Filmart: 7 Things to See and Do During the Hong Kong Film Festival

Ho Lee Fook H 2016
Black Sheep Restaurant Group

Tackle the S.A.R. like an S.V.I.P.

As the Hong Kong Film festival celebrates its 40th anniversary March 21 to April 4, Art Basel will simultaneously stir up the creative class March 24 to March 26. With all eyes on her, this “Special Administrative Region” is anxious to show off all she has to offer, and it’s more than just dim sum and designer purses.

Hong Kong is a city hopelessly devoted to eating and drinking—there’s a Michelin guide stuffed with entries to prove just that. In between meals it’s also vital to make time to relax at an exceptional hotel, hit the pavement for some to-die-for shopping and take in the vibrant art community.

While in town, check out these seven adventures that embrace the excitement of the modern Hong Kong experience.

Compare the Mandarins

Where else but in the birthplace of the quintessential Asian hospitality brand would there be two Mandarin Oriental hotels from which to choose. Classic and Landmark as they are referred, both well represent their eras. With a sweeping view of Victoria Harbor, The Mandarin Hotel opened in 1963 with interiors conceived by Don Ashton, the art director of films “The Bridge on the River Kwai” and “Billy Budd.” While staying at this legend, enjoy the lauded Shanghainese pedicure, where hard skin on the feet is shaved away using sharp blades, and then massaged and buffed. Don’t miss dim sum at the Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant Man Wah or a private, curated urban photography experience hosted by a local expert on street life and art. Michelle Yeoh and David Tang are fans of this MO. In contrast, Mandarin Oriental Landmark is a contemporary boutique hotel attracting the big names of the fashion and film business like Stella McCartney and Kevin Spacey. At its centerpiece is Amber, a two-Michelin star French restaurant.

The Mandarin Oriental Classic

Shop Local

This historic PMQ complex is home to 100-plus local entrepreneurs and hosts design studios and pop-up shops. It’s the place to discover the next big thing. The former police dormitories, or Police Married Quarters, turned into a creative retail hub in 2014. Progressive housewares brand Goods of Desire (G.O.D.) and eyewear disrupters No Brand No Name have outposts here, alongside more established names such as Tom Dixon and Vivienne Tam.

Sweetest Perfection

The newest and sweetest restaurant in the city has a flair for the unexpected—here it’s encouraged to eat dessert first. COBO HOUSE by 2am:dessertbar focuses on grand finales as first impressions. A collaboration with Janice Wong, noted as one of Asia’s best pastry chefs and founder of Singapore’s 2am:dessertbar, the art on the plate is edible and as rich as what’s on the wall. Launching in March with desserts only, the menu will segue into the savory in the coming month. Belly up to the bar and munch the Sweet and Salted popcorn, complemented by yuzu parfait and passion fruit sorbet. Cleanse the palate with the Chocolate Bomb cocktail: a chocolate ball served in a whiskey glass that when broken releases golden Bourbon. Every dish is a surprise.

Dine Around Town

Last fall, former Comme Ca and Hinoki and The Bird chef David Myers made a bold move into the Hong Kong dining scene with AnOther Place, a 40-seat French Asian restaurant. This “dining speakeasy” offers a four or six course menu and a “Bring Your Own Bottle” policy from the adjacent Hip Wine Library. This experience is not much different than dining in the home of an old friend.

Tom Aikens, the youngest British chef to ever win two Michelin stars, recently opened The Fat Pig, a follow up to his popular restaurant The Pawn. A pork-focused menu celebrating the world’s most popular meat with nose-to-tail dishes, Aikens uses locally sourced product from Hong Kong’s Wah Kee Farm.

Trendsetting Black Sheep Restaurant Group, which operates 10 of the coolest dining spaces in town, gets props for importing Carbone from New York City to the SAR in 2014. But their restaurant Ho Lee Fook wins the big prize for its unforgettable name. Supposedly translating to good fortune for your mouth, this funky Chinese kitchen jammed into an unassuming basement is adorned with a wall of individual mahjong tiles, 112 waving cats and two tags left by graffiti artist Space Invader.

Drink Up the Cocktail Culture

A progressive scene that rivals New York City, Hong Kong has a lively take on spirits. A spot at Almas Caviar bar is one of the most exclusive seats to score, as there are only seven. On level 102 of the Ritz Carlton situated in International Commerce Centre, ranked the highest hotel in the world, the tallest building in town and a favorite of Lady Gaga, Almas starts or finishes an evening with unmatched elegance. The menu is precise with caviar, vodka, Champagne and smoked salmon and nothing else.


On Hollywood Road, The Woods specializes in high-concept libations with a space to match—a light canopy of hand-blown glass over the stairs represents branches and light shining through trees. The drinks are not merely a complement to the food but instead it’s the other way around—small plates are paired to let the cocktails take the lead. Fresh ingredients dominate and what’s in season is what you will be drinking. Their mixologist has even been known to create specials inspired by what was found in the market that day. Try the Oak Whiskey Sour with French oak-infused Michter's Rye Whiskey, Canadian maple syrup, lemon juice and egg white.

Foxglove brims with glamour. A cinematic space hidden behind an umbrella shop, in order to gain access find the right umbrella handle, which then opens the door to a bygone era. Once inside the speakeasy, the design references are that of a 1950s airplane, ship cabin and train car. The jazz starts at 10 p.m.

Take in Art of the City

The three-year-old Art Basel draws a parade of celebrities such as Kate Moss, Roman Abramovich, Gwyneth Paltrow and Susan Sarandon, but outside of the festivities, art floods the city year round. Portuguese wall-carver Alexandre Farto a.k.a. Vhils presents “Debris,” his solo exhibition with the Hong Kong Contemporary Art Foundation from March 22 to April 4. Taking over one of the Hong Kong’s iconic “Peak” trams and a space within Pier 4, he drills and chips concrete, uses billboard collages and neon light boxes, and sculpts forlorn buildings. Vhils work manipulates the urban landscape (including the use of an explosive or two).

Inside the chic Michelin two-star restaurant Duddell’s, the Dallas Museum of Art, presents “Concentrations HK: Margaret Lee" featuring the New York City artist’s work exploring the image, object and gesture as an embodiment of desire—expect lots of fruit and polka dots. Duddell’s has become known as a cultural hub for its stellar art program featuring revolving exhibitions throughout the year. Check out “Wednesdaze” DJ and dim sum night and survey the city’s elite.

Hong Kong’s largest private art museum, Liang Yi, collaborates with London's Victoria & Albert museum on a show of silver design pieces, alongside more than 250 European vanities from Cartier and Boucheron to Van Clef & Arpels.

Pop over to Macau

Only one hour away by ferry, don’t miss another SAR, Macau. And much like its western counterpart Las Vegas, there is always something new to see. The recently opened Pacha brings a mega-club concept to the city, which has always been more about gambling than entertainment offerings. This paradigm shift is all thanks to visionaries such as Lawrence Ho and James Packer whose Studio City hotel-casino (where Pacha is located) debuted with a Hollywood theme and a short-film starring Martin Scorcese, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro called The Audition. Visit the familiar Vegas names including the Venetian, MGM Grand and Wynn, all of whom will be introducing new properties in 2016. Worth a stay is the Galaxy mega casino-resort complex, which houses luxury hotel brands Banyan Tree and Ritz Carlton, as well as many other attractions. A Portuguese territory until 1999, the city center of Macau is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Banyan Tree, Macau