That '70s chow: Best retro restaurants in Hong Kong

Retro dining is hip in Hong Kong and we find the best restaurants that take you back to olden times but add a memorable modern twist on classic dishes.

Cityscape Hong Kong and Junkboat at Twilight
  • Jetstar
  • September 2018

Slick interiors and hipster food might be everywhere, but we’re loving these fantastic venues celebrating old Hong Kong with a hint – or more – of nostalgia.

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1. 70s throwback

May Chow, of Little Bao fame, was voted Asia’s Best Female Chef in this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list so it stands to reason that her latest venture, Happy Paradise, is just as crowd-pleasing. The futuristic, neon-pink eatery is tucked away down a narrow corridor in Soho and decked out in cha chaan teng vintage in the form of metal diner chairs, lurid tiles and bar mirrors. The menu offers twists on old-style comfort food fused with traditional Cantonese dishes. Try the tea-smoked pigeon, slow-cooked chicken with glutinous rice and Shaoxing wine, and dim sum favourite cheong fan, a rice roll that Chow pimps with scallops.
Where: 52-56 Staunton St, Central, facebook.com/happyparadisehk

People walking through market, Wan Chai, Hong Kong.
Wan Chai is as close to the old Hong Kong as you will find.

2. East-meets-West comfort food

“Soy sauce Western” is how Loyal Dining cheekily describes its nostalgia-focused cuisine inspired by menus of the 60s and 70s. Recently reopened in Wan Chai, the eatery boasts a downstairs bar serving childhood-themed cocktails (try the Ovaltine Fizz, with Baileys, Kahlua and, of course, Ovaltine) alongside bar snacks including deep-fried prawn toast. Upstairs, green leather banquettes, chandeliers, plaid wallpaper and colourful crockery set the scene for sepia-toned supping on old-school East-meets-West favourites.
Where: 1/F, 5 Tonnochy Rd, Wan Chai, loyaldining.com.hk

3. A secret stomping ground

Riffing off the mise-en-scène in the cult classics by filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai, Mrs Pound does retro cool with a healthy dose of humour in its interior design. This Sheung Wan speakeasy is located on a sloping cobbled residential street, with its door secreted behind the façade of an old stamp shop. Once inside (press the secret stamp for entry), embrace the glamorous décor: old-school bar stools, a long, tiled bar, pink-leather bench seats and neon-lit gymnast-hoop lights. The menu tends towards modern with a Chinese-Malaysian fusion theme.
Where: 6 Pound Ln, Sheung Wan, mrspound.com

4. Street food with a modern makeover

Hong Kong nostalgia has exploded onto the walls, menus and plates of Lee Lo Mei. Hong Kong icons, including red taxis, birdcages, postboxes and mahjong pieces, are graffitied on the walls while the furniture and fittings – stools, coloured chopsticks and striped awnings – are a throwback to the city’s near-extinct street eateries known as dai pai dongs and bing sutts. Here, you’ll find street eats fashioned with quality ingredients and contemporary cooking techniques. Shrimp roe noodles come with sea scallops and prosciutto, and taro dumplings are made with duck confit.
Where: 8 Lyndhurst Tce, Central, leelomei.hk