Top 5 Best Designed Restaurants
The quality of food served at a restaurant is undoubtedly what gets a customer to return, not the level of service or ambience. Don’t believe us? How else do you explain the enduring popularity of places such as Tsui Wah and Kau Kee in Hong Kong: places that serve up absolutely delicious bowls of noodles and Hainan chicken rice, but not exactly topping the charts in terms of atmosphere or décor.
Having said that, the thought that goes into the interior design of a restaurant is also important. It sets the tone, giving diners cues as to what to expect, both in terms of food and the general dining experience. This week, in honour of ArtHK, we select five of the restaurants that have put the most thought into their interior design in Hong Kong, giving just that extra edge to the customers’ experience there.
Hong Kongers love buffets. Whether it is a love of queueing, bargains, fresh seafood, or a combination of the above, buffet restaurants enjoy an astonishing popularity in Hong Kong. Of course, we like our buffet restaurants, too, but it’s not often that you’ll find us raving about the design or layout of one. That is, apart from The Market at Hotel Icon. Hotel Icon is already itself a beautiful place: the building itself is designed by Rocco Yim; the impressive vertical garden in the lobby is by French creator Patrick Blanc; a suite is designed by Vivienne Tam; while the staff’s uniforms are designed by Barney Cheng. The Market, however, is designed by Terence Conran and we love the layout of the place. Inspired by the street markets of Asia, a special pastry section shows off all the freshly baked breads and pastries; all the food is focused in one room while diners are seated in another, preventing that special type of chaos which usually arises when the dining tables and the buffet tables are too closely spaced. There is a large outdoor garden, as well as a private room that seats 12. All in all, The Market makes for a very civilised and refined buffet experience.
2/F Hotel Icon, 17 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East. Tel: +852 3400-1308.
Bettys Kitschen (now renamed as St Betty)
When Bettys Kitschen first opened in IFC, diners were extremely excited to try the first Hong Kong venture of restaurateur Alan Yau, whose empire includes Hakkasan, Yauatcha and Wagamama in London. While we have heard mixed opinions about the highly-priced modern European cuisine and the interesting uniforms of the waitstaff at Bettys, there is no denying that everyone loves the space itself. Designed by Andre Fu, a local designer whose other projects include Upper House in Admiralty, Bettys Kitschen aims to create a postmoidern “cucina rustica”. As such, boxes of green produce are stacked artistically by the entrance, which reflects the high quality of produce flown in from all over Europe, which are used in the kitchen. Plants line the back wall, creating a living green wall for the more secluded dining tables at the back of the restaurant. Combined with the stylised ceiling fans, funky light fixtures and an ocean view, this is definitely one beautiful restaurant.
Shop 2075, IFC Mall, 8 Finance Street, Central. Tel: +852 2979-2100.
Click here to recreate brunch, Bettys Kitschen-style.
When we have friends visiting, one of our favourite places to take them is to The Pawn in Wan Chai. Not only do we love chef Anthony Fletcher’s new menu, but the restaurant is a fantastic example of taking Hong Kong’s few remaining heritage buildings and utilising it in a modern way. In collaboration with local artist and film director Stanley Wong (also known as anothermountainman), Press Room Group created a multi-story space that includes a Dining Room, Living Room and a lovely rooftop. To keep The Pawn rooted in its history, design elements such as recycled timber and Chinese accordion-style shutter gates are used. Other winks at its history include a collage of traditional neon paw-shop signs, as well as a raised food service station which imitates the high counters found in traditional Chinese pawn shops. Finally, next time you visit The Pawn, make sure to have another look at the Baroque wallpaper panels, created by local artist Tsang Kin-wah.
62 Johnston Road, Wan Chai. Tel: +852 2866-3444.
AMMO has just opened in the Asia Society Hong Kong Centre, formerly home to the Admiralty’s Explosives and Ammunitions Magazine, but this modern European restaurant, opened by the people behind The Drawing Room in Causeway Bay, is already making waves in design circles. The interiors are done by Joyce Wang, whose previous work includes the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. AMMO features floor-to-ceiling windows, unadorned light bulbs plus most impressively, a spiral staircase inspired by Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville, which doesn’t touch the floor but rather hangs like a sculpture.
Asia Society Centre, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty.
When Buzz Concepts first opened Lily & Bloom at LKF Hotel in 2010, Hong Kong was just starting to become enthralled with the industrial-chic hipster spaces that were so popular in New York. So when this modern American restaurant opened and we found out that the space was created in partnership with The Mangkut Group and New York-based design firm AvroKO, everyone flocked to take a look at this two-floor venue. And it did not disappoint. We like the long raw bar downstairs, with its red banquettes and eclectic light fixtures that would not look out of place in Victorian England. More impressively, we fell in love with the back area of the dining room, with its hanging chandelier which dangles from Lily above. And while everyone should always wash their hands before eating, the decadent bathroom at Bloom makes this dull ritual a sheer pleasure. All in all, it is no surprise that the restaurant and bar won the “Best Restaurant Design Worldwide” at the 2011 Hospitality Architecture and Design Awards.
5 and 6/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central. Tel: +852 2810-6166.