King of kitsch brings a taste of 'bing sutt' to Starbucks

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 June, 2009, 12:00am

If you can't beat them, join them! Admit it, most Hongkongers still prefer a 'silk stocking' milk tea - so named because the tea is strained through a cotton bag - over a pricey mocca-frappa-whateverino. Maybe that's why Starbucks' newest cafe on Duddell Street has a bing sutt corner. Literally translated as an ice room, these dingy shops specialised in cold drinks and snacks. That traditional vibe is now recreated inside a modern coffee shop, thanks to a collaboration with the king of Hong Kong kitsch, Douglas Young of G.O.D. Not only did he painstakingly decorate the venue, at the opening on Wednesday he dressed as a waiter, complete with a cigarette behind one ear and a dirty towel on his arm.

'I borrowed this uniform from an employee whose father used to work as a waiter at a cha chaan teng,' Young (serving Michael Wu Wei-kuo, managing director of Maxim's, which operates Starbucks) said. The only thing missing was a bad attitude and hacking need to spit. 'Yes, the waiters can be rude and the seats at a bing sutt are usually quite uncomfortable but I still love going because it's a place where people from all walks of life hang out and relax.'

To add to the atmosphere, they added egg tarts and pineapple buns. Even though coffee is Starbucks' cornerstone, general manager Belinda Wong Chin-ying is not ruling out adding some local beverages. 'Anything is possible. If the response is good, we would love to bring in more local items.' But will the cold drinks cost an extra HK$2?