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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

This looks interesting - The Pawn

The Pawn restaurant and Wanchai redevelopment

(From Hong Kong Hustle)

From the same owners as The Press Room comes The Pawn - a new restaurant in a semi-historic setting. Occupying one of the few old buildings left in Wanchai at 62 Johnston Road, the Pawn is located near the former site of “Wedding Card Street,” one of the casualties of this round of Wanchai’s redevelopment.

The owners seem to have a thing for Hong Kong history. The Press Room restaurant was built on the land of a defunct newspaper office (hence the name). In keeping with this naming convention, the Pawn is located in a building that housed a pawn shop in its last incarnation. The place is set to open in Spring 2008 according to the large sign on the building’s facade.

Hong Kong has very few modern offerings in old settings, which makes The Pawn unique.

Whole blocks of Wanchai have been taken down over the last year to make room for new building complexes. Hong Kong’s long march to being the world’s most vertical city continues, as the low-rise buildings that formerly occupied the land are razed.



(From Eat Drink Hong Kong)


There is a group of four delightful old shophouses on Johnston Road just opposite the Southorn Playground. I must admit I thought there were due to meet the wreckers ball along with Wedding Card Street so I was pleasantly surprised, when I passed by a couple of months ago, to see that they were being renovated.

I didn't give them much more thought until I passed by again the other evening. Renovations were obviously complete and there were lights and people moving about on the first floor. I had no idea what was there. I knew what I thought should be in a building like that and something in the way those people were moving made me think of waiters.

The ground floor shops were still vacant and there was nothing outside to give the game away so I located the narrow staircase and up I went. To my left at the top was an old fusball table and beyond that was an impressively stocked bar.

The floor is divided into sections and joined by arches. Modern light fittings are augmented by solo bulbs dangling from wires. Furnishing is simple but pleasing and there is a balcony that overlooks Johnston Road. It is a very pleasing atmosphere.

The building itself dates back to 1888 and was formerly occupied by the Woo Cheong Pawn Shop.

The staff made me feel very welcome and found me a table on the balcony. They are not fully operative yet. So far only the bar on the first floor is functional. By mid-April a restaurant occupying the second floor and the rooftop will be open.

But the bar menu does include a selection of pub grub items and an good range of beers. On draught there is Spitfire and Master Brew from England's Shepherd Neame Brewery, Marsden's Pedigree and Budejovicky Budvar from the Czech Republic as well as some more familiar names. There are also bottled beers from UK, US, Australia and Belgium.

I ordered myself a pint of Marsden's ($60) and a plate of sausage and mash with peas and onion gravy ($88). The sausages were thick and tasty with herbs, the potato was smooth and creamy. I wolfed it all down in no time and then leaned back in my chair to enjoy the beer.

The new occupants have done a good job. They have preserved the buildings dignity whilst putting it to a new use. There are old-style pubs all over Asia most of them are very nice indeed. But no matter how talented an interior designer is, they can never create the the atmosphere of building that really is old.

Watch this space, I shall be back when the restaurant opens.

The Pawn
62 Johnston Road
Wanchai
Tel. 2866 3444





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