I am really surprised to discover that there remains such a historical establishment right in the middle of Hong Kong's Central district and such historical structure remains literally untouched by any urban development in a city where commercial interests are the priorities. I am referring to The Helena May building situated in between Cotton Tree Road and Garden Road. The Helena May is also an active charitable establishment in Hong Kong for many decades. According to its website, "The Helena May was established by Lady May, the wife of Sir Henry May, Governor of Hong Kong at its inception in 1916 with the object of promoting the welfare of women and girls in Hong Kong," and the exterior of the building has been declared a heritage building in 1993 for preservation purposes by the government. Truly hope that more of such historical buildings can be declared heritage buildings before it is too late. (there is a tranquil garden at the back of the building, yes, in the middle of Central! ... see pictures below)
The interior of the establishment remains very warm, cozy and full of colonial colors. It does not have a fancy decor but it does have a very friendly and "home" feel to the whole environment. In the "living room" area, one can sit back and relax. It was an interesting experience indeed. (to my surprise, The Helena May operates on a membership basis ... interesting indeed)
The dining area was plain but very comfortable and cozy. I liked it very much. The decor remained unchanged over the past 2 decades in my opinion but it was well maintained and continue to have a heritage atmosphere to it. Most of the furnishings are antiques as well. Lovely indeed.
While looking through the menu, we were served the bread basket. Not the best bread but the variety seemed alright. Most of the bread were in room temperature which was fine but some were a bit too tough as dining rolls in my opinion. Overall they were alright.
(1) Farm House Platter served with Cantaloupe & Port Reduction
Wow, interesting presentation indeed, in a good way of course. The Port Reduction sauce was poured into two craved "holes" inside the melon. Although the sauce was a bit too "vinegar-y" to my liking, the presentation has won my heart. The selection of meats / hams were of quality ones, especially the parma hams which were not too salty by itself. The melon on the other hand was not sweet enough in my opinion.
(2) Chicken Maryland served with Grilled Polenta Cake, Crisp Bacon & Gravy
Do not be fooled by the look of this dish, it was wonderful! It used quality chicken breast and the batter was very thin and it was not greasy at all. Did I mention the chicken breast was very juicy and tender as well? Very nicely done! The bacon was very crisp as well. According to the menu, there should be one major side dish which is the Polenta Cake. To my surprise, for my dish, there were the Polenta Cake and fried banana! I have no idea why but it tasted very good and a surprising good match with the chicken! Now, what exactly is a Polenta Cake? I did not know until I checked it up on the Internet just now. Apparently, there are many variations of it but the main ingredient is cornmeal which is flour ground from dried corn. The way it was prepared was interesting but rather plain in flavor but wonderful on texture to go along with the chicken or simply with the gravy.
(3) Wild Mushroom on Toast
My friend ordered this simple but comforting dish. The wild mushroom were fresh and extremely favorable. The flavor of the sauce was just right and not too thick as well. The toast on the other hand, I would not consider it a toast because after pouring the sauce over it, it was no longer toast but soaked bread. I would be very happy to just have the wild mushroom!
There was nothing better than to have a walk after such a nice meal. My friend took me through the back door which then leads to a long staircase along the building. The staircase / pathway really impressed me because I did not expect to find such historical and heritage site (with such colonial colors) in the middle of Central. At the end of the pathway is another delightful surprise!
The garden at the end of the pathway was not something I was expecting at all! The lighting, the environment and the overall atmosphere resemble nothing you can find in Central, not even the Hong Kong Park in my opinion. Also, there is a library inside the building and it is located near the garden. The library has a heritage look to it as well, very cozy and ... just wonderful!
- The environment / decor / atmosphere
- Th Garden !!
- Chicken Maryland - surprisingly yummy! Chicken was tender and juicy.
- Members only =<
- Not an easily reached location
The Helena May
35 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong