[Hong Kong] If you are looking for the most characteristic and photogenic Starbucks in the world, you may want to make your way to Hong Kong’s Bing Sutt at Duddell Street.
After all, this Starbucks which pays homage to the 1950s Hong Kong arts and culture, is a collaboration with Douglas Young’s unique concept store GOD. For those unaware, it does not mean LORD, but actually Goods of Desire – known for their retro, humorous and Eastern take on lifestyle products.
Finding this Starbucks Concept Store is not too difficult, only about a 10 minute walk from Central MTR, a corner away from the luxurious brands shopping. If you are a Starbucks fan, it makes it all worthwhile.
Oh, the shop is divided into two halves – the Western side and the Hong Kong side. At the entrance side, you get the ordering counter with typical Starbucks décor and seats. Very amusingly, I noticed that all the Westerners were sitting at this part of the café. None of the ‘gwai lo’ were on the other side.
Then, the thrill begins: Over the top décor, tiled floors, signatures in traditional Chinese writing, fake bird cages on the ceiling, old toys in the glass cabinet, retro movie posters, and wooden sitting booths like how a traditional Hong Kong café looks like. Except that it is all recreated.
And on this side, all Asians – Filipino domestic workers holding a meeting, ladies for a morning tea, and an occasional tourist like myself.
Even the food offered had some East-West fusion twist: Rustic Bun and Thick Cut Butter (HKD$13), Coffee Paper Cake (HKD$13) and Coffee Egg Tart (HKD$10). Okay, taste wise, the re-creations were not very impressive and I would rather head over to nearby Lan Fang Yuan for their buns anytime.
Drinks were standard Starbucks fare, with an Asian Dolce Latte special. If also they could conceive the traditional Hong Kong silk stocking milk tea as well.
Bing Sutt – The Starbucks Concept Store
Shop M2, Mezzanine Floor, Baskerville House, 13 Duddell Street, Central (10 walk from Central MTR),
Tel: +852 2523 5685 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Absolutely correct. I used to go to that building often and always stayed to write in Bing Sutt, so I know it well.This is the most memorable Starbucks I’ve ever encountered, including stores in Europe, Seattle, and all over Asia. Accolades to the company for having the guts to experiment here. Collaboration with designers is something I think they’ve tried elsewhere, but this one ties directly into Hong Kong local identity. Bing Sutt is all about nostalgia for a lost Hong Kong, the Hong Kong of the 60s and 70s when things in retrospect appear so much simpler. They weren’t, but memory is funny.
I would draw attention to the large black and white photograph from the 50s (30s? 40s?) hanging on the wall in the “normal” side of the store (standard Starbucks furniture). This shows the steps outside on Duddel. These steps still exist. They’ve become something of a tourist and wedding photo spot, as has Bing Sutt itself. This photo encapsulates so much of a lost Hong Kong: people in suits or Chinese dress, some men in hats, slicked-back hair, workers’ t-shirts and cotton pants, wealthy tai-taus passing by amahs carrying . Going up and down stairs, such a common, urban action, one that reveals the mixing, the vibrancy of street life in Hong Kong.
Hi Edward, thank you sharing. I found this Starbucks fascinating. Truth be told, I am not their biggest fan, but liked that there was a real attempt to incorporate the local culture into what they are doing. Stepping into that space felt magical the first time, almost like entering a movie set. I remember those steps, and climbing them. Guess they do mean a lot to HongKonger. Then I wonder about my own country, fast developing, and if those ‘steps’ would still last.