Wyndham Street bars: three to savour, plus two you might waver over if you’re a serious drinker
Planning a night out in Central? You’re spoilt for choice on one of the city’s oldest streets – let our reviews be your guide
Wyndham Street in Central is one of Hong Kong’s oldest colonial streets. Previously known as Pedder Hill and once nicknamed Flower Street, it is a few minutes walk from the well-known entertainment area Lan Kwai Fong, and has a healthy food and drink scene of its own.
There’s a wealth of nightlife options along the street. We’ve picked three you’ll want to wander into, and two more you may want to ponder over.
Lilya Moroccan Lounge and Bar
Coming out of the lift feels like stepping into a scene from the Arabian Nights as you find yourself in a vestibule decked out with colourful traditional shoes and stained glass lanterns.
Inside, low tables with sofa and pouffe seating, wooden latticework – are given a contemporary twist, just like the contemporary Maghrebi pop music played by the DJ. Service is warm and welcoming (if you want to practise your French or Arabic, this is your chance) and late in the evening when the music goes up and the lights go down, it’s a fun place to party.
The drinks list is divided into Moroccan Signature and Asian Creation cocktails and contain a lot of perfumed and spicy ingredients.
The Majorelle (HK$125, Napue gin, cardamom syrup, basil, fresh apple juice, citrus) was exquisitely served – it’s worth ordering just for the Instagram moment – but while agreeably refreshing, it tasted more like a mocktail.
Lilya is well worth a visit, especially for those who appreciate the subtle, complex flavours of Moroccan cuisine.
Tsuru focuses on quality and meticulous attention to detail. Soft brown and beige tones and soothing jazz create a mellow feel. There’s a range of seating choices – you can watch bartender Hirakawa at work at the large, circular mahogany bar, there are also plenty of tables, or you can choose a seat by the window.
Daintily presented, authentic Japanese snacks to accompany your drinks appear at regular intervals with chopsticks resting on origami cranes (“tsuru” means crane in Japanese) to nibble them with.
Hirakawa is an artist and watching him craft the cocktails from scratch is entertainment in itself. Drinks are served in stylish, perfectly chosen glasses, ingredients are fresh, ice is hand-carved.
The Shichimi Bloody Mary (HK$115), made with the bar’s own infused vodka (ingredients include wasabi, garlic, black pepper and seaweed tea), is fiercely spicy yet refreshing.
The blissfully laid-back atmosphere and excellent service make Tsuru an outstanding addition to Hong Kong’s bar scene.
Happy hour: 5pm-8pm
Runway is a concept bar designed to evoke the golden age of flying in the 1950s. Staff wear pilot’s uniforms, walls are covered in riveted metal plates like the outside of an old plane, and an illuminated route map on the wall shows the limited number of routes available back then. Stylishly designed barstools add a nice touch, service is friendly and you get a bowl of nibbles with your drinks, a welcome touch that’s all too rare in these cost-cutting days.
The best drink of the night was Flying Dutch Boy (HK$98, orange peel-infused Stolichnaya, orange bitters, lime, La Quintinye dry vermouth), a well-made dry martini with a delicate tang of orange.
Runway’s prime location, fun concept and great happy hour deal (standard drinks are HK$48) give it a good chance of remaining airborne.
Open: 3pm-2am (Wed to Sat until 4am). Happy hour: Mon to Sat 3pm-8pm, Sunday all day
Halcyon has taken over the location previously occupied by Solas. It is a mixture of cafe in the afternoon, bar in the evening and music lounge into the small hours. There are lots of comfortable low seats, but they feel out of place, as if they’ve been plonked down in the middle of a warehouse.
The signature cocktails have cute names and are sweet, suggesting they’re aimed more at the late night party crowd than the serious drinker.
Best of the bunch was Man Mountain (HK$118, Plantation 3 Stars rum, apricot liqueur, Amontillado sherry, lemon juice, chocolate bitters) which was strong and had a good combination of flavours, if a bit too heavy on the apricot.
Halcyon’s prime location and room to boogie will make it a hit with punters looking to party but those in search of an atmospheric bar with quality drinks should go elsewhere.
Down a flight of red carpeted steps from an unmarked doorway next to Pastis restaurant on Wyndham Street, Le Boudoir is known as a place to party late at night and on weekends. It recently underwent what was touted as a major revamp by well-known street artist Szabotage and it just feels like being in an old-fashioned restaurant that somebody has vandalised. When we visited, the place was dead – and being served by a waiter who clearly had zero interest in his job didn’t help.
The signature cocktails seem aimed at girls (and boys) who get giggly on the kind of drinks identified with paper umbrellas.
High Heels (HK$110, vodka, crème de mure, crème de cassis, raspberry, blackberry, lemon, apple juice) tasted exactly like Ribena; Red Express (HK$110, rum, sparkling wine, raspberry, lime, fresh mint, red chilli, honey syrup) lacked both alcohol and any spice from the chilli.
Neither the drinks nor the service are likely to attract a wider clientele in a city where so many bars have great mixology and go out of their way to make patrons of all kinds feel welcome.