Header images courtesy of Arbor and Mott 32
Dining out is an adventure that goes beyond the food itself—the ambience plays an important role in elevating your enjoyment of a meal, which is why being in a well-designed space can make all the difference. Textures, materials, colours, and shapes are imbued with the narrative of the concept, providing a seamless sensory journey from the moment you step foot inside the restaurant, and lingers long after all the dishes have been digested.
Good design is not limited to the realm of white-tableclothed institutions—casual eateries can exude chicness with well-placed accents and thoughtful statement pieces as well. Here are the most beautiful restaurants in Hong Kong to visit for an experience beyond mere sustenance.
Courtesy of Hong Kong-based designer Joyce Wang, Ichu’s interiors draw upon Peru’s alluvial landscape to create a richly textured space reminiscent of the country’s raw beauty. Excavated fossil stone details and slate slabs on the walls pay homage to the textured stone forests of Marcahuasi and Cumbemayo, while the marble tables and plush seats display flourishes and veins characteristic of Nazca lines and Incan geometric patterns.
Dark timber and brass accents tie into the rich hues of teal, burgundy, forest green, and navy, evoking visuals of colourful Peruvian dress and the earthiness of its cuisine. The food and drinks on offer also pack a colourful punch, featuring the natural vibrance of various root vegetables, spices, seafood, and grains.
Ichu, 3/F, H Queen, 80 Queen’s Road Central, Central | (+852) 2477 7717
Also the work of Joyce Wang is moody Chinese restaurant Mott 32, inside the Standard Chartered building on Des Voeux Road Central. The space used to be a bank vault, an interesting tidbit to keep in mind when you’re descending the stairs into the sleek colonial-style industrial space. Exposed pipes and gritty walls juxtapose with the elegant menu populated with classic Cantonese dishes such as barbequed meats and dim sum, as well as double-boiled soups and stir-fried staples.
Mott 32’s private dining rooms each have a distinctive design, influenced by Chinese elements. Antiques and porcelain vases feature prominently throughout the restaurant, alongside Chinese-inspired artwork on the walls. A wall of Chinese calligraphy brushes, abacus-inspired lighting, and hanging lighting spheres are just a few of the many design elements that are sure to catch your eye.
Mott 32, Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4–4A Des Voeux Road, Central | (+852) 2898 3788
Created by Yabu Pushelberg, the design firm responsible for a number of high-end retail and hospitality spaces, Arbor is a soft terracotta dream delineated by arched ceilings, metallic gates, and oak panelling. Botanic tones of straw, clay, moss, and granite set the scene for a gastronomic stroll into the forest of flavours that is their Japanese-Nordic menu. The delicate and fresh offerings, replete with edible flowers and other nature accents, accentuate the sensual forest-bathing experience that is dining at Arbor. The ode to nature is unmistakable, amplified by the forest mural in the private dining rooms that positions Arbor as a serene oasis in the midst of a concrete city.
Arbor, 25/F, H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central, Central | (+852) 3185 8388
The youthful vegetarian member of the diverse culinary brands under ZS Hospitality, Miss Lee serves vegan Chinese cuisine all dressed-up. The design direction echoes the playfulness of the menu—millennial pink walls wrap the space, and the lack of sharp edges softens the aesthetic to replicate the feel of a child’s playroom. The logo features a blushing young lady, presumably Miss Lee herself, with various iterations of the illustrated motif adorning the walls in place of more grown-up paintings. Rattan furnishings harken back to Hong Kong’s colonial past, with bold splashes of the shade of green reminiscent of old post boxes.
Miss Lee, G/F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Central | (+852) 2881 1811
This 30-seater restaurant is inspired by the austere man-made forms that characterize the city in which it resides in—charcoal concrete is the predominant material used to encase the heavily textured yet airy space. The neutral interiors set the stage for the bold Japanese-Argentinian creations courtesy of Argentinian chef and founder Agustin Balbi. The marriage of austerity and fluidity in form is achieved thanks to the use of contrasting shapes, from the monolithic centrepiece to the abstract twists garnishing the tabletops.
Andō, 1/F, Somptueux Central, 52 Wellington Street, Central | (+852) 5239 9220
Inspired by the Chinese philosophy of “Wuxing”—the five phases of fire, water, wood, metal and earth is expressed in the design of contemporary Korean vegetarian restaurant Soul to Soil. The restaurant serves temple food, without the five pungent ingredients eschewed in Buddhism. The monastic adherence extends to the interiors as well—natural and plant-based ingredients are used in the recipes, and earth tones used throughout the space add to the zen quality and intimacy of the restaurant.
Soil to Soul, Shop 704, 7/F, K11 Musea, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2389 9588
Located inside a refurbished business hotel in the historied Jordan district, The Astor occupies a triple-height space that lends a luxurious twist to the casual vibes of the food hall. Inspired by the films by Wong Kar-wai about diner and street culture in the 1990s, the restaurant boasts a lot of retro touches such as the mosaic tiling favoured by old-school cha chaan tengs and local diners. The high ceiling makes space for a gigantic lighting structure draped in linen and perforated steel. Warm earth tones of ochre and mustard are contrasted with deep indigos, perhaps drawing cues from the floating rock that is Hong Kong.
The Astor, B/F, Eaton Hotel, 380 Nathan Road, Jordan | (+852) 2710 1901
A lush and airy space courtesy of André Fu of Upper House and St Regis fame, Louise is a relaxed French eatery located in a two-storey heritage house within PMQ. Ferns and desert foliage circumnavigate the space and decorate the walls, so one seems momentarily transported away from the hustle and bustle of a cosmopolitan city and back into colonial times. Art Deco patterns forming on the floor and ceiling, woven patio furniture, soft antique lighting, and a loquacious crowd sipping on goblets of wine complete the picturesque scene.
Louise, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central | (+852) 2866 0300