In Hong Kong’s hip Sheung Wan neighborhood lies The Old Man, a sweeping destination inspired by Ernest Hemingway. The gilded space has a portrait of the author constructed from upcycled building materials, a clever bar-top cooling strip to keep cocktails perfectly chilled, and exceptional service. It sits on the World’s Best Bars list with good reason.
We caught up with Natalie Lau, The Old Man’s bar manager, who formerly worked at The Savoy in London, for an insider’s tour of Hong Kong’s neighborhoods, best late-night eats, and more. From Lau’s favorite dumplings to the coolest beaches, here is her guide to Hong Kong.
The Old Man
No trip to Hong Kong would be complete without a visit to Lau’s stomping grounds. “The Old Man is an experimental cocktail bar,” Lau says. She and her team use “culinary gadgets and laboratory equipment to combine different flavors to cocktails, and the cocktails focus on the flavors rather than eye-catching garnish, which is quite new in the Hong Kong market.
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“Every staff member is a bartender. We break the barrier between the bartender and the guest, every one of us is proactive in speaking with our guests about the cocktails or the story behind them, or anything in life, really.” Location.
Please Don’t Tell
“PDT is a speakeasy inside the Mandarin Oriental with good quality drinks and food. The Benton’s Old Fashioned (bacon fat-washed bourbon, maple syrup, Angostura bitters) is my favorite, even though most of the time I don’t drink Old Fashioneds… This is a very delicious one. I love their hot dogs, too. They also have some surprising snacks, like chocolate popcorn! If you don’t like it, just bring it to me. I can help you with that.” Location.
“Coa is a heaven for tequila and mezcal with a good cocktail menu inspired by Mexican drinks. The quality of their drinks is always consistent; my all-time favorite is the sweet potato horchata! (I know that the Tepache and Paloma are both awesome, too, but I never order them. I’m super loyal to the horchata!)” Location.
Employees Only Hong Kong
“EO is open until 4 a.m.! It’s always my post-shift hangout. Having a real hot dish after a shift is killer! Their baked macaroni with bacon alongside a Daiquiri is always what I want once I sit down at the bar. The cheese in the macaroni is not overly creamy so it doesn’t fill up your stomach too much; also, be sure to stay until last call, because they’ll give you a free chicken soup. Bangin’!” Location.
Cheung Hing Kee
“This is a casual food stand for pan-fried siu long bao (a type of dumpling). When a place specializes in just one kind of food, it really can’t go wrong. And these dumplings are so good that I don’t mind standing while eating them.” Location.
Pici Pasta Bar
“Pici is an Italian pasta restaurant … and once you’ve had fresh pasta in life, you can’t go back. Pici is doing very very close to an authentic Italian pasta (it’s very solid and chewy). Meanwhile, their tartare is really great, too!” Multiple locations.
Yang Xin Dian Hotpot
“Hong Kong people love hot pot all year round. Whether it’s winter or summer, we just love it! Yang Xin Dian is a Taiwanese place … I love their deluxe chicken broth (I like to drink the broth before putting in the raw ingredients). Different Chinese herbs are used in this cuisine, which is really good for the skin, and all of the ingredients are super fresh. They’re open late, so this is a perfect option for a deluxe, post-shift supper!” Location.
The Upper House
“The Upper House is true five-star hotel that provides excellent hospitality and services; it’s located in the Admiralty neighborhood where there are lots of great hotel bars. The hotel’s own bar and restaurant, Café Gray, has a stunning harbor view… Getting a glass of Champagne here at night with that view would be perfect.” Location.
“Central is a good place to walk around if you’re interested in exploring local markets and cool graffiti and street art.” Location.
Sai Kung (Neighborhood)
“Spend some time walking around Sai Kung by the sea. This small region has lots of local seafood sellers and sweet soup shops. I could chill in a small café for the whole day or hop on a boat to some small neighboring islands to spend time on the beaches there. During the summer, we often go for a boat trip with food and drinks and water sports… It’s so much fun!” Location.