This week is the first anniversary of something that I did with the greatest reluctance: I stopped writing restaurant reviews for this newspaper. A year ago, we were deep into the Covid-19 pandemic, although I didn’t think we realised at the time that the situation would last so long. But the streets of Hong Kong were empty – people weren’t going out to eat or shop, even though the government hadn’t yet imposed dining restrictions. Restaurants, especially the smaller places, were closing at a rapid clip. What sealed my decision to stop doing reviews was when I visited a Soho restaurant on a Saturday, and, when I called the place three days later to arrange a photo shoot, I was told that they were closing for good. They decided to scale back operations to concentrate on keeping their other, more established, restaurants open. (They succeeded, fortunately.) Since then, more restaurants have closed, but to our surprise, others have opened, many of them to great success. There are dozens of places that I wanted to review in the past year, but couldn’t: Ando , Hansik Goo , Yong Fu, Chaat, Batard , Ma … and The Seeds of Life, Chao Zhou Xuan, Club Rangoon … They all opened last year, and, as far as I know, are still going strong. We attributed the openings of many of these places to the fact that the ball was already rolling for them – their owners/operators had been working on them since before the start of the pandemic and they were so far along they couldn’t just stop. But even now, new places are opening, and their owners must have started planning them in the midst of the pandemic, knowing full well that the situation wouldn’t be ending soon. Their owners have faith in Hong Kong’s future, at least as far as dining is concerned. The restaurant scene in Hong Kong has always changed quickly. Sometimes, operators try out a succession of “concepts” in a single space, opening one restaurant after another seemingly every few months, using the same chefs and staff, and only changing the menu – until they finally hit on an idea that works. Hong Kong’s new niche restaurants step up as bigger ones go bust Sometimes, there’s what we call a “dead space” – a shop that, for whatever reason, changes owners/concepts every six months or so, because no restaurant can survive there, until suddenly, one does. Sometimes, there’s a wildly popular trend and restaurateurs jump on the bandwagon, only to find that it’s all over in just a few months. Then there are the places we think will be around forever, until they’re not. It could be that the chef or owner passes away, or a greedy landlord doubles the rent, or any number of other reasons. So all these changes in the current food and beverage scene – the openings and closings – aren’t anything that hasn’t happened before, although maybe not at this pace. But while this is great for those of us who like to try new places, the impetus behind these changes – the pandemic – isn’t anything I ever hope to see repeated.