Thursday, December 13, 2012

Saturday night at Lily in Hong Kong's Lang Kwai Fong

In Hong Kong recently, living a TRAVELIFE, I found myself at a very hip and crowded bar called Lily in Lang Kwai Fong.

I'm not a bar type of person at all, but I'd just had dinner with a group of old friends living in Hong Kong and at least two of them were keen on having a nightcap somewhere.

One of them is really the going-out-to-the-latest-places kind of guy, and so he suggested Lily as it was nearby and pretty cool.


What a crush of people on a Saturday night at 1130 PM. Apparently, the party really starts here at midnight on a weekend. We got into an elevator -- and I so don't like crowded elevators -- and it was an excruciating few minutes up the lift with about 15 other people.

On the way down, I had to wait a long time until we chanced upon a relatively vacant elevator as I swore I was never going into a crowded and hot lift again.

Lily was a nice bar with a good atmosphere and all kinds of cocktails, including some delicious non-alcoholic ones. Like most bars, it was dark and playing loud music, but what interested me most was the massive bar counter lined with old-fashioned drinks and bottles -- to give it a Prohibition-type of atmosphere -- and the wooden ceiling.

And on the lower floor was Lily's restaurant that served Italian food.

I had a look and it seemed like a decent place to eat, with banquette seating and very stylish decor. But one of my friends whispered that it's better as a drinking place after a good dinner somewhere else.

The main bar counter at Lily in Lang Kwai Fong


I hadn't been to Lang Kwai Fong in years.

Usually, my trips to Hong Kong are quick 18-hour ins-and-outs as I stop over on the way to and from Manila and somewhere else. And even if it's not a stopover kind of trip, I still usually only do a short trip from Manila since I figure Hong Kong is very accessible and I can go anytime.

I'll spend two weeks in Africa or Europe because it's such a pain to get there and then you have to cope with jetlag as well; but Hong Kong, 90 minutes away and on the same time zone, can always be an overnight trip even.

Most times, I don't even leave my hotel. It's straight to the hotel from the airport in the hotel car, and then I have a dinner in the hotel restaurant, breakfast the next day, and then out to the airport again.

If I do get out for an hour or so, I usually like to just walk around my old haunts in Central or check out the shops in Landmark, Prince's Building or IFC.

Pretty good interior decor at Lily in Lang Kwai Fong

Nothing much to write about, in other words, but I do a lot of these kinds of overnighters to Hong Kong and I actually like it. I'm not much of a brand-name shopper anyway. The kind of shopping I like to do when I travel is for things that are really local -- items you can't get anywhere else but in that place, and for those things I'll go to the very best store I can find.

So in Hong Kong, which is mostly brand shopping anyway, I avoid the stores unless I really need something in a hurry that I can't get elsewhere.

The only exceptions perhaps are the Chinese Emporium, which sells high-quality goods from China, and Shanghai Tang. I went to the Chinese Emporium on this last visit and it's really gotten too expensive so I ended up not buying anything.

That's the restaurant area of Lily in Lang Kwai Fong

So I mostly go to visit the art galleries, if I ever find time for that lately, and to eat in good restaurants -- and, fortunately, a lot of good restaurants in Hong Kong are in hotels. Even the locals heavily patronize the hotel restaurants.

Meanwhile, many of the good art galleries are now on a building along Pedder St. in Central, and so that's very convenient for one-stop shopping. This building once used to be where we all went for one-off clothes boutiques run by young designers and stores with high-end export overruns patronized by expats and taitais; but the place has been taken over by posh art galleries.


This was a delicious non-alcoholic drink

But this time, I stayed for a long weekend instead of my usual overnight stopover, and my friends had suggested LKF for a Saturday night. They all just wanted something casual and fun -- nothing too gourmet or too fancy.

It's amazing how LKF hasn't changed much even if I don't think I've been here in ten years or so. We walked up the hill to our restaurant and then to the bar, and I even passed a couple of places I remembered from a previous lifetime -- they were exactly as I remembered them. The LKF vibe, too, was very much the same.

Lily is a relatively new bar, though, and certainly an interesting and happening place for a Saturday night in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.


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