Tai Lung Fung

Hong Kong-Central

4.5 / 5

May 11, 2018

It is rare to come across a bar in Hong Kong completely devoid of pretense, and full of unvarnished originality.

It is rare to come across a bar in Hong Kong completely devoid of pretense, and full of unvarnished originality. Tai Lung Fung manages both superbly. Tucked away in a backstreet of Wan Chai –just behind the famous ‘Blue House’ that was home to anarchists and subversives for many a decade – Tai Lung Fung, whose name translates, rather poetically as ‘Big Dragon Wind,’ manages to maintain an impossible-to-replicate street cred that keeps it grounded. It has an old Hong Kong feel that comes across as organic rather than assembled, with old newsprint papering the bathrooms and framed advertisements and government public service announcements from the 60s and 70s, when Hong Kong truly was a different place. As a quirky aside, it also sells kids’ toys and candies of yesteryear, including the perennial favorite of Hong Kong kids, White Rabbit sweets, and tubes of liquid rubber to be blown into unstable, quickly deflated balloons. It’s drinks, to be honest, are no great shakes. There are a couple of craft beers – the Japanese favorite Hitachino makes an appearance – but the cocktails lack any real finesse or care. But no one comes here for the drinks. It is a lively, popular place and as its off the  beaten path it tends to attract those in the know, rather than random walk-ins. If you’re allergic to smoke, though, be warned – once the doors are closed (around 11, to ensure noise complaints from neighbors are minimized) people will happily light up in contravention to the recent law banning smoking in bars and restaurants. Depending on your disposition, this could either give it a bit more of a speakeasy feel, or just feel like an imposition. While there is another, new branch (what a word to describe this bar, of any) in the newly renovated Police Married Quarters on Aberdeen Street, it is this original that maintains all the nostalgia, heritage and authenticity that its small but loyal following has come to expect.