• December is one of my favourite times of year to be in Hong Kong, when the air is crisp and dry, and the streets less crowded
  • This year, it feels especially important to stick around and support Hong Kong's bars and restaurants. Here are five opportunities to do just that

Christmas and New Year 's Eve have traditionally been some of the most lucrative periods for the dining industry - festive menus abound, there are parties to attend and booze to be drunk in copious amounts before the sobriety mandate that comes with the new year.

However, in last year's festive season, Hong Kong bars and restaurants reported fewer customers and lower spending.

Most put it down to the freshly opened borders and scrapping of quarantine following as the Covid-19 pandemic threat ebbed, which fuelled a mass exodus from the city. Yet it does not seem the fervour among Hong Kong residents for short- and long-haul trips has lessened over the past 12 months.

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The most common question you'll hear being thrown around at this time of the year is likely to be "so are you going anywhere this Christmas?", and my answer, like most years, is "nowhere".

I love staying in the city over the festive period, not only to enjoy the precious days of cooler, drier weather but the relative calm that seems to settle over Hong Kong at this time - the perfect balm before the madness of the Lunar New Year, the bigger holiday on the calendar.

If you're sticking around, like me, then here's a taster of some of the things happening.

1. Festival fare

The Clockenflap music and arts festival starts on December 1, and this year's food line-up is looking tastier than at the previous festival in March.

Apart from local favourite Little Bao, which will be slinging its signature pork belly and Sichuan chicken bao, I'm excited to see that Hong Kong veggie legend Years will be pitching up as well, serving its OG Impossible burger, spicy avocado nachos and caramelised apple skewers.

Also, this is your last chance to try the food and bid farewell to Burmese restaurant Club Rangoon, which completed its final service on November 25. At Clockenflap, it will present four of its top hits, from egg curry bites to lime-leaf-roasted wagyu beef cheek curry with rice.

Clockenflap, December 1 to 3, Central Harbourfront Event Space, Central

2. Little Bao x OBP

Speaking of Little Bao, its next collaboration with Korean restaurant OBP feels very on trend.

Set to happen on December 7, the 3AM LA Koreatown Late Night Dining collaboration brings together chef May Chow with OBP's chef Junwoo Choi and mixologist Daniel Eun for a seven-course dinner for two combining Chow's neo-Cantonese specials with OBP's big Korean flavours: there will be a ssam bao with pork belly and kimchi, char siu-style kalbi (beef short ribs), and a hobak jeon (zucchini pancake) that's given extra life with Sichuan chilli oil and mentaiko (pollack roe).

Eun will present Korean-inspired gin cocktails, such as the Dokdo Gimlet, with Korean sake and green apple shrub; and the Red Devil 02 that includes Korean cinnamon and ginger tea with Campari and sweet vermouth.

(Note this is at Little Bao's Central branch, not Causeway Bay).

Little Bao, 1-3 Shin Hing Street, Central

3. Yin Yang magic

Darkside bar at Rosewood Hong Kong launches its newest conceptual menu on November 30, and this time it's playing with the idea of dualities and interconnectedness.

The Yin Yang menu presents contrasting pairs of cocktails with names such as Brightside and Darkside; Sun and Moon; Heaven and Earth; and River and Mountain.

The milky Moon cocktail is inspired by the Mid-Autumn Festival, and incorporates aged rum with Bitter Fusetti, pomelo, yuzu, salted kumquat, osmanthus and marsala secco.

Its polar opposite is the Sun cocktail, a bright, Bourbon-based drink with elements including coconut, amaretto and curry-spiced pumpkin.

Darkside, 2/F, Rosewood Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

4. Osteria Felix Hand Rolled Pasta at Mato

Hong Kong-born chef Felix Cheung is a talent to watch, and those in the know have already been keeping tabs on his movements in the city.

His latest pop-up, Ostera Felix Hand Rolled Pasta, is a continuation of his personal project based around handmade pasta, and will take place at the excellent Mato Coffee & Wine bar in Sheung Wan.

The sad part is yes, this pop-up (December 1 to 10) is fully booked, but there may be last-minute seats on the waiting list.

Mato, G02, Nan Fung Place, 173 Des Voeux Road Central

5. Shady's Gingerhaus

If you need help getting into the Christmas spirit, there's probably a solution in the form of a giant, immersive gingerbread house courtesy of the Shady Acres in collaboration with Monkey 47 gin.

The entire bar has been transformed into a festive gingerbread cookie hut, complete with windows showcasing a snowy German Black Forest landscape, fairy lights and fluffy wreaths.

Punny Christmas food and drink such as the Nut King Cole cocktail and Sweet Baby Cheesus cheeseboard will get you into a merrymaking mood.

Shady Acres, 46 Peel Street, Central

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

Copyright (c) 2023. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

2023-12-01T09:34:55Z dg43tfdfdgfd