THE DARK SIDE OF HONG KONG NIGHT LIFE 1

A friend of mine in Hong Kong’s fickle food and beverage business mentioned how the Honeymoon Period might be over for a certain restaurant that opened with a bang and was a foodie blogger’s darling, but which, today, seems no longer to be Flavor Of The Month.

'Looks like the honeymoon period is over.'

This is another thing that’s plaguing bars, clubs and restaurants in Hong Kong: Too many honeymoon periods and not enough long-time marriages.

Where are these marriages?

Forgetting the five-star hotel’s restaurants, those with a regular clientele are such established and establishment eateries like Landau’s, Jimmy’s Kitchen, Yung Kei and the Lok Yue Teahouse plus the Kee Club, Da Domenico, Spices on a sunny day and

Enjoying that honeymoon period- and some having already ended in divorce-is NOM- the acronym for Not Only Meatballs- is drawing attention largely because it’s the latest venture by Italian chef Fabrizio Napalitano, formerly with Goccia, and restaurateur Ricky Cheuk, both of whom have a great roller deck.

NOM 2

Roller decks are so important anywhere, but, especially, in Hong Kong ‘cos one can “build it”, but if no one comes, one’s field of dreams turns into a white elephant.

Located at 1-5 Lower Elgin Street, a street some find difficult to find for whatever reason- it’s the street next door to Peel Street- NOM is above Ho Lee Fook, which has had its honeymoon period.

Time will now tell how successful it will be in a location that once housed such a series of flops that some say the venue is haunted and has bad fung shui. Well, bring an exorcist.

NOM 3

Is Ho Lee Fook already fooked?

I kinda liked Ho Lee Fook, but after four visits in two months, and the $2,000+ bill for an okay meal the last time I was there- $600 for a $70 bottle of wine?- the wretched sound system, the surly Pakistani owner who make no effort to be friendly despite knowing you, not having your cellphone work due to its basement location, I’ll give the restaurant some breathing space- which is more than can be said about the scathing review the restaurant recently received in the SCMP.

For him, there was not even a honeymoon period. It was love on the rocks from the start.

Does NOM have staying power?

As for NOM, all those who had been there, recommended it. They had checked it out and enjoyed their evening. Will they return? Yes, probably- if in the area.

What did I think? Unpretentious, friendly, a good bar area and cuisine that’s as unpretentious as the surroundings- Crab balls, meat balls, chicken balls, tapas-size dishes good for sharing, a decent wine list and definitely somewhere to go with a group. It’s not an o solo mio place.

NOM 4

NOM 5

NOM 6

It’s a place to break bread with friends, catch up with each other, and then, depending on one’s relationship status, get home by 11pm or continue on, though those days are few and far between in Hong Kong as (A) there are very few places losing sleep over and (B) it’s that time of the night when drunk talk ricochets off your head and you wonder what the hell you’re doing talking to some idiots who can’t even remember what they do for a living other than “getting wasted, dude”.

NOM 7

Going out in Hong Kong: What for?

The more I go out these days, the less I enjoy the experience.

If in a stable- emphasis on the word stable- relationship, going out in Hong Kong is tolerable as you know who you’re returning home with, and which is all that matters.

If out there alone, more and more, Hong Kong can be a depressing place. And hitting Wanchai is NOT the answer.

NOM 8

It’s not London, Paris, Amsterdam, New York, or, for that matter, Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, KL, or even Macau when it comes to meeting people one might find to be stimulating company.

Sorry, but trying to communicate with some airline stewardess propping up the bar at Feather Boa who insists on coming home with you is not fun.

Whoever can find the magic elixir that brings like-minded people together- people who’ve been far worse than The Wolf Of Wall Street and who’ve lived to talk about it- will be onto a winner when it comes to opening up a restaurant or bar.

NOM 9

People needing people

In the end, food is food, but, without sounding like Barbra Streisand bursting into song, it’s all about the people- people meeting people under the best possible circumstances.

NOM 10

People create an atmosphere and, like that old TV series, Cheers, it can make any bar or restaurant have its regulars- and regulars attract other regulars and so you build up a regular clientele.

NOM 11

I’m not talking about an old farts club nor am I talking about a meeting place for wankers who are legends in their own lunchtime and each one sponging off each other- the bloke without a gig shamelessly allowing his girl to look after him.

She, taken in by pity, sucked into the vortex of playing mother to her loser boyfriend while on the other side of the fence are those who go out without a dime to their name and depend on the kindness of strangers to pay for their night out.

NOM 12

This is Hong Kong At Play 2014, and it says much about a city that was never like this before, and has become a dumping ground for the world’s losers and con men.

Add to this mess, experienced amateurs in the food and beverage business running around like headless chickens in a city trying to create a new identity for itself- but, like most “restaurateurs”, not knowing where to start.

Ho Lee Fook, indeed.

NOM 13

Hans Ebert

© Fast Track 2014
All Rights Reserved
No part of this website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the author, unless otherwise indicated for stand-alone materials.