Hong Kong could be the most vibrant city I’ve ever visited. There isn’t an evening of the week you don’t find the LKF (Lan Kwai Fong) area brimming with locals, expats and travellers enjoying themselves far more than they should be on a Tuesday night. What it really highlighted for me, was just how fucking dull Sydney is in comparison. Unfortunately, that thought dawned on me at around five am as I walked out of a 2nd-floor dive bar with the sun inching over the horizon. With Rob in tow, we staggered back to Sai Ying Pun for a few hours of shut eye before Saturday’s festivities at Carbone.
Sporting palpable hangovers, we surfaced mid morning and tried to muster some enthusiasm for the day ahead. We’d locked in two tickets for ‘Fiasco’ brunch at New York institution Carbone with free flow Ruinart to help us get back into the zone. Rising from the ashes, we journeyed back to LKF, past the terrace we’d been standing on seven hours ago and up the lift to Carbone.
The doors open at 11.30 and shut at 12 pm. If you’re not inside, you miss out. As we tried to come to terms with the surroundings, we were escorted to our booth, with a commanding view of the entire restaurant. Stepping off the sunny streets of LKF into a room plunged in darkness, packed with eager weekend revellers, it’s hard to gauge what to expect. Rob wastes no time requesting our first glass of Ruinart and without a moment to work out what’s going on, the room erupts into action.
Gun shots, torches lights and yelling press my aching head and suddenly there’s a swarm of mafioso exchanging heated conversations with pieces drawn from doorways around the restaurant. The affray subsides, and the Boss addresses the audience, establishing a story of betrayal that involves his family. For the next hour, we enjoy more theatre and a selection of incredible dishes Carbone has built its reputation on.
Then slowly the room begins to transform.
Rob tells the waiter to fetch us a fresh bottle of Ruinart and leave it on the table, sick of him refreshing our glasses and disappearing. The table of British expats opposite us is getting rowdier, the two couples in the booth next to us are competing for conversation. Gorgeous women from the show are cruising the room speaking to willing male audience members. I’m drunk again. The party kicks off.
Before I know it, Flashdance is playing, strobe lights are flashing and there’s a half naked woman dancing on a chair in front of our table. People are standing on anything that will accommodate their body weight, skulling champagne from the bottle, singing and dancing. The show continues intermittently, but the audience seems less concerned with the story and more so with the epic playlist of Starship, The Temptations, Olivia Newton-John and more. The amount of food on our table is ridiculous; Antipasti, Tuna Calabrese, Meatballs, Caesar Salad, impeccably al dente Spicy Rigatoni Vodka, rare Rib Eye slices, it honestly never ends!
I’ve resorted to picking the sensational croutons out of the Caesar salad in an attempt to save as much room as possible for more Ruinart. A third bottle graces the table, I realise how profoundly intoxicated I am for the fourth day running – part and parcel with a trip to Hong Kong I’m told. The last half hour is complete mayhem. I’m trying to converse with one of the actresses; Rob’s found three obliterated French men, we’re discussing one chap’s Audemars Piguet and giving another shit about his Fedora while the third snaps photos on a Polaroid camera. Then suddenly, we’re all standing on the booth again, bottles in hand, embraced like old friends, dancing to The Pointer Sisters and Donna Summer.
From what I can recall, the final scene of the show involved some sort of throne getting wheeled around the restaurant with a bloke throwing fake money and confetti everywhere. A piece of cheesecake was also placed in front of me at some point but I was in no state to consume it.
Then the lights were on.
We settled our bill as the crowd dispersed before stepping out onto the streets of LKF yet again, trying to piece together the last three hours. We walked all of 100m before plonking ourselves at a bar called Insomnia and preceded to tell our friends about the mysterious, and immensely entertaining, Fiasco brunch at Carbone.
For more information or to book tickets to Carbone brunch head to their website.