Filmart: How to Make the Most of Wan Chai After the Market Wraps
The neighborhood's nightlife has something of a notorious reputation, but a number of new hotel, bar and restaurant openings have added depth, flavor and culture to the area.
With Filmart closing its doors for another year, those who don't immediately fly home or to the next business opportunity have a chance to explore Hong Kong for a few days. From the beaches and mountains of the outlying islands to the bustling markets of Kowloon, Hong Kong has something for everyone, but Wan Chai, right on the doorstep of the Convention Centre, is sometimes overlooked. Here then is The Hollywood Reporter's guide to what you need to know about one of Hong Kong's most surprising neighborhoods.
Hong Kong is full to the brim with luxury hotels, with all the major brands represented, but the city perhaps lacks smaller, more intimate boutique establishments. The Fleming Hotel (1) reopened in October last year and with a pricey and considered design overhaul. The results are impressive, and the hotel has already become popular with business travelers who have an eye for design and appreciate locally sourced art and photography. The hotel features 66 rooms and has a 24-hour concierge on hand to make the most of your stay. Best of all, the hotel restaurant is Osteria Marzia, but more on that below.
Eat & Drink
Commerce, shopping and movies are elements Hong Kong can rightly claim to excel at, but any visitor will leave the city firm in the belief that there are few better places in the world to eat and drink. Wan Chai has long been one of the entertainment centers of Hong Kong, and the old colonial-era red light district located on Lockhart Road and its surroundings is still raucously entertaining. But in recent years there has been an explosion in the number of high-end bars and restaurants catering to more monied and genteel crowds.
Osteria Marzia (2), a coastal Italian restaurant that opened along with the Fleming Hotel, has been earning rave reviews. Here you'll find the freshest seafood as well as pastas, light salads and grilled mains. A shot in the arm to the dining scene in Wan Chai, the outlet comes from Black Sheep Restaurants, the company behind the buzzy Soho eateries La Vache, Carbone and Ho Lee Fook (Matt Damon's favorite spot in Hong Kong).
As well as local fare, Hong Kongers love concept restaurants that put an unexpected twist on established global cuisines. Wan Chai is where you'll find street food imported from around the world and presented in slick modern spaces. Le Petite Saigon (3), the little brother of casual dining restaurant Le Garcon Saigon, offers must-have Vietnamese street food such as banh mis. The no-reservation Samsen (4) offer authentic Thai food. The newly opened Francis (5), although pricey, serves quirky Tel Aviv street food and has an excellent wine list. Le Bistro Winebeast (6) is another that's garnered raves with excellent food and an incredible wine selection.
When it comes to bars, avoiding the cheap and cheerful pubs of Lockhart Road is becoming easier with a slew of new places. Standout watering holes include The Optimist (7), which offers European-style chic with a quality gin menu; Stone Nullah Tavern (8), a Brooklyn-esque bar with great drinks deals; and Djibouti (9), a hidden Mediterranean spot that's a hit with in-the-know locals.
Like the rest of Hong Kong, Wan Chai has a bewildering number of quality dumpling and noodle shops — so many, in fact, that it's a thankless task to list. Just wander around the area and you will more than likely stumble upon a local place that beats anything back home. Look for spots with locals queueing outside and you'll know it's good.
Although not as well-known for shopping as Central or Causeway Bay, Wan Chai does have a number of must-visit stores, especially for people looking for fashion-forward independent brands. The area around Star Street has a clustering of achingly hip boutiques that sell everything from clothes to cosmetics, with standouts including the Monocle Magazine store (10), a specialist men's only Club Monaco (11) and Hong Kong institution Kapok (12), which has garnered an international reputation for promoting independent clothing and accessory brands.
Wan Chai is also home to the Wan Chai Computer Centre (13), where all manner of electronics, games and computer equipment can be purchased at bargain prices.
1. The Fleming Hotel, 41 Fleming Road, Wan Chai
2. Osteria Marzia, ground floor of The Fleming Hotel, 41 Fleming Road, Wan Chai
3. Le Petite Saigon, 16 Wing Fung St., Wan Chai
4. Samsen, 68 Stone Nullah Lane, Wan Chai
5. Francis, 4 & 6 St. Francis St., Wan Chai
6. Le Bistro Winebeast, G/F & 1/F Tai Yip Building, 141 Thomson Road, Wan Chai
7. The Optimist, 239 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai
8. Stone Nullah Tavern, 69 Stone Nullah Lane, Wan Chai
9. Djibouti, 2 Landale St., Wan Chai
10. Monocle Magazine Store, 1-4 St. Francis Yard, Wan Chai
11. Club Monaco Men's Shop, Shop 4A & 4B, Upper G/F, Bo Fung Mansion, St. Francis Yard, Wan Chai
12. Kapok, G/F, 3 Sun St., Wan Chai
13. Wan Chai Computer Centre, 130 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai