Tseung Kwan O may look like just another satellite town, but it's teeming with celebrities. Most of them hang out at INA by Inagiku, the Japanese restaurant famous for teppanyaki and tempura.
The new outlet sits on the second floor of the Holiday Inn Express, and has a cool, slate-grey interior, a teppanyaki counter and a dedicated sushi and sashimi bar.
With the upscale restaurant just minutes down the road from the TVB studios, INA would seem ideally located for the network's personalities to grab lunch. Before the hotel opened in October, they would have raced off in their sports cars to more glamorous locales when their directors called "cut".
While Tseung Kwan O may not be the place to find the latest dining trends - there's barely a whiff of slow food, and only a whisper of organic - it is slowly gentrifying.
Sometimes called Junk Bay, the area is better known among locals for the stench of the nearby landfill. But new developments in the area include the cruise ship terminal in Kowloon Bay and the transformation of Kwun Tong into a financial district.
Hotels are being built in Tseung Kwan O to house an influx of business visitors and tourists. A new mall called PopCorn has quickly attracted big restaurant groups and beverage chains.
The reputation of agnes b. took a beating when the French company opened a large space right at the front of the PopCorn mall, offering menus only in English and simplified Chinese characters, signalling its intention to ignore Cantonese clientele.
Now the menus have been updated, business looks to be recovering, if the crowds of latte-sipping shoppers are anything to go by. Upstairs in the mall, Crystal Jade dishes out Shanghainese staples, next to the child-friendly California Pizza Kitchen.
Old Street Kobiteh is a break from the norm. The green and white tiles are charming, retro and evocative of Southeast Asian kopitiam, or coffee shops. The Hainan chicken is the Malaysian-inspired restaurant's signature dish, but try the flaky roti bread with a full-flavoured beef rendang and a warming herbal bak kut teh soup.
Next to INA by Inagiku at the Holiday Inn Express is a higher-end Shanghainese restaurant, Jin Cuisine, where the dishes are enjoyable, the service good, and the red wine expensive.
Opposite, the Crowne Plaza has four restaurants. Chef's Table serves Western fare, including an afternoon tea buffet with a chocolate counter for HK$128 on weekends. There is also the elaborately decorated Tze Yuet Heen, which serves Cantonese cuisine. Cielo, on the 47th floor, is Tseung Kwan O's first rooftop restaurant and bar. It is tiny and plush with velvet banquettes inside, and spacious if blustery outside.
It's possible to amble along the waterfront promenade towards Lohas Park - a newer housing estate that will grow to a mammoth 50 towers - and pass what will be prime parkland in the future. Hang Hau, the next new town, is in the other direction.
The walk will build an appetite for a hearty steak dinner at Lardos in Hang Hau Village. A place the locals want to keep secret, its dining room is simply tiled, and it turns out one of Hong Kong's best rib-eyes - but without the usual price-tag.
Meat lovers might also want to visit T.C. Deli, behind the restaurant, which is run by the same proprietor and sells prime cuts, cured meats and good cheeses, also at bargain prices.
Nearby, in Hang Hau town proper, there is a Maxim's and You cafe, shabby chic with a vintage vibe, in the Hau Tak Shopping Centre. The fridge has the same line of organic beer, fruit teas and designer water as the company's Simply Life outlets.
This menu is slimmed down compared with other locations, with baked potatoes, some spaghetti dishes and an all-day traditional English breakfast.
In The Area
TSEUNG KWAN O
Holiday Inn Express Tower 4, 3 Tong Tak Street
- INA by Inagiku 2/F; tel: 2623 2300
- Jin Cuisine 1/F; tel: 2623 2333
Crowne Plaza 3 Tong Tak Street
- Chef's Table 1/F; tel: 3983 0688
- Tze Yuet Heen 2/F; tel: 3983 0688
- Cielo 47/F; tel: 3983 0688
PopCorn Mall 9 Tong Yin Street
- Old Street Kobiteh F54, 1/F; tel: 3974 5118
- Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao F09, 2/F; tel: 2673 3108
- California Pizza Kitchen F10, 2/F; tel: 3902 3875
- Lardos Steak House 4B Hang Hau Village; tel: 2719 8168
T.C. Deli 10-12B G/F Hang Hau Village; tel: 2358 2332
- Maxim's and You 159-160, Hau Tak Shopping Centre; tel: 2177 1750