Trends in Hong Kong move in and out faster than a free-wheeling minibus driver at the end of his shift. From film festivals and crazy cocktails to heritage projects and paying for protesters, stay up-to-date with our predictions for the year ahead. OUT Big Flashy Restaurants IN Hole-in-the-wall takeaways With rents climbing higher every day, when we see a new restaurant opening the first thing that comes to mind is not what food it sells, but whether it’s going to last the year. Smart restaurateurs are testing the waters with dinky little shopfronts in areas with lots of office workers and are making a killing at lunchtime. In the past couple of months we’ve seen chicken shop La Rotisserie ( G/F, Manhattan Avenue, 255 Queen's Rd. Central, Sheung Wan, 2324-1898 ), Italian takeaway La Piadineria ( Shop B, G/F, Block 1, Tern Centre, 237 Queen's Rd. Central, Sheung Wan, 3974-5380 ) and Macau pork chop bun joint Tai Lei Loi Kei ( 52-60 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, 2871-2020 ) spring up to satisfy our cravings. Looks like those Mong Kok food stalls had a good business model all along. OUT Hipster Japanese IN Hipster Chinese The Yardbird craze was fun (unless you had to wait in line for hours because of their no-reservations policy, of course), but we’re sort of over having a meal of meat on sticks, paying a bundle for it and then STILL not being full when it’s over. Plus, it’s about time the motherland’s cuisine got in on the action. There’s a new thing to wait in line for now. Beijing-style street food has hit Central via month-old Mr. Bing ( LG/F, 83 Wellington St., Central, 2568-8248 ), which serves up jianbing—a hot crepe-like wrapper filled will all sorts of yummies: egg, fried wonton sheets, cilantro, scallions and more. Mr. Bing offers various options for the crepe batter—green bean, millet and buckwheat—as well as special fillings such as Peking duck and char siu. Though it’s not expensive, its location along the escalator and the massive queues that form during lunch remind us of Butao Ramen ’s. Once you’re in Central, you ain’t street food no more—you’re a bona fide fad. Then there’s Maureen ( 11 Hing Wan St., Wan Chai, 2915-2261 ), a noodle bar tucked down a side street behind the Blue House. The owner-chef Maureen Loh takes inspiration from traditional Chinese soups and noodles but chooses to forego the MSG in her delicate chicken and pork broths and springy noodles, making every bowl with the freshness and TLC of a home cook with the innovative touches of a with-it culinary pro. Lastly, pop-up enterprise Little Bao ( www.facebook.com/littlebaohk ), the brainchild of May Chow, has been spotted everywhere from Island East Markets to Clockenflap. Chow’s Asian-American fusion burgers have buns like mantou and innovative fillings like kimchi pulled pork, slow-cooked pork belly or truffled shitake-tempeh. At $60 a pop, they’re not cheap, but what super trendy foodstuff is? We hear she’ll set up a permanent shop in March. OUT Bootcamp IN Hardcore Body Conditioning Remember last year when everyone was obsessed with running around the great outdoors while being yelled at by some beefcake in a tight shirt? Well, these days, outdoor fitness is out, and badass workouts that leave you dry-heaving on the floor are in. CrossFit has been gaining traction, with the city’s first dedicated CrossFit gym, CrossFit Asphodel ( Unit 11C, Wah Ha Factory Building, 8 Shipyard Lane, Quarry Bay, 3568-7719, www.crossfitasphodel.com ), opening in Quarry Bay. Another new kid on the block is H-Kore (3 Wincome Center, 39 Des Voeux Rd., Central, 2441-9000, www.h-kore.com ), which is bringing something called Lagree Fitness to Hong Kong. We haven’t dared try it yet—it sounds terrifying—but basically you have to keep your muscles in a state of constant tension for the full 45-minute class. Then there’s the prevalence of MMA gyms, with big kahuna Epic MMA ( 1/F, Aon China Building, 29 Queen’s Rd. Central, 2525-2833 ) opening last year. OUT Pro-democracy protests IN Marching for cash From protesting patriotic education to demanding the resignation of chief executive CY Leung, there have been many occasions over the past 12 months where citizens have been forced to take to the streets to voice their opposition and vent their anger. But why wave banners and chant slogans for free when it’s so easy to make some money from it? Just a few weeks ago, the local media alleged that members of the pro-Leung camp, who had organized a counter-protest to the anti-CY marchers on January 1, had paid people $250 to take part in the rally. The skeevy detail? They had to queue outside a temporary public toilet to collect their cash. Just don’t lose control and beat up a journalist once you’re found out. OUT Kayaking IN Stand Up Paddle Boarding Instead of sitting on your ass and paddling out to a tiny island near Sai Kung or Stanley, get up and try your hand at balancing on an oversized surfboard. Don’t get us wrong, we love working out our upper bodies just as much as the next outdoor junkie, but after sitting at our desks all day we can understand why the newish fitness craze—which works your arms as well as your core and legs—has taken those water and sunshine-loving fitness freaks in America and Australia by storm. We were surprised when we could only find three spots in Hong Kong renting out boards and paddles since the nonexistent waves at our beaches make our waters ideal for newbies. But since trends really do take a few years to pop up here, we’re positive that by this June we’ll see a lot of residents trying their hand at stand up paddle boarding. HK Aqua Bound Centre Location: Stanley Main Beach, Stanley Beach Rd., Stanley, 8211-3876, www.aquabound.com.hk Board Rental: $150 per hour, $350 for 3 hours and $500 for the day (discount for members). Lessons: Classes range from $400 for a group of five to $1,000 for one student at a time. Blue Sky Sports Club Location: The beach by Sha Ha Road near Sai Kung Town, 2792-4938/3502-1823, www.bluesky-sc.com Board rental: $120 per hour, $200 for 2 hours and $280 for 3 hours. Lessons: Beginner, intermediate and advance classes as well as junior and adult paddle clubs. Palm Beach Location: Cheung Sha Beach, Lantau Island, 2980-4823, www.palmbeach.com.hk Board Rental: $110 per hour and $88 if you go for 4 or more hours. Lessons: Group-explore SUP Lessons or intensive lessons range from $300 to $700 depending on lesson choice and number of people in the group. OUT Blockbusters IN Film Festivals Late winter is the season that all the Oscar nominees start dropping in Hong Kong, from “Argo” and “Les Misérables” to “Life of Pi” and “Lincoln” (opening at the end of February). But we’ve just about had enough of all the hype, celeb-ogling and critic-panning. And what better way to still spend a night at the movies—and see lesser-known gems in the process—than by seeking out indie favorites at the city’s seemingly endless lineup of film festivals? The mother of them all, the annual Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) , isn’t held till springtime ( March 17-April 2, www.hkiff.org.hk ), but there are a ton of smaller film series aimed at special interest groups that are worth a look. Currently ongoing is the Tutto Verdi Film Festival ( January 19-20 and 26-27, www.classicalincinema.com ), showcasing filmed versions of the composer’s operas performed at the Teatro Regio di Parma, which has a Verdi festival every year. If you need more of an opera fix, The Met in Hong Kong screens productions filmed live in New York almost every month through August ( www.themetinhongkong.info ). Classical fans get an added dose of culture this year: the Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema brings the famed Russian troupe to the silver screen till July, as Broadway Cinema and AMC Cinema co-present eight screenings of the company’s signature performances that were filmed live in Moscow ( till July, www.cinema.com.hk and www.amccinemas.com.hk ). On the indie front, a German Film Forum is on the horizon, held once a month on January 25, February 22 and March 8 at the Film Archive and presented by the Goethe-Institut. The Hong Kong Film Archive, for its part, constantly plays host to series and screenings celebrating classic Hong Kong flicks, including the ongoing 100 Must-See Hong Kong Movies series ( www.filmarchive.gov.hk ). April brings the second annual Hong Kong-San Francisco Ocean Film Festival , showcasing movies about marine topics from wildlife to conservation to adventure ( April 9-17, Ocean Recovery ). The second Pineapple Underground Film Festival , or PUFF, is set for summer and currently accepting submissions and has a mission to showcase films from Chinese directors as well as international talents ( www.hkpuff.com ). In the spring, don’t miss the European Film Festival (details TBA), and keep an eye out for the lineup at the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival ( www.hklgff.hk ) in the autumn as well. If you can’t wait that long, the Coming Society bookstore and arts space just launched a series of monthly screenings every second Saturday of the month ( February 9, March 9 and May 11, www.facebook.com/comingsociety ) aiming to cover a range of relevant LGBTQ topics. But if you’re a consummate planner, count on ending the year with the annual Jewish Film Festival ( November 16-24, www.hkjff.org ) and the French Cinepanomara ( November-December, www.alliancefrancaise.org.hk ). OUT Angkor Wat IN Bagan Age-old temples will always have their appeal, but the sheer hordes that mob Cambodia’s crown jewel of tourism can be a bit off-putting. Yes, folks will still wake in the wee hours to watch the sun rise over the tiered beauty of early Khmer-Hindu architecture, but we think it’s about time that some new worship-worthy sites became en vogue. Adventurous travelers have long considered Myanmar—formerly called Burma—a desirous destination for its backcountry charms and utter lack of infrastructure (fun times on overnight buses FTW!), but now the country is becoming more and more accessible to travelers. The 11th- to 12th-century temple complex of Bagan is easier to get to than ever. It’s still not the simplest of matters to arrange domestic flights, accommodation and other transportation, and there’s a severe hotel shortage, but on the bright side, it’s become much less of a headache to get a visa since the government loosened up restrictions around the time of the April 2012 elections. They’re even working on an electronic visa application system—something that not even America has gotten around to yet, and let’s not forget that much of Burma has little to no internet access. A little off the beaten path—but not totally out of reach? We’ve got ourselves a hot new temple-filled destination of 2013. OUT Your Grandfather’s Drink IN Cocktails Arms Race Gone are the days of the classic cocktail, with uncomplicated staples like vodka or gin as key ingredients. A variety of cocktails—molecular or otherwise—have been springing up at new bars all around town. You won’t be seeing typical concoctions at +852 Flair Cocktail Bar ( G/F, 2 Glenealy, Central, 2537-2281 ), where the cocktail menu consists of scrupulous creations crafted from unusual ingredients sourced from all over the world. Take the yuzu sake mojito, for example, which consists of Thai spirit Mekhong and a mix of yuzu juice, fresh mint and Demerara sugar, topped up with sparkling sake. Blue Butcher 's ( 108 Hollywood Rd., Sheung Wan, 2613-9286 ) Blue Absinthe Fairy is a lethal mix of London dry gin, Blue Curacao and aperitif wine Lillet Blanc topped with fresh lemons, as well as—of course—absinthe. The drink, which serves four people or more, is certainly not something you’ll find at any old bar. Meanwhile, Antonio Lai, owner of molecular cocktail bar Quinary ( 56-58 Hollywood Rd., Central, 2851-3223 ), continues to come up with creations that have earned him approval among demanding drinkers. These include his signature Earl Grey Caviar Martini, a vodka-based drink blended with elderflower syrup and apple juice, completed with little spheres of Earl Grey “caviar” floating inside and beautiful foam atop the mixture. Another highlight is the Oolong Tea Collins, which mixes vodka and homemade oolong tea with cordial and soda. Honorable mentions should be given to Boujis ( 37 Pottinger St., Central, 2324-0200 ) and Honi Honi Tiki Lounge ( 3/F, Somptueux Central, 52 Wellington St., Central, 2353-0885 ) for their lavish creations that have raised the bar in the cocktail arms race. The former’s $1,250 Faboujis Egg (pictured) is a glorious mix of Havana Club rum, agave and Veuve Clicquot champagne with lychee, apple and lemon—which is then served in a large egg-shaped ice sculpture. The Honi Honi All the Way is a $2,888 cocktail served in a large watermelon, involving a mix of fresh ingredients like orange juice, passion fruit and mint along with Plantation rum and Grand Marnier. Drink up! OUT Apple iPad Mini IN Samsung Galaxy Having long enjoyed a diehard fan base, it seems that the hype surrounding Apple is finally dying down. Following the launch of the iPad Mini in November last year, tech enthusiasts, it seems, have since moved on to bigger and better things. A continuation of Apple’s constant upgrades and remodeling of its products, the 7.9-inch younger sibling of the bestselling iPad retains the majority of its features; however, it pales in comparison to the sleeker and arguably smarter Galaxy line of products. A series of devices released by South Korean tech giant Samsung , Galaxy smartphones and tablets are sleek, stylish and powerful, and with the Android operating system slowly but surely gaining traction, it is apparent that Galaxy devices are taking over the tech world by storm. Samsung actually beat Apple to the punch with the release of the Galaxy S3 Mini earlier last year, the name of which couldn’t be more appropriate; looks-wise, it’s identical to the Galaxy S3 in almost all aspects, only a little smaller. Apparently techies in the know swear by the S3 Mini, owing to its cool specs, including a 5-megapixel camera and a 4-inch display with a screen resolution of 800x480 pixels, as well as industry-standard features such as GPS and Bluetooth. Available at Broadway outlets citywide, including Shop 814-908, 8/F, Times Square, 1 Matheson St., Causeway Bay, 2506-0228. OUT Mexican Invasion IN Cuban Invasion Move over Brickhouse and Socialito —we’ll take rum and sick Cuban drumbeats over tacos and tequila any day. Sure, the similarly tiled floors and old-school, kitschy signs may trick you into conflating these two types of nightlife spots, but don’t be fooled. With beloved Tsim Sha Tsui pub Castro ’s ( 1/F, 16 Ashley Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, 2957-8041 ) revamping and refreshing its exteriors and cool new Havana Bar ( 4/F, The Plaza, 21 D’Aguilar St., Central, call 2851-4880 ) opening in Lan Kwai Fong—complete with terrace, drummers and a drinks list that gets very classy and creative with rum—we hope to see a lot more mojitos and Montecristos where that came from. OUT Post-80s IN Post-90s Four years ago, the public and the media alike were fascinated by the Post-80s generation—people born between 1980 and 1989 who were known for their social conscience. They spearheaded protests against unpopular redevelopment projects such as the express rail to Guangzhou. But now a new generation of civic-minded youths are taking center stage, and they are smarter, more politically astute and better organized than their predecessors. Scholarism, a protest group founded by secondary school students, did an amazing job mobilizing support during last year’s anti-national education protests. Last month, the group announced that it would throw its weight behind the anti-CY Leung movement. Unfortunate news for the Leung administration—it now has to deal with a formidable opposition force. The future of the pro-democracy moment's looking pretty bright. OUT Botox IN Cutting-edge Skincare Machines While injecting your face with paralyzing chemicals ostensibly remains “in”—judging from the plethora of frozen faces we see trotting around the Landmark—smart people looking for skincare solutions are turning away from extreme treatments and instead looking at non-invasive technologies touted as non-surgical facelifts. These treatments claim to help to tighten skin, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and improve your complexion without traumatizing your epidermis. The city’s top spas have been wheeling in high-tech gadgets such as the CACI, which uses high frequency vibrations that allow products to penetrate more deeply into the skin. Other machines infuse the skin with high doses of oxygen to help deliver vitamins and neutralize free radicals, use anti-bacterial technology to treat problem skin, or use micro-currents to help tone and lift the face muscles. Wanna Try? Give these high tech, machine-driven treatments a go: Oxygen Infusion Intraceuticals treatment. $1,800 for 60 minutes at The Peninsula Spa by Espa, Salisbury Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, 2696-6682. CACI Ling DNA Facial. $1,950 (weekday) or $2,100 (weekend) for 90 minutes at The Spa at the Four Seasons, 6/F, 8 Finance St., Central, 3196-8888. Micro-Current Editor’s Pick! Aromatherapy Associates “Ultimate Power Facial.” $1,500 for 90 minutes at The Mira Spa, B/3, The Mira, 118 Nathan Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, 2315-5500. OUT Heritage Fails IN Heritage Wins Our city doesn’t exactly have an illustrious history of building preservation *cough1881Heritagecough*, but in the past couple of years, there have been some sympathetic redevelopments have been executed sensitively, sensibly and tastefully, thanks to the introduction of the Revitalizing Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme, which is run by the Development Bureau. After inviting NGOs to partner up in running the historical sites, we have seen the opening of the Tai O Heritage Hotel and old apothecary Lui Seng Chun on Lai Chi Kok Road, which is now a Chinese medicine center managed by Hong Kong Baptist University. Another project we like is the renovated Yau Ma Tei Theatre , which is a coverted old movie theater and now hosts Cantonese opera performances and supports young talent learning the old art. OUT Fake Private Kitchens IN Private Kitchens 2.0 More and more dining establishments around the city have been touting the swanky-sounding “private kitchen” label lately, but more often than not this turns out to be code for “teeny-tiny restaurant in a walk-up apartment complex with a fixed dinner menu and BYOB.” (Head's up: your eatery is no longer a private kitchen once you have a full kitchen staff and diners seated shoulder-to-shoulder.) Fortunately for us, though, a handful of spots have taken the private kitchen concept and gone above and beyond, with admirable results. Both opened within the last two years or so, Kea’s Kitchen ( Row One, Mooring 5345, Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter, Aberdeen, 6077-5964, www.keaskitchen.com ) and Sik Yum Sik Sik ( 9 Tai Om Village, Tai Po, firstname.lastname@example.org ) are two such private kitchens. The former is located on a custom-built boat accessible via sampan, and patrons dine on the middle or top decks while enjoying a multi-course, Thai-inspired spread. The venue can also be booked out for birthday parties and the like. Meanwhile, Sik Yum Sik Sik is a robin’s-egg-blue village house nestled in the trees of Tai Om Village, which doubles up as a private kitchen and the home of owner Amen Tsang and his pets. Serving Asian fare, Tsang sources most of his ingredients from the nearby gardens and Kadoorie Farm. Another tried-and-true locale is Mandy’s Private Kitchen ( near Sai Kung Town Centre, Sai Kung, 9816-9946, www.mandysprivatekitchen.com ), featuring a terrace, a view of the mountains and a unique Trinidadian menu. OUT Central Mid-Levels Escalator IN Sai Ying Pun Escalator We’re not saying don’t use the Central escalator if we’re in the area (we don’t expect anyone to climb that stupidly steep mountain), but in terms of pedestrian life in Hong Kong, it is a little bit been-there-done-that. Sure, Faye Wong peeped into Tony Leung’s apartment window from the escalators in “Chungking Express” and Christian Bale and Morgan Freeman strolled along the Hollywood Road overpass in “The Dark Knight,” but there’s a new escalator popping up in the Wild West (aka Sai Ying Pun). Head over to Centre Street—between Third Street and Bonham Road—to watch as the first in a series of escalators (the rest are under construction) draws in an array of new small businesses. Our top picks for the most recent additions to the up-and-coming SYP (yes, we’re trying to make that acronym happen) are the tiny coffee and cake shop Corner Café , popular Italian fine dining restaurants One Stop , Memo’s and Trattoria Caffe Monteverdi (if you can get a reservation!) and the not-even-a-month-old American diner Awakening Café . We’re looking forward to some new boutiques opening up soon, too. Central’s longest outdoor covered whatever may be a Hong Kong staple, but it’s got a bit of competition coming its way. Trends We Hate Faux Pop-Ups When your “pop-up” store lasts a full 10 months, you’re basically saying, “We don’t want to lose face when the landlord kicks us out.” Hashtag Abuse More than three in a tweet is just obnoxious. Some of the worst we’ve seen recently: #potatoes, #work, #lounge and #nom. Charging for Cakeage Paying corkage in a restaurant is fair enough. But a birthday cake? How miserly. The “Ho” Suffix The latest “Ho” in town (after SoHo and NoHo) is “PoHo,” the up-and-coming Po Hing Fong area in the quiet end of Sheung Wan. We wonder if these abbreviations will catch on: CaiBo Caine Road to Bonham Road, the next up-and-coming area to watch. SoJo South of Johnston Road, as coined by The Wanderlister LyWy Lyndhurst to Wyndham Street. Only attempt to pronounce if you’re Welsh.