March in Hong Kong is a maelstrom of high energy as numerous art shows rumble into town, attracting not only dealers and gallerists eager to rub elbows with the monied denizens of this hedonistic world, but a wide spectrum of both high profile and up-and-coming artists here to be inspired. With food and booze the necessary fuel to survive the frenetic scheduling of art month, here are the bars and restaurants where the aesthetes are likely to congregate.
Over in Kowloon, the recently renovated Eaton Hong Kong has been the name on everybody’s lips thanks to the hotel’s striking, urban-forward aesthetic coupled with a serious approach to F&B. Its position in the gritty Jordan neighbourhood marks a departure from the glitz of Central and Wan Chai’s art hubs, and we imagine the terrace bar – known for its live music nights and esoterically named cocktails – will be filled with artists in the know throughout March.
Hong Kong Island’s east side is home to Oi!, Para Site, Space 27 and more trailblazers on the art scene, and in recent years a few newcomers have popped up to provide sustenance between gallery hops. The stylish Chop Chop is a highly modernised take on the classic Cantonese barbecued meat restaurant, serving legit renditions of char siu (roast pork), siu yok (crispy pork belly) and roast goose in an environment that references old-school dai pai dongs and 1980s and ’90s Cantopop. Heading further east to the industrial gallery spaces of Chai Wan? Then don’t miss Sun Kwai Heung, one of the city’s best char siu purveyors – pull up a seat and dig deep into one of their legendary plates.
H Queen’s, opened last summer in Central, has already established itself as an art hub, with galleries such as David Zwirner and Hauser & Wirth making themselves at home within its shimmering glass walls. Perched at the top is Écriture, the contemporary French restaurant helmed by chef Maxime Gilbert, an iconoclast whose haute cuisine represents the pinnacle of presentation and flavour. Top tip: head to sister rooftop bar, Piqniq, for a post-prandial cocktail.
Sai Ying Pun is one of the go-to districts during art month, with its mix of indie galleries (Above Second, Puerta Roja) and big names such as Pearl Lam Galleries rubbing shoulders in the neighbourhood. While venues such as Potato Head and Ping Pong 129 Gintonería are solid players, head to Max Levy’s irreverent izakaya-inspired eatery for an evening of intriguing sakes and wildly inventive small plates that bring his fusion of Japanese training, New Orleans upbringing and Beijing/Hong Kong experiences to the fore.
Situated in the JC Contemporary building at the Tai Kwun heritage complex, this Jiangnan-focused restaurant will undoubtedly be a magnet for art fanatics with an appetite. During the day, the airy bar and lounge is conducive to sipping cold-brew osmanthus oolong tea with a side of cake, while the buzzing dining room has patrons fighting over the last dumpling (Sichuan-spiced ibérico pork soup ones, at that). After hours? Head down to Behind Bars, also run by Jia Group, for a cheeky nightcap and people watching.
Once you tire of Hollywood Road’s numerous galleries, head to this unassuming beer bar for sweet, refreshing respite. A stone’s throw from artsy Bibo restaurant (another darling on the circuit) and nestled among the curio shops of Upper Lascar Row, the vibe is just right – it’s where you can dine on dishes such as seared mackerel with calamansi and green tomatoes, paired with bottle-fermented craft brews.