If Wes Anderson designed a space that was turned into a dim sum restaurant, John Anthony would be it.
It’s hard not to roll your eyes whenever anyone tries to “modernize” traditional Chinese cuisine, especially when it comes to dim sum. But John Anthony in Hong Kong might be one of the few bringing a fresh take to the challenge. With dedicated sustainability and dazzling design on top of creatively transformed Chinese dishes, John Anthony is a can’t-miss dining experience for the trendy millennial set.
If Wes Anderson designed a space that was turned into a dim sum restaurant, John Anthony would be it. The design is definitely the most captivating facet of the restaurant. Every bit of John Anthony, from the venue, drinks and food is gleefully Instagram-able. The space is a burst of candy-colored hues like pink, mint green, yellow, orange and turquoise. Rows of symmetrical arches lead to multiple dining rooms with contrasting floral prints and colors. Private rooms are painted with whimsical scenes of animals playing in the jungle. The bar is a neat row of groovy white bar stools framed by oversized tubes of botanical-infused gins overhead. Everywhere you look is a delightful feast for the eyes.
The restaurant was named after the first Chinese native who became a British citizen in the 19th Century that went by the English name John Anthony. John Anthony worked for the East India Company as a vital facilitator and caretaker for the company’s Asian sailors. He was a capable and successful businessman who was highly-regarded by the British and Chinese alike. He was instrumental in allowing trade relations to flourish between the East and West along the Spice Routes. This worldly multi-cultural figure was the inspiration behind the vibrant modern restaurant in Causeway Bay. The concept for the design was a British tea hall turned Cantonese restaurant.
The food is just as eclectic and visually striking as the space. The menu features Cantonese classics, including BBQ meats and dim sum, with influences from Szechuan, Hunan and Shandong cuisine. Each dish has been elevated and modernized to create a fresh experience of Cantonese cuisine. The dim sum dishes provide the perfect Instagram bait with polka dotted steamed rice rolls and pretty lime green fried dumplings. The exotic selection of BBQ meats include Chinese slow-cooked lamb shoulder from New Zealand and iberico pork presa char siu. Like many Chinese restaurants, most a la carte items are large indulgent dishes that are best shared in a group like fried farmed giant garoupa and whole braised Japanese sea cucumber with pluma iberico pork.
The beverage menu is also full of exotic concoctions with a strong sense of place. The G&T’s are the house drink of choice as they feature four exclusive homemade distillations. After infusing special gins with handpicked botanicals, they’re paired with various tonics to create unique flavors. Our favorite is the Tangerine & Chrysanthemum, which is a mix of Four Pillars, tangerine pu’erh tea and chrysanthemum that’s not too sweet or boozy. There’s plenty of non-alcoholic drinks to choose from as well, particularly the teas. The restaurant stocks “wild grown” teas that are farmed free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. It’s hard to choose among the many specialty teas such as Oriental Beauty oolong and White Peony from Taiwan or Fujian.
What’s notable about John Anthony is that it’s one of the first Chinese restaurants to commit to all-around sustainability. The restaurant is very diligent about where they source all their products. They’ve replaced endangered species of fish with aquaponically-farmed alternatives and try to source proteins from countries with higher standards of labeling and food production. John Anthony eliminates as much food waste as possible by turning leftover ingredients into cordials, infusions and garnishes, and then processing the rest into fertilizer. There’s no single-use plastic to be found on premises and the take-out containers are made from recyclable or biodegradable materials. Even the drapery and uniforms were made using all-natural indigo dyes and overproduced textiles. Through its dedicated sustainability, John Anthony exemplifies how Chinese restaurants can change and modernize without losing touch with its culinary roots.
For those looking for a totally fresh experience of Cantonese cuisine, John Anthony in Causeway Bay is a must. As a design-forward, sustainability-minded establishment, it’s the perfect contemporary rendition of a Chinese restaurant for the Instagram generation.