#theWanderlist: Man Mo Cafe Honors Tradition While Infusing The New

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I’ve always thought that Upper Lascar Row, aka “Cat Street” parallel to Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan, was one of the best preserved streets in Hong Kong. Walking through this pedestrian-only alleyway, lined on both sides with an amazing selection of Chinese Antiques, traditional furnitures, and vintage junks, I really get a sense of Hong Kong’s craft and aesthetic history because it’s all here on display. To me the 100 year old Cat Street really feels untouched, and locals and tourists alike can still come here to find items, decorative and historic, real and replica…  to take home that is uniquely of an old Hong Kong style.

On a rainy Wednesday evening, when all stalls were closed, I came in after work to check out for the first time the Man Mo Cafe, the first concept restaurant to open on Cat Street. For better or for worse, once one “destination” restaurant opens, others will follow… however its on this street that founder of Man Mo Cafe, Swiss-born chef Nicolas Elalouf, aimed to not only establish a Chinese-focused restaurant which was rooted within history (possibly an unavoidable decision due to such an iconically historic site), but to formulate a humble Cafe which allows Elalouf to combine his own expertise for what he had learned in the west in order to create something new for Hong Kong.

I doubt that a “Destination” restaurant was Elalouf’s intent with Man Mo Cafe, however, armed with a duo of amazing chefs, one from Robuchon and another an award winning chef from the Original Din Tai Fung in Taipei, Elalouf has made it clear that his fusion dishes are unlike any other. Scores of restaurant reviews from the likes of Hong Kong Tatler and Time Out Hong Kong have been published since they’ve opened earlier in the year, and all have been unanimous… the balance of the eastern tradition of dumpling making, with the western tradition of preparing delicacies, is absolutely achieved in their signature dishes.

Some of my favorites include the Burger Buns (glazed Char Siu Bao) featured above, which come complete with a vial of thousand island dressing that you squeeze into the bun after biting off the top of it.

The Tomato and Mozzarella Cheese Dumpling.

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The best… this Foie Gras Xiao Long Bao will melt in your mouth.

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This Panfried Shanghainese, Truffle and Brie Dumpling, is another best dish.

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We loved this savoury Steamed Ratatouille dumpling, filled with delicious vegetables and a tangy tomato sauce. (I felt like I was eating a Western dish… but I was eating it with chopsticks from a steam basket).

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To end the dinner we had a taste of Man Mo’s famous Nutella Ball in Sesame Seed Pastry.

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As well as a bit of these delicious HK Egg Lemon Tarts.

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I went to try Man Mo Cafe at the invitation of architect, Daphne Mandel, whose works have been on display in the gallery-esque space of the restaurant for the last month, and who did an interview with me here on the blog. Apparently her works have been selling really well. We also met up with a mutual friend who introduced us, designer Thuy-Tien Crampton, of the amazing children’s wear fashion brand, La Petite Caravane.

Daphne’s Hong Kong facade works on display is one of a planned series of rotating exhibitions for this simple yet elegant space.

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Daphne’s exhibition is actually going to get extended because works have sold and new works have just been placed up on display this past week to take its place. 

Here’s a photo of all of us with Chef Nicolas at the end of the evening.

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Word on the street is that there have already been offers to purchase this independent restaurant by a bigger restaurant group. Whatever happens to this place, hope the quality keeps up. The pricepoint is not that bad either, about 800HKD for two people. The service is fantastic and food items get made only when ordered, so dont expect to rush your meal and give it some time.

EAT Man Mo Cafe . 40 Upper Lascar Row (Cat Street), Sheung Wan, Hong Kong . T: +852 26445644 . Tue-Sun 12-3 and 6-Midnight

JJ.

Seen&Scene: Chen Fei and Izumi Kato, Chinese and Japanese Painters Debuts Solo Shows Together at Galerie Perrotin Hong Kong

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Above, “There will be a day to see you again (2013)” Acrylic on Canvas and “Step Father (2013)” Acrylic on Canvas, both by Chen Fei.

Young Chinese artist, Chen Fei, born in 1983 in Shanxi, is making a solo come back to Hong Kong via Galerie Perrotin. Fei, who was originally discovered by gallerist, Nicole Schoeni, first exhibited here with Schoeni at her 2008 group show, Niubi Newbie Kids and Niubi Newbie Kids 2, and then had his first Hong Kong solo also with Schoeni in 2010 with Bad Taste. With Schoeni Art Gallery closing its doors recently, Galerie Perrotin, has stepped in to offer Chen Fei his second Hong Kong solo titled, Flesh and Me.

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"Sorrowful Peasant (2013)", Acrylic on Canvas by Chen Fei

With Flesh and Me, Chen Fei explores further his usually cinematic themes of him and his heroine via a stylistically, “Supreflat”, approach. According to Nicole Schoeni, Chen Fei and his work is representative of a generation of Chinese Post-80’s youth who grew up in an essentially consumerist and media centric society, devoid of the discussion of politics. His works may not be politically conscious, but is telling of generational influences via pop-culture narratives with an overtone of cynicality, humor, and anime violence.

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"See Yourself (2013)" Acrylic on Canvas, by Chen Fei

Seven new works adorn the space, each painted with the typical obsessive meticulousness that Chen Fei has been known for. The depiction of his subjects, a woman and his own self, depict Fei’s interests in flesh as it relates to sexuality, pain, ownership of the body, mortality, and perhaps our place in the universe.

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"Dark Stars (2013)" Acrylic on Canvas, by Chen Fei

The specificity of the Chen Fei’s work runs in stark contrast to the works of Japanese, Izumi Kato, which adorns the main central gallery that one can see as they enter the space.

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Untitled works from 2013 by Izumi Kato

Born in 1969 at Shimane Prefecture, the exhibition at Galerie Perrotin, marks Kato’s first solo show outside Japan in career that almost spans two decades. Owing to his responsibilities as primarily a painter, to the two-dimensional medium of the canvas, Kato seeks to create a better way of not recreating our world, but creating a new one within that flat format.

While Chen Fei seeks to reflect the Japanese graphic obsession of a precise “Superflat” style, Izumi Kato is very comfortable with letting compositions arise from the application of paint from his own fingers wearing vinyl gloves and typical rubber kitchen spatulas. The effect of the medium combined with the alien-like beings depicted in his works, enable Kato to create new worlds with new characters unlike anything we’ve seen before.

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Untitled from 2009, by Izumi Kato

Three dimensional figures, propped up on plywood platforms on the wall or on ready-made furniture, help Kato break the wall of the painted image, and bring his characters into our own space, where they seem happy enough to inhabit.

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Untitled works from 2013 by Izumi Kato

VISIT Flesh and Me by Chen Fei and Izumi Kato Solo Shows Ends 2014 MAR 15. Galerie Perrotin in Hong Kong, 50 Connaught Road Central, 17th Floor, Central, Hong Kong . +852-37582180

JJ.

#JJStyle: Channeling Faye Wong HK Chic With MVT Atelier’s Launch

Back to basics indeed and channeling a bit of Faye Wong ala Chungking Express, Hong Kong based model Chris L, appears in new lookbook, photographed by Oliver Clasper, for a campaign launch of the label, MVT (formerly Magnan Tse). The photographs went live first on the MVT Facebook page and we have decided to reprint them on Wanderlister.com for you.

In an interview with South China Morning Post’s Diviah Harilela MVT Designer ex-architect, Yuen Man Tse, states that the newly relaunched label is focused primarily on “luxury basics, made from natural fabrics like silk, organic cotton and viscose.” Her aim with the new MVT line is sustainability, ie. making good quality items that will last, unlike the way we tend to toss clothes away with our fast-fashion practices.

MVT’s new collection of 27 styles will be available at Kapok stores in Asia as well as Galeries Lafayette in Beijing. According to the SCMP article, some items include oversized biker vests with chunky zips, plus modern basics like jersey skirts, button down oversized blouses, and loose tops made of cotton silk.  She only uses Japanese fabrics, with nothing in the collection retailing more than 2,000HKD. This is definitely one independent designer we love to support!

WEAR MVT Atelier / FOLLOW MVT Facebook / PHOTOGRAPHS Oliver Clasper

JJ.

Have Books, Will Travel. Discover New Cities in 2014 With These Top Travel Guides

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From Left to right; it’s a Mexican Cathedral in Panay Philippines, Villa Savoye in Poissy by Le Corbusier, The Gates in Central Park by artists, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, a Harajuku Girl in Tokyo, and lastly the Santa Maria Dela Pace, my favorite church in Rome.

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There’s just something about traveling. I LOVE TO TRAVEL. My blog was almost called “The Wanderluster” or “The Wanderlust” if it wasn’t for it being such a popular if not albeit appropriately cliche and overused word to label almost any travel/style based blog and/or Pinterest mood board these days. IE. The URL was already taken. So, I turned the “u” with an “i” on the title, and as they say… the rest was social media history! 

As you can see at the photo collage above, when I travel, I always look out for Architecture old and new, fashion trends I see on the street, and unique exhibitions, both indoor and outdoor. Traveling allows me to break with life’s daily monotony, and I always rely on Traveling to remind me that life is lived in different ways by different people, and their cultures and societal norms can help inform a new perspective, which is definitely something I can utilize in my design work and lifestyle choices.

One of my biggest 2014 resolutions, is to attempt to visit new places i’ve never been in Asia, as well as continue to discover the new in my city, Hong Kong, and in the surrounding Pearl River Delta region. To help me with this resolution, I’ve narrowed down four books to help me with this whole discovery.

Not only are these books really beautiful graphically and to the touch (which totally speaks to my design-oriented sensibilities), the four titles also allow me to plan travel itineraries via 4 unique time scales; lifestyle pampering for just a moment, day long architectural walks in my city, 2-day regional jaunts, and long weekend adventures throughout Asia. By the end of the year, i’ll let you know how it all turned out i’m sure. 

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+ 0-6HOURS / Wallpaper* City Guides Hong Kong 2014

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To be honest in the age of the internet, I almost completely forgot about Wallpaper* City Guides. While there was a time that I relied on these guides solely to help me anchor my urban trips, I’ve found them less useful over the years, especially when there are blogs (like mine) that tell you what’s the cool in a city that continually evolves as much as Hong Kong does. 

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A Thom Browne Black Fleece Birthday

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Sure Lehmann Maupin had their gallery opening at the Pedder Building on my birthday, but alas, I ended up choosing to celebrate the day with Thom Browne at the new Black Fleece Flagship Store instead. 

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Okay… so Thom Browne wasn’t there, but after New York, San Fransisco, and Tokyo, the Hong Kong flagship for the Brooks Brothers label is the 4th and only stand alone store for the brand in the world. I couldn’t miss this.   So apologies to Lehmann Maupin, a Black Fleece Flagship in Hong Kong has been a birthday wish of mine for some time now.

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The collection couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Menswear in Hong Kong is very hot at the moment. Guys in the city have been bold with their style choices lately, and for the most part, have been doing a great job styling themselves. The latest S/S 2013 collection by Thom Browne for Black Fleece allows men to be adventurous with prints, colors, and fabrics.

The bright prints, which could be found on jackets, trousers, and accessories, play with a pattern’s scale, making new motifs from classic madras for example, thus giving off a very iconic and resortique feel.

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A Mad Man’s New Watering Hole at the Honi Honi Tiki Cocktail Lounge

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Here’s something different for urban Hong Kongites, and for my blog… it’s a new Tiki Lounge in the center of the city and let me tell you, it’s fun, fresh, sexy, and refreshing all at once. In my view the newly minted Honi Honi Tiki Cocktail Lounge is a welcome addition to this often “too serious” city that needs to teach it’s urban dwellers to have fun and relax and that good afterwork cocktail drinks can be had in cool places beyond the super pretentious members-only bars or the token Karaoke destination.

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Is That You, CCCHU?

On exhibit at the moment is the work of new avant-garde fashion designers, CCCHU, at the ILIVETOMORROW gallery on Tung Street in Sheung Wan. According to Ching Ching, one half of the the husband and wife duo who makes up CCCHU, the exhibition is about the “exploration of timeless shapes for a city dweller’s daily outfit”.

Titled, Collections (im)PERMANENTES 01: City Roamers, the collection is defined by its randomly drawn fluid lines, which express a mix of textures and contrasting colors, in order to create a free form contrasting clothing. Ie. You can take a dress, a belt, or a sleeve, and wear it any number of ways on the body…

CCCHU is Ching Ching, an ex-visual merchandiser at HK retailer, Pedder Group, while Chu-Chu Kin Yip studied textiles and clothing before working with many luxury retailers.

So what are we looking at exactly? It’s basically a fashion experiment which seeks to a new way to weave and wear urban clothing. With the work experience both have had before this new venture I’ll place my bets on their endeavors. Although I have a feeling the really good stuff will emerge in the 2nd and 3rd narrative collection. Just keep it beyond “Fashion School” concepts and we all should be receptive.

SEE ilivetomorrow x CCCHU Presents Collection (IM)Permanentes 01: City Roamers, G/F 45 Tung Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong 

JJ.

Light My Fire

Maybe it’s because i’ve just been too busy, or maybe it’s just that i’m so in love with my new neighborhood, Tai Hang, and just wanted to spend more time at “home”, but in this the seventh year of living in Hong Kong, i’ve for once decided to make a “staycation” of the four day celebration that was the annual 2012 Mid-Autumn and Chinese National Day festivities which was just last weekend. And I’m REALLY glad I made this decision to stay in town.

In the last few years all I’ve ever wanted to do was leave the city, never realizing that year after year, i’ve missed out on the amazing celebrations and general bonvivant attitude in the air as the whether gets a bit cooler and everyone prepares to celebrate viewing lanterns and fire-dances in Victoria Park and surrounding neighborhoods.

To those foreign to Chinese Culture, Mid-Autumn is a fall harvest celebration which falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese Calendar, which in our calendar is around September and October. All four days that Hong Kong is on holiday is usually marked by clear weather, blue skies, and a full moon, and everyone is out and about visiting family and friends and going shopping. Its literally, the Chinese version of a Long Thanksgiving Weekend.

Last year’s giant bamboo lantern was fish a designed by William Lim of CL3, this year however, a design competition made winners out of young architects, Kristof Crolla and Adam Fingrut, whose Golden Moon concept wowed judges, and of course visitors, including myself, last weekend. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the overall lantern stood at about 18 meters hight and 21 meters wide, and supported lightly by a steel dome, with a layer of bamboo and material giving shape and skin to the “moon” which looks a bit like a fruit as well. Parametric design methods were used to create such a unique shape which to the architects made “the visitor feel as they stumbled into a different world”.

I loved it. I felt the design was magnificent, straight forward, and the execution as good as could be for a temporary structure made of bamboo, floating on water, and constructed in 11 days.

As an additional treat, my new neighborhood played host to the 113th Annual 3-Day Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance, which according to Wikipedia began the year 1880 when Tai Hang was only a little Hakka Fishing Village. The only years when the dance didn’t happen was during Japanese occupation, but generally residents performed the dance of a 67meter long dragon made up of incense sticks the same way since its inception.

The sounds of beating drums would usher the arrival of playful dragon which performed for visitors and audience in and around Tai Hang’s streets for three nights.

The first evening was the most wonderful. All of Tai Hang’s residents really celebrated on every street corner with a full banquet complete with roast pigs. Some residents even paraded their own lanterns with their children.

On the first night of the fire dance, Arthur, fashion editor at Time Out Hong Kong, and Asia Art Archive’s Natasha came to check out the dragon with me.

On the second night, our party increased to a whole crew! L-R, Katrina from Disney, Ron of RONWANDesign, Jade from Cotton On, Myself, and David.

With Jason busy taking photographs of the whole scene… his first 2012 Mid Autumn.

Everyone had a giant dog to show off.

Lab Made, Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream was the dessert of choice to have that weekend. Most importantly the traditional Moon Cake Flavaour and Purple Rice Flavour, mixed and made on the spot as you order.

Wish me luck, fish.

ARCHITECTURE Laboratory for Explorative Architecture & Design / EAT Lab Made Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream 

I’d also like to take a moment to give my condolences to the 39 victims and their families of the Ferry Tragedy on Monday night  on the 3rd day of the long 4 day weekend. The cause of the accident was a collision of boats, which happened moments before the Fireworks celebrating National Day on Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. Read this poignant article  for TIME, reflecting on the disaster by fellow Hong Konger, Liam Fitzpatrick.

JJ.

Cy Twombly Sings Loud via The Last Paintings Exhibition at the Gagosian in Hong Kong

We took advantage of HK’s rainy Saturday to hang out indoors at the Pedder Building. It’s not what you think, we weren’t there to be with the masses at the Abercrombie & Fitch Flagship opening, but were there instead to visit a friend, gallerist Whitney Ferrare McInnis, at the Gagosian Hong Kong, which takes up all of the chic building’s 7th Floor.

Whitney, formerly of Ben Brown Fine Arts, also in the same building, welcomed us at the last day of American artist Cy Twombly’s The Last Paintings exhibition which began in LA and will make a move to London and finally New York for the rest of 2012.

The “Last Paintings” refer to the fact that these paintings by Twombly are indeed THE last series of works he’s produced in the Spring of 2011 before the artist passed away later in the same year. 

These eight untitled acrylic works, not for sale, were in Hong Kong for most of the Summer and reflects the unrestrained thrill with which Twombly brought to all of his compositions. Crowned the “Godfather of Graffiti”, the series at the Gagosian evokes bold and intense gestures, forms which seemingly choreograph between text and fluid waves, which in yellow, orange, and green, seem to dance beyond the canvas as a new type of song.

This was definitely the work of a man who was not ready to end his song just yet.

Whitney gives us a rare tour of the delightful exhibition, which can be seen in my video blog for you at the end of the article. Off camera we discussed the energy of the show, and the ability for shows like this one to educate the Hong Kong public about the latest artists and works shaping contemporary visual dialogue around the globe, NOW.

As a teacher was giving students a tour of the works, we mused that it is indeed through these travelling shows sponsored by imported galleries that some young artists may learn about different expressions of art internationally, and may be able to respond or react with their own works reflecting their point of view of a city in constant evolution.

Thank you for the tour!

A fully illustrated catalogue of the paintings and further information is available at the Gagosian Gallery in Hong Kong.

theW+: Cy Twombly, The Last Paintings from theWanderlister+ Asia on Vimeo.

Gagosian Gallery Hong Kong / 7F, Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong / GAGOSIAN HK ONLINE / E: hongkong@gagosian.com / T: +852 2151 0555

JJ.

the Landmark Men Summer Party Wrap Up Video

It’s Typhoon 8 outside, but that only means one thing… after the rain goes away, its back to Sunny HK. theWanderlister+ Asia and friends were at the Landmark Men’s Summer Party earlier this month to check out the latest in Menswear for this hot season.

To capture it all on film, the crew from HKHQ.tv were also on hand to find out what guys are recommended to wear this summer (lightweight clothing from me and deodorant from DJ Angus Wong for example haha). Check out the video above and see if you can spot our pals from Brew&Post, Hill Menswear, the Armoury, Gentlemens Tonic, and Tassles! I also see Daniel Kong and Jason Schlabach in there too.

Check out our coverage of the event here!

FYI. Everything may be on sale now!

http://www.landmarkmen.com

JJ.