Opening a new restaurant in Hong Kong is tough.
With one of the highest per-capita concentrations of restaurants in the world, this is a city that makes you work for your reputation – no matter how much talent you have.
The result has been an abundance of private kitchens – ventures by (usually) successful chefs looking for greater intimacy, or new entrants to the market who want to suss out the climate before diving into Hong Kong’s ambitious dining scene.
The private kitchen boom started around 15 years ago, when restaurant owners tried to sidestep the city’s notoriously high rents for ground-level properties by moving upstairs into residential and even industrial locales.
They acquired private club licenses to avoid the regulations and fees placed on public restaurants.
This means they can’t advertise openly or post menus for passersby.
And as long as Hong Kong’s rents stay firmly planted in the “are you kidding me?’” zone, there will always be a place for private kitchens.
Here are 10 of the best:
Yin Yang Coastal
Yin Yang Coastal was one of four Hong Kong restaurants featured at the world-renowned Gastronomika festival in San Sebastian in 2015.
Using fresh produce from the restaurant’s own organic farms, Margaret Xu Yuan offers creative interpretations of her Chinese gastronomic heritage.
She first opened her dining venue under the name Kitchen Yin Yang in Hong Kong’s Wanchai neighborhood in 2008, eventually moving it to the seaside district of Tsuen Wan before changing its name to Yin Yang Coastal.
This move meant more opportunithy to reinvent the oldest gastronomic culture of Hong Kong – fishermen’s traditional cooking, which has been declared an intangible cultural heritage of the city.
The signature Yellow Earth Chicken is roasted in a terracotta urn designed by the chef and is a must-order.
Yin Yang Coastal, Ting Kau Beach, House 117, Ting Kau Village, Tsuen Wan, New Territories, Hong Kong