With Hong Kong International Week just around the corner, the pilgrimage to this city will begin in earnest in around ten days time.
As has happened over the years, many will catch the Early Bird Express to get a head start and dust off the cobwebs and sow some wild oats before the serious business of getting mail, hearing about this and that and who said what to whom revs up the rumor mill.
It’s racing’s answer to Keeping Up With The Kardashians, The Fashion Police and Desperate Housewives- combined- and it’s an annual ritual that follows a very long tradition of nothing ever changing.
It’s all about sticking to the same script and not veering from it in case of getting lost.
In our never-ending quest to ensure you’re a winner off the track as well, there are a few pointers below along with the sad news that Club BBoss and China City have closed their doors forever, which means an end to karaoke sessions with those “Ukraine girls really knock me out” and hooking up with them after work.
Gone, too, are those favorite restaurants with many- Bistro Manchu and Bamboo Bistro- though old faithfuls like the bloody depressing Al’s Diner- the cockroach-infested dump in Lan Kwai Fong serving Chateaux Kerosene and one-time office of the lonely Shane Dye who would sit there for hours staring at his Coca-Cola- plus Guru, the fine and very different Indian restaurant in Lower Elgin Street that doesn’t make you feel like a stuffed samosa after a meal, still exist.
But Hong Kong today, is one giant buffet when it comes to bars, restaurants and clubs.
Now you see it, now you don’t happen every day as spiraling rents have resulted in many bars etc opening and closing faster than, yes, a hooker’s legs while the constant hassles over liquor licenses have made many move to other businesses- like money laundering.
Meanwhile, newcomers with too much new money and even more shit for brains have tried to succeed in the F&B business where others have failed.
Of course, what this means is over-supply and where consumers are spoilt for choice.
For example, one doubts even Bangkok has more Thai restaurants per capita than Hong Kong- and within such close proximity of each other.
Our choice? Tuk Tuk in Grahame Street and, especially, Tangerine in Peel Street with its Thai Tapas, a good selection of wines plus some excellent dishes at very reasonable prices.
Being right next to one of our favorite Jazz bars in Peel Fresco, there’s the added advantage of taking in some ‘live’ music in what has quickly become the hottest street in the Soho area of Hong Kong.
With some local foodies, there are rave reviews for relatively new Peruvian restaurant Chicha (26 Peel Street), but the last time we were there, it didn’t really knock us out- or even knock us up. But it might work for you as variety is the spice of life.
On the subject of spicy, we recommend Chili Fagara in Graham Street for TRULY spicy Szechuan cuisine.
The dishes range from not-spicy to spicy and FIERY- and we dare you to have the FIERY Chicken Cutlets with Basil Leaves. Take a towel- just in case.
Other favorites include the Grand Hyatt’s 1 Harbour Road for the best Cantonese cuisine in town, VBest hidden in Lower Elgin Street for Shanghainese dishes, Niccolini’s at the Conrad for Italian cuisine- the hotel’s Sunday Brunch at the Brasserie is excellent- and Restoration in Wyndham Street for New Orleans home cooking and also the service and atmosphere.
Meanwhile, that very popular upmarket watering hole that was the Champagne Bar in the Grand Hyatt, is now more like Le Rue Morgue.
It’s deserted, the ‘live’ music is more dead than alive and with former regulars having migrated to the more lively Blue Bar in the Four Seasons with its far more interesting clientele, better service and, if she’s still there, a very good resident singer from Toronto.
HEY, SUGAR, WANNA TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE?
Jaffe Road, Wanchai
Formerly Fenwick’s and now bigger and cleaner and overrun by Colombians and Filipinas with a smattering of Thais, Indonesians and ladies from the Eastern Bloc.
The few Nigerians are usually a she who is a he and will say, Hey, babe, wanna take a walk on the wild side? No thanks, honey.
The usual going price for a couple of hours is HK$2,000 though $4,000 is always the starting price.
Some might stick to $4000 if they think you’re a mess and legless or just walk away from you.
There are a few stunners around- but they know it- and they can pick and choose who they wish to be with.
There is a need to buy the girls drinks who sit with you drinks- and which works for all parties.
They get a free drink and you get to see them in the light and up close. It can be a shock to the system for everyone.
Next to Escape are Dusk Till Dawn and Spicy Fingers, clubs with some pretty good covers bands, but only good to give them a try if with a group of people.
Forget about “getting lucky” as most who are regulars are on a night out with their boyfriends- usually Cathay Pacific pilots.
Down the road from here is the Amazonian which is wall to wall Filipinas, but careful: The joint is frequented by some high profile racing personalities and it could cause embarrassment for everyone if you run into them- and they run into you.
Just keep walking, and if still wide awake, check out Players in Hennessy Road.
It’s another club, but open till 10am and where everyone and their dog congregate when every other club had closed.
Players serves food- late night food where you don’t care what you eat- and the managers and Nepalese bouncers are very good as there are some pushy girls there who work in packs and love to fondle your, well, pocket.
Far more interesting is to sit outside Lebanese restaurant Marouche and see the early hours of Hong Kong rise to the occasion and watch all the freaks and the geeks- and some very drunk stunners- do tricks for you and speak that strange language called Drunk Talk.
It’s easy to pick up something quite worthwhile- including a bad case of the crabs- but is it really worthwhile though once in a while a group of tourists might wanna see some different sights.
What about clubs like dragon-i and Rayne all down Wyndham Street? Only if you look like Thor and are 35-years-old- max- and loaded.
If not, all that chat up with models will cost you around HK$10,000 on champers, and much teasing before the girls do a runner at 3am to meet their model boyfriends leaving you looking like those losers from The Hangover.
To be continued…