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Chinese Library Spices Up Tai Kwun with Hot Dishes and Cool Cocktails

By Sophie Pettit 9 October 2018
Aqua Restaurant Group is spicing things up at Tai Kwun centre for heritage and arts with the opening of Chinese Library, one of two new flagship restaurants which aim to reflect the unique East-West heritage of Hong Kong.

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Located in the 'East Wing' on the first floor of the historic Headquarters Block (opposite sister venue Statement which showcases innovative British cuisine in the 'West Wing'), the impressively sized colonial-style restaurant aims to celebrate the different regional cuisine of China, covering everything from Cantonese to Chiu Chow, and Sichuan to Shanghainese.

[caption id="attachment_128566" align="aligncenter" width="660"] The grand interior of Chinese Library[/caption]

As a result, you can expect to find dishes to satisfy all palates, from sweet ones like the Dragon Well Tea-Smoked Crystal River Shrimp ($180) and "Four Blessing" Jasmine Tea Smoked Bean Curd Roll ($158), to seriously lip-numbing delights like the Chilled "Jade Flower" in Green Sichuan Pepper Sauce ($78). Be warned though, you'll need a cool cocktail on hand to put out that fire!

[caption id="attachment_128561" align="aligncenter" width="660"] Dragon Well Tea-Smoked Crystal River Shrimp[/caption]

Old Hong Kong favourites are given an interesting twist, such as the Laksa Xiao Long Bao ($88) which offers a spicy take on the popular dim sum dish. Meanwhile, classics like the Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Rosemary ($288) and Sweet & Sour Iberico Pork with Dragon Fruit & Caramelised Cashews ($208) are executed particularly well.

One must-order dish is the beautifully presented and oh-so-grammable Chrysanthemum "Thousand Cut" Silken Tofu in Chicken Broth ($108) which offers some gentle and refreshing relief from its spicier neighbours. [caption id="attachment_128563" align="aligncenter" width="477"] Chrysanthemum "Thousand Cut" Silken Tofu in Chicken Broth[/caption]

The cocktails here are exceptionally good too, steering away from the overly sugary concoctions we so often encounter to deliver fresh, vibrant, and cooling flavours, like the crowd-pleasing Imperial Court ($128) made with vodka, elderflower tonic, cucumber, and lime juice. The wonderfully unique The Crown ($118) with Tanqueray Gin, lemon juice, rhubarb, carrot juice, and aromatic bitters offers something completely new too.

[caption id="attachment_128569" align="aligncenter" width="660"] The Dispensary lounge bar[/caption]

As it happens, the cocktails are all prepared at the The Dispensary, an elegant lounge bar which sits between the two restaurants, marking Aqua's third venture in Tai Kwun. With its stylish decor, rich colonial vibe, and waiters donning white tuxedos and dickie bows, this old-school venue is definitely worth a visit before or after dinner – or during a "historical" visit to Tai Kwun.

Chinese Library, East Wing, 1/F Headquarters Block, Central Police Station, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, (+852) 2848 3088
Read more! Explore the rest of our Food and Drink section at Localiiz.

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Sophie is always on the lookout for a great story and her next big adventure and loves nothing more than discovering the city’s hidden gems—and most delicious cocktails. When she’s not exploring new places, she’s off travelling and ticking countries off her bucket list.

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