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Lan Kwai Fong: The beating heart of Hong Kong's nightlife scene

Lan Kwai Fong: The beating heart of Hong Kong's nightlife scene

Our travel and food writer, Baldwin Ho explores the rise of Lan Kwai Fong to become Hong Kong's leading nightlife destination.

April 25th, 2023

Lan Kwai Fong has become synonymous with the nightlife scene of Hong Kong over the years. However, this wasn't the case until 1983 when Allan Zeman famously opened California Restaurant on a narrow alleyway in this forgotten part of the Central district. Before that time, it was dominated by flower shops and warehouses but Allan had the vision to see the potential of the area. By 1984, Allan had bought the entire block and launched his career as a property mogul and a hospitality specialist. He reportedly owns 65% of properties in the Lan Kwai Fong area. His impeccable business acumen has seen him involved in wide-ranging industries from TVB (the ITV equivalent in Hong Kong), the Airport Authority of Hong Kong and Wynn Macau. He is currently the chairman of LKF Group whilst his son, Jonathan Zemen is the CEO.

The district is the place to be for all kinds of celebrations from Halloween to New Year's Eve. Whilst people associate the countdown in New York with Times Square, locals and tourists alike gravitate towards Lan Kwai Fong on New Year's Eve. Apart from being a major landlord in the area, they own some of the most distinguished restaurants in the area. The eclectic choices on offer have been the key to their success. In such a small radius, you'll find the very best steakhouse in the city, the freshest sashimi dishes and restaurants with breathtaking views of the city.

In Hong Kong, it's always been about sourcing the very best ingredients rather than local produce, being a tiny island in the South China Sea. At Porterhouse, you can savour full-blood wagyu from Mayura, Australia to extremely well-marbled, Rubia Gallega from Los Nortenos, Spain. Their legendary seafood brunch is unrivalled with unlimited oysters, Boston lobster and Irish crab. No other country executes buffets quite like Hong Kong and this is one of the most spectacular, you'll encounter.

If you want to admire the scintillating skyline of Hong Kong, a top choice to consider is dining at Aria on the 24/F of California Tower. With floor-to-ceiling glass, an outdoor terrace and a trendy mixture of contemporary and art-deco touches, this is the place to see and be seen. You won't be surprised to find the operatic nature of the restaurant name has inspired a menu filled with elevated Italian classics. Melanzane alla puttanesca and spaghettoni all'Amatriciana are all created from traditional family-style recipes but presented for 21st-century consumption. They have a wine club series in the coming months focusing on wines from different regions of Italy. In May, it will be Marche, in June, it will be Lazio and in July, it will be Tuscany. You'll get to explore wineries that are hidden gems whilst dining on the finest Italian produce at this ever-popular restaurant.

Japanese food is undoubtedly still all the rage in Hong Kong. And the LKF Group have three distinguished offerings: Fumi - Japanese kaiseki, Tokio Joe - sushi & sake and Kyoto Joe - modern izakaya. Tokio Joe is particularly worthy of a mention. It is THE original Japanese restaurant of Lan Kwai Fong having been opened since 1995. It is one of the first restaurants in Hong Kong to offer an omakase menu. Their sashimi platters offer delicacies which you'll rarely experience in Europe such as succulent Hokkaido sea urchin and akagai (red clam). They do frequently launch new products to be in tune with the times. Kyoto Joe offers an unlimited vegetarian feast which includes the likes of cauliflower tempura and yam sushi rolls. They also offer a decadent-sounding A4 Wagyu & lobster tasting menu dinner.

Lan Kwai Fong has developed into a cultural phenomenon with the likes of the Lan Kwai Fong beer and music festival. They've also expanded their brand into China with LKF Chengdu and LKF852 Prince Bay. They are most definitely one of the most exciting companies to have evolved in Hong Kong over the past decades and one to watch as the expansion plans are limitless.


Baldwin Ho

Baldwin Ho

An intrepid adventurer and foodie, Baldwin is always on the lookout for latest trends on the culinary scene as well as pushing himself out of his comfort zone in trying out new activities. He has a particularly keen interest in food and travel photography.

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