Dara Hong Kong reignites interest amongst Hong Kong-based kababayans. As it launches its grand opening after renovation, let’s see what’s new.

Filipinos are known for their amazing food. Any food business that carries a Filipino flagship is sought after for its authentic taste. With the new vibe it has and the refreshing atmosphere, spectators get excited to try Dara Hong Kong. It caters not just to the quality of its food and drinks, but also to its total ambiance. Not to mention, the warm hospitality they are known for.

Photo courtesy of Time Out Hong Kong Their staff is one of the friendliest I have encountered here in Hong Kong. They’re warm, entertaining, and always smiling.

The familiar welcoming energy

Despedida de Soltera for our good friend Joey, DARA HK was the chosen location that catered to almost 20 powerful women!

On three occasions, I have had the chance to experience the warmth of Dara Hong Kong. To catch up with friends, a bridal shower and to welcome a good friend who’s a fellow Filipino here in HK from London. Each occasion had unique specific needs that I thought Dara HK was amazing in catering to.

My dad cooked a lot of Chinese food when I was young but growing up in the Philippines, the fusion leaned towards embracing authentic Filipino flavour. So, adapting to Hong Kong’s taste wasn’t that hard, though there was an undeniable longing for Filipino bests.

Anything edible can almost be cooked as adobo (a dish marinated in soy sauce and vinegar). But there’s that bay leaf touch and mastery of cooking vinegar that makes it an indigenous dish. Anybody who grew up with this would say that they know how it’s cooked. Honestly, it’s still different for every household.

There’s halo halo (a term that means ‘mixed’ in the Filipino language), a popular cold dessert in the Philippines, craved for the relief it gives its locals from the tropical heat. Mixed fruits, crushed ice, and various additionals such as evaporated or coconut milk, leche flan, and red beans put together, somehow, represent how rich and colorful Filipino history is.

Aligue Rice and Sinigang na Baboy

Ginataan is a descriptive word for any dish that is cooked in coconut milk. Sinigang is famous for its sour soup based using tamarind. Lechon Kawali (fried crispy pork) and inihaw na liempo (grilled pork) are common staples that fill every Filipino table during get-togethers. I crave this every once in a while.

Thank God Dara’s menu offers all of these, and they didn’t hesitate to explore its potential. Some touches are solely Dara’s which I haven’t tasted before. The first bite instantly made me curious which led me to ask, “Who cooks?”.

The answer lies in its name

Many meanings surround the name Dara.

In Hebrew, Dara means “pearl of wisdom” and it accounts for “compassion” as well. It just makes sense how it may have been adapted by the Filipinos calling their aunties Dara.

Time Out HK shared that Dara is a family-owned restaurant. “Darang Mel”, also known as Imelda Bunoan, was the first chef of Dara. She started doing catering business with her kids Jermaine, Jon, and Joanna from which they also did made-to-order Filipino viands delivered door-to-door. The partnership with Mark Korponay helped the family’s dream of expanding to a bar and restaurant. Initiated by friendship, Jermaine, Mark, Alvin, Kenneth, and Anil – the team behind Dara, had brought extensive efforts that sustain what they do best. 

Here’s what’s worth trying

Grilled Chicken BBQ

This is always my favorite part to write because it feels like owning a label that goes, “Kyte’s recommendations.”

Give a chance to their sisig and grilled isaw. But in the name of creativity, I would suggest adding something new to your experience.

Laing in popia (commonly known as the spring roll wrapper), surprised me with its authentic taste, yet modern presentation. It looked like another Filipino main staple, lumpiang shanghai, but instead, I’ll call it as lumpiang laing. This may be one of the best choices for vegetarians and vegans as its main ingredients are taro leaves and coconut milk. 

Second, their skewered grilled chicken bites. This blew my mind, it was juicy, tender, and zesty. My daughters and I gobbled on it like there was no tomorrow. We paired it with their garlic rice and it just sealed the authentic Filipino taste.

As for dessert, I had the Turon Halo-halo which I would recommend to be shared if you are cutting down on carbs since the sweet potato could be heavy for some. This might come as a challenge as to whether you should give up, Aligue Rice or dessert. I recommend making room for dessert.

They call this Turon Halo Halo done with banana, sweet potato, macapuno, jackfruit, corn caramel sauce, pinipig, and deep fried in wheat rolls.

Dara Hong Kong’s edge

Where I am right now in my life calls for a lot of events and meet-ups that need a place where a conversation could ‘actually’ take place. I prefer to hold it in a refreshing ambiance, yet relaxing environment. Meaning, that it plays good music, but not too loud; serves drinks, but does not have crazy crowds; and why not, have a separate function room for private occasions?

Well, guess what! Dara got them all!

At the heart of this 30-seater venue in Sai Ying Pun is an all-Filipino staff. They are not just ready to take your order, but would also carry casual conversations warmly. The dedicated team of Dara certainly delivered its aim of providing a place where people can experience the natural Filipino hospitality.

Welcoming our Kababayan, Sam, who now resides in London with his family co-celebrating Chinese New Year 2024 with friends and family

From the three times that I walked into Dara, there’s always that good vibe like going home to a family. I was wondering if it’s because of the people that I am to meet there who I haven’t seen for a long time. Perhaps. But then I see a familiar parol, wooden furniture, and a great huge long table in the middle which is just almost the setting of every Filipino house. Windows are made of wood and capis and it was Jermaine Bunoan, the youngest among Darang Mel’s kids, who designed Dara’s interior.

It doesn’t end there since the most impressive of all for me was knowing there’s a room with karaoke!!! You can never deny that karaoke is so Pinoy. That, I didn’t expect during my first visit as I saw the restaurant so posh and almost like every fine dining restaurant around Central. But lo and behold! and my jaw dropped when we were catered to the private function room with a huge screen, great speakers, and a fine selection of KTV songs for my friend’s baby shower. Astig!

My CHOCNUTINI, a Filipino Espresso Martini made of Kapeng Barako (Barako Coffee), sweetened with bar-made Chocnut syrup. Only at Dara Hong Kong

Will I Go Back Again?

It’s a YES because of the vibe it gives on top of its delicious food. So this stands not just for my #WindeandDineWednesday but it’s also my #FEatureoftheMonth.

Located at Shop 3, 5-6, G/F, Soho 189, 189 Queen’s Rd W, Sai Ying Pun, at the time of this writing, it’s a pain to walk to the place especially when you’re on heels as I took the bus. But I’d say it’s worth it. Best to hit Sai Ying Pun MTR then take Exit A1. It’s a fairly 2-3 minute walk should you plan to check out the place.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below. I’ll try my best to give you an honest response based on how I experienced the place.

More power to Dara and cheers to stumbling on another Filipino gem here in Hong Kong!

In the meantime, you might want to continue reading about food.

Get to know Fiel’s dream of providing a job where a smile is required while holding a pan. Cooking with FIEL-ings is his aim and you may want to know why.


I have a deep regard for your time. It's when I write and cook that time becomes non-existent. I love learning and while you think I am the kind of lady who has a lot of things to say, just take it that I was sharing what I had learned with full impact over a cup of Joe.

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