December has rolled round again and it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. While the holidays are going to be a bit different for many of us this year, Hong Kong in December still comes with its treats.
First, there’s the balmy weather, which inspires trailrunners and hikers to conquer wild and wonderful mountain trails, while others enjoy the gentler walk around Lugard Road on the Peak and its skyline views.
It’s also an appealing time for preprandial sundowners on one of Hong Kong’s rooftop bars before tucking into one of the city’s hottest new restaurants and bars. Read on for festive dining and drinking highlights, along with more offers and cultural events around town.
As ever this year, keep an eye on the latest COVID-19 regulations, as happenings are subject to change.
Enjoy Special Festive Menus
Restaurants and hotels are cooking up their holiday menus; here are a few that whet our appetite.
Relive Christmases of yesteryear throughout December at The Astor at Eaton HK hotel in Jordan, with retro classics like pigeon in swiss sauce; lobster salad; and sizzling steak and wagyu roll served with black pepper sauce and crinkle cut fries. Prices vary throughout December, starting at HK$358/HK$658 (lunch/dinner).
In Lan Kwai Fong, Porterhouse puts on a suitably meat-heavy buffet brunch (25-27 December, HK$448 per adult, HK$224 per child) as well as a six-course dinner (24-27 December, HK$888 per person). And Italian restaurant Aria hosts a seven-course Christmas dinner that’s sure to please sophisticated palates (24-25 December, HK$1,668 per person).
Another annual event, the Wine & Dine Festival, is going mostly virtual (through 15 December). Explore everything from online masterclasses to a wine auction and exclusive offers on food and wine deliveries, all from the comfort of home. If you’re dining out, participating restaurants have some limited-time menus and experiences.
Celebrate What’s New at Classic Restaurants
On Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan stalwart Chachawan has reopened with a fresh new look and menu. The bright interiors are matched with equally bold flavours from husband-and-wife chefs Chang and Narisara Somboon, who double down on the rustic flavours of northern Thai. Moo manaw (Issan-style spicy pork and lime salad) and goong fu (crispy minced prawns with green mango salad) are two standouts.
Across the harbour, Hutong is also turning up the heat with its new ‘flaming Peking duck’ featuring the zing of Sichuan spices (HK$818 whole duck/HK$418 half). Think of it as dinner and show: once cooked, the bird is brought tableside and set alight with Chinese rose wine and rum, adding a dimension to the texture and flavours of the duck, which is carved by the chef for diners and served with the usual pancakes and accoutrements.
Christmas carollers may be singing about partridges in pear trees, but at two-Michelin-star ÉCRITURE, they’re the star of chef Maxime Gilbert’s Furs, Feathers & Iode tasting menu (through early January 2021, HK$2,888). The game bird is dry-aged in butter, oven roasted and served with smoked herbs, confit Chasselas grape, kabu puree and ceps mushrooms. Supporting dishes feature hare, doe and grouse.
Over at the Upper House hotel in Admiralty, December is the swan song for Café Gray Deluxe. Pay tribute to its late, great chef Gray Kunz with one more meal here – five signature dishes with wine pairings – before a new dining concept opens in spring 2021.
Go Art Exhibit-Hopping
Running until 6 December, the deTour design festival presents a colourful assortment of exhibitions, workshops and talks at Central’s PMQ. Among them is #STOPGAP2020, a group exhibition featuring 11 established and emerging artists from Hong Kong and central Europe exploring issues around isolation and time spent during the pandemic lockdowns. You can also tour the spaces and exhibits at PMQ virtually on the deTour website, which is handy while social distancing measures are in effect.
You can also spy local talent at NextGenHK Exhibition (through 12 December), a showcase of works at Soho House in Sheung Wan by more than 30 young and upcoming artists. Select artworks will be on sale, if you think they might appeal to anyone on your Christmas gift list. Attendance is limited due to social distancing restrictions, so bookings are a must.
Still on show in Tsim Sha Tsui is Botticelli and His Times – Masterworks from the Uffizi – 42 works from Botticelli and other Renaissance artists on loan to the Hong Kong Museum of Art through 24 February 2021.
Catch Live Performances and Outdoor Movies
Opera Hong Kong presents Così Fan Tutte x The Magic Flute at Tuen Mun Town Hall (4-5 December). A dozen up-and-coming local talents will perform abridged versions of these two popular operas by Mozart. And while audiences won’t be allowed in, the performance will be filmed and shown online. Check the website for details. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Ballet laces up for The Nutcracker at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre (17-27 December); check the website for any updates relating to future social distancing restrictions.
While social distancing restrictions have enforced a little break, The Grounds at AIA Vitality Park has so far been a blockbuster hit. Tickets for movie screenings – and the occasional yoga session – sell out fast, so check the website regularly for your chance to score seats in the charming two- or four-person pods with picket fences on this astroturfed patch by the harbour when it reopens.
Get in the Christmas Shopping Spirit
Curator of all things trendy and creative, local retailer Kapok is hosting a pre-Christmas party on 5 December, 2-6pm, at its Sun Street shop in Wan Chai. As well as special one-day discounts on a range of products (perfect for last-minute gifts), you can expect a DJ, cocktails and a Christmas window design fashioned by Hong Kong design group streetsignhk.
Marvel at more festive displays at malls around Hong Kong in December, from the Landmark Atrium’s Spirit of Giving Christmas market to K11 Musea’s Christmas Village.
Holiday at Local Hotels and Attractions
While you’re waiting to take off on that next overseas adventure, take advantage of the wealth of staycation offers at top hotels right here in Hong Kong, among them, the Four Seasons, the Langham, The Ritz-Carlton and the Gold Coast Hotel.
And if you’re looking for something to get your kids in a merry mood, the Frozen exhibition may do the trick. The 18,000-square-foot exhibition space in Tseung Kwan O’s Park Central has room for everything from life-sized attractions to its own enchanted forest (16 December 2020 – 28 February 2021).