Weekend report

18 06 2017

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What I had expected to be a fairly low-key, soggy weekend ended up involving drunken co-workers at a glitzy banquet, a caramel cronut with a friend’s visiting parents from Perth, abortive trips through urine-soaked walk-ups in Mongkok to find (closed) hipster restaurants and a leatherworks “atelier” and great Shanghainese food at the impressive Causeway Bay restaurant Wang Jia Sha ( named after the Chinese-language title of “In the Mood For Love” and with decor inspired by the film but given a modern twist).


IMG_1611But the highlight perhaps was a smoky and sweet whiskey cocktail with star anise at J. Boroksi, the Hong Kong offshoot of a much-lauded Bangkok designer speakeasy, in the same alleyway where the city’s now-closed gay club Propaganda once stood. Aside from the customised cocktails, the bar’s claim to fame is its walls decorated with (real) beetles and spiders and small kaleidoscopic viewing cube of creepie crawlies.



Strange jazz

10 04 2017


A picnic in a jazz bar with takeaway Thai food and Shaanxi-grown red wine, at Salon Ten with friends midweek. Afterwards some of the group went on to J. Borowski, the offshoot of Bangkok hipster cocktail bar, festooned with bugs.


Bangkok: To do list

21 08 2016


It has been a while since I was in my favourite city and the list of new and interesting places I want to check out is growing ever longer, especially since I discovered the Thai magazine “aday”, which has lots of great tips like this cafe near the Hua Mak airport express stop in Ramkhamhaeng called Sunday.


Or this pretty jogging track around the Ram Inthra stadium:


Restaurant Harmonique with its courtyard under a banyan tree.


Plus a secret drinking den in the city’s US military headquarters

The Skytrain jazz bar

The dining table inside a swimming pool at 3nvy.

The city’s riverside Protestant cemetery.

And the cluster of art workshops and galleries amid old European buildings on the Charoen Krung Soi 30, also known after an obscure historical figure as Soi Captain Bush.

Then there is the chic speakeasy cocktail bar J Boroski, hidden on a Thonglor sidestreet, with a plush interior featuring a wall of mounted beetles.

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Plus there is the new incarnation of the Thailand Design and Creativity Centre nearby in the vast old nineteen thirties main post office building, and the glittering ICON mall across the river promising a new art museum and Takashimaya department store, coming next year.


The Subconscious

4 01 2016



The Golden Gai is a tangle of streets between the Hanazono-jinja shrine, the blinking lights of Yasukuni-dori and a bamboo-lined path leading into the heart of Kabukicho. By day, the district slumbers in broad daylight and at night, it creaks to life, its alleys filled with tiny, closet-sized bars with bizarre names like “Slow hand” or “Kangaroo Court Decision”.


Of these, the most intriguing to me was a Matthew Barney-inspired art bar named after his surreal opus, the Cremaster Cycle: the Cremaster Experimental Psychoanalytic bar.

Ping Pong 129

7 05 2014

With its red door daubed with the Chinese characters for “ping pong castle”, Ping Pong 129 (at number 129 of Sai Ying Pun’s Second Street) is Hong Kong’s latest hipster lair. Opened a few weeks ago, the former table tennis parlour comes complete with high-vaulted ceilings, neon sign over the bar (“train your body”) and a huge selection of the house specialty, gin. Plus tapas. Shame they didn’t keep a ping pong table though.


Photos by Louis Lee


Reminds me of:

Out and about

27 12 2013

I didn’t have time to check out many new places in Melbourne, and with the timing (the Xmas/New year break) a lot of the smaller, funkier places had already shut up shop.  My favourite cafe Sonido was closed,as was Kinfolk. I also missed out on the new incarnation of Discobeans, a Japanese vegan restaurant/art space set up by a singer in an ex-Osaka noise band and recently moved to the working class Greek/Italian suburb of Preston.

I didn’t have time for Shebeen, a bar inspired by the South African townships that sells beers from around the Third World in recycled-furniture surrounds, but I did manage to drop by the Asian Beer Cafe after being assured there was a hot Asian bear bartender (there was.) Unfortunately though, the place itself creeped me out with its heavy security and overly heterosexual meat market vibe.

I did have some nicer experiences though. I drank on the rooftop of the Curtin Building, had currently popular Korean fried chicken in a newly sprouted all-Korean laneway off Lonsdale Street and discovered a branch of the Japanese family restaurant ‘Pepper Lunch’ on Elizabeth Street, (much to my excitement.)

A friend also took me to the nearby Tropicana – a juice bar that has been there for everrrrr, but which I had never ventured into despite the bright walls covered with bags of oranges.  Inside, the Thai staff mixed Amazonian-inspired juices to Latin Christmas music.

A faux-store installation/photo booth in the back room of Third Drawer Down.

The biggest surprise though (disappointment? validation?) was finding my tiger backapack on sale in Melbourne!! They had them at Third Drawer Down, a hip homewares store off Gertrude Street – I was sure I was going to be the only person in town with one, but guess not…

Salon no. 10

9 06 2013

Hong Kong’s Kubrick-inspired hipster hangout, complete with plush banquettes and a Henri Rouseau inspired mural featuring Frida Kahlo and E.T. Why has it taken me so long to visit?