Can accommodate groups of 10-16. Definitely try the pork chop or beef cheek (if available) and the dessert soufflés (particularly the Ginger soufflés) or mango dessert. Nice glassware. Avoid the cheese and oysters as they do not get enough turnover. Prefer mushroom soup over the lobster/shrimp bisque. Reasonable prices. Good service. Sat. nights there are two seatings: 630P or 830P. Deposit of $100 per person needed (at least on Sat nights) beforehand. RSVP needed.

Fusion 5th Floor, Pemberton Building, Sheung Wan
As with Bonheur, nice glassware, good food, reasonable prices. Similar comments to above. Good service. More of a romantic feel. Good décor for romantic dinners or groups of 4. RSVP needed.

Twyst, Pemberton Building, Sheung Wan
Another BYOB in the Pemberton Building. Food is okay, the serving sizes have seemed to have gotten smaller recently. Nice glassware. They have a private room available for larger groups. RSVP needed.

Special Mention (for its different type of food):
Magnolia, Sheung Wan (corkage: none)
American Southern home-style food. Family style plating (large plates/bowls put in the middle of the table and people pass it around). This place has HUGE portions and food is very dense/heavy. Great for large groups of people. BBQ ribs and Pecan pie dessert are very good. RSVP needed.

Low Corkage

On Lot 10 (Corkage: $150HKD per bottle up to max of 900HKD…so if you bring more than 6 bottles, you wont get charged more than 900)
Hearty simple French bistro fare. This has become one of our favorite restaurants. Again avoid the cheese as they don’t get enough turnover. Good service and good stemware. FYI – Chef David Lai used to work at Alain Ducasse, I think. RSVP needed.

Bistecca (corkage: $250HKD/bottle)
Italian steakhouse. It’s a small space and they maxed out on tables so on a Friday or Saturday night at 8pm, it is very loud. The porterhouse for 2 is the star of the show in my book. Mashed potatoes and creamed spinach were good, but nothing to call home about. We tried the parmesan fries but we couldn’t really taste the difference with the regular fries.

Gong Guan Restaurant (private kitchen great for large groups; one time corkage fee of $100HKD bring as many bottles as you like and will only be charged 100 honkies…that’s my kind of place!)
12/F Fung Woo Bldg, 279 Des Voeux Rd, Sheung Wan (MTR Exit B), 2577-9789
RSVP needed. Great selection of eclectic food.

Yellow Door Kitchen (corkage $150HKD/bottle)
Sichwan (spicy great w/Rieslings). The reviews on openrice aren’t great but we had a very good experience. The service was very good and the food was visually pleasing and tasty. Try it for yourself and see. We tried the dinner set: 8 appetizers, 6 entrees (beef one falls off the bone and duck dish is yummy as well…just make sure you’re still hungry by the time this one comes around), and dessert all for $300HKD.

Le Marron, Causeway Bay (corkage: $40HKD/bottle)
Food is ok, good for bigger parties but it can get loud. Hip décor & hip crowd. Great place to show off your Manolos. Tables are separated by silk curtains.

Special Mention (great views):
A La Umai (corkage: $50HKD/bottle)
French/Japanese fusion, which only applies to the appetizers, else all French. Nice view good for romantic dinner or dinner for 4. Great for a date. Only one unisex bathroom and there can be a wait. Make sure to empty bladder before coming here. Thanks to our friend, Randy, for the suggestion.

Julie Chiu, RN, MS, CHC, IC® is Hong Kong’s first and currently only medically educated and trained Certified Health Coach, Intrinsic Coach®, licensedAIH® weight management facilitator, and Intuitive Eating Pro® counselor. She is also a speaker, blogger, registered nurse (US 12+ yrs), and managing director of Mindful Eating Lifestyles Limited (MEL Ltd.).

Mindful eating is the missing link between losing weight and keeping it off for good! She coaches on how to bring back the pleasure in eating ANY of the foods we love mindfully and fearlessly without guilt, self-loathing, deprivation, or bingeing. Julie’s favorite food is dark chocolate and thick-creamy vanilla yogurt, especially when it is savored blissfully! For more information visit the MEL LTD website or email Julie at juliehealthcoach@gmail.com.


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