First there was Alibi. In 2000 restaurateur Nichole Garnaut opened this groundbreaking venture on Hong Kong’s heretofore sleepy Wyndham Street, then a tract of uninspiring galleries, shops, and Middle Eastern carpet stores. Almost overnight Alibi became the default destination for wining, dining, and reclining for HK’s burgeoning in crowd—the people too grooved to bother with stuffy stalwart eateries, like Jimmy’s Kitchen, and too smart to be caught dead eating at either the Wan Chai district, around its sailors and girlie joints, or Lan Kwai Fong, with drunk expats and those who love them.
Cut to today, when on any given weekend evening this short, curvy stretch (bounded on the west by the cobblestoned Pottinger Street and on the east by Queen’s Road Central, the major artery of the luxury shopping district) is so packed that cars can barely pass. The vulgarity of Lan Kwai Fong is just a 30-second walk away, but judging by the snappy crowd doing “the Wyn,” it might as well be a million miles.
The cosmo-Italian Goccia (73 Wyndham St.; 852/2167-8181) has taken over the space once occupied by Alibi. The pizza oven on the terrace outside the elegant second-floor dining salon produces perfect pies, and the ground-floor bar fills up from 8 p.m. The restaurant is just a hop from Pottinger Street, where a smart group kicks back at Lotus (37–43 Pottinger St.; 852/2543-6290; lotus.hk.), a clubby mod-Thai eatelier and lounge. Its signature toasted-fruit martini is the cocktail of the moment.
The wine bar DiVino (73 Wyndham St.; 852/2167-8883; divino.com.hk) is popular for its free early-evening spread of tapas and breads and its selection of more than 40 wines. And after-office favorite Tivo (43–55 Wyndham St.; 852/2116-8055; aqua.com.hk) is one of the few places in Hong Kong that pours fine wines by the glass. It serves a contemporary aperitivo menu throughout the day, and after 6 p.m. the pinstripes make way for the fashionistas and the wines for mixed drinks. Wednesday through Saturday, DJs keep the club atmosphere pumping, and by midnight the crowds outside are eight deep.
From the name Frog Face Fish (43–55 Wyndham St.; 852/2869-8535) you’d have no idea how fresh and terrific the European seafood is here. That, along with its welcoming staff, agreeable price points, and loungy soundtrack, makes getting a reservation before 10 p.m. tough.
Go below street level to .hk (43–55 Wyndham St.; 852/2116-8855; aqua.com.hk) for an extraordinary collection of cocktails made with traditional Chinese wines and liquors and served at the modern circular bar. Hadda silks, firecracker-red lanterns, and black lacquer set the scene for the fine northern Chinese and Tibetan-tweaked cuisine.
For those weary of things Chinese, the contemporary Australian steakhouse Wagyu (the Centrium, 60 Wyndham St.; 852/2525-8805) serves up the hefty marbled beef for which it’s named. Directly above is the terrace of Dragon-i (the Centrium, 60 Wyndham St.; 852/3110-1222; dragon-i.com.hk), Gilbert Yeung’s beloved HK club, which still hammers the competition with its mix of celebrities, models, and happening DJs. At lunch there’s all-you-can-eat dim sum; at dinner the lights go down and sophisticates gather for the exclusive vibe and Japanese-Chinese dinner menu; by 10 p.m. there’s a doorman in place to edit the clubsters who arrive for the nightly show-off.
Dragon-i’s terrace overlooks the LKF Tower, at 33 Wyndham; the newest building on the street and home to the Hotel LKF, it is the best of the city’s recently opened boutique properties. The second-floor restaurant FINDS (852/ 2522-9318; finds.com.hk)—the acronym stands for Finland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden—offers an unusual Scandinavian menu in a cool, modern space. At the top of the tower is Azure (852/3518-9688; azure.hk), a chic two-story boîte serving up an international menu, majestic city views, and a bite-size terrace.
In a city whose restaurant turnover rivals New York’s, it’s heartening to know that some things don’t change. Just a few short steps from the dizzying heights of Azure is the grandmammy of them all, M at the Fringe (2 Lower Albert Rd.; 852/2877-4000; m-restaurantgroup.com). Inside the famous Colonial-era Fringe Club, circa 1890, M is 19 years young and still an HK favorite, running at capacity for lunch and dinner year after year thanks to its boho-chic feel and elegant, global comfort cooking. It is no small coincidence that it’s owned by Michelle Garnaut, sister to Nichole, the woman who reinvented Wyndham in the first place. And so the world turns.…