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David Lynch would love the surrealism of it all- Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman recordings playing in the background, couples on dates taking Instagrams of their food, other couples taking selfies, many not really knowing what they’re eating when it comes to Western cuisine, which probably explains tables requesting rice with their Christmas turkey dinners instead of stuffing.

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There’s a reason for this: Survival and finding options. When Hong Kong’s restaurant business has more to do with face and carrying on with pretences, though many of the city’s popular eateries are bleeding internally, and are propped up by family money and investor groups to show whose wang dang doodle is bigger than the others, the small restaurateur with no backing other than having a wall to leaning against, needs to find other opportunities. And new locations, and what would attract those who live in these areas to frequent new venues.

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These restaurants and areas might not attract Hong Kong’s movers and shakers, who still need to be seen in all the “right places”, as, to them, image is everything even if it means paying ridiculous prices for ordinare fare. One really wishes they make the time to see how the other half live- the majority of the middle class people in Hong Kong- but this will never happen unless it starts “trending” like some of the real dumps in Sai Kung and all those overrated seafood restaurants on Lamma Island.

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Currently seeing someone who doesn’t see us as Posh and Becks, if there’s a “real Hong Kong”, she wants to experience it by seeking out those wonderful holes in the wall that serve the best food from all over Asia. She has no qualms about sitting at a side street food stall and be the only white woman with the balls to down bottles of lethal Chinese wine and slurp down a bowl of noodles seated next to rough looking gentlemen with their bodies adorned with tattoos of dragon.

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Because of her prompting, we recently went to what’s called Soho East, which seems miles away from the Soho above Lan Kwai Fong, and is actually an area called Sai Wan Ho with one entire strip owned by the same landlord and who rents out spaces for a pittance compared to rents anywhere else on Hong Kong. The catch is that these spaces are only rented out so long as they make available whatever is missing from this landlord’s menu of choice for diners. There’s nothing wrong with this business strategy. It’s smart. It’s creating a middle class Lan Kwai Fong, and see how this evolves.

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Along this one strip is a Thai restaurant, pizza houses, bars, a French bistro etc- and all mainly frequented by the growing number of residents to what is a very affordable area- young couples, B grade movie and television personalities, a growing Korean population, and the Instagram generation. For the most part, the cuisine might not exactly be Michelin star quality, and the service is hardly of a five-star hotel level, but for an area on a learning curve, it’s really not bad. There are exceptions like the excellent Cull And Pistol and extremely popular Salty Pig, and going to Sai Wan Ho is a very chilled experience with a promenade area, a ferry service to Kowloon, and fairly easy access from Central.

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At the moment, some of the restaurants are not where you might wanna spend any more time than necessary, but like anywhere, there are exceptions, and it does show you a Hong Kong- a new Hong Kong- that maybe two years from now, will attract a couple of “trendy” restaurants, and, with them, those pretentious lemmings who are dedicated followers of fashion.

Chez Pretentious Restaurant - All you can pronounce ?25.

They can have the bragging rights to tell other trendies just how “local” they went and will eventually try to make this unspoiled area of Hong Kong as pretentious as all those restaurants and bars that one just “must” visit to be the local equivalent of Posh and Becks. But one doubts very much that Sai Wan Ho and its strong and growing group of local and unpretentious residents will allow this to happen.

Funny place, Hong Kong. And way too often with money for nothing, its head up its arse, and underestimating way too many.

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