Header image courtesy of @timmy727 (via Instagram)
Hong Kong’s dining scene is famous for good reason. With our abundance of esteemed eateries, from starry fine-dining restaurants to humble family-run establishments, there are plenty of great eats to be discovered. With so much competition, it makes sense that many chefs and budding restaurateurs like to test-drive their concepts at culinary incubators and pop-up kitchens to gauge their chances of success before a full launch.
From the diner’s perspective, food incubators and pop-up kitchens are a great way to discover the next big thing, whether that’s a fresh new take on a popular cuisine or something new and entirely unseen in Hong Kong before. Here’s where to go to keep a close eye on the pulse of Hong Kong’s ever-changing dining scene.
Located on the corner of Staunton and Aberdeen Street, this culinary accelerator and incubator’s rainbow-coloured, Lego-esque façade is impossible to miss. Inside, an elegant and bright Sean Dix-designed interior plays host to a diverse range of pop-up concepts, from RH Fine Dining’s elegant Egyptian food to chef Jeffrey Lim’s Japanese Buddhist cooking, Myyz Concepts’ refined Malaysian fusion, and more.
A blue takeaway window on the side lends itself well to grab-and-go foods, with previous pop-ups like Patty Boi, Tarte, and Skimpy Burger using it to dish out Caribbean patties, savoury caviar tarts, and gourmet smash burgers to snaking queues. When it’s not busy “hatching new concepts,” Hatch also operates as a casual diner—where executive chef Jaime Young whips up modern American, Mexican, and Italian fare—and bodega selling local and international artisanal products.
Hatch, 60 Staunton Street, Soho, Central | (+852) 9215 2680
Founded by New York-trained chef Vincent Mui, Test Kitchen is exactly what it says on the tin—a space for esteemed chefs to trial their budding ideas in a professional environment. Occupying a beautiful two-storey converted warehouse space in Sai Ying Pun, Test Kitchen is something of a hidden gem for Hong Kong foodies, with a diverse roster of pop-ups as well as a stable of regular chefs who put out seasonal and new menus.
During pre-pandemic times, Test Kitchen hosted acclaimed chefs from all over the world, including Top Chef contestant Kwame Onwuachi, Indonesian locavore pioneer Ray Adriansyah, and British forager-chef Tobyn Excell, among many others. Meanwhile, pop-ups from celebrated local chefs include the Finnish patisserie concept Mr & Mrs Marshmallow from Arbor chef Eric Räty and his wife, Can, as well as the unique Korean-French fusion from Test Kitchen’s own chef Ching and his wife, Hanbit.
Test Kitchen, Shop 3, Kwan Yick Building Phase 3, 158A Connaught Road West, Sai Ying Pun | (+852) 9032 7628
Opened just a few months ago, this culinary and lifestyle concept in Fortress Hill does not stand for just one thing—according to its founders, the “M” in its name can mean music, mood, or menu, depending on the nature of the event taking place that day. Often, MOTD Concept serves as the venue for a dining pop-up, with recent offerings including a vegan afternoon high tea from aspiring pâtissier Juniper Wong and “Under the C,” a refined eight-course seafood menu by chef Cam Wong which was paired with luxurious RSRV champagne.
MOTD Concepts, 1/F, Union Park Tower, 168 Electric Road, Fortress Hill | (+852) 2335 5333
Unlike the previous entries, which operate as incubators to nurture nascent concepts, BiteUnite is a co-working kitchen, where professional and amateur chefs can maintain regular memberships to make use of the commercial kitchen facilities and licence. Located on a quiet street in the southern end of Wan Chai, BiteUnite is an airy, light-filled space that also operates as a café during the day.
While it’s best-known for the regular and varied cooking classes hosted by the BiteUnite chef community, you can also book private dinners of various cuisines and themes from the chefs, including a family-style Thai dinner, a rustic Italian meal, and both vegetarian cuisine from both the north and south of India.
BiteUnite, 15 Lung On Street, Wan Chai | (+852) 2366 3231
Part pop-up kitchen and part cloud kitchen, Orange Dish offers two centrally located kitchens for start-ups to produce and sell their food from, as well as partner venues for restaurant takeover-style pop-ups. Previous concepts which hosted pop-ups through Orange Dish include What Da Duck, which specialises in British-Chinese-style crispy aromatic shredded duck pancakes, and Butter Me Up, which served authentic Malaysian fare like beef rendang, sambal squid, and ayam percik (fried chicken in coconut milk gravy).