As the saying goes, good things come to those who wait, and we’ve certainly waited a long time for the former Central Police Station to reinvent itself as Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage & Arts. The complex recently emerged from its scaffolding cocoon as a centre for the performing and contemporary arts and heritage storytelling. One of three revitalisation projects in Central, the project was a massive undertaking led by The Hong Kong Jockey Club in partnership with the Hong Kong government.
Here at Foodie, our minds naturally wander to all things delicious. We've put together a list of what outlets have opened so far:
We have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Chef David Thompson’s Aaharn restaurant in Hong Kong ever since he hinted at it more than two years ago during Foodie’s cruise on the Mekong. The restaurant centres around a tasting-menu concept, although à-la-carte options are also available. This is the first tasting-menu restaurant for the chef, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2016. Known for his dedication to researching the rich gastronomic culture and history of Thailand, Chef Thompson bases his dishes around ancient Thai recipes, some of which even come from Thai funeral books. Aaharn occupies the top floor of the historic Armoury building, with a history dating back to 1924.
Related: New Chef and Menu at Aaharn
Bar at Armoury
Located under Thai fine dining restaurant Aaharn in the Armoury building is this buzzy bar with crowds spilling out into the historic Parade Ground. Diners can graze the easy going menu of coffees, teas, wines, cocktails and beers alongside modern Thai bar snacks from Aaharn's kitchen, all under the shade of a hearty mango tree.
Aptly named, Behind Bars is set on the site of a former prison in refurbished and rebranded cultural site Tai Kwun. A stylish collaboration between Yenn Wong of JIA Group and entertainment guru Angus Wong, the narrow bar takes up several "jail cells" of the former jail house, and serves up tantalising alcoholic beverages during the evenings and artisan coffee in the afternoons.
A study in contrast with white walls and dark wood accents, Café Claudel by French Creations transports 1920s Parisian chic to Hong Kong, together with a touch of bygone colonial romance. The menu is bistro comfort foods, with headlining dishes ranging from roast chicken to cod fillet. There’s also some quirky takes on classic Chinese dishes, like the Peking duck sliders that we can’t wait to sink our teeth into!
Related: Restaurant Review: Café Claudel
The Chinese Library, The Dispensary & The Statement
In celebration of Hong Kong’s historical past, Aqua Restaurant Group will open two flagship restaurants this September to capture the city’s unique East-meets-West heritage. Separated by a bar aptly named The Dispensary into an east and a west wing, The Chinese Library in the east wing will showcase a range of regional Chinese cuisines inspired by founder David Yeo’s library of cookbooks, whilst the west wing's The Statement will highlight innovative British cuisine.
Bad-boy designer Ashley Sutton aims to mesmerise guests yet again with his latest bar, Dragonfly. Already well known for his out-of-the-world designs at Dear Lilly, The Iron Fairies, J. Boroski, Yojimbo and Ophelia, his newest project is rumoured to dazzle with hand-cast table and bar tops that reflect the history and heritage of the old CPS. We wonder if there are shackles involved, for a more risqué take on the site’s prison heritage.
The 13th catering endeavour by not-for-profit Hong Chi Association, this farm-to-table restaurant is as much about good food as it is about social enterprise. The restaurant will serve fresh-farm food with the help of people with intellectual disabilities. The long-standing organisation has provided assistance to people with intellectual disabilities since 1999, and this 2,000-square-foot outlet will employ and train at least eight individuals with intellectual disabilities and empower them towards leading a more independent lifestyle.
hc:Bistro is both a relaxing eatery serving up light gourmet dishes and a social enterprise. Established by Hong Chi Association, the bistro provides a safe working environment for those with intellectual disabilities. A great little spot for lunch or an afternoon snack set in a colonial prison hall.
LockCha Tea House
LockCha Tea House first opened in the tranquil sanctuary of Hong Kong Park and is set to open its second location in historical Tai Kwun, an oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of Central. Responsibly sourced traditional teas will be served alongside scrumptious vegetarian dim sum, and for those who want to continue the experience at home, there’s the LockCha tea shop right next door to pick up a little slice of culture and tradition.
Occupying the top floor of the beautifully restored Barrack Block, Madame Fu, opened by Christian Rhomberg of iconic HK nightspot KEE Club, which shut early last year, offers an array of dining options, from lounge and bar, to restaurant, to private dining. The menu reflects Hong Kong’s colonial past with a hotchpotch of dishes from Cantonese cuisine and the Northern Chinese provinces, as well as afternoon tea and Western desserts.
When we first heard the name “MaoMao”, we thought it was another cat café! Luckily, instead of furballs and sharp claws, MaoMao Eat specialises in classic Hong Kong teahouse favourites such as crispy bun drizzled in sweetened condensed milk, pineapple bun and milk tea. Sound familiar? That’s because MaoMao Eat is a spin-off of iconic Tsui Wah, offering a lighter menu that also includes a plant-based Beyond Burger, but with cheese and scrambled egg of course! If that’s all just too healthy for you, there’s always the instant noodles with satay pork or ham and macaroni soup.
Soon to open on the ground floor of the Superintendent’s House and C Hall, this small noodle shop will offer visitors a short break during their exploration of the heritage site. Ramen franchise Menya Musashi, named after legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi, has gained a cult following since its debut in 1996. The key to its success lies in its variety of creamy soup bases and noodle types, giving customers a truly bespoke experience. Slurp!
The 11th project in JIA Group’s extensive portfolio, Old Bailey is a showcase of regional Jiangnan cuisine amidst award-winning architecture by Herzog & de Meuron from Switzerland. Expect time-honoured recipes accentuated by tableside preparations and desserts and drinks arriving on trolleys. Longjing tea-smoked pigeon, Ibérico pork xiao long bao and ten-treasure duck jostle for space on the menu alongside double-boiled lion’s head meatballs with hairy-crab roe. There’s even a curated tea-pairing programme for a true embodiment experience.
Related: Restaurant Review - Old Bailey
Phoenix Sweets has a bespoke cake for every occasion. Named after the bakery’s founder, Phoenix Hui, this pretty cake shop grew from an online confectionary store into its present shop in Tai Kwun. The bakery specialises in made-to-order sugary treats.
Van Gogh Senses
The second location following the success of its premier venue at TST’s Hullet House, Van Gough Senses elevates the gifting game with a treasure trove of confections, teas, coffees and artisanal chocolates. Most revered, though, is the stroopwafel, a syrup-filled waffle native to the Netherlands.
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