THE Lee Theatre was pulled down, the cockroaches moved house, and more of Hong Kong's history dissolved into rubble ... only to be resurrected as a shiny new plaza. Come January, the Irish will move into the basement of the new building in Causeway Bay with O'Brien's, a three-venue food complex of 11,000 square feet. The Dubliner Bar, the American Grill & Seafood and the Theatre Cafe mix heavy Victoriana with turn-of-the-century Chicago and New York brasserie-style grill rooms, and an all-day light-and-easy spot to hang out.
Expect Irish food in the bar, traditional grill items with a special emphasis on fresh seafood in the grill, and lighter coffee shop fare in the cafe. A Dublin band will play in the bar, the grill room will have American big band sounds and the Theatre Cafe, well, it's enough this one pays tribute to the original theatre without wanting special music too. The man in charge of the complex is Espen Harbitz, previously of the old Ramada Renaissance.
EMPEROR Ming of the Tang Dynasty, so the legend goes, supplied his charming consort with this drink and was richly rewarded with her delightful smiles and appreciative heart and . . . the story stops here. Despite this fairly sexy marketing gimmick, the drink sounds as if a fruit-farmers' co-operative decided to muscle in on the booze market. Kwai Feh, a lychee liqueur produced in a joint venture between companies in Hong Kong and the Netherlands, is a delicate, rose-water pink that politically incorrect logic says points to a female market.
It is not too sweet or too syrupy, but drink it chilled because it's bit medicinal at room temperature. Chefs, who say it's great for marinading fruit, are even using it in cakes. Kwai Feh, which translates as Concubine, costs about $230 for a 70 cl bottle and is available at Oliver's, Pacific Wine Cellars and select Chinese stores.
PAPER Moon, the Japanese restaurant in Causeway Bay with its waitress called Fun Fun and deco interior, is gone. Plans are going ahead to put Juliette's Wine Bar in its place. The new venue is in Sunning Plaza in Hysan Avenue, just down the steps and a little down the road from the King's Arms. A liquor licence has been applied for although no opening date has been set. There's not much sign of life there at the moment so don't rush down until we tell you the bottles have been uncorked.
LEARN the All Black Haka war cry: Ka Mate! Ma Mate! Ka Ora! Ka Ora! (repeat), Tenei to tangata puhuruhuru, Nana I tiki mai I wahkawhiti te ra, Haupane! Kaupane! Haupane! Kaupane! Whiti te ra! Then, on Saturday, take it down to Pomeroy's in Pacific Place for the shout-out that is the high spot of the New Zealand food, wine and Steinlager festival, which runs until the end of October with a special Land of the Long White Cloud menu. The best team, or individual, wins two return tickets to New Zealand.
This week too, Bacchus in Wan Chai brings in the best of Aotearoa on Wednesday. They're calling it the New Zealand Gourmet Dinner, but it's really just an excuse for Kiwis to get together to yell in delight at home-grown specialities such as amarillos and kapiti cheese. These will be served along with New Zealand clams, oysters, cured fish and scampi. The dinner, including six wines, costs $550 a head. Call 529-9032 for reservations.
AND now for something completely cold weather to remind us that we have yet to have a decent cold day - enough game to warm the toughest hunter. The Holiday Inn Golden Mile's Baron's Table is putting it all on plates in combinations ranging from smoked deer ham with lentil salad to pepper tart with pigeon breast on a truffle sauce. There is wild boar, rabbit and venison too, done up in posh crepinettes, medallions and saddles. The special Autumn Fare menu, which celebrates the hunting season in Europe, runs until the end of October. Call 369-1111 ext 1309.