The weekend I turned 39

11 09 2016

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My birthday this year coincided with the Autumn moon festival, so I spent the night at a balmy, rooftop festival, strung up with lanterns and filled with families eating moon cakes. I had wanted to go to an event at Potato Head in Sai Ying Pun – the Indonesian hipster bar was hosting a Grace Jones night to promote the singer’s appearance at their sister establishment in Bali. In the end, I was able to escape and get there for one drink in the lounge-y Music Room, hidden in a labyrinth of black passageways at the back of the bar, before heading home.

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The next day the grey clouds that had been hugging  HK over the last few weeks lifted, and my mood improved with it. I had a lazy lunch of octopus-and-chickpea salad at the bright green Optimist in Wanchai and a massage with the boyfriend before heading home to catch the end of this year’s Mr Hong Kong contest on TV-B, and the next day he took me to a birthday dinner at a “secret location” in Central.

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This turned out to be none other than Amber, the city’s top restaurant and indeed, recently ranked twentieth best in the world.  We ate a nine-course degustation menu consisting of oysters coagulated at 70 degrees with sake and apple sorbet, mock-pasta made of strands of cuttlefish served in delectable carbonara with charred onions, quail egg yolk and bacon, a perfectly cooked Miyazaki steak, cheeses, kohlrabi, pineapple cooked in junmai daijingo and a chocolate mint ganache.

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It was probably the most opulent – though restrained – meal of my life and it was strange to find myself fitting at the city’s social pinnacle, with the movers and the shakers, like part of the global culinary elite – and finding them really much like anyone else.

Even funnier was the revelation from my boyfriend that he had originally planned to turn up with a live lizard in a glass case as a birthday gift – he had spent the afternoon in the Mongkok reptile street shopping for iguanas and geckos, although in the end this was nixed for practical reasons (the idea of the lizard itself having been toned down from the original cat). But I was more than happy with the night as it was.

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