THE DARK SIDE OF HONG KONG NIGHT LIFE 1

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In just about every facet of life, Hong Kong is all about religiously following every flavour of the month, whether Canto-pop moppets, restaurants, clubs, apps, games, cars, yellow umbrellas, all of which makes one wonder if those here have the courage of their convictions, or are just happy to go with the flow like lemmings and latch onto whatever is “trending” at the time?

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Soon, when Ku De Ta finally opens in Hong Kong in the primo location at the top of California Towers in LKF as the bland sounding C’est La Vie, a kinda sad name if ever there was one after a very public lawsuit between its former partners, where the one who was the lawyer basically screwed over the other three- quelle supris- the trendy lemmings will just HAVE to be there because, well, “everybody else” is there- the usual gaggle of “models”, wannabe trendies, the ubiquitous Michael Wong, and all those screwed over by the ghost of M1NT and its three amigos- Fonzie, Ponzie and Patonzie.

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And while the city’s trendies will leave dragon-i for a few weeks for C’est La Vie before returning to Gilbert Yeung’s home base murmuring “merde”, Sheung Wan, Kennedy Town and, suddenly, Repulse Bay, have become the new plat de jour for “trending” restaurants and bars. Just ask Susan Jung, foodie extraordinaire with the SCMP, and who must be shovelling food into her cake-hole 24/7. The woman must eat at ten restaurants at once going by the number of places she reviews. And all are brilliant.

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Soho- all of it- is deader than dead, and LKF just looks and feels desperate. It’s the new Wanchai- cheap, nasty and the place for being exploited by taxi drivers with dirty rags over their meters whereas the real Wanchai looks as lost and lonely as Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”.

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Way down, and at a far less pretentious level than the Sevvas and Golds and Harlans of this world, is a very short strip of Caine Road. It really is Neighbourhood Funk where within a very small radius, there is the convenience of a 7-11, a Manning’s, a McDonald’s and two old school laundromats.

Add to this the presence almost overnight of at least three shops selling organic foods, the very creatively designed Sepa serving the best mojitos in town though the jury’s out on the cuisine from Vienna served, another address for a relatively new IPC Foodlabs venue- more excellent organic food- and a hole-in-the-wall called Hooked. And seeing the steady queue of people leaving with its excellent fish and chips, chicken and steak and kidney pies, curry puffs, very good selection of New Zealand wines, many are, well, hooked. Or else tired of over-priced shee-shee fare, and needing some normality in their lives.

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Manager and owner and one-man band working on everything- Matthew from New Zealand who’s been here for around two years- is onto something.

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We’re tipping that it won’t be long before Hooked becomes a franchise and expands with both feet on the ground while flavours of the month come and go like a revolving door on amphetamines. There’s much to be said about starting small, building up a name while actually making a profit when there are SO many restaurants and bars either barely breaking even, or operating at a loss as there’s no escape from the large hole they’ve dug for themselves. This only shows a business acumen lost on many- many who claim to be “experienced” in the hospitality trade.

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Hospitality begins at home and the point of opening up anything to lose money is nonsensical- unless, of course, these have been opened for money laundering purposes or else sucker-punching those with more money than brains to invest in empty vessels making the most sucking sounds.

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