One of Hong Kong’s favourite chefs spills on his favourite spots in Lan Kwai Fong
From fine dining to casual burgers, chef Uwe Opocensky can do it all. He spent nine years as the Executive Chef at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, overseeing the iconic hotel’s stellar culinary line up. He’s cooked for British royalty, celebrities and American Presidents. He’s travelled the world working at some of the top resorts and restaurants, including El bulli, once the world’s best restaurant.
These days, he’s the Group Executive Chef for the Greater China Restaurant Company, where he oversees Beef & Liberty and his own eponymous restaurant called UWE. And he’s the genius who helped pair delicious burgers with Krug Champaign – so thank you, Chef Uwe!
On top of it all, he’s also a passionate advocate of sustainability in food, and has been one of the leading promoters of Impossible Foods in the city. Impossible Foods makes the plant-based burgers that are supposed to mimic the taste and mouthfeel of real meat, and hopefully replace traditional meat all together!
Read on to find out more about Chef Uwe’s favourite spots and memories in Lan Kwai Fong.
What was your first memory of Lan Kwai Fong?
My first experience of Lan Kwai Fong was when I first arrived in Hong Kong back in 2004. Like many first-time expats to the city, I was taken for drinks at Stormies. It was my first night out in Asia really, and I was amazed by the buzz in the streets– on a Tuesday night!
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What’s your favourite Lan Kwai Fong memory?
Well, that’s got to be the opening of our Beef & Liberty restaurant there over two years ago, when I joined The Greater China Restaurant Company. To start off the new job with an opening was incredible, and seeing it grow from then until now is amazing.
You’re the Executive Chef at Beef & Liberty, what’s your favourite part about having a restaurant right in Central?
I love the different mix of people that come through the restaurant. Lots of business executives at lunch, but also lots of travellers and locals in the evenings and families for weekend brunch. It’s an accessible location and when you mention Lan Kwai Fong or Central to someone, everyone knows where it is, it needs no explaining.
Where are the most exciting restaurants in Central?
When I’m looking for a unique experience I enjoy Amber and Arcane and when in the mood for something Asian or more casual I tend to go to or recommend Mott 32 or Neighborhood.
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Where do you like to grab a healthy lunch when you're in the area?
A quick healthy lunch for me is often our Leaves & Liberty offering [Beef & Liberty’s sister brand promoting all vegetarian, plant-based and sustainable menu items]. But, if I’m not at the restaurant and want something different, I tend to go to Mana.
What about bars, do you have any favourites?
I love The Old Man, which is not really in Lan Kwai Fong, but it’s close enough. I also enjoy a good cocktail and some jazz at Foxglove.
Where do you go for your wellness, like gyms or spas?
I like PURE Yoga, the spa at The Mandarin if I’m spoiling myself, and I love a foot massage at ZEN.
After the end of a long night, where can we find you relaxing?
I enjoy relaxing at the newly opened The Sea (by the guys from The Old Man), but you can often find me at Yardbird. Skewers and sake, it’s just total goodness.
Do you have a favourite dish around the Central area?
I wouldn’t say I have a favourite, I like variety and trying something different every time. As often as possible, I try the new places that open. And with so many new places opening up all the time, there’s always something new to try.
What about cocktail?
My favourite cocktail has got to be a Whiskey Sour from The Old Man.
Can you tell us what your perfect Lan Kwai Fong night is?
I enjoy a good night at Carbone with a bunch of friends. Love the atmosphere and its no fuss menu. A must-have for me is their Veal Parmesan paired with a nice bottle of red.
When you’re not working at UWE or Beef & Liberty, do you prefer a wild night out or a quiet night in?
Definitely a quiet night in. Like many other chefs, I don’t get to see my beautiful family enough, so each quiet night I get I prefer to spend with them.
Can we buy you a drink, what’s your order?
I won’t turn down that offer! I’m happy with a Whiskey Sour or a Gin Fizz. Cheers!
Beef & Liberty
3/F, California Tower, 32 D’Aguilar St, Central; +852 2450 5778
18 Ice House Street / 6 Duddell Street, Central; +852 2116 8949
G/F 252 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan; +852 2546 8665
18 On Lan Street, Central; +852 2728 0178
Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4-4A Des Voeux Road Central, Central; +852 2885 8688
LG/F, 61-63 Hollywood Road, Central; +852 2617 0891
92 Wellington Street, Central; +852 2851 1611
The Old Man
LG/F, 37-39 Aberdeen Street, Central; +852 2703 1899
Pure Yoga The Centrium
The Centrium, 16/F, 60 Wyndham Street, Central; +852 2971 0055
Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
Connaught Road Central, Central; +852 2522 0111
6/F Jade Centre, 98 Wellington Street, Central; +852 2142 1119
154-158 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan; +852 2547 9273
Carbone Hong Kong
9/F LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central; +852 2593 2593