The Secret World of Hong Kong's Private Kitchens

Photograph by Justin Guariglia/Redux

Even longtime Hong Kong residents get lost trying to find Fa Zu Jie. The new eatery, which specializes in French-inspired variations on traditional Shanghai dishes, is in the financial district, not far from the colonial-era elegance of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel or the hip bars of Lan Kwai Fong. But from the outside, it seems like a transplant from the working-class, Cantonese-speaking city that Western business travelers seldom visit. To get to Fa Zu Jie, diners need first find the entrance to a tiny alley squeezed between a construction site and a vendor playing recordings of Chinese opera. On the right is an unmarked entryway, under a sign in Chinese for a Buddhist temple and between government-issued posters warning of the perils of high-rise living. (“A Falling Object Can Cause Serious Injury or Even Kill;” “Parents Should Explain to Children the Serious Consequences of Dropping Objects from Height;” “Dropping an Object from Height is a Criminal Offense!”)

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