Social Place | 3.5 | $$$$

Squid ink fresh custard dumpling

The pièce de résistance of this experience was the squid ink fresh custard dumpling. Garnished with a flash of edible gold paint, this eerie dumpling was filled with creamy custardy goodness. It does not taste at all how it looks, but is the type of dessert where you’ll find yourself craving a second without shame (such were our ruminations later in the bar). Not only did it look impressive, the taste was exemplary. This was a standout dish, and amongst one of the best desserts I have eaten in Hong Kong.

The weather was cooling down, it was the weekend, and we were meeting up with friends of friends. One of the guys we met had been living in Hong Kong for a couple of years, making him the perfect person to suggest a place to grab some dinner. We were looking for something impressive, not just the run of the mill dumplings (but frankly, even the run of the mill on an extreme budget (see Dim Sum Square) can be fantastic in Hong Kong).

The first impression of Social Place is that it is cool and contemporary – the type of dining you’d expect to find at restaurants in Fitzroy in Melbourne or Soho in London. We didn’t even bother looking at the menu – we turned to our semi-local friend and asked him to order for us. And what a sterling job he did.

A wide variety of dishes started pouring onto our table like a culinary crescendo. The first to arrive were the pork belly bao bun sliders (pictured below). In a word, these were heavenly and outrageously moreish. If you like pork belly, definitely get two of these per person.

For the more adventurous diners on our table, we ordered deep fried baby pigeon. I politely abstained on this occasion (there was a mountain of food to come), but I heard they were quite succulent. The remaining dishes consisted of noodles, szechuan style chicken (think a sea of flaming chilli, interspersed with a few chicken nuggets) and other tidbits of ginger and greens.

The pièce de résistance of this experience was the squid ink fresh custard dumpling. Garnished with a flash of edible gold paint, this black dumpling was filled with creamy custardy goodness. It does not taste how it looks, but is the type of dessert where you’ll find yourself craving a second without shame (such were our ruminations later in the bar). Not only did it look impressive, the taste was exemplary. This was a standout dish, and amongst one of the best desserts I have eaten in Hong Kong.

The meal was diverse, delectable and with a unique twist. But it was let down by very average service.

Social Place could easily have scored a 4 had the following been done differently (for many of the same failures in customer service I saw at Cha Cha Wan):

  • Explain why the bill could only be split two ways when we had a table of five: It was clearly possible to split bills. Imposing an arbitrary number without further explanation will anger your patrons. This put the whole table out, and meant that three people had to make an internet transfer at some point later on that night (annoying at the best of times, worse on a night out and you’re trying to enter a BSB between rounds);
  • Force us to pay at the counter rather than bring the machine to us: Making two people who had to pay for five walk to the counter while the rest waited at the table meant that a group of friends lost 15 minutes of company together. A bad way to end a great meal.

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