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Best date restaurants in Hong Kong for under HK$500
Because, as a certain successful-in-love diva puts it, love shouldn't cost a thang
A successful date occurs naturally when everyone is relaxed, well-fed and a little tipsy on good wine. Here are some places where the magic can happen, without breaking the bank.
Part of Causeway Bay's "upstairs shops" culture, Le Marron is a cozy restaurant with the feel of a vintage freak's living room.
It's all lace and faux antique chairs and gilded wall paper and even has an upright piano in a corner. The space is very cramped, but that means more of a chance of knees bumping for those on first dates.
French influence dominates the European-for-Hong Kongers menu, which also serves crowd-pleasing staples such as the rib-eye steak (HK$320), their most expensive main for this month's menu.
The lighting, being very low and mostly from candles, is amazingly flattering. But what will really make your partner more attractive is all the BYO wine that you'll be imbing -- with no corkage charge.
12/F Ying Kong Mansion, 2-6 Yee Wo Street, Causeway Bay, tel +852 2881 6662 www.marron.com.hk
Sister restaurant Le Blanc is similarly romantic, at 6/F, 8 Wanchai Road, Wanchai, tel +852 3428 5824
Lung Wah Hotel
Easily the cheesiest restaurant on this list, the Lung Wah Hotel comes complete with table-side musicians (they do a decent Harry Belafonte). It is also the restaurant with the meanest signature dish.
Lung Wah Hotel is almost synonymous with their killer roast pigeon dish. A juicy, slightly gamey bird with crackling skin, the pigeon (HK$68 per bird) has been a tradition at this establishment since the 1950s.
Fans of kitsch Hong Kong culture will love the mid-century mod feel of the alfresco dining area with checkered tablecloths and lawn furniture made of woven vinyl.
Impress your date further by bringing along mosquito repellent if you're visiting in the summer.
22 Ha Wo Che Shatin, New Territories, tel +852 2691 1594, www.lungwahhotel.hk
This Turkish place in Mui Wo proves that all you need for a good date is simply a warm, welcoming atmosphere and some very good food.
Sertug, Bahçe’s affable Turkish owner, has graced the menu with many of his own family’s recipes. The mezze platter is a good way to start the meal; the baba ghanoush is the best in Hong Kong.
The atmosphere teeters between homey bistro and intimate bar. A few street-side tables are usually filled with friendly, chatty locals -- always a good distraction if the date does get awkward.
Shop 19, 3 Ngan Wan Road, Mui Wo, Lantau Island tel +852 2984 0222
What is more romantic than dining with soft sand between your toes?
The Stoep goes further than most beachfront restaurants by letting you actually dine on the beach itself.
And this is no ordinary beach -- it’s Cheung Sha, Hong Kong’s longest and one of its most beautiful. A sunset dinner here is hard to beat for romance in a natural setting.
The menu’s strengths are its barbecued meats and South African specialties like boerewors (sausage) and bobotie (a delicious meat pie). But their fresh bread and tapenade are also a satiating accompaniment for pre-dinner drinks.
32 Lower Cheung Sha Village, Lantau Island, tel +852 2980 2699
When our parents were young and dating in Hong Kong, they didn't have tiny French bistros or swanky supperclubs to choose from. Back in the day, a special night out was all about Hong Kong-style steakhouses.
These are kind of like cha chaan teng, but with a sophisticated atmosphere underlined by tuxedoed waiters and subdued lighting.
The food is soy-sauce Western that is less soy-sauce and more Western. Steaks are the main focus, but not bloody chewy Western steaks, rather the soft, thoroughly cooked Hong Kong-style is favored.
Some of the most famous of these restaurants -- Louis' Steakhouse, Boston Restaurant, Tai Ping Koon, Goldfinch Restaurant -- are now thronged with nostalgia-seekers, but Tiffany Restaurant remains relatively low-key.
Dress up like it’s 1975 and enjoy the "red soup."
148 Prince Edward Road West, Mongkok, Kowloon tel +852 2380 8029
Located at the end of Tai Po's bike trail in Lung Mei Tsuen, Luca’s sprawling, tree-shaded terrace is the perfect full-stop after a bike date.
As the sun dips below Tolo Harbour, Luca takes on a subdued romantic ambiance that is about as far as you can get from the noisy, fluorescent-lit Thai restaurants down the road from it.
Luca’s menu is Italian-inspired and suited for sharing. Start with the hefty antipasto platter, which includes prawns, smoked salmon, proscuttio and canteloupe, before feeding your date slices of dainty thin-crust pizza.
64A Lung Mei Tsuen, Tai Mei Tuk, Tai Po, tel +852 2662 6737
China Beach Club
Eclectic, informal and friendly, with good drinks and hearty food, the China Beach Club feels exactly like the beachside hideaway it is.
The large menu covers everything from Thai curry to moussaka, all of it made in a makeshift kitchen out back where a couple of barbecues share space with some lazy dogs and cats.
Each of the dishes are around HK$100, but the portions are huge, and it's all made with home-style love. Service can be slow as there are few staff, but that just gives you more time to get to know your wonderful date.
18 Tung Wan Road, Mui Wo, Lantau Island, tel +852 2983 8931
Housed inside the former horse stables of the Marine Police Headquarters, Stables Grill dishes up casual-chic atmosphere with surprisingly affordable prices.
The emphasis here is on simple bistro-style cuisine, with lots of grilled seafood, thin-crust pizza and a wide range of tapas.
The open kitchen means it can get a bit noisy indoors, but the beautiful restored historical grounds are a rare treat and the lush garden terrace will have you fantasizing about trying out some Hong Kong-style wedding photography.
Hullett House, 1881 Heritage, 2A Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel +852 3988 0104 www.hulletthouse.com
Originally a roadside rest stop for motorists traveling to the country, Indonesian restaurant Shatin Inn is now a nostalgic reminder of the days when cows outnumbered apartment towers in the New Territories.
If you want a chilled-out date peppered with memories of summer nights in the woods, this tree-shaded alfresco restaurant is a good bet. The time to go is now, when the mosquitoes are few and the breeze is cool.
Claiming to be "The House of Satay," the satay is an obvious choice from Shatin Inn's menu. It arrives at your table crackling and sizzling on a miniature charcoal grill.
7.5 miles, Tai Po Road, Tai Wai, tel +852 2691 14254
The multi-story colonial-style building is date-perfect with its verandas, candlelit rooftop, and incredible view of the yacht-filled Hebe Haven.
The surf and turf menu is similarly hard to fault. The English classics (roasts, Berkshire pork cheeks, steak-and-Guinness pie) are excellent, but so is the seafood and the pasta. Dishes are generously portioned and well executed, as is expected from Sai Kung.
Service is fast, attentive and friendly without being overbearing. Bonus: the Happy Hour here runs until 9 p.m.
112 Pak Sha Wan Village, Sai Kung, tel +852 2335 5515 www.hebe101.com
This rooftop restaurant at the landmark Jumbo Floating Restaurant is so Oriental-kitsch it's almost kinky.
The color scheme here is firetruck red, gold, emerald, and more gold. Don a skintight China doll outfit with a bowl-cut wig and fit right in.
Food can be mediocre although the service is consistently efficient. The key here is really the fantastically Suzie Wong atmosphere that can put lovers in the mood, and the short boat ride out to the restaurant -- great makeout spots dot the journey.
Shum Wan Pier Path, Wong Chuk Hang, Southside, Aberdeen, tel +852 2552 3331 www.cafedecogroup.com