In a city like Hong Kong where high rents make it exceptionally hard for independent restaurateurs and chefs to strike out on their own, the model of hotel dining is become an increasingly attractive proposition for those seeking access to resources and a team of staff to hedge their success. Indeed, some of Hong Kong’s best — and even most creative — dining establishments can be found within hotels, as is the case at the new Rosewood Hong Kong opened this year on the Kowloon waterfront.
While we’ve already validated the authentic Shunde dishes at Chinese restaurant, Legacy House, and sipped on lavish cocktails at ladies-only speakeasy, XX, a recent trip to scope out the brand new gastro-market, Bayfare Social, affirmed that the Rosewood still has tricks up its sleeves when it comes to rolling out its remaining F&B outlets.
Opened just this week, the tapas-inspired market is the namesake concept within the overarching social and dining destination, which will also house Indian restaurant Chaat and chef Nathan Green’s smokehouse, Henry (to open this week). Overseen by Chef de Cuisine Álvaro Ramos, the gastro food hall is a buzzing convivial eatery serving breakfast through to sunset drinks and dinner, complete with a small terrace facing east across the harbour (the best seats in the house when the weather allows for al fresco dining).
Inside, the market takes its cues from the bustling outdoor plazas of Europe, where pristine produce is on every street corner and it’s entirely acceptable to start drinking at noon. The versatile space is divided into distinct food stations: a pasta bar with counter seating, a deli lined with charcuterie, cheeses and sandwiches, a fresh seafood counter, and a live noodle-making station where two toqued chefs stand ladling broth in a fog of steam. For those who find the counter seating too casual, you can claim one of the cosy banquettes upholstered in a rich navy blue, while various four-tops work equally well for an evening tête-à-tête or a casual business lunch (with cheerfully low prices, the market is aiming to draw in the surrounding office crowd, hotel guests and nearby residents). The space also connects straight to the 5th floor of K11 Musea, offering shoppers a respite between bouts of retail therapy.
Ramos is one of the young culinary guns spearheading Rosewood’s new culinary programme; originally from Madrid, the chef cut his teeth at Michelin-starred establishments across Spain, before relocating to Shanghai to spend two years leading concepts within the El Willy Group. Most recently, he showcased his affinity for South American ingredients as head chef of Komune at Ovolo Southside.
At Bayfare Social, Ramos has cast a net far and wide to source the finest seasonal products and ingredients, from succulent Spanish carabineros prawns to artisanal French cheeses and terrines, salmon gravlax to fresh sashimi. With the exceptional produce as a starting point, chef Ramos marries influences from his Spanish background and travels across Asia for a cross-continental approach encompassing crudo, creative hot tapas, grab ‘n’ go sandwiches and fresh pastas.
If you’re with a large group, order a seafood platter (HK$220–720) and a couple ceviches to share: we enjoyed the sea bass (HK$140), with buttery chunks of fish packing a deep hit of citrus, rounded out with the snap of red onions, bulbous kernels of Andean choclo, and crunchy corn. The Nikkei blue fin tuna (HK$140) is another excellent option, the Asian-leaning ceviche perfumed with ginger and sesame oil.
Next journey to Italy with the Deli section, where tempting creations include sardines with PX vinegar and taramasalata spread with fresh pita. We opted for the burrata salad (HK$160) and were pleasantly surprised by the generous portion. While it’s not difficult to find good burrata in Hong Kong, the version at Bayfare Social sets itself apart with a zippy homemade pesto, baby beetroot and a sweet medley of ripe heirloom tomatoes that taste just-plucked from the garden. Also worth trying is the kale salad: The once-trendy super-green makes its comeback here with a punchy vinaigrette that effectively takes the edge off the raw veg, made luxurious with creamy ricotta and a whisper of smoke from spears of charred broccolini. It’s the type of salad that one would happily go vegetarian for, and a steal at HK$70 for the bowl.
Those with a larger appetite can dip into the section featuring Charcuterie, Terrines & Dips, or the Deli selection, where hearty sandwiches are built for easy on-the-go dining or a quick seated lunch. Priced from HK$45–75, varieties include a classic Reuben bursting with tangy sauerkraut in between thick slices of rye; and a solid take on a Cubano stuffed with a meaty trifecta of spicy salami, salty cooked ham and tender pulled pork.
“I am thrilled to announce the opening of Bayfare Social,” says chef Ramos. “I often feel there is a gap in the Kowloon market for a dining destination that houses a large variety of quality offerings at value prices. This is what Bayfare Social is all about — an all-in-one venue where you will enjoy the best food from a variety of cuisines.”
From our first look, we can safely say that Bayfare Social is worth making a trip for.
Bayfare Social is now open, with breakfast served daily from 8:30–11:30am, and an all day à la carte menu from 12–10:30pm.