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Where Hong Kong's Hipsters Hang Out
2012年 05月 29日 07:33
Hong Kong doesn't leave a visitor wanting for nights out on the town. Central has its members-only clubs, and Tsim Sha Tsui its skyscraper cigar lounges, while neighborhoods like Mongkok and Wan Chai teem with earthier entertainment.
But if you're looking for an upscale, bohemian alternative to all of the above, where's the left-of-center neighborhood where you can mingle with the city's creative types? The answer, of late: Sheung Wan.
In the past few years, the district at the corner of Central and Mid-Levels has acquired a laid-back vibe thanks to a host of independent restaurateurs, boutique owners and gallerists setting up shop. Pushed westward by Central's skyrocketing rents, they have taken their place alongside the Chinese antique dealers and dried-fish vendors that Sheung Wan is known for, and in doing so they have begun to remake the district in their image.
'The area is changing fast, but we're trying to respect its community feel,' says David Baudrie, a Frenchman who has opened two boutiques along Tai Ping Shan Street in the past year. The area isn't for those looking for a wild night out, but, he says, 'where you come to share a nice bottle of wine and hang out with friends.'
Start your ramble where Central's SoHo district ends and Sheung Wan begins, at the stairs from Hollywood Road to Mee Lun Street. The hidden gem you're looking for is Visage One, a one-seat hair salon by day that transforms into a tiny lounge on Saturday nights. Stylist cum barkeep Benky Chan keeps the menu as simple as his cubbyhole's gallery-white walls -- beer, wine, whiskey or water -- but some of the city's best jazz musicians are known to drop in for impromptu sessions.
If it happens to be midweek, and you want to kick off your night with a bang, Volume, arguably Hong Kong's hippest gay club, sits just across the street and offers free vodka shots every Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. as part of its 'New Arrivals' night, welcoming visitors and the freshly transplanted to the scene. The crowd skews stylishly gay, naturally, but all are welcome.
Farther down Hollywood Road you'll find 208 Duecento Otto, unmistakable for its two-story, cast-iron facade. The stylish bar-lounge area of this New York Italian outfit offers 20 varieties of wine by the glass, and makes a mean classic cocktail. Try the 208 Bronx, a tart house signature mixed from gin, bianco, orange bitters, fresh orange and lemon.
A few doors down sits homey Heirloom Eatery, where you can grab a quirky vintage chair and wash down a Balinese fish taco or two with another vibrant house concoction known as the Suzy Wong (a mutation of the Mojito, made with vodka, Thai basil and ginger ale).
Back uphill toward Mid-Levels, Oolaa, a sprawling, 120-seat bar-restaurant, is a favorite for Sunday brunch but draws a stylish crowd for after-work wine by the glass. The establishment down the street -- the one with a huddle of good-looking 30-somethings waiting outside -- is the vexingly no-reservations Yardbird, one of Hong Kong's hottest tables since it opened last summer.
The creation of Matt Abergel, formerly of Masa in New York and Hong Kong's Zuma, Yardbird is a self-described Japanese gastropub and has won rave reviews for its nose-to-tail chicken yakitori. But it's worth a visit for the drinks alone. Once you've downed a Bloody Kim Jong Il -- a Bloody Mary spiked with kimchi -- don't be surprised if you find yourself calling out for a few of its celebrated skewers.
Pushing on into Sheung Wan, make your way to Tai Ping Shan Street, where the gentrification of the district is happening fast. Every few weeks, a new, high-concept cafe or pop-up retailer seems to be opening its doors along this cozy, walkable strip. Mr. Baudrie's latest lifestyle boutique, Kouch, doubles as a wine shop and one-room hangout, selling vintages from family-owned wineries in France and California.
If you find yourself in Sheung Wan on the last Friday of any given month, check out Square Street, behind Man Mo Temple, where Swedish designers David Ericsson and Alexis Holm serve free beer from the storefront of Squarestreet, their watch, shoe and leather-goods workshop-showroom. The duo's boozy neighborhood block parties, which begin around 8 p.m., invariably attract the police with noise complaints and have become a monthly meeting ground for the city's young international set.
Still going strong past midnight? XXX Gallery is your final port of call. One of the few venues in the city that can reasonably stake a claim to the label 'underground,' this basement space in Sheung Wan's commercial heart -- established by Hong Kong-based DJ Enso, originally of San Francisco -- doesn't even have a liquor license, so you'll have to pick up your own drinks at a convenience store. Proceed to dance on the sofas to the visiting DJ or indie band of the night, and don't be surprised if the sun is already up when you finally stumble out into a new day.