The best coffee shops in Macau
Much has been written about Hong Kong’s booming coffee culture. But what of our sister SAR? Surely Macau is just entertainment complexes and drinking holes, without a cracking coffee house in sight, right? Wrong – there’s a café scene over there that most certainly rivals our own. From artisanal gems to resort-based coffee giants that tout some of the most expensive blends in the world, Macau is fast becoming an Asian leader on the caffeine front. We’ve brewed up our eight favourites for you to check out on your next trip over.
Preview: Macau City Fringe Festival 2017
Make no mistake – Macao’s status as a regional creative hub is steadily growing. Another feather in the proverbial cap is the return this January of the Macau City Fringe Festival. This edition, the 16th all up, is showcasing a seriously exciting range of local and international acts all over town, performing dance works, interactive theatre productions, musical performances and much more. We’ve picked just a few of the highlights for you to add to your calendar.For the full programme, head to macaucityfringe.gov.mo.
Filmmaker Ray Yeung: "I just wanted to show two Asian guys in love"
Sometimes, you have to break trends to make them. And, in his new film Front Cover, that’s exactly what Hong Kong-born filmmaker Ray Yeung has done. The feature tells the story of Ryan Fu (Jake Choi), a gay Chinese American stylist who grew up in New York resentful of his ethnicity. One day, he’s given an assignment styling Ning (James Chen) – patriotic, closeted and one of the biggest actors in China. After a rocky start, they soon fall for one another, leading them to question long-held beliefs and identities. It might sound like your typical boy-meets-boy rom-com but, poigantly, the film eschews the archaic but still all-too-visible practice of so-called ‘whitewashing’. That is, the use of Caucasian actors to play non-Caucasian roles (ScarJo and Matt Damon, we’re very much looking at you). Although a love story at its core, Front Cover – which has screened at more than 30 film festivals the world over, picking up numerous prizes along the way – also explores ideas of self-acceptance through an ethnic lens. Ahead of its Hong Kong run, we talk with Yeung about why filmmaking has served as a form of unwitting therapy and the message in the narrative for Hongkongers. Why was it important that Ryan rejects his Chinese heritage?I think that has a lot to do with my own experience. Growing up when I did in Hong Kong, if you associated with any Chinese culture you’d be told off, but if you associated with English culture you were praised. And when I went to English boarding school,
Thriller Live stars Cleo Higgins and Britt Quentin on their tribute to the King of Pop
A tribute to the late, great Michael Jackson, Thriller Live – the debut show at the newly opened Parisian Macao – has already wowed sell-out crowds over its four-week run. Direct from London's famed Wesst Ed, we sit down with starts Britt Quentin and Cleo Higgins to talk about the show, Michael's legacy, and what it's like to continue the legacy of an artist's artist. How do you approach the challenge of filling the shoes of a legend? And how does it feel to contribute to keeping MJ's legacy going? Quentin: My approach to filling the shoes of a legend is to first remind myself that I will never be Michael Jackson! There will never be another. What I try to do is connect with the magic he was able to bring to his music and his performing. Then I study him and focus on what I can try to recreate both vocally and physically.Higgins: Michael Jackson has been my most influential music artist since I was a baby so it is only natural to me to have some reflection of him in my performance art. Because of this I fit in well with this production where being myself gels so easily into MJ's works respectfully. I do not intend ever to fill his shoes as I believe no person can. I continue however his legacy as his student in some form and carry the same messages he did in his quest to promote love, kindness and taking care of the world through my own music. I am very proud I can still achieve this in his absence. What is your favourite song to perform in the show, and why?Q: My favorite s
Behind the scenes at Pink Dot 2016
When it comes to Hong Kong events, Pink Dot is a rare breed. Despite seemingly being aimed at only a small part of society, the LGBTI pride festival has developed, in just three years, into a city-wide, apolitical, all-inclusive display of diversity, attended by the gay and the not-gay alike. Last year’s Tamar Park edition saw some 15,000 Hongkongers don their pinkest outfits for a day-long carnival for the young and the young-at-heart. We meet event co-directors Betty Grisoni and Brian Leung ahead of this year’s installment – which has outgrown Tamar and is taking place in West Kowloon’s Nursery Park on September 25 – to see how this show of LGBTI support has become more of a Sunday afternoon village. The volunteersThis year, in addition to a core group of organisers, more than 200 volunteers are helping to stage what has quickly become one of the biggest events of any type in Hong Kong. Such is its scale, in fact, that this year’s volunteer numbers more than double last year’s total. “So many people have dedicated so much time to this,” says Grisoni. The makeup of the volunteer corps also reflects Pink Dot’s diversity agenda. “There are lots of different people who volunteer,” Grisoni tells us. “And I know for a fact that not all of them are LGBTI. For me, that’s really touching.” Indeed, it’s the non-LGBTIs that Grisoni, Leung and their team are hoping to get on board – the event’s apolitical nature is, in a way, key to this goal. “In Hong Kong,” says Leung, “we already h
Interview: Coco Pop on Drag Domination, Hong Kong's first drag spectacular
This Friday night, Hong Kong's drag community will gather for an event the likes of which the city hasn't seen before. This Saturday, Drag Domination sees the city's best drag queens take the stage for what promises to be a huge fabulous evening of performances, lip sync battles, and the unveiling of a brand new queen. We spoke with the wonderfully named Coco Pop, a leafing Hong Kong drag figure and one of the organisers of this weekend's event, about what to expect at this loud and proud night out. Hi, Coco! What's Drag Domination all about? It's a bunch of drag queens finding an excuse to have a party. Why now? The LGBT festival season is just beginning. It's time to have some fun, and make history for the local drag culture. Why is this important for Hong Kong?Everyone deserves the chance to be themselves, and drag queens are the perfect example of how to live with confidence, and being fabulous. What sort of obstacles exist for budding Hong Kong drag queens?Finding a stage bigger than 2 square meters! What's drag scene like in Hong Kong?It is glowing slowly and becoming more visible. For the last few years, I've been happy to see more opportunities because of more commercial support, and not just from the local LGBT community. What can we expect to see at Drag Domination?For the first time ever, six talented drag queens lining up together in Hong Kong, and behaving outrageously!
Interview: Racoon Hut on Flying Bear, the first book on Hong Kong bear culture
For better or for worse, labels often lead to stereotypes. But a label can only ever go so far – it tells us little, if anything, about a lived experience. For Hong Kong writer Racoon Hut, the story of Asian bear culture is one that needs to be told. He does just that in his newly released book, Flying Bear, the first to be published in Hong Kong about one of the largest gay subcultures. We talk to him about the stories behind the stereotype... Hi Racoon! Tell us about Flying Bear...There are three parts. The first is fiction, where a young bear falls in love with a GV [gay pornographic] actor in Japan. The second part is poetry. And the third part is a diary I kept between 2003 and 2012, when I studied in Japan and Australia for my master’s degree. So this book is from the perspective of a Hong Kong bear but it also touches on different bear societies in Asia. Is the book just for bears, then?I don’t want it to just be for bears. Some [non-bear] people also like fat people. I want people to know that not everyone in the world is trying to keep fit – some try their best to keep fat. Fit is not the only beauty in the world. Making Hong Kong people think about this is one of the missions of my book. Is bear culture the same in the East as it is in the West?It’s quite different. In the West, even if you’re not very heavy but you are very hairy, you’re still called a bear. Bears in the West are also linked with leather but in the East, we don’t have these conceptions. There are
Interview: Ferry Corsten on the state of trance
No serious conversation about trance can be had without mentioning Ferry Corsten. A true legend of the scene, the Dutch DJ, producer and remixer has been at the forefront of the genre almost since its inception, penning some of its most iconic tracks. Growing up in Rotterdam in the 1990s, a young Corsten experimented with some of that era’s more prominent styles – including hardstyle and Rotterdam’s gabba sound – before finding trance, culminating in the 1998 release of Out of the Blue under his System F pseudonym. The track, which entered the top 20 of the UK singles chart, saw his star rise rapidly. He was soon highly in demand for both his uplifting live sets and as a collaborator – he teamed up with a young Tiësto in 1999 to form Gouryella, whose self-titled debut track quickly became entrenched in the trance music canon. Nearly 20 years after the release of his breakthrough single, Corsten remains one of the most sought-after DJs in the world. Ahead of his set at Pacha Macau’s Summer Love Pool Party this fortnight, we begin by asking Corsten how he got started... How did you first fall in love with trance music?It started out as a hobby alongside my productions. I played around with a few sounds – hardstyle, house etc – but gravitated to trance as that scene was starting to grow. When I released Out of the Blue, Ministry of Sound asked me to do a Trance Nation mix for them. The first edition sold over 400,000 copies and suddenly I had requests coming in from fans who k
Interview: Howard Lawrence of Disclosure
Born to a deeply musical family, brothers Howard and Guy Lawrence, who make up the two halves of Disclosure, were exposed to a variety of genres before stumbling upon dubstep in 2007. From there, the siblings unearthed Joy Orbison, James Blake and Burial, before going further back and discovering gems of the past like Chicago house, Detroit techno and UK garage, elements of which are still evident in their continually evolving sound. The duo found commercial success with this formula in 2012. Their immensely successful debut album Settle featured a collaboration with then little-known UK singer Sam Smith, Latch. Disclosure hit the big time soon thereafter with AlunaGeorge collab White Noise. Last year’s album Caracal led to the duo’s first Grammy nomination and now the group’s sound is in more demand than ever. We speak with Howard about the act’s influences, Prince and what it means to be creative ahead of their first Asia tour. Hey Howard! What is it about the UK garage and house sounds that inspires you the most? We grew up with disco and funk, so that felt very comfortable for us. I think it was the experimental nature of what was going on in 2009 that really inspired us to try something new. People like Flying Lotus, actually, they were sounds that we’ve never heard before. They were completely amazing and very creative. I think that’s what inspired us to start anew but we did get a lot of influence from a lot of other stuff. I think it’s probably because it’s so far a
Interview: Courtney Act on the changing face of gender
A curious byproduct of the increasingly partisan and divisive cultural politics of the West is that the discourse surrounding sex and gender has become increasingly complex. As the opposing ends of the sociopolitical spectrum are being pushed further apart by players on either sides, a grey area has quickly – and loudly – emerged in the realms of sexual and gender identity. This grey area isn’t particularly new but what is new is that it’s come, pardon the pun, out of the closet. Grey, it seems, is the new black. The increased awareness of these grey areas – that is, that models of sexuality and gender are not binary, but necessarily complex and contested – has been in great part thanks to an increased visibility of people across the spectrum in mainstream media. Enter the drag-on. Exploding into the Australian pop cultural canon in 2003 during the first season of TV talent show Australian Idol, the popularity of drag performer Courtney Act came well before these conversations started to change and long after the wave of post-Priscilla, Queen of the Desert drags. Such was the appeal of the Brisbane-born performer, one of the Idol judges famously declared that she was the ‘sexiest girl on the show’. Act didn’t win the competition, but her instant, magnetic appeal has seen her star continue to shine brightly ever since. Now based in Los Angeles, the performer – known to her mother as 34-year-old Shane Jenek – has risen to global fame as one of the most popular contestants to h
Listings and reviews (12)
What is a bar? The answer seems straightforward – until you experience something that turns all preconceived notions on their proverbial head. Welcome to Hong Kong, J.Boroski. Named after owner Joseph Boroski, this new Central bar is, well, not really a bar. It technically is, of course – inasmuch as drinks are ordered and consumed on-site – but this ‘creative cocktail space’ goes above and beyond what a bar, however superlative, offers. For starters, this invitation-only space has no listed address and also no menu. It’s a formula that’s already seen success at J.Boroski Bangkok, which, upon opening in 2014, quickly became one of the most sought-after seats in town. As with the Thonglor original, the local incarnation has been designed by Boroski’s long-time collaborator Ashley Sutton, of Ophelia fame. Dark, dramatic and spacious, the room’s focal point is the curved ceiling, half of which is tastefully adorned with large rhinoceros beetles forming a mesmerising display over the spotlit bar. Providing a ‘concierge service’ to guests means that drinks are tailored to your tastebuds – to order is to answer a series of questions about your unique preferences. Strong or mild? Sweet or sour? Floral? Herbal? Spicy? Plus, you pay for the liquor and the rest is added for free. A tequila-based tipple ($150) uses clove and leather-imbued Excellia Blanco – we order ours floral and spicy, and get the perfect balance. We then request a herbal, smoky, whisky-based number and find that thi
Wahtiki Island lounge
We know what you’re thinking. How many tiki bars does one city need? Surely the space has been monopolised by sister venues Honi Honi and Mahalo, both recognised with places in last year’s inaugural list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars. It’s all too easy then to make comparisons to these industry titans with Wyndham Street newbie Wahtiki. Upon entering this large third floor space though, it’s immediately apparent that if Wahtiki has taken any cues from Hong Kong’s tiki masters, it’s in theme only. Where the others are half-club/half-bar, Wahtiki is strictly the latter, with low, wood-topped tables, and wicker seating dominating the room. These features are complemented by a retro-style wallpaper and feature walls lined with foliage, as well as lesser-known classics of old-school reggae playing over the speakers. Atmospherically, Wahtiki ticks all the boxes with what looks like ease. Naturally, the menu also follows tiki suit, with a selection of sharing drinks, individual tipples and tiki-style shooters. We begin with a Wahtiki Own Punch ($140), which uses fine light and dark rum with fresh fruit and given a touch of toastiness with the addition of almond. Served in a porcelain tiki head, it packs a punch but is lacking a little in depth. Likewise the impressive looking Shark’s Tooth ($160). Presented in a highball glass surrounded with a mountain of crushed ice, the combination of over-proof rum with fruit juice looks impressive, has a definite kick, but doesn’t fully explore its la
太古廣場屹立金鐘多年，終於在2016年展開為期數月的翻新工程，完成之後煥然一新。作為香港首屈一指的購物中心及時尚生活熱點之一，除了眾多世界著名品牌及精品店，還有幾間五星級的奢華酒店坐落此間，餐飲方面亦美食薈萃，選擇之多傲視全港。短短六個月的工程，卻帶來截然不同的全新面貌，著實令人稱奇。黃佩茵（Yenn Wong）的Commissary、Dining Concept的Bizou、Le Pain Quotidien及來自泰國的Apinara等多間本地美食界舉足輕重的餐廳全新進駐，風格與商場融為一體，令太古廣場猶如一夜之間改頭換面。 餐飲集團Aqua Group旗下的饌心堂（Dim Sum Library）亦是其中一位新成員。有趣的是，這個新地點是該集團首次嘗試開設的港式點心店。就像Armani / Prive、胡同和白鮨等旗艦餐廳，饌心堂同樣以雅緻的裝潢令人留下深刻印象。特別挑高的天花板感覺格外寬敞，黑色的主調配上特殊造型的燈具，每張桌上擺設了厚重的黑金兩色陶器，一切元素都細膩而別緻。相較傳統點心店的中式風格，餐廳佈置的古銅色銅器和優美的裝飾藝術，營造出糅合了西方審美觀的氛圍。侍應引領我們走進諾大的空間，經過主用餐區和酒吧區，進入隱藏在後面的房間，裡面有三張麻將桌和一個擺放了書籍的小書架，畢竟，這裡是圖書館，不是嗎？ 坐下後，我們先仔細翻閱菜單，從琳琅滿目的菜式中選了幾款點心。我們先點了擔擔湯包（三件，湯包的餡料結合了上海及四川料理的精華，味道辛辣香濃，恰可打開我們的味蕾。黑松露蝦餃（三件$48）也非常出色，鮮美多汁的蝦肉與黑松露互相襯托。蝦餃的外皮不似常見的那樣呈透明狀，上面的黑點是黑松露，一咬下去立即嚐到美妙的黑松露香味。薑蔥龍蝦包（三件$88）裡面的蝦肉厚實，配上薑蔥調味，外皮是雪白的台式饅頭，中間攔腰綁上一條幼細海帶，賞心悅目。羊肚菌軟心牛肉球（三件$48）也是善用食材的精心之作。形狀完美的牛肉球一如傳統做法以腐皮墊底，但令人嘖嘖稱奇的是牛肉球裡面的牛肉汁，既加強了牛肉的風味亦帶出甜味。 這些點心確實是美妙的開始，但接下來的菜餚卻不符合我們的預期。魚香脆茄子（$108）重新演繹經典的魚香茄子煲，將茄子切成長條狀，裹上蛋白粉漿下鍋炸，然後擺成層層疊的樣子，撒上肉末及其他配料，以木盒盛載上桌。這道菜最大的敗筆在於茄子的味道非常平淡，就算加上辣椒炒的肉末及鹹魚亦無補於事。黑豚肉叉燒（$198）同樣讓我們失望。雖然看起來很漂亮，但外面的蜜汁太濃稠，我們滿嘴只有蜜糖的甜味，完全吃不出黑豚肉的味道。這道菜以金箔點綴，可惜不可能贏到金牌。 甜品則是優劣摻半。茶盅豆腐乳凍（$42）讓我們讚不絕口。這款甜品可說是十全十美，經典的乳凍和豆腐布丁無論味道或口感都完美平衡。然而，流心可可糯米糍（四件$42）的糯米外皮太厚，使流心朱古力大為遜色。簡而言之，饌心堂有幾款讓人刮目相看的佳餚，但也有一些需要重新思考的菜式。餐廳有Aqua集團做後盾，應該很快就會克服這些小缺點，相信假以時日（六個月左右吧）一定會成為一間傑出的點心店。說真的，這樣更完美。因為打造一間美食天堂大概就需要這麼多時間。
Korean fried chicken houses in Hong Kong seem to be going the way of ramen joints – always good to know there are more places to get your fix but, in terms of newsworthiness, losing currency. Also like ramen joints, newer KFC temples are emphasising authenticity, with more brands from Korea opening shop all the time. And that’s the hook with new Lee Theatre Plaza spot Dodam Chicken. The large space, in which deep burgundy and blue offsets white tiling and exposed black beam fixtures, actually houses two existing brands from Korea: Hwaggaduk, the world’s first chicken baked in a pizza oven, and Dodam, a straight-up fried chicken brand which launched in May but has already become a massive cult fave south of the 38th parallel. To begin, we tuck into the baked garlic chicken ($185). By any measure, the bird has no right to be as juicy as this. The sauce is a sticky, gooey, glorious mess, with just the right kick of garlic. Next is the deep-fried crunch spicy chicken ($185). It actually needs more spice but that’s our only gripe with this crunchy delight. We also try the Hwaggaduk french fries ($128), topped with a Korean-style cheese which has a sweetness to it. Basically, top service, ace authentic dishes and a comfortable setting. Dodam makes a solid case for sticking to a tried-and- tested formula.
When it opened in the spring of 2012, Galaxy Macau’s China Rouge quickly became a sophisticated go-to for the society set, likely due to the fact that the China Rouge of old was Macau’s highest-profile private members’ club. Fast forward to this year and, after closing for a revamp, China Rouge is a private club no more. A dramatic entrance foyer begins your journey into grand old Shanghai, as reimagined by designer Alan Chan. We start with an Eastern Fashioned ($128), a generous measure of Johnnie Walker Black Label combined with Mandarin Napoleon Liqueur and tangerine-infused Grand Marnier. It’s a well-crafted drink that packs a punch, with just enough sweetness to make it pretty damn drinkable. The Grand Lemonade ($108), served tall, is a little too sweet, though. The mix of Grand Marnier and Jack Daniel’s Sour Mash is shaken with homemade ‘sweet and sour’ and topped with lemonade. It’s refreshing but difficult to get through. The revamp at China Rouge is a hit and the more accessible attitude is welcome. What’s regrettable about the drinking experience, though, is that more premium ingredients aren’t used. Doing so would surely elevate the drinks to the next level. But, hey, even with average drinks, we’re willing to return on the vibe alone.
Ee Da Le
T8s can often bring out the worst in Hongkongers. Evidently they can also bring out the worst in customer service – we make a reservation at Ee Da Le (and leave our number) for the evening of what ends up being this year’s first major typhoon, but arrive at Harlan Goldstein’s new dining room, before the signal is hoisted to find an empty restaurant with the lights off. No callback to notify us. Not the best start. We return when the restaurant’s doors reopen and, ironically, find that the service is probably the best part of the Ee Da Le experience as the staff are friendly and attentive. The first of Goldstein’s highly ambitious, highly bankrolled four-restaurant concept on Lyndhurst, this eatery serves classic Italian dishes in a setting that features warm colours and opera skirt-inspired hanging ceiling lamps. Goldstein, who immodestly proclaims himself ‘Hong Kong’s only celebrity chef’, is known for his big flavours. Unfortunately, none of these are on show over the course of a bland and, at times, confusing meal. The signature meatballs ($108 for three) are cooked well but the meat is flavourless and the sauce is thin and uninspiring. A four-cheese risotto ($188) is topped with a perfectly done slow-poached egg, but this dish manages to be both too heavy and bland, plus the carb is undercooked. Likewise, the criminally overpriced disaster that is Mama Chu’s Signature Linguine ($488) features underdone pasta alongside a thin, underseasoned sauce and overcooked red prawns.
Hong Kong’s LGBTI social scene is becoming increasingly diversified. There’s been a decided shift away from the strobe-lit throbbing superclubs that suddenly seem so 2000s and towards the smaller venues where the focus is on making real connections with real people – something that’s not always easy to do on a sweaty, cramped dancefloor. It’s in this vein that new Causeway Bay spot Circo has opened. The high-rise spot is a chic, sexy-looking cocktail bar through and through, complete with polished dark brass finishes, touches of marble and low, comfortable banquette seating from which there’s a vista that should make you fall in love with Hong Kong all over again. Circo is the first LGBTI venue in town with a specific focus on cocktails. The shortlist of signatures reads well and, on paper at least, it looks like there’s enough variety to please most palates. We start with a Soi 2 Martini ($108), a mix of basil and lemongrass-infused Belvedere with chilli liqueur, tom yum, lime juice and makrut lime leaves. It’s described on the menu as an ‘intriguing mix of elegance with a touch of sleaze’. Alas, the tipple seems disproportionately weighted towards the latter as it’s all burn and no balance. We enjoy a bit of spice as much as the next punter but the execution here falls flat. The Honey Honey ($108) doesn’t help matters either. Bombay Sapphire, Drambuie, honey and lemon mixed together and topped with egg white foam may sound a winner but, again, there are problems with the
Of the many and varied things for which Macau is known, mixology-focused cocktail bars aren’t exactly top of the list. Until now. Ascott Macau’s new Heart Bar is hoping to kickstart a serious cocktail culture across the Pearl River Delta and with advice from Zoltán Konczol, of Mahalo and Honi Honi fame, its brought in Hong Kong-based maestro Reeve Yip, a former Barcardi ambassador, to oversee the creation of what is an extremely good cocktail list. The venue itself is luxurious, refined and, in stark opposition to its surrounds, almost understated – high ceilings are accentuated by dim lighting and a mix of classic and modern furnishings. In the middle of the room, an oversized wine cellar divides the dining room and lounge. We kick off proceedings with a vodka-based Expresso-tini ($88). Orthography seems to be the only problem here, as the drink itself is sublime. It’s balanced perfectly, sweet where it should be with a definite kick of caffeine to even things out. The Whisky Figgy ($85) is just as impressive. An equally well constructed mix of Dewar’s 12-years, apricot jam, lemon, honey water, pineapple juice and thyme with a complexity that continues to unfold the longer it’s on the palate. Our only real issue at Heart Bar is the service. The staff are friendly, but a failure to communicate leads to much toing and froing regarding our orders. No big deal itself, but an obvious push to rush us out, as well as no assistance with which exit we ought to use come closing time,
For a hood with so much character, Tai Hang still lacks a destination restaurant. New lifesyle complex Little Tai Hang is hoping to shake things up by bringing in some big guns. And May Chow (Little Bao) is soon opening a new concept here. But already doing business is Bond, by the team behind Hollywood Road’s Three Monkeys. No expense has been spared on décor. Bond’s sleek, sexy dining room features dark wood accents, metal surfaces and polished detailing, with two comfortable balcony areas. But the menu, which skews Italian, doesn’t push boundaries. Entrées set a high benchmark, particularly in the form of a burrata and tomato salad ($140), a fresh and colourful dish that eats as well as it photographs. On to mains, the spicy vodka rigatoni ($178) is undercooked (though this is dealt with professionally by staff) and lacks a knockout punch, making it unremarkable. The cheese wheel truffle spaghetti ($198) is cooked tableside in a wheel of 24-month parmesan and is also a let-down – turns out there is such a thing as too cheesy. For mains, a miscued plank of beef short ribs ($310) arrives cooked at too high a temperature and for not long enough, resulting in a slightly tough and bland portion. Next time we’re in Tai Hang, we’d be more than happy to kick it on the balcony of Bond with a glass of vino. But the food won’t have us rushing back in a hurry. Dinner for two: $1,100.
Let’s start with the good news about new Causeway Bay cocktail and dessert bar Jerry Maguire – the desserts are good. Really good. The sweets’ elevation to a co-starring role in this script is no accident – even the cheesecake ($268) here is taken to the next level in a deconstructed format, with smears of creamy cheese interspersed with mounds of biscuit base, making a case for deconstructed dishes despite the current fashionable backlash. Jerry Maguire steals its name from the 1997 Tom Cruise film. And, just like Cuba Gooding Jr upstaging Cruise at the subsequent Academy Awards, the supporting player steals the show here. Just like the film’s romantic denouement, when Cruise’s eponymous Jerry confesses to Renée Zellweger that she ‘completes’ him, the cocktails sadly don’t ‘complete’ this watering hole. The Alice The Wonderland ($118), with its mix of Havana Club three years, Midori and mint leaf – topped with meringue, spun sugar and gold leaf – is refreshing, with a front end of mint, but one-dimensional thereafter. And the 23 Lan Fong Road ($128) combines peach and green apple schnapps with white wine and cucumber but, sadly, it’s overly sweet. While we like the concept of a dessert in cocktail form, the drinks need to be more nuanced. If there were prizes for originality, Jerry Maguire would make a clean sweep next awards season. And while we’ll be going back for the fab desserts, the cocktails need more work before we show them the money once again.
Beats & Liberty Pop-Up PMQ store
They'll be serving up favourites from the Beef & Liberty menu including bacon cheeseburgers and pulled pork sandwiches, as well as some tasty appetisers, craft beers and cocktails. Until Sep 2016, PMQ, Staunton Street, Central; Daily from 12pm, live music on Fri and Sat evenings.
Hong Kong’s fickle dining scene often demands that playing it safe trumps authenticity. When overheads are so high, sometimes risks just aren’t worth taking. But Canadian chain Mr Greek’s first venture in Asia bucks this trend. That this new Hellenic heaven has opened in the thick of Prince Edward and Mong Kok’s prime street food district is its first tick in the authenticity box. After all, you’re more likely to find a souvlaki streetside in Athens than in a restaurant. The authenticity extends to the menu where much of the produce is imported from Greece. We start with some fried calamari ($65), which is juicy and crispy, as well as a perfect vehicle for the bang-on tzatziki on the side. The white stuff also appears in abundance in the chicken souvlaki pitta ($40), with hearty portions alongside fresh veggies encased in a fluffy bread wrap. Mr Greek honours the Mediterranean traditions of using chicken breast and it comes tender and well-seasoned. We add a generous serving of Greek salad ($30) and the flavours of the beautifully fresh produce remind our palates of the Med. Authenticity is often sacrificed due to a lack of education or a venue just simply selling out. But it’s refreshing when an eatery keeps to the culinary traditions of the cuisine it’s showcasing. There was an adrenalin-pumped revolution around Mong Kok and Prince Edward earlier this year – and Mr Greek is carrying on those change-the-way-things-are-done sentiments in the tastiest way possible.
May Chow has been named Asia's Best Female Chef 2017
Hong Kong's own May Chow is now officially one of the best chefs in Asia. She's just been named Asia's Best Female Chef 2017, an award that forms part of the S. Pellegrino and Acqua Panna-sponsored Asia's 50 Best Restaurants programme. 2016 was a huge year for our homegrown star. As well as opening Tai Hang gastropub Second Draft, she expanded her celebrated Little Bao empire to Bangkok and represented Hong Kong on the world stage at various international food festivals. She'll formally accept her prize at the fifth Asia's 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony in Bangkok next February. Chow was voted the region's best by over 300 industry experts from across the region. William Drew, group editor of Asia's 50 Best, says Chow 'represents a new generation of Asian chef-restaurateurs', and that her award is recognition of her bringing 'a fresh perspective to traditional cuisine'. Chow is the second Hong Kong chef to pick up the award after Tate Dining Room's Vicky Lau was honoured with the title in 2015. Read more: The Michelin Guide Hong Kong and Macau 2017 has been announced
This Is My City: Macao's largest independent creative festival turns 10
Macao's creative scene has come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. A huge part of the enclave's growing artistic culture has been This Is My City, an independent, city-wide festival that presents concerts, shows and thought-provoking seminars with a host of international guests and using the city as its canvas. Back for its tenth edition this December, this year's programme offers audiences a new way to interact with the city, while showcasing the streets of Macao in a brand new light. Here's the rundown: December 2: Live music The festival kicks off with performances by some of the hottest up-and-coming Lusophone acts. From 6.30pm at Pagode Square (Rua do Guimaraes, Macao), catch indie Brazilian sonic rockers Turtle Giant (pictured above) (whose CV includes opening performances for the likes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and an appearance at South By Southwest) and Portuguese synth pop artist Balla, who's joined on stage by iconic Portuguese rock icon Rui Reininho on vocals. Kick on the night at Macao's hottest underground club, Kampek (3/F, Edf. Centro Commercial San Kin Yip, 197-223 Avenida da Amizade, Macao) with DJ Balla on the decks, followed by Japanese DJ Shintaro, the youngest ever Red Bull Thre3Style World Champion, and the first in Asia to take home the prize. December 6: Documentary and talk Head to Casa Garden (inside Camões Square, Rua do Patane, Macau) for a documentary screening and talk at 6pm on December 6. Watch award-winning documentary fi
The Michelin Guide Hong Kong and Macau 2017 has been announced
All this talk of rigged elections has put us right in the mood for the announcement of the Michelin Guide Hong Kong and Macau 2017. The ninth edition was launched at The Ritz-Carlton just this morning, and was a seriously star-studded reception, featuring the best chefs in the region. While there were a few surprises (though less than last year's catastrophe, thankfully), it was a pretty ho-hum affair. None of the eight three-starred restaurants from last year's guide lost their ranking, and the newly starred restaurants were deserving of their place in the list. Here's the full list, with a few observations too: Michelin Guide Hong Kong 2017 3 stars: Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey Bo InnovationL'Atélier de Joël RobuchonLung King Heen8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo – BombanaSushi ShikonT’ang Court 2 stars: Excellent cooking, worth a detour AmberCapriceDuddell’sForumKashiwaya (NEW)Ming CourtPierreRyu GinShang PalaceSummer PalaceSun Tung Lok (TST)Ta Vie (NEW)Tenku Ryu GinTin Lung HeenYan Toh Heen 1 star: High quality cooking, worth a stop Ah Yat Harbour ViewAkrameBeefbar (NEW)Celebrity Cuisine (down from 2)CIAK – In The KitchenÉpure (NEW)Fu Ho (TST)Golden ValleyGuo Fu LouHo Hung KeeIM Teppanyaki & Wine (NEW)Jardin de JadeKam’s Roast GooseLei Garden (Kwun Tong)Lei Garden (Mong Kok)Lei Garden (North Point)Loaf OnMan WahMandarin Grill + BarMIC KitchenONPang’s KitchenPeking Garden (Central)Qi (Wan Chai)Sai Kung Sing KeeSeasonsSerge et le PhoqueSpring Moon (NEW)Sushi Tokami (NEW)S
Island life: MTR confirms South Island Line will open on December 28
All aboard! MTR today confirmed that the much anticipated South Island Line will commence operating on December 28 this year. The $16.9b project connects commuters to from Admiralty to Ap Lei Chau's South Horizons via stations at Wong Chuk Hang, Ocean Park and Lei Tung, and all with state-of-the-art driverless trains. The journey from start to end will take 11 minutes and cost $6.70. The Admiralty to Ocean Park sector will take all of four minutes for a fare of $5.30, so you can say goodbye to tunnel charges for good. There's also an open day on December 24 for those wanting to get a sneak peek of the shiny new stations. While we applaud any way to better connect our city, it'll be interesting to see how this new opening affects the state of play at Admiralty station. It's probably not a stretch to say that Hongkongers have a love/hate relationship with the more central of the island-to-Kowloon links, with waiting times at peak hour among the highest in the city. Another line connecting to another part of the city could see the already jam-packed concourses turn into MTR-mageddon, especially now that it's a faster and more direct link to Ocean Park. Perhaps in addition to minding the gap, commuters should also be cautioned to mind the prams. You've been warned.
In the kitchen with Chef Björn Frantzén
Restaurant openings in Hong Kong often come with a lot of fanfare, but backing up the hype usually proves difficult. We foresee no such problems with the imminent opening of upcoming Tai Ping Shan restaurant Frantzén's Kitchen, however. Foodies should be familiar with the name – chef Björn Frantzén helms one of only three two-Michelin starred restaurants in Sweden, the eponymous Restaurant Frantzén, where the football player-turned-chef has remained at the forefront of the New Nordic Cuisine movement since opening in 2008. The movement promotes local produce, seasonality and a sense of experimentation with techniques, flavours and ingredients that have made it the talk of the food world for over a decade. With a couple of weeks left until he opens his first Asian kitchen, we steal five minutes with Chef Frantzén to find out what to look forward to at Frantzén's Kitchen Hong Kong. What can we expect from Frantzén's Kitchen?We're calling it a brasserie or bistro. It's a relaxed environment in a nice setting, a small restaurant. All the dishes are 'middle' courses, so it’s à la carte, and some people will eat three courses, some will eat ten. Most of the dishes are dishes that have been served at Restaurant Frantzén, so we’re actually going all the way back to 2008. There will be dishes from each year since we’ve been running. A main focus of Nordic cuisine is locally sourced produce. How will these flavours translate to Hong Kong?We bring in a lot with us. We’ve worked a
Interview: Sexuality studies expert Dr Suen Yiu-tung on LGB-friendly Hong Kong businesses
New research has just been published about how Hongkongers perceive LGBTI-friendly business organisations. Nik Addams talks to the man behind the research, Dr Suen Yiu-tung, about an increasingly inclusive Hong Kong As an international city, Hong Kong is not immune to global trends. And while classifying equality, an idea essential to the social contract, as a trend might undersell its importance, the figures speak for themselves. As well as a steady increase in the number of countries legalising same-sex marriages and unions, an increasing number of business organisations in the US and in Europe are also committed to stamping out discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Such commitment in the business sector is catching on in Hong Kong, too, with a number of local and international companies supporting LGB equality by providing benefits for same-sex partners or sponsoring community events such as Pink Dot, Pink Season and Hong Kong Pride. To that end, associate professor Dr Suen Yiu-tung, founding director of the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s sexualities research programme and associate director of the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies’ Gender Research Centre, has just published a groundbreaking study about Hongkongers’ perceptions – both in and outside of the LGBTI community – on gay-friendly businesses. We speak to Dr Suen about his study, its results and its implications for Hong Kong’s ongoing march to equality. Why is this an important review
Smell ya later: Abercrombie & Fitch is closing down in Hong Kong
Hong Kong douchebros are in mourning today following the announcement that Abercrombie & Fitch will be shutting down its Pedder Street flagship. While it's a win for people interested in the proper conservation of Hong Kong's colonial-era gems as much as it's a win for people interested in the proper conservation of their sense of smell, they don't plan to close until at least the end of Q2 2017. There's no word yet on how long it will take for the smell of the signature A&F cologne to clear out of Pedder Street, however, but it's anticipated to follow soon after the store closes its doors for the final time. The closure comes amid an economic downturn as well as a slump in shoppers from Mainland China. That said, the company has also announced plans to add five more stores to its stable in China before Chinese New Year, though the closure of the four-storey Central site means that there will no longer be any standalone A&F stores here. In exiting next year, the company has activated an early exit clause in its contract which could see them whacked with a $16m "lease termination charge" in the quarter after it closes. They're currently forking out $7m per month to rent the iconic white structure. No word yet either on who'll take the prime real estate in the heart of the city, but watch this space.
It's official: Shanghai's English skills are now better than Hong Kong's
No, it's not your imagination – it turns out that English levels in Hong Kong are on the decline. Released today, the results of Education First's sixth annual English Proficiency Index make for some pretty grim reading. Our city sits at number 30 on the list of 72 countries, with a score of 54.29 out of a possible 100, placing us firmly in the moderate-to-lower end of the scale. It's a pretty significant drop from our 12th placing at the time of the first survey in 2011, but probably not exactly a coincidence given the rising importance of Putonghua, especially in schools as a second language. On the global survey, Hong Kong now ranks lower than many Balkan states, former Soviet nations, and even one place lower than the linguistically parochial French. We're also sixth in Asia out of 19 countries – the lowest of the major former Commonwealth states in the East – and even below South Korea. While we maintain a higher ranking than both Macau (no. 37) and China (no. 39), the figures become particularly intriguing when China is broken down into its constituent parts: Hong Kong this year has come in second behind Shanghai, who received a score of 55.54. Beijing came in third. Shanghai's rise up the rankings has been a rapid one, with an improvement of 4.35 points over the last five surveys. It should be noted though that the survey was conducted exclusively online, meaning that speaking skills weren't put to the test. Even still, the results are less than encouraging. Globally,
Block rockin' beats: The Chemical Brothers are coming to Clockenflap
What Clockenflap taketh away, Clockenflap most certainly giveth back. After LCD Soundsystem had to pull out of their debut Hong Kong show, absolute legends The Chemical Brothers have just been announced to appear at the Central Harbourfront festival this November. They join an increasingly excellent line-up for Hong Kong's biggest music festival, which already includes UK hip-hop star Blood Orange, American indie rockers Yo La Tengo, Icelandic superstars Sigur Rós and Brit rockers Foals. Also new to the line-up in this latest announcement are South African rap-ravers Die Antwoord and rising synthpop talent Shura. In case you've forgotten, The Chemical Brothers are the masterminds behind six number 1 albums and 13 top 20 singles, and were some of the original pioneers of the British electronic revival of the 1990s (and beyond). Their epic live sets come with custom-made robots, psychedelic images and immersive lighting effects. In a huge cop, their Clockenflap 2016 gig marks their only appearance in Asia for the year. A further reminder (and really just an excuse to re-watch one of the best music videos of all time): Phase two ticket prices are still valid until mid-November. Get yours here if you haven't done so already.
Asia’s biggest Lego store has just opened in Mong Kok
The doors have just opened to Asia's biggest Lego store. The 4,000 sq ft space in Langham Place (8 Argyle St, Mong Kok) is a veritable Lego wonderland for big kids and little kids alike, and features the latest products that, for the first time, will be released in Hong Kong on the same day they're released internationally. The store features a 'Pick-A-Brick' wall which includes over 100 different buckets and pieces, making this possibly Hong Kong's first Lego smorgasbord. As well as the range, there are also numerous Lego displays that have been designed by certified Lego master – because this, apparently, is very much a thing – Hung Chi Kin, and his team of experts with a true Hong Kong edge. A highlight is the nearly 10 sq ft mosaic depicting Victoria Harbour and the Star Ferry, which makes use of over 100,000 Lego pieces and is officially the largest Lego fixture in Hong Kong. In the centre of the shop there's possibly an even more impressive display, in the form of a Mong Kok street scene. This has been crafted using over 700,000 Lego pieces, and takes in Argyle and Sai Yeung Choi Streets as well as the bustle of Nathan Road. It's taken over two months to create, and the streets around Langham Place are set to be added in future. With two more megastores slated to open in Causeway Bay and the New Territories, we could be on our way to a full-blown Lego takeover. Combined with the current Pokémon Go craze, could Hong Kong be on its way to seeing something of a 90s revival
Calling all designers: Entries are now open for the Hong Kong International Poster Triennial 2017
Entries have just opened for the Hong Kong International Poster Triennial 2017. A major event of Hong Kong Heritage Museum and the Hong Kong Designers Association, next year marks the sixth iteration of this event since it was first launched in 2001, in its aim to establish Hong Kong as a global hub of poster design, as well as its collection and promotion. The theme for the upcoming comptition is ‘Touch’, and will be conducted in accordance with the regulations and guidelines of the International Council of Design (ico-D). Designs can be organised under four different categories: Ideology, Promotion of Cultural Events, Commercial and Advertising, and Thematic - Touching. Assessment will be based on originality, creativity and technical skill, and hopefuls will be subject to the judgment of an international panel of five internationally renowned designers from Europe and Asia. Gold, silver and bronze will be selected in each of the categories, as well as individual Judges’ Awards. All selected entries will be published in the exhibition catalogue and featured in the 2017 exhibition, to be held at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. Open to designers of all levels and countries, the competition invites creative minds to explore the theme of ‘Touch’ with different interpretations and from different perspectives – cultural, social, physical, psychological – and through the lens of a number of different artistic styles. Applications open on 1 August, and close at 5pm (Hong Kong time
It's happened: Hong Kong's first rabbit café opens in Causeway Bay
It's official: we've hit peak Hong Kong. In a move that really, we should have seen coming, Hong Kong's first rabbit café has just opened in Causeway Bay. The small upstairs space, not inappropriately named Rabbitland, is the brainchild of three young chaps – as we were told by co-owner Ricky, the idea came after one of the boys fell in love with the furry creatures following a visit to Okunoshima, Japan's famous 'rabbit island'. It's a pretty simple concept – tables, chairs and, well, rabbits. When we visited, there were five in three separate pens that you could stroke (but not pick up), and three others in cages on the back wall. It's a pretty sanitary experience, too, with shoes left at the door and hand sanitising a must before stepping into the bunny den. Our trip to Rabbitland also coincided with our discovery of Boomerang (better late than never, right?), so please indulge our overzealousness with the camera by way of the following adorable grabs: While some guys were busy eating, others seemed to be in deep thought: Some were feeling the heat: While others just couldn't get enough hay: And this guy was just all about the good vibes: Rabbitland is located on 3/F, 530 Jaffe Rd, Causeway Bay. 5281 0280; rabbitland.com.hk.