From old-school cha chaan tengs to highbrow temples of gastronomy, Hong Kong’s restaurants boast a visual language that’s truly one of a kind. Of course, some spots outshine the rest, so we’ve handpicked a few of our favourites — some old, some brand-new — to highlight their striking designs, which you simply must see for yourself. For your next cocktail hour, weekend coffee, or dinner date, head to one of Hong Kong’s most stylish venues below.
Gough’s on Gough
Timothy Oulton is a master of design, craftsmanship and architecture, so it’s only natural that the brand’s first restaurant, now open on Gough Street, features a stunning design. Pioneering new designs and patterns is what Timothy Oulton is all about, and Gough’s on Gough is one of the most creative expressions of the brand yet.
Known for its vintage British charm, Timothy Oulton’s first F&B venture is all about juxtaposing elegant and quirky elements — the latter embodied by the water tank housing a life-sized deep-sea diver, which greets you at the entrance. Inside, it’s all gold and marble and bold geometric patterns, with a winding marble staircase that leads guests up to the main dining room, where reclaimed wood, boxing gloves, and a decorative wall made of oyster shells are some of the many unique design accents. On the ground floor, a gorgeous moonstone and crystal bar is where you can soak in the restaurant’s sleek interior while also engaging in a bit of people watching with a cocktail in hand — perfect for unwinding after a long day.
Gough’s on Gough, 15 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2473 9066
Walk through the oversized, industrial-looking doors at Sai Ying Pun hotspot Rhoda and you’ll immediately get a sense of the kitchen’s philosophy before the first plate is served. Designed by Joyce Wang, the restaurant pays homage to chef Nathan Green’s passion for cooking over open fire, with everything from charcoal wood-cladding on the walls to rose motifs branded into the wood tables creating a stark, rustic feel that puts you in the mood for meat-centric feasting.
A chandelier made from reclaimed washing machine drums is a striking centrepiece, bound together with heavy chains and hung from copper cables. Underneath, communal tables finished with charred cedar wood encourage the shared style of dining; look closely and you’ll notice the melted copper in the cracks and knots of the wood, a nod to the chef’s love for hot rods and flames. More of the warm copper detailing is used throughout the space, turning the industrial space into a warm and inviting place for guests to linger. Meanwhile, the open kitchen and the bar face off against one another — putting guests at the centre of the action as chef Green mans the fire on one side while expert mixologists shake up cocktails across the way. The back-and-forth action charges the room with electricity — providing the ideal atmosphere for indulging in a night of fire-cooked food and cocktails.
Rhoda, G/F, Upton, 345 Des Voeux Road West, Shek Tong Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2177 5050
Situated in SoHo, Neo-Parisian cafe Belon represents casual-chic at its finest, boasting an effortless Parisian charm with modern and cheery interiors. The food by chef Daniel Calvert is Michelin-quality, but the interiors are understated and unpretentious, with light touches of terrazzo, onyx, and aluminum to fill out the contrasting textures.
A quaint, contemporary bistro, the space is aligned with large mirrors that help create an expansive sense of space, navy-blue banquette setting, and marble tabletops for a classic feel. Hanging globe lights overhead cast the room in a bright, warm glow, setting the scene for Hong Kong’s well-heeled diners to enjoy intimate conversation over chef Calvert’s sensational food.
Belon, 41 Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2152 2872
If you’re looking for something more casual than the 10-course tasting menu at chef Vicky Cheng’s Michelin-starred VEA, head one floor down to VEA Lounge, where a range of bespoke cocktails and small bites awaits. While the main dining room upstairs is all white and cream shades evoking modern glamour, VEA Lounge presents a cosier and more relaxed place to revel — a cross between a gentleman’s clubhouse and an Oxford-style dormitory.
The long bar is the pièce de résistance, crafted of Bird’s Eye maple wood to evoke the feel of a medieval bookshop. Propped up on the bar counters are leather-bound menus, unfolding to reveal the dizzying selection of craft cocktails, each with their own story and inspiration. For an even more exclusive retreat, nab a seat in the back corner, adorned with leather sofas littered with Oxford-style cushions, antique squash rackets pinned to the walls, and old-school rowing paddles complementing the classic clubhouse vibes. The clientele here is as handsome as the space, and with chef Cheng and mixologist Antonio Lai’s excellent food and drinks close at hand, it’s easy to spend the whole evening here drinking and soaking up the atmosphere.
VEA Lounge, 29/F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2711 8639
Elephant Grounds Mid-Levels
Of all the coffee shops in town, Elephant Grounds has become perhaps the most recognisable brand in the city, in no small part thanks to the sophisticated and stylish design by co-founder and lifestyle icon Kevin Poon, in collaboration with James JJ Acuna of JJA/Bespoke Architecture. Together they’ve created a space at the latest Mid-Levels outlet that’s both relaxed and modern, combining the quintessential Hong Kong shophouse vibe with modern design details to capture the best of old and new.
Elephant Grounds Mid-Levels is curated around a sequence of “lifestyle-oriented” moments, encompassing the indoor-outdoor anteroom with cheery orange bleacher seating out front; the open kitchen and coffee bar area, which functions as the heart of the café; and the upper-floor loft for quiet relaxation. Pine timber is used throughout, with artworks and plants from Poon’s own collection adding to the laid-back ambiance. The motto of the cafe is “Coffee & Chill”, captured in a sign emblazoned out front which invites passers-by to pop in and get a taste of Elephant Grounds’ inimitable coffee and culture.
Elephant Grounds Mid-Levels, 61 Caine Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2535 7155