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mizunara the library, 2020 oct
Photograph: Calvin Sit

Explore the city: Revisit these underrated bars in Hong Kong

Bars are back! Branch out from your usual haunt and knock back a few drinks at these underrated gems.

Tatum Ancheta
Written by
Tatum Ancheta

In a city filled with Asia's best cocktail bars, wine bars, whisky dens, and hidden drinking joints, we're spoilt for choice when it comes to places to drink. And now that bars have reopened and dining operations are extended to midnight, we have more reasons to toast and knock back a few boozy drinks. The only dilemma is where to go. Not all bars are created equal; some bars are more popular than others, and some have more awards than our fingers could count, but there are definitely some gems that get brushed under the rug. So, this week, we'd like to show some love to a few bars that, if you haven't been to already, you should definitely visit now. 

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RECOMMENDED: Whether you're looking for a short relaxing getaway, a cultural or thrilling experience in Hong Kong, check out our 'Explore the City' guide to help you plan your next city adventure.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Wan Chai

Mizunara is a Japanese-style bar hidden in a nondescript commercial building in Wan Chai. Helmed by award-winning bartender Masahiko Endo, the bar serves well-crafted tipples and more than 600 whiskies from its collection. Perhaps because of its quiet location and restrained atmosphere, this whisky bar has been around since 2015, and yet we're only seeing it on the list of Asia's 50 Best Bars in 2022. Next time you're in Wan Chai, show some support, drop by, order a dram or cocktail, and watch Endo san mix some serious drinks behind the stick.  

How to get there: From Wan Chai MTR Station Exit A1, go straight on Lockhart Road towards the direction of Fleming Road. Walk for seven minutes until you reach Kiu Yin Commercial Building. Enter the building and take the lift to the fourth floor to get to Mizunara. 

Tip: It’s best to sit by the bar so you can chat with Endo san while sipping on their signature cocktails. You can ask for bespoke cocktails and choose your preferred whisky from their collection. 

Photograph: Courtesy Gov HK I Pedal boat at the Water Sports and Recreation Precinct 

Things to do: While in the area, history buffs can check out the Blue House cluster, a must-visit landmark in the area just a 15-minute walk away from Mizunara. If you want to take photos of colourful street art, follow this map to discover murals created by local and international artists for the HKWalls festival in 2019. Walk over to HarbourChill, a themed harborfront space located next to the Wan Chai Ferry Pier, and rent a pedal boat at the Water Sports and Recreation Precinct for some fun water activities.  

If you want to explore more parts of the district, check out our ultimate guide to Wan Chai to help you navigate the best things to do and sights to see in the area. 

Photograph: Courtesy Maison Meiji

Where to eat: Six minutes walk away from Mizunara is the newly opened Western-Japanese restaurant, Maison Meiji. Taste French-Japanese dishes and enjoy handcrafted shochu and awamori cocktails crafted by the same team behind Mizunara in the Kuromaru bar lounge. For some al fresco dining, head to Zoku Restaurant & Terrace to enjoy a refreshing take on Japanese cuisine under the stars. And if you're looking for something closer to home, chow down on tasty dim sum at Woo Cheong Tea House. 

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Soho

This hidden bar on Staunton Street is back and slinging drinks with a brand new team behind the bar led by bar manager Edward Chung. Flip the chrome light switch to enter and check out the first chapter of their newly launched thematic cocktail menu called 'Sunshine after the rain', which aims to bring positive vibes to the community. 

How to get there: From Central MTR Station Exit D1, turn right to Pedder Street, cross Queen’s Road Central, and walk towards D'Aguilar Street. Turn right when you reach Wellington Street and walk towards Lyndhurst Terrace. Walk straight to Graham Street and turn left to Staunton Street, s few steps on your left will lead you to a blue painted wall with a gold door that looks like an elevator shaft. Flip the switch to enter The Poet.  

Tip: Drop by for their Chillax Hour every Tuesday and Saturday from 5pm to 8pm, and all day on Sunday to get value for money cocktails, sparkling wines and beers (price starts at $60 - $90). 

Things to do: Central is home to the region's award-winning bars, so while you're in the area, plan a bar crawl to check out Oaxacan-inspired Coa, Japanese bar The Aubrey, hidden bar The Wise King, rock and roll dive bar The Pontiac, eco-friendly bar Penicillin, and multisensory cocktail bar Quinary

For culture vultures, immerse yourself in Asian and Western contemporary art at Art Supermarket, check out exhibitions at Tai Kwun, or discover art in international galleries located in H Queen's.  

Where to eat: Fill up at the eateries along Staunton Street, which include bakery Bakehouse, Spanish bodega-inspired restaurant Majo Tapas Paella Bar, meat-focused restaurant Meats, or Seoul Recipe to takeaway affordable, tasty Korean food. 

For fine dining options, check out Hong Kong's most in-demand tables, including Hong Kong's national pride, The Chairman, chef Vicky Lau's new restaurant Mora, and chef Augustin Balbi's Ando. For new bites, get a table at newly opened venues, including German fine-dining restaurant Heimat and European bistro Vivant.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Tsim Sha Tsui

Cross over to Tsim Sha Tsui and grab a seat at Bar Buonasera, the Hong Kong branch of the famous Osaka bar by the same name. Now operating from 4pm to 12mn, take a seat by the bar and watch precise Japanese style bartending in action led by Nick Tse and Ayako Miyake. The menu is filled to the brim with signature tipples and classic handcrafted cocktails. For whisky enthusiasts, enjoy a dram or two from over 100 whisky bottlings from around the world, with a large selection coming from Scotland and Japan. 

How to get there: Take the Tsim Sha Tsui East station and alight at Exit N1. Walk towards Hard Avenue and turn to Mody Road, the first building on your left is Mody House. Go up the seventh floor to find Bar Buonasera.  

Tip: To watch experts behind the stick, the bar is the best seat in the house. Order the Yuzu Collins for a light and refreshing starter drink before moving on to spirit-forward Smokey Martinez. If you're craving for something savoury, try their signature rendition of Bloody Mary called Bloody Caesar.

If you want to learn how to make cocktails at home, owner Nick Tse and his team host regular classes (tickets start at $398) every Sunday, from 4pm to 5.30pm. Learn how to make stirred and shaken cocktails and enjoy the cocktail you make. 

Photograph: Courtesy HKMOA

Things to do: While here, do check out another Japanese bar called Butler, featuring a cocktail bar on the fifth floor and a whisky bar on the sixth. If you want to check out the neighbourhood before knocking back some drinks, Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade offers a lot of sights to see. You can start at the Former Kowloon-Canton Railway Clock Tower, a preserved monument that dates back to 1915 and make your way over to the newly renovated Hong Kong Museum of Art to explore a range of rare antiquities and trade art. To see more scenic views of the harbour, take a four-minute walk from Mody House to go to Signal Hill Garden

Photograph: TA I Fuunmaru

Where to eat: Bar Buonasera is now offering a Western and Thai food menu with snacks like skewer plates of chicken, pork, and beef, or assorted cheese, pizza, beef sliders, or fish and chips. Or you can grab a bite at tsukemen specialist Fuunmaru located on the ground floor of Mody House, offering six tsukemen staples.

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