Potato Head Hong Kong, the newest Balinese watering hole in Sai Ying Pun offers a laidback atmosphere with a mix of tradition and modernity. Cristina S.K. writes.
Designed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, Potato Head Hong Kong in Sai Ying Pun is the first Hong Kong project of the Tokyo-based firm. It is the third outpost of the brand created by Ronald Akili of the Jakarta-based PTT Family hospitality group (adding to the Potato Head beachfront flagship in Bali and its art deco Chinatown location in Singapore) in a first time collaboration with restaurateur Yenn Wong, founder of the JIA Group. Spanning 8,000 square feet, Potato Head Hong Kong features retail and dining spaces that are warm, familial, and Balinese inspired. It hosts an Indonesian restaurant called Kaum, which means “tribe” in Bahasa Indonesia, minimalist retail areas, a bright café counter serving brews and baked goods from the PTT Family brand “I Love You So Coffee”, and a hidden away modern music room for discerning audiophiles.
The establishment’s entire façade fuses Sou Fujimoto’s affinity for metal frame structures (think his cloud of steel temporary pavilion for London’s Serpentine Gallery in 2013) with local Hong Kong decorative iron-grill window patterns. “Traditionally these window frames are made with steel and put in front of the window for security reasons. We applied this pattern in a flattened manner, turned it into a contemporary white colour and covered the whole façade regardless of wall or window to create a strong and homogeneous image of the place,” says Fujimoto, adding that the building appears as white and glowing from a distance only to progressively reveal its patterns when one comes closer.
Inside, Potato Head’s decorative style is Indonesian inspired with incidents of modern minimalism in the form of lightweight metal fixtures. Relying on heavy crafted teak wood, cheery yellow and blue fabric covered seating, separation walls and cushions – with minimal hints of batik patterns – the mixed-used space evokes a residential feel.
Green plants are suspended from the ceiling in mirrored cubic stainless steel planters, and have been described by the architect as a “floating forest”. More of the tropical design influence can be found in the cool and well-lit all-day café and bar, which sports a distinctive yellow and red backdrop. While lazing around on the Marcel Breuer leather armchairs, one can enjoy a selection of arak (a popular Indonesian distilled spirit), as well as the hyperrealistic photography by Los Angeles-based filmmaker and photographer Alex Prager, which hangs on one of the walls.
Kaum restaurant proposes an eclectic menu inspired by traditional Indonesian fares arranged by Jakarta-based French chef Antoine Audran and Lisa Virgiano, known for bringing Indonesian home cooking to urbanites and expatriates through her “Underground Secret Dining” events in Jakarta.
The restaurant mixes minimalist wooden furniture and simple finishings with an intricate wall display composed of 700 hand-carved and painted wooden wall panels that were produced by the families of Toraja craftsmen in Indonesia.
Situated behind Kaum, the ‘hidden’ Music Room features mammoth JBL 4350 speakers and a wall lined with records, and aims to become a hub for music lovers in the city.
PTT Family hospitality group