Spice Market Restaurant [????- ] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Spice Market Restaurant [????- ]

Current condition: 

Photos that show this place



Not sure when The Spice Market opened, but this Marco Polo HK Hotel location closed 17 Oct. 2010, per https://www.scmp.com/magazines/hk-magazine/article/2032739/spice-market-... The Spice Market later appeared at the other end of Harbour City in the (currently closed for "renovations") Marco Polo Prince Hotel.

Gosh, I remember the Spice Market. The earliest reference I can find was a review of the newly opened restaurant in a SCMP clip on 9th September 1979. I will post the review later on with a good description of the decor and food. 

From my 1980 visit I remember a restaurant named Spice Island. If I remember correctly, it had a roof-top entry and was located somewhere in TST. Probably not the same as Spice Market,

I have just added a photograph taken in August 1981 to my gallery '1981 Andrew Suddaby's photos'. It shows the entrance to the Ocean Terminal from the Star Ferry pier and the restaurant was immediately above the 'Oceam Terminal' sign with, I believe, its own entrance between the Ocean Terminal and the Hong Kong Hotel.  I think that this was via a lobby but it might have been in the open air.

Ocean Terminal from Star Ferry pier.
Ocean Terminal from Star Ferry pier., by Andrew Suddaby

Now that I think about it, that SCMP link I posted above must be wrong where it says "The Spice Market in Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel has closed down on Oct 17 [2010]..." It wasn't the Hongkong Hotel location, but rather the subsequent Prince Hotel location, that closed in 17 Oct. 2010. If the Hongkong Hotel Spice Market was in the location in Andrew's photo, it had to have closed before 2000, as Dan Ryan's was operating in that space by that point. I'll try to find some more accurate dates.

Safe to say the restaurant opened in the second week of September 1979:





THE PENINSULA Group have added another restaurant to their expanding lot and this one should prove a real diversion from their here-to sophisticated image.

It’s a casual Eastern style restaurant they’ve christened the Spice Market. Situated in the second floor of the Ocean Terminal (third floor Hongkong Hotel), the restaurant’s décor, dreamt up by talented Michael Williamson who also has their Paprika Restaurant to his credit, is rattan and greenery.

The brief was innocuous enough – to produce an Eastern theme without undue emphasis on any area. Hence golden toned murals of some palm fringed beach, perhaps Kuta or Pattaya, adorn one wall, bright batik paintings another. Grotesquely cut out Filipino masks here and there and plenty of space left when I saw it in its incomplete state for hanging baskets of ferns and the like completed the illusion of of (sic) a rustic lived-in look. All this was pleasantly held together by a couple of sample woven cane roofed structures reminiscent of the thatched huts of our southern neighbours, the larger of which will daily house a loaded buffet table.

The open plan kitchen complete with satay grill chef at work on a specially constructed charcoal satay cooker, adds to the relaxed atmosphere.

At press time they were anxiously awaiting final USD inspection and hoped to be open for this weekend. But if not today, then certainly very shortly Singaporean chef Allapkchay s/o Sulaiman Mohamed Salleh borrowed from the Marco Polo in Singapore, should have the chance to show Hongkong what spicy food is all about. His job is to train a group of local chefs in the preparation of Nasi Padang style Sumatra dishes as well as produce a range of his own special Moslem inspired curries and spicy fare.

He prepared as sample, a range of dishes from the a la carte menu and from his buffet repertoire for a preview lunch this week.

Sensibly few of the dishes were of searing hotness, though once of tice I balked on a build up of chilli fragments. Starters were mild flavoured and an interesting assortment culled from the area.

There was creviche, marinated raw fish served in a half green pepper with a garnish of shredded chilli, onion and garlic and its lime juice marinade, tangini, a dill flavoured smoked mackerel of delicate taste and a specialty of the Philippines; sliced cucumber in yoghurt sauce of Indian extraction and a tasty seafood and avocado combination with a spicy tomato sauce with chopped mint.

We sampled mouthfuls of three of their soups. The first a clear consommé base filled with chunky vegetables and crabmeat slabs, the next an exotic lemon and mint flavoured chicken soup with simmered rice, complete with slice of lemon and mint leaf, and the third a curried oxtail with plenty of meat pieces and finely diced vegetable, in a subtly spiced curry stock.

For the main course came a plate of loaded with samples of the various buffet dishes from Singaporean fried noodles, through two types of curried chicken, a bland chicken and pork stew Visayas, a Malay-style beef stew with pineapple and plenty of shredded chilli, a red hot Moslem curry and a delightful mackerel in turmeric sauce with papaya, the latter being particularly impressive in its originality.

Our dessert tasting covered the unusual Orange Oriental of orange segments simmered in a syrup loaded with spices. Also, Gula Malacca, a typical Malaysian sweet of boiled sago served with coconut cream and the sugar from which it is named, the sweet Gula Melaka sugar extracted from palm trees grown expressly for the purpose in that part of the world. But we called a satiated halt after the Pineapple Rumba, a half pineapple filled with pineapple flavoured icecream blended with fresh cream and pineapple chunks, though there were still a number of sweets listed under the provocative title of “A Rest Under Sunny Palms”.

And on that note, I bid my readers farewell as I disappear from these pages for R and R, hopefully somewhere under sunny palms.

Source: South China Morning Post, page 19, 9th September 1979

TST Dave, found this to narrow the dates:

“…Dan Ryan’s, opened last week on the Omni Hongkong Hotel site formerly occupied by the late, lamented Spice Market…”

Source: South China Morning Post, page 55, 17th June 1990


There were still ads for the Spice Market at the Hongkong Hotel till the end of Decemeber 1989. So the Spice Market must have closed at the HongKong Hotel site between January-May 1990. 

There were ads for the new Spice Market at the Omni Prince Hotel from December 1991.