2016: What's on the Cards?
Welcome, seeker of truth. Step into this sub-divided tent and cross our palms with silver (or at least plastic polymer notes). Are you ready to gaze into the future of Hong Kong?
The Magician represents power, skill and action. What could be more appropriate than the city’s culinary wizards cooking up brand new dishes and concepts in 2016?
The Booze-Food Takeover
Gone are the days of pairing your steak with a nice glass of Côtes du Rhône. This year is all about mixing booze into food and food into booze in weird and wacky combinations. We’ve seen it done in classy ways such as the unique food-and-cocktail pairing menu at Vea which infuses drinks with ingredients such as black vinegar and Roquefort cheese, and the sake-tastic broth at The Drunken Pot. Then there’s the rather more challenging horse meat carpaccio cocktail at Cima. The key here is subtlety—and we’ll draw the line when our drinks start coming with a spoon and our food with a straw…
Can’t bear to brave the TST crowds for good Indian food? You’re in luck. The city is seeing a new wave of modern Indian eateries that say so long to kitschy restaurant décor in favor of modern presentations and refined, contemporary cooking. New restaurants including Juhu Beach Club and Bindaas are serving up kathi rolls, pav bhaji and samosas with a distinctly modern spin to match their fittingly hip décor. Now if only someone could give Chungking Mansions the same makeover…
When did “tapas” become the catch-all term for anything snack-like or served on small plates? Tapas-style everything is taking over in Hong Kong: There are surf-and-turf “tapas” appetizers at Wooloomooloo Prime, Casa Tapas Bar (18 Woo Hop St., Shek Tong Tsui, 2776-6599) is using it as an umbrella term for everything from okonomiyaki pancakes to buffalo cauliflower, and Indian tapas are showing up at Bindaas. Who knows? 2016 might just be the year dim sum gets rebranded “Chinese-style tapas.” Expect more tapas-style everything in 2016. What if it’s just Hong Kong’s way of hiding ridiculously small portions?
The Hermit symbolizes introspection and solitary thought. What with faster delivery services and the proliferation of online TV, 2016 is looking like the year of the homebody.
Too lazy to cook or grab supermarket sushi on the way home from work? No problem: Deliveroo.hk claims to be able to deliver your favorite restaurant dishes to your doorstep in less time than it takes for you to get home—they boast an average of 32 minutes per delivery. Foodpanda.hk’s matched the 30 minute claim as well: We’re just feeling sorry for the harried kitchen staff. And because drinking in solitude is the new normal for 2016, Bottlesxo.com has you covered with less-than-one-hour delivery on wines. Next up: a time machine delivery service which has the guy knocking on your door before you’ve even ordered it.
Hallelujah! Netflix has finally arrived in Hong Kong, meaning that now we can all binge on our favorite American TV shows. This is going to be the golden year of the couch potato, with subscription plans starting at $63 per month—although we have to admit that so far, the selection of available shows is a little light. For those who love Chinese programs as much as American ones, LeTV ($399/year) has arrived with more than 5,000 movies—as well as Premier League football. Meanwhile Viu TV—Now TV’s on-demand service—will debut its internet video platform in March this year. Let’s grab brunch in, oh, early 2017?
The Tower represents disaster, upheaval and sudden change. What could be more apposite for our predictions for the year to come in Hong Kong news?
If Hong Kong were its own country, you might call them nationalists. But it’s not, and so localism was born. This grassroots movement isn’t going anywhere, as increased meddling from China—perceived and real alike—is only going to further entrench the “go screw yourselves, China” ideology. With Legco elections coming up in the second half of the year, their voices are only going to get louder still. There’s a good chance that they’ll split the pan-dem vote, much to the satisfaction of the pro-government parties.
The missing bookseller saga is straight-up bizarre, but it’s had a very real effect on our city. When the first of the booksellers went missing in November, Page One bookstore—which has six outlets in China—quietly began withdrawing its controversial China-critical books from its shelves. Sure, most of these books are profit-grabbing collections of scurrilous rumors: But that’s no reason to obliterate them (and their publishers) from the face of the earth. These days “publish and be damned” is getting scarily literal and we’re not hopeful for 2016.
The Fool represents newness, purity and open-heartedness: the perfect attributes for a new year and a new look. (Also, you’ve got to be a bit of a fool to follow everything in fashion.)
Tumblr or Life?
This year fashion sees even more patterns and jokes that would be as at home on a Tumblr page as on a piece of clothing. Ever felt the urge to spritz your face with some blue Swipe detergent? Moschino’s king of cheek Jeremy Scott has you covered with his latest Fresh perfume ($680 for 100ml) which is in the shape of a bottle of cleaning spray. Also available as a totally ridiculous phone case. Hong Kong brand Holisocks’ donut socks ($120) perk up any boring office dress code with a little bit of 8-bit fun. It’s not the first time Vans have released fast food-related kicks, but their 2016 “Late Night” season (from $426) has a whole buffet of greasy late-night eats decorating their kicks: burgers, pizza, tacos, donuts and more.
Oh God, Meggings Are Back
They’ve been spotted on runways since as early as 2011, and have been desperately clawing (or mooseknuckling) their way into mainstream fashion ever since. Not just your average compression tights (that dudes actually wear to go running under a pair of loose shorts), 2016’s man-legging redux seems to have adopted the trend the way the ladies wear it: dark, cottony shin-huggers paired with cutoff shorts. We’ve seen them all over Mong Kok, so sadly it’s looking like A Real Thing… Where to buy ‘em: The ladies’ markets, which surely tells you all you need to know.
Hot Hair or Not Hair
Every day is a bad hair day for us, so we enlisted the help of Darrin Usher of Daz Hair to name the top styles of 2016. According to Darrin, for longer hair we’re looking at braids and soft buns for 2016. Center braids, side braids or braids with buns—just keep it simple and elegant (and away from your face). For short-haired vixens, the look of 2016 is the bob, textured or natural. Bangs (or fringes) are also back in full force, and going even heavier and longer. And forget going natural this year—bold colors are back in, so if you’ve always wanted to sport a bright red ‘do or streaks of midnight blue, now’s your chance to go for it.
The Lovers represent love and union, two things we highly doubt we’ll be seeing this year in Hong Kong. But here’s our list of highly implausible pipe dream predictions for 2016.
—Taxi drivers clean up their act in the face of Uber threats, delivering an efficient and professional service that doesn’t involve them ignoring you in the small hours or refusing to cross the harbor because “they don’t know the roads.”
—Beer prices suddenly fall back to the $60-80 range.
—No more tragedies involving domestic helpers, human rights abuses and unfair wages.
—The property bubble bursts and regular people are able to afford flats/rent again.
—China decides to chill out, take a step back and leave us alone to make money and do our own thing.
—CY Leung becomes embroiled in an amusingly complex sex scandal.
—We get genuine universal suffrage.
The Star represents hope, renewal and inspiration. We’re not sure all these people fill us with hope as such, but here are the rising stars who’ll be a big deal in 2016.
—Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, the new chairman of the HKU’s governing council. With the appointment of “King” Arthur to the post, the university’s management woes will only get worse. The Beijing loyalist is known for his high-handed, confrontational style and he lacks the confidence of HKU staff and alumni alike. Sounds promising!
—Agnes Chow Ting, former Scholarism spokesperson. Chow stepped out of the spotlight halfway through Occupy, but she’s been back in the news: Most recently in a video seeking to raise awareness of missing bookseller Lee Bo. As the political game ramps up again, 2016 could be her time to shine.
—James Ng Yip-kwan, better known as “Kwan Gor,” is the name on everyone’s lips in Cantopop. The nerdy looking 25-year-old singer was named “best newcomer” in all four Hong Kong Cantopop chart awards; he was so overcome with emotion that his glasses fogged up during an acceptance speech, taking him from successful singer to instant meme. You’ll be hearing his name again.
—Emily Lau, outgoing Democratic Party chair. The legendary lawmaker may not be running for re-election this year, but we doubt she’s going anywhere. What if she starts a new party with Ronny Tong?
—Christopher Chung Shu-kun, universally known as “Tree Gun.” Upcoming Legco elections means that this pro-Beijing veteran will be on the front lines with still more insane pronouncements. We’ll get the popcorn.
The World represents completion, accomplishment and travel. Live up to it with these four must-see-in-2016 getaways.
One of the world’s most colorful destinations, the country has seen an exponential rise in tourism since thawing relations with the U.S. made traveling there easier and cheaper. Cigars, Hemingway, rum, salsa, Che and 60-year-old antique American cars—now those are bragging rights. Be seduced by Cuba before it inevitably loses its 1950s time capsule cool. responsibletravel.com/holidays/cuba.
Yes, really. While the news gives us nothing but its nuclear ambitions, the country has an astonishingly rich history and culture. As unlikely as it sounds, tourism to Iran grew last year and looks set to explode in 2016. UNESCO world heritage sites, beguiling medieval towns, mysterious teahouses, bazaars, oases, mountain ranges and the eternal desert—you’ll feel like an extra in an Indiana Jones movie. Various organizations offer packages, including kuonitravel.com.hk.
Da Nang, Vietnam
We know, you went to Vietnam when it was still like, fresh and unexplored. But probably not to Da Nang. With stunning beaches, amazing architecture and a nighttime neon buzz, Da Nang is a former French colonial port which offers a host of great experiences: Son Trà Mountain, China Beach and the five Marble Mountains, caves, shrines, museums and amazing bridges. And oh man, the food… Dragonair and HK Express fly to Da Nang daily, with prices from around $1,100.
If you’ve been to Boracay, you may well have traveled unknowingly through Kalibo. But it’s more than an alternative gateway to that (admittedly) tropical paradise: Kalibo is a great destination in its own right, with charm and panache. In January it hosts Ati-Atihan, a religious and cultural festival in which visitors are actively encouraged to participate. Flights start at around $1,800 from various agents including kayak.com.hk.
No, the Death card doesn’t mean death. Mostly. Instead it represents endings, beginnings, change or transformation. So what’s ending and beginning this year?
The South will rise again: With last year’s opening of the West Island Line, Western district became the place to hang out. But one year on, Sai Wan’s old news. Where next for the self-respecting hipster? The Southside, of course. The South Island Line is (finally) slated to open in 2016 and the former industrial district of Wong Chuk Hang is quietly transforming into something way cooler. Here are six things to do in a day, before everyone moves in and ruins it all.
—Start with brunch at 3/3rds (22D Yally Industrial Building, 6 Yip Fat St., Wong Chuk Hang, 3462-2951), a cool and charming cafeteria serving healthy salads, pizzas and pancakes with a side of abundant natural light.
—Then head to one of the many galleries in the district, including Blindspot Gallery, for an artsy hour or two.
—Go furniture shopping at the spacious and exceedingly well-stocked Lane Crawford Home Store and Showroom (G/F, One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Rd., Wong Chuk Hang, 2118-2288).
—Caffeine junkies, take a pit stop at Sensory Zero (G01, One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Rd., Wong Chuk Hang, 2511-6011), a small artisan coffee joint.
—Grab a dry-aged beef wellington for dinner at The Butchers Club Deli.
—End your day with a nightcap at Ovolo Southside’s rooftop bar Above, which has fantastic views out towards Repulse Bay.