California Tower newcomer Ministry of Mussels is enjoying a successful opening in Hong Kong’s Lang Kwai Fong entertainment district - and due in no small part to flight attendant-turned-assistant manager, Winnie Huang. Carolynne Dear caught up with her over a game of ‘juice pong’.
Fun and games at Ministry of Mussels.
Causing something of a storm on level five of Lan Kwai Fong’s California Tower is Ministry of Mussels.
The family-friendly diner-style space boasts a heap of tasty, easy-eat dishes in an upbeat atmosphere, with plenty of sports entertainment beamed from a host of tv screens along with a couple of electronic ‘beer pong’ tables.
The space is the latest launch by dining group newcomer Infinity Entertainment Group, which also has a champagne lounge, nightclub and Japanese restaurant under its belt.
Until the pandemic hit, assistant restaurant manager Winnie Huang was flying high as Cathay cabin crew. However, as has been the case for many airline staff during these challenging times, she’s had to pivot her skill set to a new industry.
Restaurant assistant manager Winnie Huang.
Both airline and food and beverage are customer service-based industries and Huang admits there are a lot of similarities between the two roles.
“I’m blessed that most of the skills I’ve been well-trained in the past, especially the service etiquette and service recovery,” she said. “However, there are differences - restaurant guests obviously enjoy more spacious seating and facing each other, they can eat at different paces and there’s a wider range of food selections.”
Restaurant management wanted to introduce a mussel-focused eatery - something that is commonly found in Europe and Australia - into Hong Kong. With seafood already a firm favourite in the Asian city, there was potential to develop this further with a more focused, mussel-influenced menu.
Executive chef Dee Kwok has moved to Ministry of Mussels following 18 years with Hong Kong hospitality group, Castelo Concepts, and has developed an easy-going menu filled with American bistro classics - think chicken wings, ribs and salads - pastas, burgers, seafood dishes and - as the restaurant’s moniker would suggest - an ‘Around The World Mussels’ menu. The sharing seafood platter comes laden with Boston lobster, oysters, mussels, tiger prawns, clams, crab and scallops.
Italian Formaggi Mussels with four cheeses.
According to Huang, the Singapore Chilli Crab Mussels with deep-fried mantou is already a best-selling item. “We already have regulars who keep coming back for it.”
She says her own favourite is the Italian Formaggi Mussels - “I’m a massive cheese lover”.
The space is pitched as a laid-back space for all walks of life.
No fewer than 11 screens beam major sporting events into the dining area (the Olympics were in full flow during my visit) and there’s also a semi-covered balcony for al fresco drinks.
“The venue has a lot to offer so the clientele really depends on the time of day. We have a children’s ‘soft play’ area so we’re hoping to attract family diners, particularly on weekends,” says Huang. “We’re aiming for a fun and casual atmosphere; a great place for happy hour hangout and group dining. We will offer live-streaming and broadcasting of major sporting events - we want to be the ‘go-to’ place for sports lovers looking for a great space and good food to catch the game. We’re constantly working on the menu, adding new dishes and modifying our offerings and we’re hoping to launch a weekend brunch menu soon.”
Space for the kids at Ministry of Mussels.
Two beer pong tables are a fun addition to the space and Huang admits they’ve been popular with diners. “Especially during happy hour and post-dinner time. And on weekends the tables are played by families. It’s fun to watch the kids having fun with their parents playing ‘juice pong’ after a leisurely lunch.”
Ministry of Mussels, 3rd Floor, California Tower, Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong.
Discover more restaurants opening in Hong Kong this summer here.
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