Fun and health mix in Lan Kwai Fong
Anna Healy Fenton
Mr Lan Kwai Fong Allan Zeman’s redeveloped New California Tower in Lan Kwai Fong is scheduled to open a year from today, on September 10, 2013, with a mix of lifestyle (for which read gyms) restaurants, clubs and bars.
Taking the top floor is Coup de Ta from Singapore Marina Bay Sands, with Pure Fitness gym signed up for the six floors that were formerly the office space. That still leaves eight more floors to fill with restaurants, bars, more restaurants and more bars. And underneath all these centres of indulgence, a gym...wonder how that will work. Exercise then indulge or indulge then exercise?
Not surprisingly I hear Harlan Goldstein, formerly of Aberdeen Marina Club, then Harlan’s in IFC, which ended in, well, tears, and now The Strip House in LKF, has signed up too, though details are sketchy as yet. Will it be a cheeky concept like his current not-at-all-tacky red and black Moulin Rouge inspired eaterie? Come on Harlan, surprise us with something a bit classy – and original.
Lan Kwai Fong Parties On
Lan kwai Fong is booming. Anyone who has elbowed their way through LKF on a Friday or Saturday night recently will have been overwhelmed by the sheer volumes of people down there. Whatever tales of economic gloom and doom abound in Europe (unemployment 11 per cent), Hong Kong seems to have skipped a beat and still be partying on. New restaurants and bars, even cake and muffin shops – fifty percent of which, statistically, will fail – have opened up all over the place. These include Blue Smoke (Southern hospitality whatever that means, barbecue I think, LKF), Blue Butcher (steak house, Hollywood Road), The Brick House (Mexican, LKF), Harringtons (“time honoured gastro pub style food, LKF), Lupa (Italian, floor below Las Vegas steakhouse Carne Vino, both above Gap on Queen’s Road Central, both Mario Batali designed and Socialito (Mexican, Wyndham Street).
Word on the street is that several of these have set their operators back HK$10 million or more to get them up and running: Carne Vino, Lupa, Blue Butcher and Soicalito. So who is keeping these restaurant table so busy that it’s hard to get a midweek lunch reservation? There’s a new crowd, it seems. None of these places are cheap, so these diners have jobs. “Or,” as one restaurateur puts it,” they live at home with Mum and Dad, mortgage paid, work in service industries, and like to play at least as hard as they work. Many have been educated abroad, they like to eat, drink and party. And they do.”
And then, he adds: “there’s the “White boys and girls” as they are called – the generation who grew up here with expatriate parents, got HK ID cards, went back to Europe or the US after graduating, can’t get jobs now and so have come back here, where there’s plenty of work. They, in fact, all the Facebook generation, consider Hong Kong very cool at the moment.”