Known for its vertiginous tower blocks and frenetic shopping, neon-lit Causeway Bay has emerged as a foodie hub as well, and with good reason. Home to countless malls, local fashion labels, and ahead-of-the-curve boutiques like Stella Tang’s boudoir-style Voulez Vous (which carries brands like Belle Sauvage, Manoush, and Daydream Nation), the area is constantly alive with fashionistas and bargain-hunters hungry for more than just a good buy.
Today, they’re flocking to Manzo, the latest steakhouse from the Dining Concepts group. Tucked high inside the Times Square complex, the wood-and-brick dining room delivers hearty yet elegant Italian fare, and is especially popular at lunchtime thanks to an extensive appetizer bar laced with the likes of marinated artichokes, artisanal cheeses, and house-cured meats. In the evening, the emphasis is on massive (think a 32-ounce bistecca fiorentina) Angus steaks, cooked to perfection in a bustling open kitchen and matched with an impressive list of Italian wines.
Vinophiles will also want to sniff out the Nose Wine School. A cozy tasting bar from sommelier Stefano Yim, who owns a similar venture in Pasadena, California, the Nose has an ambience that is half bistro, half jazz-soaked speakeasy. Let Yim guide you through some of the small-batch wines on offer; there’s also a seductive range of imported cheeses.
To the west of Causeway Bay, Wan Chai is shedding its seedy reputation as a red-light district and going chic, with Star Street at the center of things. Here, The Principal brings creativity and class to the table with a fine-tuned wine list, nectarous cocktails, and the refined cooking of Spanish chef Jonay Armas. A Canary Island native who honed his skills at some of Spain’s top kitchens, Armas has created an ingredient-driven menu that falls somewhere between home cooking and molecular gastronomy. Arrive early for a pick from the cocktail menu before tackling Armas’s degustation, which features the likes of slow-poached (as in, 45 minutes at 63°C) free-range egg with crepes and black truffle; arroz caldoso with bomba rice and green almonds; and tender, juicy suckling pig with tangy lemon puree.
Another Spanish chef, Michelin-starred Paco Roncero, also plans to hang his toque in Wan Chai, where he’s set to open View 62 high atop the Hopewell Centre in June. The city’s only revolving restaurant—formerly called R66—has been given a stylish makeover, though a more compelling backdrop to Roncero’s avant-garde cuisine is likely to be the views from this 62nd-floor perch. Back at street level, chef Patrick Goubier’s Chez Patrick, once a favorite for fine French dining in Central, has moved to new white-paneled premises on Queen’s Road East; Goubier also runs a casual bistro, Deli Chez Patrick, on Star Street, serving crowd-pleasing classics such as brioche with Lyonaisse sausage and duck-confit cassoulet.
Hungering for homegrown flavors? Hidden away behind Wan Chai’s heritage-listed Blue House, Maureen composes simple, magical bowls of steaming Chinese noodles, the eggy ribbons custom-made for the restaurant and served in a rich broth with an abundance of delicate add-ons, including balsamic-soaked cherry tomatoes and shiitake mushrooms. It’s the ultimate bespoke noodle experience.
And it’s not just about eating in Wan Chai; all sorts of new ventures are opening up, from high-end furniture shops to local-label boutiques. Worth a gander are Wudai Shiguo, a narrow, dark-walled den that specializes in 1930s Americana, from top-quality reproduction furnishings to faux-vintage clothing; Kapok on Sun Street, for imaginative homewares and accessories; and the latest branch of F.I.L. (Free International Laboratory), the boutique chain of high-concept Japanese fashion designer Hiroki Nakamura. For fans of Monocle magazine, there’s also a Monocle Shop, which stocks a curated range of design goods.