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WINE & DINE
CHEF TALK - THE PAWN RELAUNCHES WITH RENOWNED CHEF TOM AIKENS

“To mark the new chapter in The Pawn’s history, we wanted to give the venue a fresh start,” explains Press Room Group co-founder Alan Lo, who oversaw The Pawn’s chic-sleek design. Each level of the three-storey building serves a unique function and evokes a different mood.

Following an extensive two-month renovation, The Pawn, housed inside one of the most iconic heritage buildings in Hong Kong, has reopened under the culinary direction of Michelin-starred British chef Tom Aikens. Located in the buzzing Wan Chai district, the landmark now welcome guests with a refreshed menu, design and direction.

The Dishes

“The menu is a strong mix of casual and high-end cooking,” explains Aikens. “Our intention is to serve dishes that not only appeal to local diners, but also travellers and foodies. Above all, we want to create a fun dining experience and a relaxed, informal environment. Building on The Pawn’s long-standing reputation, we offer guests a dining experience unlike anything else in Wan Chai.”

Aikens’s new menu reflects his ingredient-driven creativity and talent for innovative combinations. Highlights from the starters include the house-made ricotta served with olive oil, dried herbs and aged balsamic, and the charcuterie board, comprising Ibérico shoulder, chorizo, pork rillettes, pickles, grape chutney and grilled toast.

On the first floor, guests are greeted by a leafy oasis in the ‘Botanicals’ bar and adjoining balcony area where they can enjoy a selection of inspired cocktails.

“We’ve created an all-day dining counter with a backdrop of hundreds of potted plants,” adds Lo. “As guests enter via the narrow stairs, the greenery is their first visual reference. The historic architecture of the first floor provides many challenges so we’ve divided the area into

individual sections where each space serves a different purpose but contributes to the overall design.”

A separate section of the ‘Botanicals’ bar opens daily from 6pm for after-work drinks, and resembles a chic private club with leather couches and dark wood panels, adding an old-world charm. An intoxicating choice of cocktails will stir the imagination of casual drinkers and shake cocktail connoisseurs out of their complacency. Complementing the cocktails, an enticing menu of bar snacks includes spiced pork ribs with paprika yoghurt and barbecue sauce and beef tartare with juniper, coriander mayonnaise and pickled shiitake.

The upstairs dining area – dubbed the ‘Kitchen’ – is thoughtfully designed to host both casual gatherings and intimate celebrations with its open-plan layout, central private dining room and balcony. “The Kitchen’s concrete floor and white oak wall finishes were chosen to create a sense of warmth and order,” adds Lo. “We wanted to keep the design simple so guests can focus on Tom’s cooking.”


The Pawn’s rooftop has also been transformed into the ‘Farm’. As a longtime advocate for sustainable, locally-sourced ingredients, Tom Aikens will be incorporating the Farm’s harvested produce in his cooking while the homegrown herbs will be part of The Pawn’s cocktails.

Since launching in 2006, Press Room Group has distinguished itself as a local brand with an international outlook. While serving cuisines from around the world, each venue celebrates Hong Kong’s heritage, championing homegrown artists and designers. Continuing this tradition, The Pawn represents a creative collaboration between international and local talents.

“Our vision is to provide a platform for people from different creative disciplines to contribute,” adds Lo. “We have Tom Aikens overseeing the kitchen, his team cultivating the rooftop farm, bespoke tailors Gieves & Hawkes designing the managers’ uniforms, a resident mixologist creating unique cocktails and Stanley Wong returning to create The Pawn’s art programme.

“At a time when Hong Kong developers have stripped away the soul and character of many original neighbourhoods, The Pawn will focus on the Wan Chai community, becoming a creative hub for local and international creative talents.”

HONG KONG, FOOD, WINE, EVENT, ASIA, CHEF, RESTAURANT, BAR, BEST, 2014, DECEMBER, NEW
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