Wong Chuk Hang is an industrial neighbourhood of car workshops and warehouses hidden within huge, retro industrial buildings. With the demolition of the Wong Chuk Hang Estate to make way for an MTR station, the area has suddenly become a destination with potential. The One Island South development has introduced fashion outlets as well as daytime restaurants such as Percy's and Kyoto Matcha Cafe, and the ubiquitous Starbucks. It's hardly a desirable area to stroll around, but as the sun goes down its gastronomic side emerges, thanks to some hidden evening outlets.
CulinArt 22B Kwai Bo Industrial Building,
40 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen
Tel: 2580 0919
From HK$780 per person plus 10 per cent
This centre for catering, cooking classes and private dining was created by German-Chinese chef Stanley Wong. "I wanted to create a hub for chefs and foodies, and we like the allure of being a little hidden somehow," he says.
The inviting space has two kitchens, one overlooking a warm living room with wooden tables, leather armchairs and an open fireplace. CulinArt takes three bookings of eight per night, or one group books all, the chef and his team cooking six or seven courses with a healthy Californian aesthetic with plenty of seafood, such as the current terrine of baby octopus, artichoke hummus and bell pepper relish starter followed by bacon-wrapped scallops, and browned butter with preserved Jerusalem artichoke couscous.
He also invites other chefs to cook pop-up dinners here; recent Greek and Thai pop-ups were total sell-outs.
Chef Studio by Eddy
5B Kwai Bo Industrial Building,
40 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen
Tel: 3104 4664
Seven-course dinner from HK$680 per person, free corkage A few floors down from CulinArt is another company offering catering, classes and a private kitchen. This one is run by Eddy Leung who came to fame with his French restaurant Poison Ivy.
The interior is more functional, with a few smaller tables resembling a restaurant more than a living room and birdcages lending a hint of the oriental. Tables can be booked individually or configured into a long table for up to 36. There's also a counter where guests can eat while watching the action in the open kitchen. For classes, Leung greets his guests at 5pm for a couple of hours of instruction, then cocktails and dinner at eight. "I did fine dining for so many years, now I like to do comfort food," he says. His style leans towards Provencal cuisine, coaxing ingredients such as wagyu cheek or salmon into his signature dishes via hours of slow cooking.
Vie Club 4/F, Evergreen Industrial Factory Mansion, 12 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang
vieclub.com (Chinese only)
Tel: 3692 5534
From HK$400 per person for dinner, minimum 12 per booking
A few industrial buildings away, this Chinese private kitchen has been open for three years, offering lunch, dinner or a barbecue on a terrace. Of the three different rooms, one has a living room feel, with a sitting area and two round tables, while the other two are smaller and more basic. There's karaoke and mahjong, but the freshly cooked Cantonese food is the draw. The chef focuses on seafood from the nearby market, and rustles up a balanced series of dishes such as deep fried shrimp with bean basket, steamed or baked fresh fish, crab grilled broccoli and soy sauce pigeon. All menus are in Chinese.
Kea's Kitchen Mooring 5345, Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter, Aberdeen
Tel: 6077 5964
From HK$598 per person for a set dinner not including wine pairing
For something a little more adventurous, Kea Liden recently launched her custom-made boat, a few minutes' sampan ride into the Aberdeen typhoon shelter. The sleek cruiser is beautifully designed and has space for up to 20 guests inside and another 20 on the roof. There is also a tiny deck that is perfect for couples. Liden runs cooking classes, hosts functions and serves multi-course dinners onboard, either moored in the marina or after motoring the 63-foot Mandarin Manor out to a sheltered spot. Tai Tam, Middle Island or South Bay are favourites.
Liden is from Chiang Rai, Thailand, but after cooking in Switzerland, she has tempered her Thai roots into a fusion cuisine. While guests can discuss a custom-made menu, two set dinners showcase her talent, specialities include her prawn with mozzarella and pesto roll served with Thai dipping sauce, overnight roasted pork belly, Maldivian-style lobster in spinach leaf, and mango sticky rice.
LIS Cafe 55 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen
Tel: 3968 8888
From HK$288 for adults/child HK$188 weekdays, HK$308/HK$208 weekends and public holidays until the end of August
Less well hidden, the sleekly designed L'Hotel Island South's "Seafood summerfest buffet" at LIS Cafe attracts locals as well as hotel guests. Oysters, mussels and whelks, Alaskan queen crab legs, sushi and sashimi, hot dishes such as baked cod fillet wrapped in filo pastry and international desserts have been designed by executive chef Sidney Chan. He is renowned for his bouillabaisse, steamed wild sea baby garoupa with scallions and slow cooked Australian lamb rack with basil, cress and pistachio.