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2019-02-25 1013 views
I love going to theme restaurants and animal related cafes. Especially cat ones. It's probably due to the fact I don't own a pet and the place I live don't allow one. So, I spend my days mindlessly playing with other animals. But in Hong Kong there are so many cat cafes. There are a few dog ones and one rabbit cafe. I heard there was a hedgehog one. Yet to find that one. But they are all cuddly and cute. Fuzzy and adorable. But what about those that love reptiles? Those creepy crawly things t
That is when I found that Hong Kong has a reptile cafe! You must be as shocked as I am. But it exists. In the middle of Central. Right across from Tai Kwun Cultural Arts Center! Yes, in the prime drinking area of Hong Kong exists a reptile cafe. And you don't even have to go up some building to find it. It's ground level.
I found it one day while walking to Tai Kwun. Photos, it said, was for diners only. Informing boyfriend about this curious place, we decided to pay it a visit one evening for dinner. We wanted photos!
The restaurant exterior is decorated with various African animals and a few reptiles.
They even have a cute sign outside to beware of live animals.
The entire design of this place is so well thought out. Even the door entrance had their cafe logo which is quite cute looking.
The interior has tables on the sides. Glass cases that held the reptiles were in the middle and certain corners. The cases were spacious and not cramped. Each held one or two reptiles so they have more than enough space. Each glass cage has a small sign explaining what the reptile is called, where it is from and what it eats. A truly educational experience!
Dotted on the walls are beautiful photography of various animals. Some photographed by the owner, Goatee Toni Kingston, the staff informed me. There are also items collected by the owner from his travels. The owner, Goatee Toni Kingston, is a wildlife conservationist and presenter and owns Jurassic Garage. A company that offers educational wildlife experiences for children, providing animals for filming and even professional snake removal. They have been here since 2004! So, this is his cafe to exhibit his collection in a more accessible environment. After this experience, I've started to follow his social media footprint. He seems like a fascinating person!
However, there is a souvenir section where you can take pens, books and these awesome little guys!
Whenever I go to a cat cafe, I wonder if they are abused in anyway. If there is any sign of mistreatment. But from what I can tell, this place doesn't and it even has an explanation that this doesn't stress out the reptiles in any way. It seems the owner truly loves them all. I also found that the reptiles live in a private farmland in the New Territories so they will rotate the reptiles every so often for viewing! So, you get a new experience every time!
Photos are welcome as long as you do not use flash and don't tap the glass to grab their attention. Just let them be and with patience, you'll get some fantastic photos. I'll show you the few of the favorites I took.
This iguana does what iguanas love to do best. Ignore you and sleep on.
This guy was my favorite! It looked like a snake at first but it is actually a legless lizard! Sheltopusik from Russia. Also commonly known as a glass lizard for when it loses it's tail, it can break into pieces leading to a myth it shatters like glass. FASCINATIING! It breathed so strangely through this long slit that stretched along the length of the body.
And these guys! Giant Forest Scorpions from Malaysia. These guys were found on the way to the washroom. A dark glass cage, there is a UV flashlight next to it. Turn it on and WOW! They glow in the dark! HOW AWESOME!
Reptiles aside, this place does server food. Menu is in English and Chinese. As we were here for dinner, they had dinner sets. Sets include a drink, starter, main and daily dessert. Although this is not a vegan/vegetarian restaurant, they do strive to source all food with little impact on the environment. They even said the takeaway items were biodegradable. That's a lot of effort put in.
They also have a la carte for those don't want a set.
They also have a kids menu as well.
The daily special is written on a blackboard in the back.
Boyfriend was a bit late arriving, so I ordered a latte ($42) while I waited. The latte had beautiful latte art. The coffee smelled fantastic. A good balance of milk to espresso. Temperature was right. I was surprised. I was expecting a seriously good cup of coffee here. And here I was. A good cup of coffee! There was even a lovely buttery shortbread cookie to nibble on.
Once boyfriend arrived, we ordered. We decided on a la carte and the Hungry Snake Dinner Set ($368) as we've learned from past experiences in theme restaurants (and places in Central), portions are often quite small. Boy did we underestimate this place.
Yin Yang Fries ($58). They were called Yin Yang because they used sweet potato and potato for the fries. And these were really good. Crispy and perfectly seasoned. Not one was limp and soggy. These came with a chipotle ketchup and tartar sauce type mayo. Super good! Portion was generous as well.
Daily Cream Soup ($48). The daily soup was cream of corn. When it arrived I was a bit skeptical. Why was it so pale in color? But taking one spoonful, I was hit with the most intense corn flavor. It wasn't thick as usual cream soups are but it didn't need to be. It was rich tasting without the feeling of being too heavy. Portion was good and we could easily split this into two satisfying portions bowls of soup to share between us.
Crispy Berebere Spice Chicken ($188). They had a few African type dishes so we decided to give it a try. Boyfriend have had Ethiopian food back home in Seattle and the only thing I've had that was African was Peri Peri chicken and that was at Nandos which is a chain restaurant. So, we tried something we never heard of. This was really spicy! The heat just stayed with you but it was oddly only on the tongue and no where else. The chicken was tender though some parts were dry. But the spice mixture was fragrant though wow ... spicy. It was laid on top of soft lentils and mashed potatoes. A truly filling plate of food.
The dinner set included a drink, starter, main and dessert for $368. There are good variety of choices to chose from.
Homemade Lemonade. This was really good though it had a hint of mint making the lemons a lot more fresh tasting. I also suspect they used something more than lemons. Perhaps calamansi? I'm unsure? It had a slight smokey taste that felt familiar but I couldn't quite place it.
Andaman Crab Casserole. This was a dip that came with a lot of toasted baguette slices and the starter from the set for one. And when I say a lot, I mean it was enough to eat all the dip! How many times have I gone to a place where they provide you dip but only give you what? 3 slices of something? And then you have either dip wasted or you finish the rest with a spoon? Finally a place that gives you not only enough stuff to dip in but the dip The dip was amazing. Chunks of crab combined with stretchy cheese. This was for one person!
Outback Wagyu Beef Cheeks Stew Pot. This is the main chosen. It came with what I thought was a small scoop of mashed potato but was I wrong! There was a lot of mashed potato in that bowl! It was crammed in.
The beef cheeks were soft and tender. Literally melted in my mouth. The carrots soaked in all the rich beefy sauce. And upon digging about, there were onions cooked so long it was sweet beyond comprehension. Portion here was more than generous.
Daily Dessert. The set included a dessert and this is the raspberry panna cotta. It was delicious. The raspberry puree on top was tart and balanced the richness of the panna cotta below. It was creamy and rich.
This is one of the most interesting restaurant in all of Hong Kong. The reptiles were fascinating. It was also educational as I did go home and look up what they were. Learning things I didn't know. The design of the restaurant was well thought out and detailed right down to even the door knobs in the washroom. It wasn't just slapped together like so many places in Hong Kong. And the food? How many times have I been to a theme or cat cafe where the food is not that good. Everything seems to be thrown into the restaurant decor or animals but the food is just plain sad. And I expected that when we ordered food. I honestly felt it would be some sad slapped together sausages and toast and watery drinks. But wow .... the food was excellent. Portion sizes were generous. Not huge but not stingy. It's really all I ask when I go out for food. Just please give me an honest meal with (and I hate using this word) heart. I eat out a lot (as you can tell) and I have rarely come across a restaurant that honestly cared about what they served. This restaurant that not only cared about the animals but also the food provided to diners. I left feeling the owner wasn't here just to rip you off with some concept. And for that? This is one of my favorite restaurants this year so far. And I will be back.