Not known by many, the names behind restaurants often have hidden meanings and carry inspiration behind each unique concept. We talk to the founders behind some of Hong Kong’s venues and delve into the stories behind their names.
When coming up with the name for the restaurant group David Yeo, founder, reflected on the basic elements of cooking, one of which is water. It was on his trip to Cairo when he was introduced to the Ankh, an Ancient Egyptian symbol that represents life. Replacing the q of aqua with the ankh symbol the group's motto became “where there’s water there’s life”. In the restaurant's new venue, water flows into its design through its views of Victoria Harbour and vibrant lighting and design features.
Aqua, 17/F H Zentre, 15 Middle Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 3427 2288
Edward Voon found a deep connection to the ‘6 Rounds’ circle of life concept, using it to reflect on his evolution as a chef as he opened Auor. The 6 circles represent different stages in his life, from his days growing up in Singapore, filled with tropical ‘rain’ that taught him the power of nature, to the ‘diversity’ of cooking styles he has experienced and is trying to unite in harmonious tastes. Finally finding his true ‘soul’ Voon opened Auor to celebrate those who have guided him to the golden stage he is in now, reflected in deeper hidden translations of the name.
Auor, 4/F 88 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai; +852 2866 4888
Raised in a small town of only 800 inhabitants, Chef Peter Find wanted to create a restaurant where all guests could find something to relate to. Whether that would be a piece of pottery, a dish, their attentive service or a cookbook that they might have in their own home. Translating to “homeland” the restaurant nods to the feeling of familiarity shown through traditional German cuisine that has been elevated to match the 21st century. Six-course tasting menus have been curated as a gastronomic journey inspired by stories from Chef Find’s hometown and childhood.
Heimat, 8/F LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham St, Central; +852 2881 1022
See also: Home Is Where the Kitchen Is at Heimat
The vision of Arcane came together when Shane Osborn, founder and chef, was based in Europe. He dreamt of his perfect restaurant being understated yet always offering genuine hospitality that would be unaffected by trends and fashion. Osborn wanted to create a mystery that people would only find through word of mouth, “for me, the name Arcane perfectly matched my vision”. The concept grew to become The Arcane Collective which later debuted Moxie, a restaurant that stands for confidence in conscious eating and healthy relationships with food.
Arcane, 3/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central; +852 2728 0178
Known mostly as Balbi, Chef Agustin Ferrando Balbi wanted to showcase an unexpected twist on initial impressions of his background and cuisine. He knew he wanted a name that represents the restaurant's Japanese and Spanish-inspired style whilst also having a hidden meaning that only those curious enough to ask would find; the word Andō ticked all the boxes. An abbreviation of his lesser-known name that coincidentally has significance in both languages. In Japanese, it provides a sense of relief which is what the team wants each guest to feel when leaving. Whilst in Spanish, Andō has the same effect of ‘ing’ and inspires the restaurant to always move forward.
Andō, 1/F, Somptueux Central, 52 Wellington Street, Central
CENSU is an accumulation of explored senses from Shun Sato, owner and head chef, that represent his friends, background, stories and experiences. The play on word name reflects the restaurant's ethos to guide its guests to explore various feelings through smell, sound and even design. With help from his team and artist friends, Shun wanted the restaurant to become a place to worship life and all its evolving elements. A second meaning comes from the Japanese translation into ‘folding fan’ where the concept of the restaurant unfurls alongside the experience of its visiting guests.
CENSU, 28 - 30 Gough Steet, Mid-Levels; +952 2997 7009
A deep sense of ownership and hope for Hong Kong ignited the passion behind Vivant and the desire to provide its guests with exceptional food and spirit. Opening through the dark days of political unrest its name was chosen as a symbol of what more is to come. Rebranding from Cut Sando, the Twins Kitchen establishment preserved its former music character by keeping its hi-fi speakers throughout the intimate space. Jeston Chua, head chef, believes that they help to create an upbeat atmosphere, enjoyment of life and deepen the story behind the restaurant.
Vivant, G/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central; +852 2952 2766
Elin Fu, founder of Hjem, realised she was losing herself to “the cult of busyness” when she moved from Norway to Hong Kong. She longed for the slower pace of life she had grown up with and couldn’t find within the city. Creating a home away from home, Hjem is a place that nobody is from but anyone can go to. The warm and welcoming cafe fosters a nurturing space to wind down, sip on a coffee, or its cinnamon bun espresso martini, and enjoy a quiet moment.
Hjem, 161 Hollywood Road, Central; +852 2362 9193
The name Rùn was chosen to pay tribute to China Resources, the owner of St. Regis Hong Kong, as it embarked on its milestone 80th anniversary. As the first word of the company's philosophy, “潤物耕心”, Rùn translates to perfection in Chinese and represents the restaurant's ethos to serve exemplary traditional fine-Cantonese cuisine. The collective memory symbolises the marriage between the two companies as they continue to work together.
Rùn, St. Regis Hotel, 1 Harbour Dr, Wan Chai; +852 2138 6808