Due to my extremely advanced maternal years (thanks again for that, friendly OBGYNs of Hong Kong!), I recently had to spend a delightful Saturday morning having a Oral Glucose Tolerance Test over at Queen Mary in Pokfulam. This venerable HK teaching hospital is reminiscent of every single NHS establishment I have ever encountered, with added bafflement courtesy of a near-constant stream of unintelligible tannoy announcements in both Cantonese and English. The overall ambience is a bit like the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras, but without the promise of Paris, and a giant millefeuille waiting for you at the other end.
Unlike the UK, the OGTT is mandatory here, as apparently HKers have a higher-than-average incidence of gestational diabetes, which seems harsh given that the typical British diet is packed full of sugar, whereas most HKers I know steer clear of anything too sweet. The procedure is straightforward, albeit highly unpleasant, consisting of a blood test before downing half a pint of thin, vaguely lemon-flavoured syrup on a completely empty stomach and then trying to keep that down for three hours while you await a second round of jabs. As I’m such an old gimmer, I get to have not one, but two rounds of testing, and so am keeping everything crossed that my love of cake doesn’t push me over into full-blown GD. (Incidentally, you should definitely check out Sarah Fung’s brilliant pregnancy and new mum blog, Baby Pak Choi, where she posts a very funny account of being diagnosed with GD. Such LOLZ!).
Aaanyway, after that starvation-induced sugar rush, all I could think about was getting some kind of savoury animal protein down my neck sharpish, and so arranged to meet Mr and Master T-T over at The Diner on Arbuthnot Road for some post-procedural lunch. Billed as Hong Kong’s first authentic American diner, this casual, no reservation spot serves US classics like burgers, breakfasts, sliders and salads in a kitchy retro-themed setting, and welcomes families with a tailor-made kids’ menu.
We were all ravenous, so ordered up a Dime burger (bacon and cheese) for me, a Limey (full English) brekkie for Mr T-T and a junior portion of blueberry buttermilk pancakes for the boy. The burger was enormous, well-cooked and accompanied by some absolutely delicious apple slaw that had all the hallmarks of being homemade. The breakfast ticked all the right boxes – not too greasy, perfectly runny eggs, Canadian (rather than the inferior US) bacon, and smokey Boston baked beans that were as far from the typical canned mush as you can get. The boy’s pancakes were fluffy and light as a feather, and were accompanied by a generous serving of fresh berries. All a yum, double-thumbs-up kind of deal. Just what the doctor ordered (or perhaps not).
The only issue was that all of these stone-cold classics were served… if not stone-cold, then certainly lukewarm. I did flag down a passing waitress to mention the temperature issue, however on the day of our visit they were busy setting up for a birthday party and – although very friendly – she didn’t manage to get back to our table before we had to leave. This this was disappointing, as the overall quality and presentation of the food was excellent, the service was extremely friendly and warm (even if the dishes weren’t).
The menu is well-priced too at $58-$148 for small plates, $125-$185 for burgers and $58-$118 for brunch items. The kids menu is all priced at $58, with portions that are more than sufficient for little ones, unless right in the middle of a particularly intense growth spurt.
So would I go back? Yes – based on the overall quality of the food I tried, I’ll give The Diner another shot in the hope that this was just a little hiccup over a busy weekend brunch service. The prime location, familiar menu and highchairs mean that this is a decent choice for families, and the venue is spacious enough to allow for stroller access (bar a couple of steps outside).
Although next time, I’ll be steering clear of Queen Mary’s medically-induced sugar high and opting for The Diner’s waffle selection instead. And asking for them served extra hot.
Opening hours: Daily, 8.30am – 2pm
The Diner, G/F, 4-8 Arbuthnot Road, Central, Hong Kong; 2562 3181