Diner’s Diary

Top Hong Kong restaurants and their inconvenient toilets - outside in market or mall, or needing a staff escort to pass security doors

Upscale restaurants may offer million-dollar views or boast Michelin stars, but still can’t meet a basic need when nature calls – a toilet conveniently located under the same roof

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 September, 2017, 5:18pm
UPDATED : Monday, 04 September, 2017, 10:50am

Hong Kong restaurants are notoriously tight for space, with tiny kitchens allowing more diners to be squeezed in to pay the rent.

That might explain why some have weird locations for their restrooms.

Serge et le Phoque, by the Wan Chai wet market, has fantastic French food but the bathrooms aren’t in the restaurant – customers have to use the public ones in the car park next door. It’s a Michelin-starred restaurant, but it seems the inspectors are only concerned with the food. The Michelin guide says: “The decoration, service and comfort levels have no bearing on the award.”

Fujiyama Mama, a funky Japanese restaurant in the Peak Tower on The Peak, has only two toilets – one for men, one for women – outside the restaurant, and shares them with a Cantonese restaurant on the same floor. There are also hundreds of tourists who may need to make a pit stop here before they get to the observation deck on top.

The line for the women’s – or shall I say woman’s – washroom was long when we went recently.

The recently opened Le 39 V in Hong Kong’s tallest building, the International Commerce Centre in Kowloon, is the Hong Kong outpost of the one-Michelin-star Paris restaurant of the same name, and is also notable for its inconveniences.

In Hong Kong, city of 14,000 restaurants, pop-up dinners thrive as world’s top chefs lure foodies eager for new tastes

Situated on the Sky101 Dining level that has several high-end restaurants, such as the posh-sounding The Sky Boss and two-Michelin-star RyuGin, Le 39 V’s restroom is actually next door at Inakaya.

It turns out the Japanese restaurant was split in half to make space for the French one, and it seems Le 39 V didn’t have the budget or space for a toilet, though there are public toilets outside by the lift. What a relief.

Also in Kowloon, one of the newest restaurants in Harbour City is Haku, offering an innovative French-Japanese menu served omakase-style by chef Agustin Balbi.

Our five best new Hong Kong restaurants of 2017 ... so far

The restaurant is a calming oasis in the mall, but when nature calls staff direct customers outside into the shopping frenzy; my dining companion almost got lost returning to Haku because its signage is understated. Maybe the restaurant should give patrons a ball of string so that they know how to get back.

Then there are restaurants in office buildings. Le Terroir Parisien is French chef Yannick Alléno’s long-awaited venture in Hong Kong. The bistro in Prince’s Building is straightforward, the food has a nice French flourish, but getting to the washroom is a two-person affair. That’s because one of the servers has to accompany you with a pass card to go through a maze of passageways before arriving at the toilet, which can’t be opened without the card.

It’s also an adventure at the upscale Cantonese restaurant Ying Jee Club in the Nexxus Building next to the Hang Seng Bank headquarters in Central. Staff escort you through a series of three doors with a pass card to open the restroom door. A tad over the top.

Update: We’ve since heard from Le Terroir Parisien that no pass cards are needed to go to the restrooms any more.