The best French toast in Hong Kong
Café Gray Deluxe If you’re looking for a slightly more upmarket brunch experience, look no further than Café Gray Deluxe. On the 49th floor of The Upper House, you’ll be met with stunning views of the harbour. The eatery doesn’t serve your average French toast – this one is a Nutella-filled brioche served with a sour cherry compote. Compared to others it’s expensive, but definitely worth trying. $150. 49/F, The Upper House, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, 3968 1106; cafegrayhk.com. Classified With nine outlets across the city, Classified is never too far away for a toasty delight. Dished up with fresh banana and oodles of maple syrup, it’s the most convenient place to get your French toast fix. Not to mention the relaxed interiors make it the ideal place to unwind with this indulgent treat. $46. Various locations inc 108 Hollywood Rd, Sheung Wan, 2525 3454; classifiedfood.com. La Cabane Spoil yourself with the traditional French toast, AKA pain perdu, at this quintessentially French restaurant. Putting a twist on the French toast that we know and love, the sweet is made with baguettes instead of sliced bread. The restaurant itself offers a little je ne sais quoi; with stripped back interiors exposing original brick and distressed timber, you can imagine yourself in a little hideaway bistro in Paris’ bohemian Latin Quarter. $65. 62 Hollywood Rd, Central, 2776 6070. Man Wah Restaurant Not for the health conscious, with lashings of condensed milk and butter this 1.5-inch
Alternative workout ideas in Hong Kong
Keeping fit and working out regularly can sometimes feel like a slog, so it’s important to keep things fresh in order to stay motivated. Thankfully, there are an increasing number of weird and entertaining workouts available. From mermaid swimming to lightsaber fights, here are six fun ways to make exercise feel less of a chore. Can’t take the heat in summer and in need of some air-conditioning? There’s plenty of indoor sports in town or simply head out to the sea for these awesome outdoor watersports.
Antony Micallef on his new exhibition, ‘Raw Intent’
From working in a shed in the back of his parents’ garden to winning the BP Portrait Award, Antony Micallef’s career has gone from strength to strength. Hannah Hodson sits down with the artist to discuss his latest exhibition “I had always wanted to make this work, but I never had the dexterity or the balls,” laments the critically acclaimed Antony Micallef when speaking of his new exhibition, Raw Intent. The collection at Pearl Lam Galleries comprises works built with layer upon layer of oil paint that rise off the canvas into grotesque, almost three dimensional heads, set against 18th-century inspired backgrounds. A ballsy effort, indeed. Micallef’s professional ambition can be traced to growing up in Swindon, a large town just outside of London, which he affectionally mocks as a ‘cultural desert’. “I think when you grow up in those sorts of quite narrow-minded places, where if you’re different in any way you just don’t really fit in, it makes you want to do what you want to do even more, because you want to never really go back,” he reminisces. Despite not coming from an artistic family, Micallef’s talents were always encouraged. In fact, his father, a metal worker, transformed his garden shed into an art studio for him after he graduated from the University of Plymouth. “My parents didn’t ever understand what I was making, but I think [they thought] if I was happy and not outside causing trouble, that was fine,” he says. “But they always wanted me to paint a landscape. Th
Curator Bruno Girveau on HK Heritage Museum's stunning Monet exhibition
Art and culture are being given a certain je ne sais quoi this month in line with Le French May. Hannah Hodson meets curator Bruno Girveau, a man waving the Tricolore high for traditional painting with his stunning Monet exhibition, The Spirit of Place Effet de Printemps à Giverny "It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly,” Claude Monet once said. This belief in deliberation is expertly showcased in The Spirit of Place at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, the latest exhibition to pay homage to the much-admired French impressionist. Curated by Bruno Girveau, director of Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille in France, visitors are taken on Monet’s journey of observation and reflection, from one of his earliest pieces, painted in 1872, right through to a number of mature works created in the 1910s. Featuring 17 paintings, pastels and tapestries, the sheer size of the collection is a feat in itself, and arguably one that only a curator of Girveau’s stature could compile. He comments: “Although it’s obviously not easy to bring 17 of Monet’s art works together within a year, French public museums house many impressionist paintings, and as the Réunion des Musées Nationaux – Grand Palais and I maintain good relations with most of our French colleagues, we managed to get wonderful loans.” In addition to 14 masterpieces flown in from France there are three that have come from an undisclosed private collection here in Hong Kon
The best new gyms and fitness passes in Hong Kong
Hot bodies are hot commodities. Fact. And, in Hong Kong, where finding space to work out or go for a run away from a crowded pavement, can be an impossibility, it’s the perfect place for a growing number of fitness entrepreneurs to capitalise on the gym scene. However, these fit-business gurus need to think outside the treadmill and veer away from the conventional gym experience if they want to make it work in our city of potential workout-aholics. The competitive fitness business trend isn’t exactly new. In the USA, for example, there’s a glut of popular, celebrity-endorsed lifestyle game-changers like SoulCycle and Barry’s Bootcamp. In recent years, Hong Kong has also seen its own share of boutique gyms pop up, like XYZ and Studio Fitness. In these spots, clients pay top dollar to not only work hard and sweat, but to experience something different than the classic work out-on-your-own. In these gyms, the instructors are engaging and charismatic, the space is chic and the classes are supposedly fun (though we’re still dubious of fun workouts). But now the game is changing once again, with the addition of four new gyms that’ve opened their doors across town in the past over the summer. Fight Hard Fitness, Topfit, Spark Fight Fitness and UTime have already been hits with fitness fanatics as they plan to take the ‘different experience’ card to the next level. And we want to find out just how they’re doing it all differently. So we pull on our gym shorts and go along to discover
HK super mums: The ladies balancing successful careers and a busy home life
Not all superheroes wear capes. Working mums do it all and they do so without a murmur of complaint. They’re our favourite kind of superhero. Hannah Hodson chats to 10 women who are at the top of their respective fields and who have got there while raising a family. Photography by Calvin Sit. Art direction by Phoebe Cheng. Special thanks to Indigo Living
Rhyme and reason: Local poets' group Peel Street Poetry turns 10 years old
It’s a Wednesday night in Lan Kwai Fong, but above the usual chaos there’s a slightly more cerebral scene playing out on the second floor in the Orange Peel music lounge. Men and women of all ages step up to a mic to recite poems; their own and ones they love. This is Peel Street Poetry, a weekly poetry group, celebrating its 10th birthday this month and going from strength to strength. Peel Street Poetry was born out of, as can be expected, a passion for poetry – if in a somewhat unconventional fashion. “Nashua Gallagher [the co-founder] was at school at the time,” explains the group’s MC, Henrik Hoeg. “She was really into poetry and had found a poetry event in a bar. She was underage, but went in anyway and claimed she was 28, and they were like ‘okay, no problem’. So she went every week and read poetry, met co-founder Keith [McMullen] and they set this up together. You have to live outside the law sometimes,” jokes Hoeg. Now in their second decade, the group has shuffled around the bars of Soho and Central, from Joyce is Not Here to Peel Fresco and are now based in LKF’s Orange Peel. They boast over 500 followers on Facebook, but things haven’t always been smooth sailing. “Peel Fresco eventually kicked us out because our numbers were dwindling, so when we moved over to Orange Peel I started working on a lot of behind the scenes stuff to get us involved with other events,” reveals Hoeg. “Most notably, this year we got into TEDxWan Chai Women, which was amazing. Four of us
5 fitness trackers to track your exercise
If you take a hike along one of Hong Kong's many trails and don’t Instagram it, does it count? Maybe. But surely you haven’t burned any calories if you haven’t got it recorded on a high tech device. Fortunately, wearable tech is all the rage and the fitness industry has been one of the most ardent early adopters. A host of new gadgets can collect all the information you need to know (and more) about your exercise regime to help you make the most of your workout. It’s a crowded marketplace, but we’re here to help you sort the winners from the losers…
The best outdoor bootcamps in Hong Kong
Bootcamp. The word alone is enough to strike fear into those of us who prefer working out on the dancefloor after a few G&Ts rather than outdoors in 30-degree heat. But bootcamps are currently all the rage and supposedly beneficial for mind, body and soul. Mozzie spray at the ready, we get stuck in and put them to the test…
American portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz on her 17-year project 'Women'
A woman’s work is never done. The same goes for Annie Leibovitz and her exhibition Women: New Portraits, an examination of female identity and the role of women in society. Hannah Hodson meets the legendary photographer and discusses her 17-year project Dressed head to toe in black – her signature look – and sporting a pair of clumpy-looking hiking boots, in a world of glitz and glam, selfies and belfies, it’s easy to forget the significance of world-renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz. With a career that’s taken in everyone from a naked John Lennon to the Queen of England, she comes across as a no-frills character, remarkably free of celebrity pretension. This year marks the revival of Women, the body of work she started in 1999 with her now-deceased collaborator, Susan Sontag. After its January premiere in London, this revamped collection, dubbed New Portraits, is touring the globe. Our city marks the tour's fifth stop, with UBS as commissioning partner of the exhibition. “These are all the new works,” the 66-year-old says, gesturing at a wall on which are pinned some of the world’s most well-known faces. “It’s done really quickly on an instant printer in my office. It’s almost like putting out a magazine. We shoot the pictures and then we just roll them out.” The casual way she describes the production is mirrored in the way the images are displayed. Pinned with simple clear tacks on to a temporary wall, the photographs are divided into rows with packing rope. The laid-
Club Sandwich: The nightclubs where you can grab a bite to eat too
Hong Kong boasts a traditionally tough scene when it comes to the survival of music-centred clubs. But there’s a new trend that could ensure longevity. Anderson Muth chows down and limbers up as he investigates the rise of the dining-meets-nightlife trend Entering 2016, venues that are exclusively dedicated to music continue to struggle to make ends meet in Hong Kong. Rising rents combined with the city’s endless turnover of dancefloor denizens can strain even the most practical of business models and relying on bar sales is a continual challenge when there’s always a 7-Eleven selling cheap drinks nearby. Since a complete overhaul of the city’s capitalistic leanings is somewhat unlikely, a more practical solution is obviously required. Fortunately, several new venues have opened up of late with a similar business model. These nightspots take the essence of a club – live music in some capacity with an accompanying dancefloor – and then inject a fully functioning restaurant into the mix. It’s hardly revolutionary, for sure, but thanks to thoughtful design and some unique concepts, this wave of similarly minded new venues is breathing fresh life into the music scene while also providing independent promoters some much-needed choice. Leading this blend trend are two venues atop the QRE Plaza building in Wan Chai – MyHouse and Mahalo Tiki Lounge. The former is dedicated to both vinyl and wine (featuring an expanding record library and an extensive list, respectively), while the m
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Claude Monet: The Spirit of Place
HK Heritage Museum's Claude Monet exhibition opens in May 2016 and features 16 select works by the impressionist master, including the famous water lilies of 'Nymphéa'.
Almost brand spanking new but not quite, one of Hong Kong’s favourite Italian restaurants has been given a makeover at its new location. Award-winning Australian chef Michael Fox has joined the ranks and injected some creativity into the classic Italian items on his new menu. Each dish is presented beautifully, packed full of colour and constructed like an art installation – if they didn’t smell so delicious we’d be wary of tucking in and destroying them. The new location hits the mark too – think Little Italy bistro meets New York loft. There’s an inside out feeling to it, with an enclosed balcony lined with monochrome tiles and massive windows looking out over Wyndham Street. The service is impeccable too, our waiter seems to know exactly when we are ready to order without hanging over our shoulder. For starters, we opt for buffalo mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes ($138), super simple and an Italian classic, but one that often goes wrong. We’re not disappointed. Tomatoes in every colour – purple, green, red, orange and yellow hold up a generous dollop of mozzarella. It’s fresh, it’s not drowned in balsamic vinegar and we’re drooling for more. Having enjoyed a sizeable starter we go for a relatively light main, the Pan-fried sea bass ($318). It’s not the most generous portion, so without the appetizer we would have definitely needed a side. The fish is cooked to perfection, though, and the mixture of chickpeas with avocado and red pepper results in a creamy, zesty sauce.
The top ten books set in Hong Kong
Our fair city is a director’s favourite when it comes to needing an exotic locale to serve as backdrop. Hong Kong provided inspiration for the look of Ridley Scott’s dystopian Los Angeles in Blade Runner and the city itself has starred in all manner of recent films, from Ghost in the Shell to The Dark Knight. But don’t think Hong Kong doesn’t have literary pedigree too. More than a few famous novels have been set here, and these are just the top 10...1. The Honourable Schoolboy by John le Carré This 1977 spy novel is the middle entry in le Carré’s famous Karla Trilogy, which began with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. The book takes us on a journey through much of Southeast Asia. Through the eyes of George Smiley, caretaker chief of the British secret intelligence service, MI6, our imaginations are filled with scenes of drug smuggling, helicopter rescues and espionage. The language can be a bit jargon heavy, but once you get your head around it you won’t be able to put it down.2. Tai-Pan by James Clavell Filled with backstabbing and libel, Tai-Pan gives us a look at post Opium-War Hong Kong. Set in 1842, the novel follows protagonists Dirk Struan and Tyler Brock, former shipmates turned business rivals, each vying for the title of tai-pan.3. The World of Suzie Wong by Richard Mason Set your sights on the more risqué side of Hong Kong with this gritty romance centred around British artist Robert Lomax and his whirlwind relationship with Hong Kong sex worker Suzie Wong. A roaring suc
Hong Kong's Top 10: Obnoxious number plates
They are ten a penny in Hong Kong, so we've rounded up the absolute worst of the city's most obnoxious number plates 1 GodThere we all were, thinking that god wore gladiator sandals and helped the less fortunate. How wrong we were. He’s in a chauffer-driven Phantom complete with his own number plate. How could we have been so wrong? We thought that ‘SUCCESS’ was bad but really, ‘GOD’? This one’s got his head in the clouds, for sure. 2 WealthyNow who could be behind these wheels, an unassuming altruist who is wealthy in mind and spirit? Or an over paid city boy? Just a hunch, but we’re plumping for the latter. If anyone was in any doubt whether the owner has more money than sense, they’ve left no room for doubt now they’ve stamped ‘WEALTHY’ on to their car. We honestly can’t really think of anything worse. This driver takes top spot on the scale of nought to arrogant. 3 SuccessNothing like the sweet smell of arrogance spelled out on a personalised number plate for all to spot. We’re sensing the proud owner of this pricey piece of plastic is secretly lacking a little confidence, so stamped a reminder on his wheels to say, “You’ve come a long way, baby, keep up the good work.” Go for ‘WORK HARD’ next time – gives off the same message but with a more positive spin. Plus, people won’t think you’re quite as conceited. 4 Handsome Wishful thinking, maybe? When we glimpsed the driver, handsome wasn’t the immediate adjective that sprung to mind – but then maybe he wasn’t the owner
How video game addiction is affecting Hong Kong's youth
Gaming dependency is often a cause and effect of poor academic performance, family problems and mental health issues. Hannah Hodson investigates its repercussions on the city’s youngest generation and whether it links to a recent spate of student suicides From commuters engrossed in Candy Crush and Clash of Clans advertisements wrapped around buses to television commercials for the latest console, video games are everywhere. Indeed, where gaming was once the preserve of geeky Dungeons & Dragons obsessed basement dwellers, it’s now rapidly becoming the norm. But how is this affecting the city’s youngest generation? When does a little down time to play a game turn into something more sinister? As it stands, there is no such thing as a diagnosis for gaming addiction – or, as it’s more commonly known, gaming dependency – but with more and more people, particularly teenagers, devoting their free time to playing games, psychologists and government health organisations are tuning in to the issues that hours spent gaming can cause. In the most recent addition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), gaming dependency was identified in section three as a condition that needed more research before it could be categorised as a formal disorder. Psychologists and families dealing with teenagers suffering from the results of a dependency on gaming are therefore treading uncharted waters. However, it’s a condition that an alarming number of the city’s teenagers