THE world's most famous cult restaurant chain is set to open in Hongkong next year, the South China Morning Post can reveal. The Hard Rock Cafe hopes to be doing business in Tsim Sha Tsui by next April. And there are plans to open three outlets in China. Hotel Properties Ltd (HPL) - the Singapore-based firm which holds the franchise for a Hongkong Hard Rock - claims a number of sites are being considered. But the Post understands company bosses are in favour of a restaurant being based in a new building under construction in Canton Road. The office and retail complex will be the new headquarters for Playmates Holdings and is being funded by the firm's owners, the Chan family. Mr Edmund Hsu, a director of property agents Jones Lang Wootton, which is trying to identify a site for HPL, said negotiations were taking place. ''No terms have been agreed so far,'' he said. ''An offer has been made to the landlord which is being considered. ''It is not far away from what the landlord is looking for.'' HPL is also considering a possible move to the nearby Ocean Theatre cinema between the Ocean Centre and Omni The Hongkong Hotel. It is believed plans have been drawn up to convert the one-screen cinema into a restaurant with two smaller screen halls. However, it is believed the option to renovate the cinema would require more cash - a $50 million investment compared to $30 million to $40 million at Playmates. Last night, Mr Aloysius Wong, HPL's planning and development manager, said: ''We are trying to identify a site in Hongkong and we want it to be in Canton Road.'' He declined to comment further. Mr Colin Syn, executive director, said it had taken years to find a site because prices were so expensive. Mr Hsu, of Jones Lang Wootton, added: ''The first time I showed a place to Hard Rock in Hongkong was nine years ago. ''They are very selective. I think it is important to have a Hard Rock here.'' The Playmates building is under construction but is expected to be finished by the end of the year. The firm - famed for producing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys - will use the office and retail complex at 100-114 Canton Road as its new headquarters. It is currently based across the road in the World Finance Centre in Harbour City. Efforts last night to contact managing director Mr Thomas Chan and anyone representing his family were unsuccessful. Hard Rock is believed to want to occupy three floors - about 20,000 square feet. One full floor would be devoted to a 350-seat restaurant. A number of options are being considered for the possible use of the rest of the space. The Cafe, which is renowned for its basic American cuisine, loud rock 'n' roll and trendy reputation, has 27 restaurants around the world. Hard Rock is now expanding worldwide at a fast rate. It has also inspired a host of imitations, including a Hard Rock Cafe, also in Canton Road, which has been open since the 1970s. Mr Wong also revealed that plans by Hard Rock to enter China were now at an advanced stage. A new restaurant was set to go ahead in Beijing, subject to investment approval by the authorities, he said. And HPL was pressing ahead with moves to develop in Shanghai and Guangzhou, where it held the franchise. ''We have the franchise in these cities and Hard Rock Cafes will open there,'' he said. By 1995, HPL also plans to open outlets in Taiwan and Korea.