Lan Kwai Fong. It appears in every tourist guidebook as a must see. There are drinking holes, clubs to dance the night away and restaurants ranging form cheap eats to fine dining, that always attract a large crowd and is normally a great way to start and finish your night out.
Often, there is always that one complaint. “It’s just TOO busy…” The weekend huddled masses always meet in the middle of the street, stepping on plastic syringes, attempting to talk loudly to each other over the odd mash-up of music that is coming from both Stormies and Al’s Diner, in their vain attempts to drown out the each other’s. Not exactly everyone’s cup of tea. So let us indulge you in a few great places to eat and drink away from the madness that is D’Aguilar Street.
Mama Chau’s Sichuan Kitchen
Flat B, 5/F, Winner Building, 37 D’Aguilar St, Central
Hungry? Pop up to Mama Chau’s for a great feed that is light on the wallet! It is essentially a home-cooked meal as the restaurant is essentially someone’s living room. Walk through the thick door into a standard Hong Kong flat that has been slightly (and I do mean REALLY slightly) adjusted to have around 15 tables and a kitchen. Unfortunately, reserving a table is not an option and the place can be quite popular on some days and evenings so keep your fingers crossed that there is a place free for you! The food is cheap, around $20 per dish and in true Sichuan style it is very spicy! For those who cannot handle their spices, it might be wise to stay away as the staff does laugh and poke fun at you when you constantly ask for water; all tongue in cheek of course!
Good luck finding it though… Thankfully, we are here to help! To the right of Al’s Diner there is a building called the “Winner Building”. Do not be put off by the fact that the hallway is quite shady and not exactly the most aesthetically pleasing one you have seen. The elevator is old and rickety (which is fun within itself) and it is on the 5th floor. Do not be put off at all this, the food is well worth it!
1/F, 10 Wing Wah Lane, Central
You are going to need a drink after all that hot food, why not head around the corner to Le Jardin? Despite being a stone’s throw away from the main parts of the area, the hidden location gives the feeling of privacy and seclusion. Inside, is a little different. People are beginning to slowly discover the bar and it is becoming quite popular with young bankers. It is referred to as a “cave-like” space with stone walls and lots of greenery. There are plenty of tables to sit and have a drink. Being quite close together it is also great to mingle with others who venture up the alleyway! The music comes from the old fashioned jukebox inside that patrons can pick their own songs out. Also a great place for people to meet over and discuss who gets the next choice!
As the obvious theme here, it takes some finding to get there. Thankfully, there are two ways in order for you to get there. The conventional way is before you get to the main area of LKF, turn right at Wing Wah Lane and follow that all the way around, dodging the people trying to get you to eat at their restaurant, and head to the very top. Up some stairs and you are there!! Alternatively, head to the top of D’Aguilar Street till you are at the large wall. Past the post box and the rubbish bags of Stormies and Al’s Diner there are some stairs. Head up those and walk along the narrow path (be mindful that there are no railings and about a 2 foot drop on one side!) till you reach the bar!
4/F, Grand Progress Building, 15-16 Lan Kwai Fong, Central
If you are looking for something a little less hectic, maybe give Otto Lounge a try. It is a small bar that is getting progressively more well known for hosting DJ nights. Regular nights are highlighted by the great music and intimate setting and they also promote specials regularly each week on certain nights. The lighting and atmosphere give the venue and almost retro feel, despite it being quite new! Their main pull is the fantastic outside terrace that wraps around the edge, looking down over the craziness of Lan Kwai Fong. Great place to relax with some friends and take in the whole area.
Getting here is probably the least difficult of the lot, but it is still not something that will stumble upon easily! Turn right opposite Wing Wah Lane up Lan Kwai Fong (the road) towards 7/11 and then follow it to the right. Head up the road past 1997 till you get to a doorway for the “Grand Progress Building”. Walk straight in, say hi to the security guard and head up to the 4th floor and you’re there!