The Pawn Wan Chai
Right in the middle of bustling Wan Chai sits a three-story heritage building built in 1888 that once housed the Woo Cheong pawnshop. In recent years, the historic building was converted into a traditional British restaurant known simply as The Pawn. The Pawn, with its impressive architecture and colonial design, drew visitors from all over. It was definitely a historic destination, even if it wasn’t necessarily a culinary one. In 2014, The Pawn abruptly closed for an extensive remodel and “new concept” and “new chef.”
At the end of 2014, the modernized Pawn emerged with contemporary modern decor and a whole new menu under the direction of British multi-Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens. Chef Aikens previously trained at Michelin-starred restaurants Tante Claire (3 stars) and Pied à Terre (2 stars). His dream for the newly revamped The Pawn was to offer a mix of French-inspired elevated food and a more refined version of British classics. In Chef Aikens’ words, a “balance between high-end and also good honest British cooking”.
The Pawn aims to offer a mix of traditional and modern cuisine. The first floor is a ‘Botanicals’ bar which offers really edgy and creative atisanal hand-crafted cocktails. The first floor also offers small bar bites and a simple brunch and lunch menu. The second floor is the ‘Kitchen’, which offers a larger menu suitable for brunch, lunch, or dinner. There’s a lovely open kitchen and even a balcony of coveted tables overlooking Johnston Street (we weren’t able to get them the day we went).
The brunch is famous at The Pawn, and rightly so. The food is excellent, and it’s a decent considering that free flowing drinks are included and kids up to age 12 eat free (one paying adult per free kid). The non-alcohol free-flowing brunch (which still includes some pretty fancy fruit juices) is 498 HKD per person. Add 100 HKD (598 HKD total) to add free-flowing alcohol (Moet et Chandon rosé imperial, bloody Mary, house red and white wines).
All of us (except for Bryan’s mom, who doesn’t drink), opted for the free-flowing alcohol version since we figured even if we just drank one or two glasses of something it would be worth it. Plus, it’s lovely to start brunch with a glass of sparkling rosé….