If you’re into pared down industrial aesthetics, homey Italian food or post-rock music, you’re in luck. tfvsjs, one of Hong Kong’s best and brightest local bands has opened a café in Kwun Tong under their utterly unpronounceable name. The café occupies a portion of a sprawling 4000ft2 warehouse space which also serves as the band’s rehearsal space and specialist drum store (talk about multitasking).
The feel of the café is almost deliberately unfussy – the atmosphere is tranquil (I believe I heard the instrumental stylings of God is An Astronaut, A+ for music choice), the decoration stripped back, and the food simple and flavourful. That’s not to say that there has been a lack of effort; on the contrary, the entire operation is clearly a labour of love – the band has been responsible for building their own furniture, as well as cooking and serving every dish themselves. As a longtime supporter of the Hong Kong indie music scene, I will be the first to admit that I had to exercise great restraint over my excitement at being waited on by the band. Likewise, the other diners seemed to either know the band personally or were familiar with their music, which begs the question of whether or not their musical reputation is overshadowing their food.
The menu is short and sweet, with pasta dishes limited to classics such as lasagne and spaghetti carbonara. From their lunch menu, we sampled the grouper with anchovy mash and the lasagne, and from the a la carte, the veggie pasta and salad. While it may have been beneficial to keep the menu short, it puts a greater emphasis on the successes and failures of those few dishes. Thankfully, the boys behind tfvsjs have come up with some standout dishes – the grouper with mash and veggie pasta were the best received plates; the grouper was cooked to perfection, and the pasta was chock full of clean, bright notes of basil, pine nuts and arugula.
Notwithstanding the food, tfvsjs café is also notable for their admirable grassroots approach in a city that is notoriously unforgiving to mom-and-pop style establishments. What tfvsjs lacks in polish, they more than make up for in heart.
Unit B, 10/F, Gee Luen Factory Building, 316-318 Kwun Tong Road, Hong Kong, 2415 4999. Mon-Thu: 12.00-18.00, Fri-Sat: 12.00-22.00