The Bar at Dockyard in Kowloon's Whampoa district. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
Discover Hong Kong
Dockyard redefines the food court concept with an app that eliminates lines and simplifies payment. There are 10 food and beverage outlets in a cavernous space with both indoor and outdoor seating, sweeping views of Victoria Harbour, and live music three nights a week.
I've always had mixed feelings about food courts. On the plus side, they allow two or more people to dine together while consuming completely different types of food.
But there's something about many of the food courts in Hong Kong and some other parts of Asia that I find annoying: having to go back and forth between the individual vendors and the cashier.
First you have to decide which vendor you want to patronize. Then you've got to choose a dish. Then you've got to go to a cashier and pay for it. Then you've got to return to the vendor to order your dish. Usually you have to return to the vendor to pick up your dish, but sometimes they bring it to your table.
I find this entire process to be needlessly complicated. To make things worse, the vendors selling food often don't sell drink. Sometimes they are actually not allowed to sell beverages.
At food courts in Singapore, for example, food vendors are actually prohibited from selling drinks. So you've got to order your food from one vendor and your beverage from another vendor. And then you've then have to pay for it as the cashier's counter. Much too complicated!
Photography: all photographs in this post were taken by me using a Casio EX-ZR66 camera with the exception of the food shots, which were provided by Dockyard.
Enter Dockyard, a very upscale food court in Kowloon, which is Hong Kong's first food and beverage venue built around an app.
There's no waiting in line to order your food or pay your bill. You simply key in your order on your mobile device, at a self-service kiosk, or on an in-house iPad, which you can borrow.
When your order is ready, it is brought to your table by a food runner. There are two take-away counters if you are ordering your food to go.
In terms of payment, there are several options. You can pay your bill using Octopus, Google Pay, Apple Pay, EPS, or Union Pay. If you are staying at the Kerry Hotel, you can also charge your order to your room.
Ten food and beverage outlets are scattered about a cavernous indoor space designed by AvroKO of New York. Included are eight food vendors serving everything from pub grub to Korean dumplings, a dessert vendor if you've got a sweet tooth, and a full-service bar.
You can place your order for any of the outlets on your app and it will be brought to your table. Here's a quick look at the 10 vendors and what they serve.
The Bar - signature cocktails, soft drinks, bubble tea, international wines, and home-brewed beers are on offer at The Bar.
Bamboo Sticks - Southeast Asian street food is the inspiration for the menu at Bamboo Sticks, which serves everything from Prawn Phad Thai to Vietnamese pho.
Bobby Box - if bob is Korean for daily meal or a bowl of rice, Bobby Box serves some of the yummiest box in town. Recommended: the Bulgogi wrap. The fried chicken with ice cream got mixed reviews, but it certainly provided us with something to talk about!
Dongsan Dumpling - the hand-made dumplings at Dongsan Dumpling have long been favourites in Korea. They're now available in Hong Kong at the Dockyard.
LAB - an experimental kitchen, LAB elevates classic comfort food such as Philly Cheese Steak Subs to an all-new level. The Guinness Beef Burger Sliders (pictured above) were the talk of the press preview on Opening Night, and they were among the first dishes to sell out at the party that followed.
Made in India
Made in India - Head Chef Saumitra Suryavanshi serves up traditional Indian dishes with a modern twist drawing inspiration from street vendors and family recipes. The curry I sampled had just the right amount of heat - with a touch of sweetness that I found absolutely delicious.
My Green Bowl
My Green Bowl - east meets west at My Green Bowl, which serves a selection of salads as well as poached chicken, smoked salmon, and other mouthwatering but healthy dishes.
Sister Wah - beef brisket is the name of the game at Sister Wah, which has been tickling Hong Kong taste buds for more than 40 years. The Beef Brisket Dan Dan Noodles (pictured above) are highly recommended.
Yamaan - Hide Yamamoto serves up authentic Japanese cuisine such as Truffle Rice Stuffed Young Chicken (pictured above) at Yamaan.
Cotton and Cream
Cotton and Cream - make sure to save room for dessert because Cotton and Cream has simple but yummy ways to end your meal. The Warm Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie topped with a scoop of vanilla Movenpick ice cream (pictured above) is pure decadence!
Photography: the above food shots were provided by Dockyard. All other photographs in this post were taken by me using a Casio Exlim EX-ZR65 (except for the picture of me with Peter Murray).
Here I am with Peter Murray (left), General Manager, Dockyard.
Journalists and food critics were invited to a media launch to tour the venue, sample the food, and try their hand at preparing some of the dishes. Before leaving, we took photos and were given goody bags. A few of us stayed behind for the Grand Opening Party that followed.
One of the highlights of the media launch was picking up a few cooking and baking tips. From this gentleman, for example, I learned the secret of making cookies with that delightful American characteristic of being chewy rather than brittle: use 50% brown sugar and 50% white sugar rather than 100% white sugar (even if that is what the recipe calls for).
He also said you shouldn't over mix the batter (three minutes should do) and you should leave it in the refrigerator over night (or at least six hours) before baking your cookies.
I must confess, I couldn't keep my hands off the cookies. They had an ever-so-slight crispy exterior and a very chewy interior. I was thrilled to discover one in my goody bag when I got home. Not only that, there was pamphlet with the recipe, which I'm sharing with you here ...
Grand Opening Party
At 6 pm, the doors were thrown open to several hundred invited guests. Because the app wasn't live yet, they were given tickets, which they could exchange for food and beverage.
There was live music all evening. Usually, there will be live music on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings from 7 until 10 pm.
Dockyard is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week from 11 am to 11 pm.
Because of Hong Kong's rapacious landlords, it is hard to find a venue this spacious anywhere in town with the possible exception of the American Club in Tai Tam.
I'm not sure what the turnout was, but it must have been at least 1,000 people, and yet it did not feel crowded. While all of the seats were taken, there was still plenty of room to move around. The outdoor space - with the views of the harbour - was especially nice.
I like the fact that you can order without having to leave your table - and that your food will be brought by a runner to your table. I especially like the fact that you can order from multiple outlets but still be presented with just one bill.
I'm not a big fan of pretension, so I liked the informality of the place - things such as the kitchen paper towels and cutlery strategically placed here and there.
I just wish I had noticed this when I was eating some of the finger food!
I liked the industrial chic ambiance, the unfinished concrete, the distressed wood, and the subtle reminders of the district's maritime past.
The music was excellent. After dark, it really felt more like a nightclub than a food court. For this reason, I'm a bit surprised that Dockyard closes at 11 pm. And I will not be surprised if the hours are extended on weekends. This seems like a great place to hang out with friends on a Friday or Saturday night.
As for the food, everything I tried was delicious, but some dishes were more delicious than others. If I had to pick out a few standouts, they would have to be the sliders (which most food and beverage outlets in Hong Kong call "mini hamburgers", the curry from Made in India, and the truffle rice stuffed chicken.
Dockyard - Kerry Hotel, Level 1, 38 Hung Luen Road, Hung Hom Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Tel: (852) 2252-5228.
Dockyard is 50 metres from the Hung Hom Ferry Pier (one or two minutes by foot), 300 metres from the Whampoa MTR Station (four minutes on foot), and 700 metres from the Hung Hom Train Station (10 minutes on foot).