Category Archive for Hong Kong + Macau

1600 Pandas exhibit at PMQ Hong Kong. Mongkok cute toys, clothing shops.

1600 panda bears, pmq hong kong

Hong Kong is quickly taking over Japan as the “land of the cute.” On a recent trip, I encountered 1600 panda bears, Pirate Miffy toys, and googly-eyed shoes.

Enjoy this kawaii tour of Hong Kong!

paper mache manda bears, World Wildlife Fund

Yukiro, John and I went to the 1600 Panda Bears exhibition at the art center, PMQ. Yes, you’re looking at over a thousand paper-mache bears!

1600 pandas tour

French artist Paulo Grangeon made these pandas, each with a different pose and expression. Some are babies, some are adults.

Every evening, when the doors close, the staff collects the bears and locks them up. The next day, they put them all back in place.

panda bear sculptures, Paulo Grangeon

There are only an estimated 1,600 pandas left, hence the number. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) commissioned this creative project, which uses eco-friendly materials and cuteness to share the message of wildlife conservation.

hong kong pmq 元創方 boutiques

The panda-monium (ha ha) took place at PMQ (元創方). Formerly a Police Married Quarters, this 19th century building is now an art space. It’s home to innovative restaurants and design boutiques, ranging from metalwork galleries to abstract knitwear. For this special event, a few of the cafes offered panda-themed food.

police married quarters crepes, cafe

The 1600 Pandas tour has moved on to other countries, but you can always see public art at PMQ Hong Kong. Check their website for free upcoming “happenings,” like drawing workshops. I’ll also take you inside the artist studios, in an upcoming article.

miffy bunny stuffed toys

Every major Hong Kong neighborhood has a kawaii attraction or two… or ten. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been visiting Wonderland in Hung Hom.

cute rilakkuma toys, hong kong

Rilakkuma, Domo, Hello Kitty, Totoro… this gift store has it all, in the form of stuffed toys, figurines, stationery, and other collectibles. Wonderland is a wonderful spot for children: girls love to try on Sailor Moon backpacks, while boys enjoy the robots, anime and action figures.

pirate miffy, kawaii

You’ll find glass cases stuffed with plush toys, including obscure variations like a Pirate Miffy. (As you know, she’s my favorite mascot. There’s something about that minimal design and inscrutable X-mouth that reels me in.)

cat stationery, henry cats friends

Prices are excellent — I got a “Henry Cat and Friends” Scottish Fold notebook for about $5 US, and you can’t find this brand anywhere (not even in Japan). Come to Wonderland to pick up souvenirs, and all your friends will thank you.

hong kong graphic tshirt

Since I’ve been to Hong Kong dozens of times, I never go to tourist attractions like Temple Street or the Flower Market. Instead, I head straight to Izzue to shop til I drop.

izzue hong kong

This big-eyed kawaii brand is Hyoma. Funny enough, you can’t find it in Japan. I’ve only seen it carried in the larger Izzue branches, such as the one in Mongkok.

it store mongkok

Izzue and I.T are known for graphic print streetwear with a cute twist, like these cat-faced shirts.

hong kong streetwear, hyoma

Bright poppy colors and kawaii faces are Hyoma’s signature.

mongkok sneakers street

Some of the items are too over-the-top for me, but I love seeing them on the shelves. I’m not sure who would rock these French fry sneakers.

hong kong hip hop clothes

Is “Musium” an unfortunate typo? Or is this an edgy label? In Hong Kong, you never know.

cute kawaii platform shoes

I love shopping in Hong Kong because the prices are low (considering the great quality), and there is no tax. These galaxy-print platform shoes with eyes are only $72 US! I’d expect them to be listed for well over $100 elsewhere.

bathing ape hong kong shop

To reduce the price even more, visit an I.T Izzue outlet. I’m standing in front of the one in Citygate Outlet Mall, Tung Chung.

Inside, I found cute clothes from past seasons for more than 50% off. These included Ghostbusters collaboration shirts from Chocoolate! (And no, that’s not a typo).

hk express, hong kong express airways

I was there to visit the Hong Kong Express Airways team (I write for each issue of their magazine). It so happens that I’m wearing a Hyoma outfit, from the latest collection. The top says “Cream Skull” and the pink dress has crosses all over it.

causeway bay street signs

Where else can you find kawaii makeup and gifts? Causeway Bay, the district known for its Japanese department stores and youth hangouts.

I’m a big fan of the cosmetics chain store, SaSa. You can see the pink sign above, and all over HK.

hello kitty makeup

Sasa carries “only in Asia” makeup, like Hello Kitty Graffiti palettes.

japanese eyeliner, mascara

Japanese brands are better-priced in Hong Kong than in Tokyo, so stock up on eyeliner pens and other necessities.

heroine make cosmetics

You can always find “Heroine Make” princess makeup, gyaru false eyelashes, color contacts, and more.

chinese asian lipstick

How adorable are these bunny-shaped lipsticks? I think the yellow one is making an angry face because he has no color.

giordano hello kitty tshirts

Hello Kitty is perhaps more visible here than in Japan. She and Dear Daniel star in the Giordano “Play 4 Keeps” World Cup soccer collaboration.

brown line friends 7-eleven

Korea’s Line Friends are also growing in popularity. These figures are sold in 7-Eleven. Out of the Line characters, Brown is my favorite. Expressionless animals for the win.

spider goth shop hong kong

On the spooky-cute side, Spider remains my favorite Hong Kong Gothic & Lolita shop.

red corset lolita dress

Spider’s designs are always evolving. This time, I saw corset laced designs with a carnival feel. Everything is extremely well priced considering the high quality — the lace accessories are only a few dollars each.

chinese goths, china gothic

Always a pleasure to see designer Natalie. If you’re looking for Hong Kong Goth clubs, parties, events and stores, check out the HK Gothic Society Facebook page.

mongkok women street shops

Yukiro enjoyed browsing the stalls of Women Street, which sell fans, cheongsams, iPhone cases and other souvenirs. The vendors treated him like a rock star, and insisted on taking his photo!

owl shaped backpacks

We saw backpacks shaped like owls, and others studded with spikes.

hong kong subway mtr doors

Hong Kong’s MTR (metro) system is efficient, which makes it easy to visit the main districts. Spend a day shopping in Causeway Bay, Central and Mongkok, and you can’t go wrong. Just look out for these two trouble-makers!

Check out more of my Hong Kong shopping articles, for additional store recommendations. Who is your favorite kawaii mascot? I’m rooting for Miffy all the way.

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The Upper House, Hong Kong’s most luxurious hotel! Video review of our 5 star suite.

upper house hong kong view

One of the perks of travel writing: you get to stay in a lot of nice hotels. At this point, it takes a lot to knock my fishnets off.

But Hong Kong’s modern luxury hotel, The Upper House, left me speechless. I can’t stop thinking about the Zen interior design, and attention to “guest experience” that goes far beyond 5-stars.

And boy did we have fun, partying in our mega-suite overlooking the harbor! We hope you smile at our video about the Upper House, and Miffy-madness below.

upper house hotel suite window

The seamless service began as soon as Yukiro and I arrived at Hong Kong Airport. A driver welcomed us with a “La Carmina” sign, and drove us straight to the Upper House hotel in a luxury black car. Instead of having to wait in a check-in line, our “Guest Experience Manager” immediately took us up to our upgraded suite on the 41st floor. After he gave us a tour, we fell over on the floor, dazed by the unpretentious yet majestic treatment we had received!

5 star hotel, admiralty hong kong

Death rang the doorbell (aka John Skeleton). Outside, Hong Kong is humid, aggressive and stifling. But here, we felt like we were floating in a Zen cloud, far above the madness.

upper house free standing bathtub, sculptures

The bathroom is as large as an apartment in Japan (400 sq ft), and stocked with every amenity imaginable. Tweezers? Check. Eye cream? Check. The star of the show is the limestone free-standing bathtub, fronted by a curved, abstract sculpture made of sandstone.

pacific place, hong kong lobby

The Upper House is located at Pacific Place in Admiralty — an ideal location, only a few stops from Central and Causeway Bay. The staff knows every guest by name, and greeted us as we entered and exited. Yukiro was easy to remember, with his rockabilly hair and fiery disposition!

We were so inspired by our heavenly suite that we made a video about it. Watch our funny Upper House shenanigans above and on YouTube. (And check out more of my travel videos here.)

swire hotels, upper house hk

An epic view requires an epic pose. My dress is a present from Nanette Lepore: it’s this exact Runaway Stripe design, which is great for traveling since it can be dressed up or down. The crochet top is by Liz Lisa.

hotel gifts, travel bloggers

The Upper House staff goes out of its way to make guests blissfully happy, and left these thoughtful gifts in our room. During our room orientation, Yukiro mentioned that he wanted to buy Chinese tea. The next day, there was a complimentary tea box in the room, along with a handwritten note!

upper house hotel floors, balcony

The Upper House is under the Swire Hotels umbrella, and designed by young architect Andre Fu. He received international accolades for his work here, and deservedly so.

hong kong luxury hotel, andre fu architect

At first glance, the interiors are minimal. However, the longer you stay here, the more you’ll notice subtle elements that convey a warm and peaceful feeling. Such as symmetry, rounded shapes, and natural materials (ceramics, wood, sandstone).

hail satan drink coffee, black craft tshirt

Case in point: the elevator has no “Close” button, to encourage guest to slow down and breathe. Yukiro decided to push “Yes” on Death’s t-shirt instead.

upper house garden, art

The 6th floor has a secret garden with a grassy lawn. Guests can relax and join yoga classes in this oasis.

The Upper House Rooms, Accommodations

We couldn’t keep our 1230 square foot Upper Suite to ourselves. So we invited over a few friends…

large hong kong suite

Once again, an example of the glorious guest service: the manager heard we were having a get-together, so he sent up a bottle of champagne!

Have you noticed that at my parties, someone always ends up on the floor, getting kicked?

hong kong instagrammers

Soon, we had a fabulous mix of fashion bloggers, designers, models, photographers, illustrators, Instagram stars…

hong kong gay lgbt parties

Hong Kong doesn’t really have an underground or alternative clubbing scene. The best parties tend to be private get-togethers, like ours.

china fashion bloggers

Everyone enjoyed relaxing on the bespoke furniture. Each room has an iPod touch and stereo set-up, so Death plugged in and DJ-ed.

chinese fashion bloggers

Erm… things got a bit crazy…

hong kong style blogs

How spooky, the far left face! Our guests ate up everything in the complimentary Maxi Bar: free coconut water, juices, beer, sweets, cookies.

chinese goth makeup

We put the big bathtub to good use. I think we fit about 10 people in there!

hong kong street style instagram

The lighting and design make the Upper House an ideal place for Instagramming.

male lap dance

Want to see our Italo Disco dancing and shenanigans? Check out our silly video.

miffy bunny balloon

The next day, we discovered Miffy in the comfy bed. She refused to move from the 400 thread count linen.

upper house hotel bathroom, tub

She worked off her hangover by taking a bath, while gazing at the skyline view.

miffy statue, balloon

Oh Miffeh… that’s enough beer for you! And don’t try to leave with that robe!

upper house entrance, escalator

One of my favorite parts of the Upper House was this dark entry tunnel. As guests ascend, they enter into a serene mindset, leaving behind the bustle and noise of the city.

My Cream Skull top and pink dress with Goth crosses are from Hyoma, Izzue / I.T store.

upper house design, designer andre fu

Andre Fu designed the space to feel like a private residence, hence the absence of a check-in counter and other typical “hotel” elements. Tranquility is the key here…

zen circular sand drawing

… communicated thorugh subtle design elements. We didn’t notice this Zen sand arrangement by the escalators until a few days later.

upper house architecture

A peaceful pool, to encourage reflection.

light, shadow swire hotels

I particularly loved the choice of contemporary art. Light and shadow near the restaurant, a “cocoon” in the elevator, all integrated naturally into the design.

cafe gray deluxe breakfast, truffle egg crossant

I’m still thinking of my breakfast at Cafe Gray Deluxe. Yukiro enjoyed berry pancakes with creme fraiche, while I had truffled eggs on a croissant. Everything is made fresh to order.

Sky Lounge 奕居

I wish I could have spent more time on the 49th floor Sky Lounge, which has a fireplace, snacks, and reading materials. How about this view of Wan Chai and the Peak?

upper suites, penthouses

This photo says it all: we didn’t want to leave the Upper House Hotel! The most basic rooms are $700 US a night, but the numerous perks and attentive service make it worth the value. The staff cares about your experience, and doesn’t nickle-and-dime you for extras. For a special occasion, this is a splurge that is truly memorable. At the very least, come for dinner with a view, at Cafe Gray Deluxe restaurant (we reviewed it in this post.)

hong kong hotel with harbour view

Thanks to the Upper House for this unforgettable stay. I felt rejuvenated, and renewed my appreciation for my friends and Hong Kong. It does’t get better than that.

PS: Don’t forget to watch our funny video about how we enjoyed our suite!

Hello Kitty cafe in Hong Kong! Kuromi & My Melody pop-up, One Piece anime exhibit.

My Melody & Kuromi Pop-up Café

Ready for a double-dose of cuteness? My spooky friend John Skeleton has a special report for you — about the Hello Kitty cafe (My Melody & Kuromi pop-up) and One Piece exhibition in Hong Kong.

pom pom purin yellow sanrio dog

Quick, the “Sanrio Star Chef Institute” only runs until September 14 at Langham Place mall in Mongkok… so I hope you make it there on time.

If you miss it, you can instead visit the permanent Hello Kitty Secret Garden cafe (address: 19 Ormsby Street, Tai Hang near Causeway Bay). The “secret” seems to be arriving early, since this is a small cafe that is specially packed on the weekends. They don’t take advance reservations, and patrons often must line up for hours to get a table.

sanrio star dining, langham place

Back to John, who braved the Sunday crowds to visit the Sanrio pop-up. “If you’re looking for cute character goods in Hong Kong, Mong Kok is the place to go. The cuteness doesn’t just stop with plush dolls and accessories though.”

kawaii hong kong museum

“Now at Langham Place, the kawaii invasion is in full swing, with a mini Sanrio village in the main atrium and Sanrio Star Dining taking over some of the stylish cafés in the upper floor.” (Address: 555 Shanghai Street, Mongkok, Kowloon, HK.)

little twin stars statue

As you can see from his photos, the mall is filled with your favorite Sanrio characters, past and present. The Twin Stars, popular in the 1980s, have made a comeback (probably because their retro-pastel color scheme fits with the current pastel-goth and fairy kei styling).

bad badtz maru restaurant

You know the 1990s revival is in full swing when you see Bad Badtz Maru, the angsty black penguin. For some reason, I always thought he was a crow.

kiki and lala hong kong

Kiki and Lala seem to be teaching a molecular cocktail lesson. All the Sanrio mascots appear in a food context, since this is a theme cafe takeover.

cute panda cake, bakery hk

As you ascend the elevators, the statues indicate there is cute food on the way. Panda cake rolls, anyone?

hana maru sanrio white seal

Hana Maru, the white seal from the Bad Badtz universe, seems to be directing the crowd into an orderly queue. Hong Kong locals adore Hello Kitty and friends, so this exhibition got an enormous attendance.

hello kitty secret cafe hong kong

It’s interesting to note that the usual star of the show — Miss Hello Kitty — is not the main focus. In fact, Kuromi and My Melody are the major players since they have their own temporary cafe here.

sanrio food exhibit, mong kok mall

These gates welcome you into the culinary institute of Kitty. Notice that her pink hair bow is topped with a chef’s hat, forming a vaguely phallic symbol.

hello kitty ice cream parlor

The kid’s face on the far left says it all. This is fun, fun, fun.

pink ice cream truck, hello kitty

Everyone can pose and take photos with the giant statues of Sanrio characters. The backdrops are designed for 3D interaction, so that you can pretend to ride an ice cream truck with Hello Kitty, or take the cone from her hand. (I went to a similar exhibition in Songshan Park, Taipei — photos coming up soon.)

ishiyaki cafe  ishiyaki+

Every section was packed with people, especially families. John and his friend ate lunch at one of the themed eateries, “a collaboration with ishiyaki+café, known for its Japanese stone pot (ishiyaki) dishes.”

my melody and kuromi cafe

He says, “While the food is normally worth the price, now you can find enjoy your favorite cuisine surrounded by My Melody and Kuromi.”

kuromi crepe, sanrio latte

“My latte, wrap, and scrumptious dessert were graced with the image of the mischievous Kuromi…”

hello kitty food, japanese

“… while My Melody was featured in the stone pot dish surrounded by fresh salmon sashimi.”

ishiyaki+ cafe, mongkok hong kong

“If you plan to visit, make sure you arrive well in advance, as the wait time was five hours when I stopped by! If you’re willing to brave the queue, ishiyaki-café’s My Melody and Kuromi pop-up café is more than enough to satisfy your craving for food, sweets, and extreme levels of cuteness.”

sanrio star dining

Langham Place also has a Little Twin Stars Pop-up Café at the moment. How creative are these decorations? I’d be tempted to eat the pastel Twin Stars macaroons, Kuromi berry tart and Pom Pom Purin pannecotta.

Remember that this Sanrio food fiesta closes on September 14 in Hong Kong, so get there stat.

one piece pirate ship

Mr Skeleton went to another quirky Hong Kong exhibition, this time starring your favorite Japanese anime pirates.

“Avast, One Piece lovers, and prepare to be boarded! One Piece Docks in Hong Kong’s Times Square!”

causeway bay times square clock

The Straw Hat Pirates seem to have left a souvenir on top of the Causeway Bay clock. Unfortunately, the One Piece ship has sailed, but you should still check out Times Square Mall for its ever-changing free exhibits. (Address: 1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay)

Monkey D. Luffy, pirate king

My Pirate reports, “First appearing in 1997 in the pages of Weekly Shōnen Jump, Oda Eichirō’s beloved manga has spawned 74 volumes to date and has also become a hugely successful animated television series.”

one piece hong kong exhibition

“One Piece (ワンピース) is now a global phenomenon, and Hong Kongers are also in love with the story of Monkey D. Luffy and his quest to become the Pirate King.”

ワンピース japanese manga

“I visited Times Square to relive these favorite moments with Luffy and his crew, and an 11-meter-tall replica of their pirate vessel! If you’re brave enough to face the lines (up to 90 minutes!), you can even board the vessel for a one-of-a-kind photo opportunity.”

one piece docks in hong kong

“Inside Times Square there is more pirate mayhem to be found, including life-sized statues of One Piece’s most memorable characters, and massive displays of the many figurines available.”

Battle Frankies, Franky Shogun

This little boy seems more enraptured with the toys than the gargantuan Battle Frankies, a type of battleship.

one piece collectibles, figurines

“Don’t forget to check out the Marketplace, where you can find a wide range of One Piece goods.”

reindeer one piece, Tony Tony Chopper

“And be sure to get your picture with everyone’s favorite anthropomorphic reindeer, Tony Tony Chopper.”

Eiichiro Oda characters

Photography is allowed — unlike in Japan, the attitude towards photo-taking is more relaxed in Hong Kong. Regardless, this statue seem to be crossing her arms to say “forbidden” (or “dah-meh”) in Japanese.

shonen jump statues

Hong Kong always has funny, kawaii exhibitions — most are free, and open to the public. When you visit HK, make an effort to find out what’s currently on (most take place at PMQ, Langham Place, Times Square, and Tsim Sha Tsui terminal).

hong kong rubber duck floating

Remember when I saw the big floating rubber duck, and when John sat with 100 Doraemon statues? Or when I saw Chinese comic book characters on display in Kowloon Park?

japanese manga museum

We also posed for photos at a Batman display — I’ll put those up soon too.

Tony Tony Chopper statues

Thanks to John Skeleton for the photos and guest post on my blog! Stay tuned for the news about where I’ll be next… hint, I’ll be in three very different cities.

Who is your favorite Sanrio character? Do you watch or read One Piece?

Hong Kong sushi restaurants & skyline harbor views! Causeway Bay, Lan Kwai Fong fine dining.

hong kong harbor view restaurant

Hong Kong is a fusion foodie paradise! It was Yukiro’s first time in the city, so I wanted him to experience the sky-high harbor views, and local spins on sushi.

My Pirates and I were invited to try some of Hong Kong’s newest restaurants, which are raising the bar on an already top-class food scene. We indulged in sexy naked rolls, got high on “magic mushrooms”, and drank wine with Miffy the blow-up bunny… Intrigued? Ready to laugh? Read on, and don’t miss the hilarious final photo.

(My skull dress is by Gladnews; more pics soon.)

hong kong fine dining, skyline view

We began at the top: or rather, on the 29th floor, at Sushi To (Soundwill Plaza II, 1-29 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay). Celebrated local chef Harlan Goldstein opened this Japanese restaurant earlier this year.

hong kong harbor buildings, junk boat

Causeway Bay is one of my favorite shopping districts, and this is the ideal place to stop for lunch — the iconic view says it all. From our window seat, we lorded over Victoria Harbor, silver skyscrapers, and traditional red junk boats.

harlan goldstein chinese chefs

Harlan has an immense local following, and is a rock star among Hong Kong chefs. He opened several European restaurants in HK throughout the past decades, and this is this first foray into Japanese cuisine. (More about our meeting with him, below.)

Sushi Tō menu, hong kong japanese food

Sushi Tō specializes in omakase, and Harlan honored us with a “La Carmina Tasting Menu!” The selection encompasses more than sushi: there are his unique takes on robatayaki, teppanyaki and more, with creative ingredients such as “magic mushrooms maki”.

(I know you’re staring at my Totoro nail art. It’s hand-painted, using bio sculpture gel, by Vancouver-based Glam Nail Studio.)

japanese salmon salad

We were speechless over the starter: a salad with slow-cooked salmon, 68 degrees onsen egg, and sesame soy dressing. Yukiro marvels: “I didn’t expect sushi to taste this good outside Japan. Its probably the finest fish I ever had the pleasure of consuming, and the way they served it was subtle and yet artistic.”

sashimi platter sushi to

And then: kampachi and salmon sashimi. Simple and ocean-fresh. We’re all still salivating over this photo.

John felt this was the perfect first introduction. “The fresh sashimi melted in our mouths as their simplicity prepared us for the fireworks of flavor in the sushi rolls that came later, including the dragon fire maki.”

sushi to pineapple cocktail

We sipped on a number of cocktails; the old fashioned and pineapple-infused one were winners. John adds, “Be sure to try the “sake-tini,” a refreshing summer cocktail to round out an amazing meal.”

hong kong sushi restaurants

My friends show their enthusiasm for the burdock pickle and wasabi konbu beef roll. “The panko crusted Hiroshima oyster with black truffle miso sauce was devilishly good too,” adds John.

clam stew hot pot

The non-sushi selections were just as delectable. This is Hokkaido scallop, crab meat clams, shrimp, rice and soup in a stone hot pot. Dessert was so enticing — white sesame tiramisu — that we ate it before we could take a photo.

Let’s leave the last word to Yukiro. “The way they personalized their menu just for us really showed how much they care about their customers. They should change their name to “Sushi To die for!”

mama san restaurant hong kong interior

For dinner, we went to the newly opened Mama San in Central. Chef Will Meyrick’s restaurant made waves in Bali, and now has a branch in Hong Kong’s hottest food district, Lan Kwai Fong.

The interior sets the mood: Indonesian tradition meets young nightlife.

lan kwai fong central restaurant

The PR team gave us this picture-perfect seat, overlooking the partygoers of Lan Kwai Fong. (Address: 1/F, 46 Wyndham Street, Central). As you can see, I had a special date with me… Miffy!

miffy balloon, central hong kong dining

Mr Skeleton describes Mama San’s menu as “an eclectic mix of items from countries ranging from China and India to Malaysia and Vietnam. Beef tartar and cassava chips helped us whet our palettes before shifting to heavier dishes like the “Dhania ghost” slow-cooked lamb shank.”

Miffy seems to be a fan of the appetizers…

mamasan menu hong kong

… and the cocktail menu, consisting of classics with a twist. My go-to is the “Dark & Stormy”, and Mama San put a nice spin on it: rum, house ginger beer, orange bitters and lime in a paper bag.

After walking in the humid weather, we were relived to have salmon sashimi with pickled radish, edamame, organic flowers and yuzu dressing.

miffy eating fish steamed fish

The southeast Asian spices stirred our senses: coconut, Thai basil, chilis, kaffir lime. Miffy dove head first into the salt-crusted barramundi fish, stuffed with lemongrass pandan and lemon basil, served with nahm jihm (Thai dipping sauce).

naked hong kong chef

John says, “After all of the amazing foods we tried in Hong Kong, I would have to put Naked Gurume Gyarari (グルメ画廊) at the top. Chef Justin Chan took us on a gourmet tour of Japanese tapas-style fusion cuisine.” (28 Elgin Street, 1/F Central District, Hong Kong)

Yukiro jokes, “It was so hot outside that we wanted to go in there completely Naked. At least our stomachs were naked on the inside, but when we went out, they were more than completely dressed in the finest materials from the world of Japanese-inspired food.”

ice vegetable salad hong kong

I agree with the praise! Justin and his team blew us away with dishes that look like art, and surprise the senses – yet, let the flavors do the talking. As John puts it, “The name of the establishment refers to stripping down ingredients to their bare essentials, but the creations that pleasantly assaulted our tastebuds were anything but minimalist.”

The scallops with crystalline ice leaves are a great example. I’ve never tried these glistening Okinawan leaves before, and they paired wonderfully with the seafood and sauces.

dim sum oysters

Many dishes are inspired by Chef Justin Chan’s childhood memories. He houses fried oysters in a traditional dim sum basket. Naked calls itself a “gourmet gallery” that mixes art and food; Yukiro describes the interior as “hip, with subtle inspirations from Japanese art.”

Naked Gurume Gyarari sushi

This Sexy Naked Roll left us speechless. John says: “The perfectly grilled “nigirizushi”, or seared tuna on butter-toasted rice, had us begging for more.” You must order this, when you visit.

japanese restaurant グルメ画廊

He kept serving home runs, like a rich and satisfying lobster risotto bisque, and this succulent hamachi collar.

Yukiro says, “Again I was astonished by the taste of the sushi and we had to order some dishes twice even though we were more than filled.” John adds, “For jaded foodies who are looking for flavor combinations you’ve never tried before, Naked might just be an eye-opening (and mouthwatering) experience.”

harlan goldstein penthouse restaurant

Now we’re back in the hands of Harlan, this time at Penthouse. (Same location as Sushi To, but one floor higher.) “Entering the bright and spacious restaurant, you would be forgiven for imagining that you had stepped into a hip Manhattan studio, but the ceiling window view of Hong Kong would soon convince you otherwise,” describes John.

The Penthouse restaurant by Harlan Goldstein

Harlan Goldstein opened Penthouse not long ago, and despite being a celeb chef, he’s as hands-on as it gets: we saw him working right in the kitchen, alongside his staff. Harlan took a break to sit with us, and we chatted over bourbon cocktails called “Wall St After 5pm.”

Originally from New York, Harlan’s a strong and passionate personality. He’s been in Hong Kong since the 1970s, and locals can’t get enough of his restaurants. John says, “Harlan described his vision for his restaurant as a cosmopolitan East meets West establishment.” Looking around, Penthouse was packed with “loyal local customers, in love with the no-fuss contemporary cuisine.”

causeway bay western restaurant buffet

We couldn’t wait to try the rustic dishes that draw upon Italian slow-cooking and handcrafted pastas. The meal begins with salad selections from the buffet. Someone couldn’t resist taking a bite…

italian salad burrata cheese

On the right: Yukiro died over this heirloom tomato tartare with burrata cheese, and balsamic jelly. On the left: I scraped the bowl clean of black ink bomba rice, with scallops and crisp baby squid.

slow cooked pork ribs

Penthouse has a Josper oven/grill that heats up to 500 degrees, retaining juice while adding sumptuous flavor. The Spanish Duroc Pork Ribs were tender slow-cooked for hours, and fell right off the bone. John reminds diners “not to forget the hanger steak and the well-stocked, unlimited dessert buffet.”

Yukiro says, “I am hooked on Goldstein’s creative and subtle ways of mixing ingredients. I now want to eat my way through all his other restaurants.”

A Symphony of Lights hong kong light show

For the grand finale, we had dinner on the 49th floor of our hotel, the Upper House (we’ll do a huge post about our stay soon). John sets the mood: “From the simple and elegant interior featuring natural tones and Asian touches, to the spectacular view of Victoria Harbor, the ambiance of Cafe Gray Deluxe is perfect for celebrating a special occasion.”

Café Gray Deluxe, upper house hong kong

You know the meal is off to a good start… when you photograph the table bread! Baked with sesame seeds and served warm, with a yogurt and olive oil dish… One of the best I’ve ever been served at dinner. Yukiro speaks the truth: “We stuffed our faces with it and had four refills.”

upper house hong kong luxury restaurant

Once again, the staff made us a special menu with a wine pairing for each dish. Cafe Gray’s cuisine is homey yet gourmet, with carefully culled ingredients. We started with lobster carpaccio, prepared with Thai chili watermelon vinagrette, and pickled green papaya. John says, “One memorable pairing was the plancha seared kingfish chimichurri with fennel and peppers, served up with a glass of 2012 Dry Riesling from Lakewood Vineyards in Finger Lakes, New York.”

wine glass colorful bokeh

The staff impressed us with their knowledge of wines, and the wines were so delicious that Yukiro says “they helped us forget all the misery in the world for a little while.” Here’s a bokeh-ful image of the French Chateau Bordeaux, a sturdy red fit for a royal. We finished with Greek yogurt mascarpone cheesecake…

Hong Kong International Commerce Centre 環球貿易廣場

… while taking in this epic sunset view of the harbor and Tsim Sha Tsui. Tip: time your dinner so that you can catch the 8pm “Symphony of Lights” show, when skyscrapers like the ICC glow with moving images. That’s your first taste of our Upper House adventures, with more soon.

balinese restaurant food mama san

The best part of fine food reviewing? Sharing meals with your friends. We always have fun — isn’t that the point? — and hope you’ll try these restaurants for yourselves.

miffy balloons hong kong

But don’t bring Miffy along… she drinks all the wine! (“Oh Miff-ehhhh!”)

For more local food recommendations, check out our previous reviews of Hong Kong bars and cool restaurants, along with a video. Soon, you’ll find out where these bunny balloons came from…

Do you consider yourself an adventurous eater? Are you as fond of Japanese food as we are?