Ultimate Guide to Quarry Bay and Tai Koo
Quarry Bay is home to one of the city’s most Instagrammable spots, exciting indoor sports venues and trendy art galleries. Not to mention one of Hong Kong's best rooftop bars. Then there’s the amazing range of restaurants worth checking out in this up-and-coming neighourhood. Whether you want to get out and get active or eat, drink and be merry, this Eastern district has everything you need. RECOMMENDED: Equally underloved but awesome, Tsuen Wan is on the rise. Here's where you should go the next time you head out to the best-kept secret in the New Territories.
The missing ingredient: Hong Kong's friendly Neighbourhood Kitchen
A young girl in a princess dress twirls around a table, where a boy practises writing with the help of an upperclassman from St. Paul’s College. A half-dozen other kids sit on the doorsteps, waiting for their turn to be tutored. A man breezes past them and heads to the back of the room with a couple of bags in hand. One is packed with meat, the other with vegetables. This isn’t an after-school centre. It’s Neighbourhood Kitchen in Shek Tong Tsui, a community space and self-service kitchen for low-income residents in the Western District, and it’s almost dinnertime. Considering the blistering pace at which the Western District has developed since the MTR expanded to Kennedy Town in 2014, you might be surprised to learn that there are nearly 3,500 subdivided flats in the area. But the median rent for a modest 107-square-foot flat is now $5,474. For many families in the neighbourhood, this figure represents over a third of their monthly income. And for the elderly, who often have to wait more than five years to secure a coveted government-subsidised flat, the rising cost of rent is especially staggering. Many live alone in rooms not large enough to fit even a burner – or much more than a bed, for that matter. “Lots of people will just eat instant noodles or rice with leftover vegetables. That isn’t healthy, and it isn’t good for your well-being when you can’t make a home-cooked meal,” says Amanda Cheung, director of marketing and communications for Grosvenor, a socially con
Nana Chen gives an unfiltered look at life inside the Chungking Mansions
The Chungking Mansions might be Hong Kong’s most notorious property. After the fall of the Kowloon Walled City in the 90s, the Mansions attained the dubious honour of being Hong Kong’s last ghetto. A 17-storey limbo for immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, and, before the advent of CCTV, a shelter for bandits, druggies and deviants spinning in its own galaxy among the luxury high-rises reshaping Tsim Sha Tsui. These days the Mansions are no longer a haven for criminals. With restaurants slinging underrepresented cuisines, nearly 2,000 guestrooms providing cheap accommodation for travellers and mom-and-pop shops that allow immigrant families to make by in one of the world’s most expensive cities, the Mansions stand as both a testament to the globalised world we live in and a lifeline for the city’s underprivileged. In 2009, shortly after a Canadian tourist disappeared from Chungking Mansions without a trace, Taiwan-born photographer Nana Chen began wandering its corridors using her camera as a guide. Chungking Mansions: Photographs from Hong Kong’s Last Ghetto is the fruit of her labour. The book gives a glimpse at life in the Mansions that few ever get to witness and adds colour to an environment we often view in black and white. Chen talked with Time Out recently about her creative inspiration, as well as the journey that took her inside the heart of the Mansions. What drew you to Hong Kong for this project? Did it happen organically, or did you have a vision to docume
How John Anthony is changing Hong Kong cocktail culture for the better
Farm-to-fork food and fair-trade coffee have become increasingly commonplace as ecoconscious lifestyle trends have gained traction in Hong Kong. But what about cocktails with a conscience? If Amir Javaid has anything to say about it, the next step toward sustainability might affect your nightcap. Under the direction of the Manchester-born bar manager, Cantonese bar-restaurant John Anthony is going green. In fact, the eight drinks Javaid has designed for the bar's new spice trade-inspired menu might be the most sustainable Hong Kong has ever seen. “I’ve been working in bars a long time, and I wasn’t always aware of the waste [I was producing]. We used to squeeze lemons for the juice and just throw them away,” he admits. Now, Javaid takes that leftover lemon to make his own falernum. When it has reached the end of its lifespan, the lemon goes into the compost machine he just bought and turned into fertiliser for local farmers. That’s only the tip of the iceberg. “So many bars and restaurants say they’re sustainable when they’re not, and that can put people off - Amir Javaid” Each cocktail features locally sourced ingredients, from lemon verbena and figs procured from a farm in Fanling to honey, pollen and beeswax bought from an apiary in Sha Tin. Those ingredients are reused in other drinks: passion fruit features one cocktail, and its husk is used as a complementary piece in another. House-made infusions, cordials and tinctures are stored in the bar’s old gin bottles (with 400
How Mid-Levels makes living a well-balanced life easier than ever
‘Work hard, play hard’ takes on new meaning when your playground is the gym and whole foods and a balanced diet give you the fuel to attack the day. There are many factors to optimal wellness other than hitting the gym, though, from being able to let your hair down and enjoy a night out with friends to finding your daily zen in green space or a good café. While Hongkongers know how to enjoy a life well-lived, there has been a steady shift toward a life well-balanced, too. And maybe no neighbourhood offers such a balance as Mid-Levels. Long some of the city’s hottest real estate, Mid-Levels has become the heart of a burgeoning wellness movement. From unrivalled access to green space to vegan cafés, these are some of the ways this neighbourhood helps you live the good life. RECOMMENDED: Look good with Hong Kong's best places to shop activewear and feel good at Hong Kong's best spas.
These women are transforming the drinks business in Hong Kong
Nothing makes Stella Lo and Ashley Tam’s blood boil like being asked to suggest a beer that ‘girls’ would want to drink. “‘You’re a woman, why do you drink dark beers?’ We get asked that question all the time,” Lo says. “We launched a birthday cake-flavoured stout at the Wine & Dine Festival last year. Women loved it,” adds Tam. The two are sitting at the bar at Big Sur, sharing bottles of barrel-aged imperial stouts, discussing issues they face as women working customer-facing jobs in the beer industry. Lo and Tam – respectively brand ambassador and marketing executive for pioneering Hong Kong craft brewery Young Master – spend their days with Hong Kong’s network of bar owners, bartenders and food and beverage managers. Most look right past their gender, but not all are open-minded. Only moments earlier, one client (unrelated to Big Sur) had remarked to Tam: “You don’t look like you drink beer.” That client was a woman. Image: CS While Hong Kong may be an ostensibly free and equal society, gender gaps exist. Roughly 16 percent of the Legislative Council is made up of women, for example, and Hong Kong has yet to address its persistent pay divide. According to a 2018 report by human resources consultancy Willis Towers Watson, that gap widens as workers grow old. By the age of 60, women make about half of what men earn each year ($322,000 versus $618,000, on average). The drinks business is no exception. Statistics are hard to come by, but only 33 percent of management positio
This festival unites craft beer and indie music like never before
Hong Kong has had plenty of great concerts with boring beers over the years, not to mention some tremendous beer festivals with less-than-stellar music. This summer, Beer We Go and This Town Needs hope to finally give you both at the same time. On July 20 and 21, the organisers of last year’s Great Hong Kong Craft Beer Festival are hosting a revamped festival, now dubbed Beer We Go, at This Town Needs that caters to both beer geeks and indie scenesters. Beers from 15 different craft breweries – including many that have never before been available in Hong Kong – are being paired with the sound and style of 10 bands playing live over four different sessions. On the bill are local indie acts Jonathan Yang (the bassist in David Boring, one of the best known bands on the indie scene) and Raw Track, as well as emerging artists from Japan and Taiwan, like Stuts and Mary See The Future. Sound complicated? It isn’t. Each four-hour-long session is dedicated to a different genre of music (loosely categorised here as pop rock, hip hop, electronic and noise rock, and punk). While the bands play, brewers pour the beers they believe are best suited to the tunes. Whatever your opinion of the pairings, the beer and music should be special in their own right. In the lead-up to Beer We Go, Time Out talked to Alan Cheung, one of the organisers of Beer We Go, to get his thoughts on craft beer and remaining independent in Hong Kong. How has the craft beer scene evolved over the past five years
Best restaurants in Quarry Bay and Tai Koo
Quarry Bay and Tai Koo don't get the love they deserve when it comes to eating and drinking. They may not be at the top of everyone's list, but these districts in the east end of Hong Kong Island have some of Hong Kong's best restaurants, not to mention tremendous mom-and-pop shops as well as some of the best cafés and coffee shops and one of the best rooftop bars in the city. Whether you're fuelling up before a hike or looking for a fun night out far from the madding crowd, check out these great restaurants, bars and cafés in Quarry Bay and Tai Koo. RECOMMENDED: Get off the beaten path and visit some other equally underrated neighbourhoods. Start with up-and-coming Tsuen Wan in the New Territories.
Hong Kong's best summer beer events
It's a big couple of months for beer drinkers. From now through July, Hong Kong is playing host to dozens of world-class craft brewers and serving some of their best beers at tap takeovers and festivals from Quarry Bay to Kennedy Town to Tsim Sha Tsui across the harbour. That starts with tap takeovers at Alvy's and Second Draft on May 23 and picks up steam with the Young Master Beer Invitational on May 25-26 and the Tong Chong Street Beer Festival the following week. Prepare your livers. There are some fantastic beer events coming down the pipeline. RECOMMENDED: Gain a deeper appreciation of craft at some of Hong Kong's best beer bars.
The 9 best bars in Sai Ying Pun
It may be a whole lot quieter than its neighbours to the east, but Sai Ying Pun still has plenty of places where you can get a good drink. Indeed, Hong Kong's residential oasis even has a couple of top cocktail spots, including one of the best gin joints on the island in Ping Pong 129 and an outpost of Bali's coolest beach club, Potato Head. Who would've thunk it? Actually, if you've spent any amount of time in Sai Ying Pun at all, the answer to that (rhetorical) question would be you. From colourful street art to high-quality coffee to a measure of authenticity in the form of bustling wet markets and dried seafood shops, this neighbourhood has it all. If you're looking for an alternative to the nightlife in Central and Sheung Wan, head out to Sai Ying Pun and see what this district has to offer. RECOMMENDED: Don't stop at Sai Ying Pun. Drink your way across our SAR, seeing how many of our favourite bars you can visit without going broke or battering your liver into oblivion.
The best booze events in Hong Kong this week
It’s a long weekend. That means you can afford to live a little and sleep it off on Saturday and Sunday, right? Or maybe you’re gearing up for Rugby Sevens. Whatever the case, there are several booze events happening this week to get your Sevens weekend started early. Whisky pop-ups, craft beer launches at the newly opened TAP, wine dinners, sake tasting at Sake Central and so much more. There's a lot going on this week. Remember to drink responsibly, whatever your poison of choice may be. Recommended: Don't stray too far from the fun. Check out these top bars near the Sevens action this weekend.
Hong Kong's most unusual drinking and dining experiences
Leave it to Hong Kong to turn chores, shopping and art gallery-hopping into opportunities to eat and drink. Or to tie in spa treatments, fortune-telling and magic tricks as part of your meal. A café within a laundry shop. A whisky bar hidden inside a barbershop. A manicure and massage while you queue for your Sichuan hot pot. Why not? Hong Kong is constantly transforming the way we interact with food and drinks, reminding us that both are pretty much woven into the fabric of our everyday lives. Whether it’s Moksa, which offers fresh immunity-boosting juices and aromatherapy while you get your nails done, or Strokes, which combines cocktails, craft beer and elevated dishes with the most unlikely of leisure activities – mini golf - Hong Kong business owners always keep us on our toes. Here are some of our favourite places to go for more than just food and drinks. Recommended: If you're into quirky crossovers, you might also enjoy spending an afternoon at the city's first Shiba café.
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Kinship 位於一間商業大廈三樓，位置非常隱蔽。餐廳是由兩位資深廚師兼好友，前 Lily＆Bloom 總廚 Chris Grare 和前 Gough's on Gough 行政總廚 Arron Rhodes 以「家庭」主題合力開辦。家庭不單單是指父母，無論是顧客、員工、朋友等也能能透過美食連結成為家人，餐廳貫徹「farm to table」的理念，兩位廚師重視與家庭式經營的在地農場，並與不少外國供應商關係密切，故所有食材也能追索源頭，包保食材新鮮並獲合法地採購，食客可放心食用。 除了食材優質，菜式方面，餐廳以健康的鄉村家庭風味為主，提供多國口味如印尼、意大利、日本料理等，大廚也用上不少果酸及醋入饌，如充滿色彩的 Hamachi Crudo（$140），油甘魚魚生配以吞拿魚和鯷魚香醋，加上鬆脆的大蒜油煎麵包塊和自家發酵的紅蘿蔔絲，味道清新自然；另一款必試的 Chicken Liver Mousse（$110）是一種美味的肉醬，略帶提子乾味，搭配酸青瓜粒及蘿蔔仔片同吃，充滿驚喜，最後再品嚐自家製燕麥餅乾，更能帶出其味道。 另外，餐廳也有不少肉類選擇，侍應跟我們推介人氣 Sticky BBQ Pork Belly（$228），香烤五花腩烤得鬆軟酥香，淋上日式高湯，正好中和了油膩感，是餐廳的招牌菜；想清淡一點，可試 The Seared Sea Bass ($250) ，鱸魚配上黑蒜蓉及時令蔬菜，味道清新但層次豐富。推介大家一定要試 Ponzu-fried Brussels Sprouts（$78），味道濃郁，滋味獨特。 如果你自問是夜鬼，Kinship 營業至深夜，現場也有 hip hop 音樂，環境舒服，雞尾酒（$88）也十分不錯。這裏用心、大膽創作的菜式，必令你一試難忘。
最近有不少知名的過江龍食府來港開店，令一眾食饕期待萬分，米芝蓮食府 Sushi Zo 便是其一。Sushi Zo 在世界各地均設有分店，而洛杉磯、紐約、東京和曼谷的分店更獲評為當地最佳廚師發辦（Omakase），因而聲名大噪。伴隨 Sushi Zo 來港的，還有餐廳毗鄰的雞尾酒吧 Gishiki Lounge，名氣雖不及 Sushi Zo，但路遙知馬力，深信有實力的酒吧團隊很快便能向大家證明自己並非「搭單」來港。 不少網民以「史無前例」或是以「雞尾酒救世主」等字眼來吹捧 Gishiki Lounge，不過這些說法其實有點誇張。其實不用想太多，先去試一試，才能親自感受這間新酒吧。 雖然 Gishiki Lounge 也不算是 speakeasy，但它隱藏在大館內的一角，經過大館的群眾未必會留意到它。酒吧用上深綠色的長窗簾，感覺有點像日本能劇劇院，酒吧中央位置掛有獨特的面具裝飾，右邊為女子容貌，左邊則為怨靈「般若」之面，酒吧檯則用上黑色雲石，配上金色及綠色的裝潢，與詭秘的日本怨靈的傳説相呼應，為酒吧的神秘氣氛添上幾分驚悚。 酒吧團隊跟壽司師傅合作無間，除了酒單上所推廣的「雞尾酒發辦」外，這裏也有12款自家品牌的日式雞尾酒，如用上日本的苦艾酒及松茸等食材，並以虹吸式萃取來調配的雞尾酒等，價錢也比較相宜。我先點呈黃色的 The Kusa（$128），以氈酒作基調，再加入 cocalero（由古柯葉子淬煉而成的酒，在日本酒吧非常流行）、柚子和香草，味道清新；相反 Jinsei（$148）味道比較強烈，走 Bitter & Sweet 風格，以純米清酒作基調，配合啤酒花酒、Guillaumette Genepi 利口酒（與 Nardini Rabarbaro 利口酒，清酒的甜度亦帶來不俗的平衡。 整體上雞尾酒也十分不俗，但最令人讚歎的是酒吧團隊，其細心、誠實、有禮、以服務客人為至上的態度。酒吧保持一個低調的格局，遠離煩囂世界，來充一充電，最好不過。
Keen observers of Hong Kong construction may have noticed the ground floor of the royal blue budget hotel LBP in Sheung Wan undergoing a facelift this summer. Outside hung a black sign promising that a new Pirata group concept would open soon. All of a sudden – perhaps even while the paint was still drying inside – that new concept revealed itself to be two: an upscale-casual izakaya called Honjo and its less fussy little sibling TMK. Short for Temakeria, TMK bills itself as a ‘punk rocker’ of a venue that’s ‘unapologetically loud’ and good for a wild night out in the neighbourhood. The paradox, of course, is that by proclaiming yourself punk rock you automatically disqualify yourself from being punk rock. TMK has gone for it, though. The walls have been sticker-bombed and graffitied and there’s a faux tattoo parlour outside the bathroom – carefully curated rough edges that make you feel as if you’ve stepped inside a dive bar that’s bleached itself clean of all the divey-ness. There’s even a custom Japanese motorcycle encased in glass. It’s an odd touch, although it is fun to admire while you’re seated at the sake bar in the centre of the restaurant. All of this for temaki-style sushi rolls, too. If you’re scratching your head, don’t. The restaurant is going for a toned-down, T-shirt-and-jeans kind of atmosphere that complements the fancier Honjo upstairs, which is itself a playful spin on contemporary Japanese cuisine and culture. Instead of thinly sliced wagyu in chorizo
Mana!, torchbearers of the ‘fast slow food’ movement, have just opened a third location. And this one is big. As in, 1,600-square-feet big. With this new space located opposite Three Pacific Place in Wan Chai, the plant-based, zero-waste specialists finally have a flagship. It’s a little different from the other two. For starters, neither the shop in Central nor the café in Poho have air-conditioning, but this one (thankfully) does. And while the shop in Central draws grab-and-go crowds and the Poho outlet shuts down before dinner, the Wan Chai branch offers a community space that stays open until 9pm. Not in a rush? Grab a book from the shelf, many of which deal with sustainability and food issues. If you have work to do, plug your laptop into the wall outlets. Mana! Starstreet invites all members of the ‘tribe’ to linger. In fact, founder Bobsy Gaia expects to host events here, from talks to music performances to film screenings. But this new community and dining space is only part of the equation. Mana! has quietly – although very transparently – been building a movement, and now it’s starting to come to fruition. The day before we meet with Gaia and his four like-minded managers over Gin & Kombuchas ($80) and Babylon! Brews ($60) – a crisp, non-GMO, gluten-friendly pale ale made in collaboration with Black Kite Brewery – the group had just pitched for funding at the Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund. That stems from an initiative they launched in 2018. Mana! sources biodegrada
In these parts, rarely does a restaurant fly under the radar. Most are backed by one of a handful of noteworthy food and beverage groups or repped by marketing agencies that flood inboxes to make sure no opening goes unreported. That’s what makes Cardamon Street such a breath of fresh air. The Indian restaurant on Elgin Street arrived with hardly a whisper. No press releases, no marketing campaigns, no news at all. One day it simply opened, and that was that. Cardamon Street doesn’t necessarily stand alone, though. It’s the second restaurant from banker-turned-restaurateur Tina Sekharan. The other, Masala Train in Wan Chai, is a hidden gem, serving homestyle Indian food for takeout prepared without artificial colours or flavourings. Sekharan has carried over that focus on all-natural ingredients to Cardamon Street, her first proper sit-down restaurant. While it might be more upscale than Masala Train, you can still leave your Oxford shoes at home. There’s a bare-bones bar in the back of the room and out in front a dog-friendly porch that faces Fini’s across the street. On the walls hang posters of colourful mandalas and elephants and other Indian iconography. Sure, the artwork swims in South Asian clichés, but it keeps the atmosphere casual, pleasant and unpretentious all the same. With the food, Cardamon Street aims for something a little fancier than your average takeaway curries and samosas. In a follow-up e-mail, Sekharan says she was inspired by her Indian heritage as we
The first venture outside of Singapore for star chef Julien Royer lands at PMQ, taking over the spot vacated by Aberdeen Street Social. Louise serves French dishes inspired by Royer's childhood, including some riffs on family recipes. The space, designed by Andre Fu, replicates an old colonial home, with the centrepiece being a grand staircase connecting a tropical lounge on the ground level with an opulent all-day dining room on the second floor. When Julien Royer announced his intentions to open his first venue outside of Singapore in Hong Kong, fresh off his flagship restaurant Odette being crowned Asia’s best in early 2019, he promised a more down-to-earth experience. Not just for diners – who in today’s fast-paced, focus-deficient world are demanding a less stuffy and formal brand of fine dining – but for himself as well. Louise was meant to be a tribute to his upbringing, a chance to champion heritage recipes born out of his nostalgia for family meals on the farm in Cantal, France. It’s all that and more. Dining at Louise does feel like dining at a family member’s house, if your family owned a plantation and this was French Indochina. The food is hearty and approachable, the wine list long and exceptional, and the design, devised by architect André Fu, at once subtropical, opulent and playful. Fu turned the Grade II historic building at PMQ previously occupied by Aberdeen Street Social into a fictional private home. The ground-floor bar and casual dining space, which se
Sake producers are revamping their industry to stave off its decline. You would be forgiven for not noticing the decline. In Hong Kong, sake seems to be on the rise. Under the stewardship of resident Sake Samurai Elliot Faber (more on him later), hot spots like Yardbird, Ronin and Sake Central have helped skew our perception of the drink for the better. In Japan, however, sake is rapidly losing ground to other adult beverages, like wine and craft beer. To rekindle an industry that has over 2,000 years of history, Japanese producers are trying to export sake culture to places like, well, here. It helps that we have Faber banging the drum for the drink. So far, the Canadian sake expert has given Yardbird an edge (as if it needed one) by developing a killer sake programme. He has authored a critically acclaimed book titled Sake: The History, Stories and Craft of Japan’s Artisanal Breweries. He opened Sake Central in 2017. And now he and his group have launched a new project, Saketen. Nestled behind the ramen restaurant Nojo in an alley off Pottinger Street, Saketen diverges from Faber’s other projects in a few notable ways. For one, it’s a bar, plain and simple. Saketen stays open until 2am and tends to attract after-dinner groups or crowds crawling out of neighbouring watering holes like The Iron Fairies and J. Boroski. It’s small and intimate, and the design is absolutely magnetic, even from the outside – the walls and floor are filled out with pebbles that evoke the look and
Taqueria Super Macho
Hong Kong has a complicated relationship with tacos. They’re often soggy and insipid or tiny and overpriced. Taqueria Super Macho, however, hopes to hit the sweet spot between high- and lowbrow, serving tacos inspired by Mexico’s coastal cuisine in a lively but casual atmosphere. ‘Lively but casual’ might be an understatement, though. Every time the door opens, the floor and bar staff shout ‘¡Bienvenidos!’ And, frequently, the corrido music pumping through the speakers is broken by the unmistakable saxophone riff of Tequila Song by The Champs and the room erupts in a chorus of ‘¡tequila!’ The margarita pitchers are novelty-sized sharing glasses. Sombreros appear on strangers’ heads. It is, in short, a fiesta. And the drinks keep partygoers well-lubricated. The margaritas – classic, passion fruit or mango, on the rocks or frozen ($88) – are potent and delicious. Five house cocktails, including a riff on the Michelada called Viva México ($88), provide an alternative to margaritas and run-of-the-mill Mexican lagers like Pacífico, Dos Equis, Corona and Modelo Negra ($58 each, or $298 for a bucket of six). While the vibe may be more Señor Frog’s than Frontera Grill, when it comes to food expect more than you would get from your standard cantina. Black Sheep Restaurants founder Christopher Mark and development chef Billy Otis spent months scouring the Mexican coast, sampling taco after taco in search of culinary inspiration. They returned to Hong Kong with recipes that seem simple
Inside many of us there exists a burning desire to connect with our roots. Most people will never fulfil that desire. Chef Que Vinh Dang, however, is not most people. Born in Vietnam and raised in New York, where he learned classical French cooking and cut his teeth under culinary icons Geoffrey Zakarian and Rocco DiSpirito, the chef has returned to his roots with his latest restaurant, Nhau. Dang, for the uninitiated, was behind two popular but now defunct Hong Kong restaurants showcasing French techniques and contemporary American cooking: TBLS and Quest by Que. After closing Quest, the chef took a two-and-a-half-year hiatus from the dining scene before opening Nhau in 2019. Rather than reverting to the broad spectrum of Western flavours again, the chef looked to the country of his birth for a fresh angle. If that wasn’t obvious in the name – Nhau translates to ‘together’, as in to eat and drink together – it should become clear as soon as you step foot in the dining room. From the rattan chairs and hand-painted ceramic tiles to the pastel yellow walls, a colour favoured by French colonialists, the design screams ‘Southeast Asia’. The beautiful aesthetics, as well as the tucked-away location just off Upper Lascar Row, are pure bait for well-heeled socialites. Never mind the décor and crowds, though. The food transcends them all. Nhau packs a lot of punch into a one-page menu. Sour, spicy, salty, funky, fresh – every dish captures that distinct blend of disparate flavours th
There was nothing quiet about the opening of Silencio. One of the city’s most talked about new tables generated tons of hype this spring. Perhaps with good reason. The restaurant, billed as a sort of contemporary izakaya and jazz bar rolled into one, is part of the Le Comptoir group. And that group recently got the city’s ears perked up when one of its projects, Ecriture, earned two Michelin stars in an unusually short amount of time. As in, less than a year after opening. But one restaurant can only ride the coattails of another so far. Though backed by a red-hot restaurant group, Silencio too often falls flat when it has to speak for itself. Silencio occupies what used to be the second floor of Lily & Bloom in LKF Tower. Oddball artwork by Japanese artist Tomoo Gokita decorates the walls, including a provocative portrait of two topless gaijin in the entryway. Gokita’s greyscale aesthetic works like a foil to the restaurant’s gold accents — gold fabrics, gold chopsticks, black paint oozing down gold walls, all of which work together to set a swank tone. In the back of the dining space stands a band that belts out smooth jazz. If you’re into the music, get a seat at the bar, where you can watch the band without having to crane your neck or lean your body across the table. While it's certainly chic, the setting might be a bit too polished for its own good, the very idea of an izakaya spit-shined to a treacly sheen. But the design isn’t what you’re after anyway. You're here fo
The most talked-about bar in Hong Kong this summer has finally opened
If, like us, you have been strolling past H Code on the reg this month, hoping to find that the summer’s most buzzworthy new bar had opened its doors overnight, you can rest easy: Tell Camellia is officially open for business. The bar, a quasi-hideaway located at the back of the red-hot F&B hub (see: The Chicken Bar, Saketen), brings together two acclaimed figures in the Hong Kong bar scene in Sandeep Hathiramani and Gagan Gurung. You might know them as the founder of Gin Festival HK and the bar manager at Fang Fang, respectively. Both have more accolades to their credit than we care to list here. It suffices to say that they’re pretty good at what they do. Tell Camellia has a very distinct focus: tea. Each cocktail – or ‘teatail’, if you will – is named after the origin of the tea blend it features. For example, the Australia is built with Yalangi Rain Tea from the northern reaches of Queensland, as well as Tim Tams, clarified strawberry, blue cheese, whisky and a garnish of bite-sized koala biscuits. Sounds a bit like an upscale version of a dinner you might have made for yourself when you were in uni, doesn’t it? Other regions highlighted include Kenya, Turkey, Japan and Sri Lanka, and unusual ingredients like milk wine, plankton and raki (an anise-flavoured liqueur popular in Turkey) all make an appearance. Equally attention-grabbing are the T&Ts – herbal teas re-distilled with gin and paired with boutique tonics. Italian almond and truffle T&T, anyone? The price tag p
Hong Kong gets its first-ever rum festival this September
Tired of gin, want a shake-up from craft beer? Then good news: the first ever Hong Kong Rum Week is spreading the gospel of the sugarcane-based spirit from September 2 to 8. Curated by Hong Kong Rum Fest, the week-long boatless booze cruise is stacked with activities and events. Those run the gamut from meet-and-greets with movers and shakers in the industry to masterclasses offering free rum samples to the ‘Rum Run’, a bar crawl complete with stamps you can collect to be eligible for prizes. The list of bars participating in Rum Week is a veritable who’s who, including Employee’s Only, Honi Honi, Potato Head, Stockton, The Sea, The Wise King and Whisky & Words, which is evidently going off-brand for the occasion. A bunch of visiting bartenders are doing guest shifts, and global ambassadors will also bring rare and exclusive rums from all over the world to the city – from Nicaragua’s Flor de Caña to Bermuda’s Gosling Black Seal and the Philippines’ Don Papa. Drop by the opening party at Honi Honi, starting at 6pm on September 2, to try Hong Kong’s first rum. Honi Honi produced the rum in collaboration with New Grove Mauritian Rum, a distillery that boasts over 150 years in the industry. The Honi Honi rum was distilled in French oak barrels from a 2015 vintage and then aged one-and-a-half months for its first batch, four months for its second and six months for its third. These should make for a fine addition to Honi Honi’s current collection of more than 230 rums.
Popular Sheung Wan hideaway Mrs Pound is closing this month
After five years in operation, Sheung Wan hideaway Mrs Pound is closing its doors for the final time on August 25. The venue, which helped usher in the short-lived but successful ‘secret bar’ trend, became pretty well-known for its fake-locksmith shopfront and fictional backstory. Once you manage to push the right lock to open the door, you enter the teal and hot pink chambers of Mrs Pound, a former burlesque dancer from Shanghai who absconded with her married lover to Hong Kong, where they opened this clandestine joint. If you haven’t visited yet, check it out before the bar closes. It’s lively and fun and the food and drinks are quality, drawing inspiration from street food cultures across Asia. For example, the Set B ($130), a cocktail made with satay beef fat-washed Chinese kao-liang, dill and earl grey tea syrup, lemon, umami bitters and black pepper. There’s also an excellent happy hour, with cocktails starting from $60 from 5pm to 7pm. Edit: we’ve been informed that the happy hour is no more. Fear not, fans of bars with fictional origin stories: Mrs Pound might not go the way of the dodo. The owners are currently looking for a new home. Stay tuned to see where the Shanghainese lovers land next.
Get a sneak peek of Soho House before it opens this summer
If you’re a Soho House member, you’ve no doubt been eagerly awaiting the opening of the hospitality brand’s Hong Kong location in Sheung Wan. If you aren’t a member, you may have heard whispers about the famously cool and exclusive members’-only club for people who work in the creative industries. Or you haven’t. In which case, here’s a primer: Soho House was founded in London in 1995 as a private sanctuary for creative types, and the brand has since opened 23 other clubs in Europe, North America and Asia, along with restaurants, workspace, spas, cinemas and more. Soho House Hong Kong has been in the works for a while, and now the project is nearly complete. The first Soho House in East Asia, the club occupies a 28-storey skyscraper in Sheung Wan. It features a design imbued with local elements, like colour palettes and references to the filmography of Wong Kar-Wai as well as a permanent art collection focused on artists born or raised in Hong Kong. Soho House Hong Kong Like Soho Houses elsewhere, Hong Kong’s club has been developed with the comfort of the creative community that belongs to it in mind. Facilities include a pool room, a few private dining rooms, a three-floor gym and a nine-floor co-working space. Sure beats your average co-working space, doesn’t it? Plus there are members’-only events running the gamut from film, music and fashion to wellness and design. Soho House Hong Kong In the lead-up to the launch, the club is organising a series of events with par
Young Master is giving away 1,000 free beers right now
Attention beer geeks: as a token of appreciation for its fans, Hong Kong craft brewery Young Master is giving away 1,000 beers this summer. That’s right: free beer, the most beautiful combination of words in the English language. There’s no catch, either. Just follow the instructions on this Facebook post and you’ll get a voucher sent to your inbox. With that, you can claim a free large pour of Young Master beer at TAP in Mong Kok, TAP at The Mills in Tsuen Wan, Second Draft, Alvy’s, Big Sur or Goon Goon, the craft brewery’s new outlet in Shenzhen. The promo runs from now until September 15, but you had better act fast. Within hours of announcing the promo on Facebook, over half of the free beers had already been claimed. If you miss out, though, worry not. On August 29, Second Draft is throwing a party to celebrate its second birthday. We suspect the beers will be flowing, and you can pretty much rest assured there will be some freebies and deals, too. Stay tuned for more news about that event.
Burger Circus is popping up at TST, but only until August 11
To be honest, the headline pretty much says it all. Burger Circus, Central’s fun and funky American-style diner, is whipping up fresh, hot burgers and French fries at La Vache in Tsim Sha Tsui. You have to act fast, though. Not only is the Burger Circus team only serving from 12pm until they sell out each day, the pop-up will also only run until August 11. It’s a sweet deal. A burger combo (i.e., a signature Classic burger with fries and a soft drink) will set you back only $100. At the location in Central, that same set goes for $143 plus service. The burgers are legit, too. The patties are formed from 5oz (140g) of freshly ground USDA-certified prime chuck, grilled to order and served on a toasted bun with lettuce, tomato, pickles and Circus sauce. Wonder what the sauce is all about? You’ll have to try one of the burgers to find out for yourself. All we can tell you is it’s a little sweet, a little spicy and precisely what you want on your patty. While you’re at it, you might as well make a day (or night) out of it and check out some of TST’s top bars.
Long-awaited omakase restaurant Sushi Zo finally opens in Tai Kwun
Way back in April, we had mentioned that the latest branch of Michelin-starred Sushi Zo was about to open in Hong Kong, launching a nifty-looking cocktail bar called Gishiki Lounge alongside it. Long story short, there have been a few delays to the project, and evidently we jumped the gun. Whoops. In any case, the long-awaited omakase joint has finally arrived. Like, for real this time. After taking Tokyo, Bangkok, New York and Los Angeles by storm, Sushi Zo now brings personalised, 18-course dinners featuring premium Japanese fish and ingredients to Tai Kwun. (As is the norm these days, the restaurant flies fresh produce from Japan to Hong Kong every morning.) The team is led by head chef Fumio Azumi, who works with two executive chefs to create elaborate meals for a maximum of 12 guests during two seatings each night. If you crunch the numbers, you should realise that means each night there are only 24 spots. So, yeah, it will be a hot seat. The 18 courses change daily, but you can expect different kinds of soup, sashimi, nigiri, temaki and desserts for the $2,500 you’re throwing down to eat here. Obviously, that description oversimplifies the experience. Your dinner might include fresh slices of sought-after Japanese blue fish (kuromutsu), caught fresh from off the coast of Shizuoka; nigiri made from Nagasaki o-toro (fatty tuna) topped with Australian black winter truffle; or a trio of uni, including a strip of seared red uni. Two hours of bacchanalia not enough for you?
Cap a summer full of beer festivals at Yardley Brothers’ ‘Art of Craft’
There are an awful lot of beer festivals in Hong Kong these days. Not that we’re complaining. The more, the merrier, as far as we’re concerned. This summer alone, we’ve already had two major festivals. First there was the Young Master Beer Invitational, which showcased hundreds of beers from nearly two dozen world-class craft breweries at House 1881, and then came Beer We Go, a first-of-its-kind festival in Hong Kong that paired craft beer with music performed live by indie acts from around Asia. Now comes a third: Art of Craft, hosted by Hong Kong craft brewery Yardley Brothers on August 31. Held at Asia Society, Art of Craft features the rarest and most inventive beers from 11 craft breweries in Asia and beyond. Those include Mikkeller (Denmark), Heart of Darkness (Vietnam), Glass Hammer Brewery (China), Moondog (Australia), Three Ravens (Australia) and Smedsbo Slott (Sweden), as well as Hong Kong’s own Carbon Brews, Heroes, Moonzen, Young Master and Yardley Brothers. Lambics, wheatwhines and brut IPAs – sour, spontaneously fermented, barrel-aged and smoked – the beer list is wild and varied, and yet there should be plenty of accessible options for newcomers to craft beer. The breweries won’t just be pouring boundary-pushing beers, though. They will also be displaying unique works of art that reflect the spirit of their brands. See something you like? You might be able to buy it. A range of original prints from artists like Ben Appleby, the visual mastermind behind Yardley
Cali-Mex is giving away free burritos on July 4
Go-to Mexican joint Cali-Mex is helping you celebrate the fourth of July in the most American way possible: by throwing down on free burritos. In a deal that is, in actuality, only tangentially related to the American Independence Day holiday, the Kowloon Bay location of Cali-Mex is saying thanks for your collective support over the years by giving away free burritos from 10:30am until 9pm on July 4. There's a limit of one burrito per person – chicken, beef or veggie – and it can only be redeemed in store at the Kowloon Bay Cali-Mex (that's the one inside the Exchange Tower). The deal is going down all day, though, so there's no rush to get there. And, in case you plan on getting real patriotic, know that the restaurant does sell bottles of Budweiser. 'Murica.
Raise a glass and raise money for charity during Negroni Week
Negroni Week is back and more bitter than ever. (Get it? ...because Campari is a kind of bitters? ...no?) Anyway, now in its seventh year, Negroni Week returns to Hong Kong from June 24 to 30, with bars across the SAR raising money for charity while serving special takes on the timeless cocktail. Employees Only, The Wise King, Terrible Baby, The Sea, The Wilshire – some of most popular bars in Hong Kong are riffing on the classic blend of Campari, vermouth and gin throughout the week and then donating a portion of the sales to their charity of choice. Last year, over 10,000 venues in 87 countries participated in Negroni Week, together raising over $4.5 million for charitable causes across the globe. The bar has been set high, but there's reason to believe this year's Negroni Week will be momentous in any event. That's because 2019 marks 100 years since the Negroni was invented. According to the origin story, an Italian count named Camillo Negroni strolled into a bar in Florence and asked for the bartender to fortify his favourite cocktail, the Americano, by switching out the soda water for gin. The barman added an orange slice for garnish, and ecco, as it were: you’ve got yourself the Negroni we know and love today. There's a lot happening this week, from Kennedy Town to Kowloon. For the full list of participating venues and their chosen charities, visit here. Below is a handful of highlights. 208 Duecento Otto – JIA x Campari Fundraiser Krzysztof Gora; 208 Duecento Otto
Shake Shack pays it forward with free milkshakes this summer
Shake Shack tends to be synonymous with excess. Starting Monday, June 24, however, the burger chain wants you to shift your focus to the fight against hunger in Hong Kong. The Great Hong Kong Shake Sale, running from June 24 until July 12, is a company-wide initiative supporting local non-profit Feeding Hong Kong. For donating $30 or more to the charity at either Shake Shack location – ifc or Pacific Place – you’ll get a voucher for a free hand-spun shake (valued at up to $48) that’s redeemable on your next visit. As part of the initiative, Shake Shack is introducing three new shake flavours, too: marshmallow chocolate chip, mocha cookies and cream, and chocolate brownie. The milkshake is really just a perk, though. The real nourishment you’re getting in this exchange comes from supporting Feeding Hong Kong. Consider this: each day, we send 3,600 tonnes of food to local landfills, and yet one in five people here lives under the poverty line. To help correct that imbalance, the non-profit collects high-quality surplus food from farms, manufacturers, distributors and retailers, and then redistributes it to over 100 registered charities that deliver it to the people who need it most. It’s a cost-effective, sustainable way to support the community. And while $30 might not seem like much, that amount can provide a meal to six people here.
Get a tattoo, buy local fashion and chill out to DJs at this weekend market
Celebrate all things Hong Kong on June 2 at Colony Kids Market: Local Local. Held at Eaton HK from 12pm-7pm, the market shines the spotlight on independent local designers, musicians, vinyl record vendors, photographers, non-profits, artists and more. The market is spread out across the fourth floor of co-working club Eaton House and the terrace at Eaton HK’s live music venue Terrible Baby. The two dozen or so vendors setting up here include ethical fashion brand Basics for Basics, all-natural soap maker Naaj Studios, tattoo studio Star Crossed Tattoo and thrift store-slash-café Mum’s Not Home. Craft beer cocktails, wine, food and DJ sets give you a reason to linger a while as well. A glass of wine, live tunes and fresh air on the terrace? Sounds like a great time. It gets even better when you remember that you’re supporting independent local businesses. This is the first of several markets planned to be held at Colony Kids, Eaton HK’s ground-floor shop showcasing products from local creators. Entry is free for this one, but all guests are asked to RSVP on the event's Facebook page.