We couldn’t have found this place on our own, let me tell you that. As my husband and I get older, vacations usually mean one thing- sleeping in- though I often wonder why we have to leave the country to do that. (Okay, I remember- Alphonse!) And that’s another reason why I love my friends, because they’re the only ones who can drag us out from the comforts of our hotel room (and let me tell you, it was such a fabulous room!) to go traipsing around a city we’ve been to many times over the years.
Our Horizon Club room at the 21st floor of Kowloon Shangri-La
Before this visit, I was also in Hong Kong in August of last year. It seems that in the past six years, I’ve been there yearly, sometimes even twice a year, without fail. That it is so near Manila makes it an ideal destination for people like me who can only squeeze in a vacation from the kids every so often. More than this, however, one of the best reasons I have for visiting Hong Kong is the pleasure of my dearest friends’ company.
Karen and I met for the first time in 2011 but we have been Facebook friends longer than that. Since then, the highlight of my HK trips are always with Karen, as she and her husband German generously share their time and effort to show us the best places in their city.
This visit, she and her husband picked us up at the lobby of our hotel to bring us once more around the city. Karen and I had previously talked about visiting the Hello Kitty Secret Garden, a stand-alone cafe in Tai Hang so that was the first priority of the afternoon.
The Hello Kitty Secret Garden Cafe opened in June of 2014, around six months after its sister cafe started operations. The pint-sized but equally cute Le Petit Cafe opened in December 7, 2013 at the basement 2 level of Sogo Causeway Bay. However, unlike Le Petit Cafe, which is a kiosk serving pastries and coffee, the Secret Garden is a full service restaurant with a more extensive menu. In Le Petit Cafe, patrons could only take their purchases to go or eat them standing up in the middle of the bustling aisles. At the Secret Garden, while seating is limited, customers have the luxury of enjoying their meals and desserts in a relatively unhurried fashion. Of course, this only applies when the lines aren’t too long, otherwise, most patrons are limited to an hour per visit.
We went to the cafe on an early Tuesday afternoon, just a little past two. One would expect the place to be readily available on a work weekday but alas, this cafe commands a constant audience. Although the queue was shorter than it would have been on a weekend, it still took us an hour to claim a table. Good weather notwithstanding, there wasn’t much else to see or do while waiting, so Karen and I took pictures and played with her dolls.
As you can see from our pictures, you can’t miss Hello Kitty in her Secret Garden because she’s everywhere! On the walls, in the roof, in the sidewalk, the glass facade- the cafe suffers from a really cute case of Hello Kitty mania.
There’s even a Hello Kitty bicycle parked outside the cafe!
As you walk towards the side, where the service entrance is supposed to be, there’s a hint of things to come. Another section of the cafe is said to open in the next few months, and this will not only be a venue for scheduled events, it will also serve as a cafe extension when not in use.
A little farther down the side of the cafe is the Gaggia Barista Academy, said to be affiliated with the Hello Kitty-themed cafes. Since the Secret Garden serves a variety of specialty coffees, it does make sense for a barista academy to be right next door. I can just imagine all those baristas-in-training with their Hello Kitty templates, working on making the perfect designs on coffee and froth!
This is the service door, which proved fortuitous as it made a perfect backdrop for Karen’s kimona-clad girls. :-)
A sample of our playtime pictorial: Aren’t these girls lovely?
After a lot of pictures, we were asked to come inside the cafe. This is the first thing you would see when you enter. Inside the cafe, the garden theme is carried out with a lot of fake foliage hanging from the ceiling and more Hello Kitty cut-outs and designs.
The POS system is located near the back, on a shelf of Hello Kitty bric-a-bracs.
Over at the bar, a blackboard displays an overview of the cafe’s offerings, allowing patrons a chance to decide on their food even without seeing the full menu.
A♥ noticed this little blackboard on the counter and immediately pointed to the “Kittymama” written on it. It seems I have a stake in this restaurant after all, in the form of “cheese.” Good thing Kittymama didn’t cut it while she was there, teehee!
The cafe boasts of its burger as its special offering, and at HKD98, it wasn’t exactly an inexpensive burger. A Big Mac meal at McDonald’s Hong Kong, for example, costs only HKD37.60, based on its online menu, around 40% of the price of this specialty burger. Still, it was an experience we could not pass up so A♥ and I ordered this, not having had enough time to eat lunch that day.
While waiting for our food, I noticed little details that made the cafe stand out more, such as this Hello Kitty engraved cutlery and napkins, the latter making perfect souvenirs of our visit.
When the burgers came, it was a pleasant surprise to find each of them juicy and well-seasoned. The large cut fries were crispy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. There was a hefty serving of vegetables (lettuce, tomato, pickles) and an even more generous heaping of bacon. It was just too large to eat sandwich-style, so we opted to eat it with utensils. Nom nom nom nom nom.
Note that the egg was Hello Kitty- shaped! *squeals in delight* I would have expected the patty to be as well, but alas, no dice.
Karen opted for something light in this strawberry tart with a topping of Hello Kitty white chocolate.
She also chose a Rose Latte, so-called because it is a latte with rose petals.
I chose a cold drink, an iced Cafe Mocha that looked absolutely cute with its cocoa ribbon on top.
There were plenty of choices on the menu for the ravenous, from sandwiches, soups, and even quiche. If one is not in the mood for heavy fare (the servings are huge). any one of these appetizing desserts found at the refrigerated counters will surely delight the Hello Kitty fan. Prices range from HKD48 to HKD58.
I should have tried an apple pie but the burger was heavy and filling already.
This shot shows how little the cafe actually is. The limited seating (the cafe seats 16 comfortably, but can accommodate 20) is responsible for the long lines outside but with cooperation from both diners and staff, the flow of guests is fast and efficient. I suppose the experience would have been different if we were waiting in the sweltering heat of summer, but in late Febuary, there was enough chill in the air to make the wait pleasant and comfortable.
All in all, it was a memorable experience for this reformed Hello Kitty fan. As much as merchandise is one way to go about being a Kittyholic, I have since discovered that making memories is an even better way to appreciate Hello Kitty. Morever, no one can beat Hello Kitty memories made with your best friends.
We ♥ you both, Karen and German!
If you’d like to visit the Hello Kitty Secret Garden in Causeway, you may opt to take the MTR to Causeway Bay and take a taxi from there, giving the driver this address: 19 Ormsby Street, Tai Hang.
Alternatively, one can go down the Tin Hau MTR station and walk 10-15 minutes to Ormsby. Just follow the stream of mostly young women (with the not-so-few dragging their significant others) and you’ll spot it easily. Still, a taxi would have to be my default for finding this, especially if one is not a Chinese speaker.
The Hello Kitty Secret Garden Cafe is open Tuesdays to Sundays at the following times:
Tuesdays-Thursdays 12NN to 9 pm
Fridays 12NN to 10 pm
Saturdays 9 am to 10 pm
Sundays 9 am to 9 pm
Come and visit the next time you are in Hong Kong!