Published: 16:18, April 21, 2024 | Updated: 16:22, April 21, 2024
Art on the lips at hippiest cultural district in Hong Kong
By Xinhua
Visitors line up at the entrance of the M+ museum in the West Kowloon Cultural District. The museum offered free public admission on Saturday. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY )

HONG KONG - Snap a picture of a Japanese avant-garde artist's rainbow-striped drape cascading from the ceiling of M+ Museum of visual culture in Hong Kong's West Kowloon Cultural District, and it will end up on the surface of your latte from the coffee shop at the museum.

Vincent Wu, the man behind the new outlet of museum snapshots, is seeking to bring Hong Kong's vibrant art and culture scene to dining tables to impress local people and visitors worldwide.

Wu's company owns a coffee shop and a top-floor restaurant at M+ Museum, as well as another Chinese restaurant at the Hong Kong Palace Museum. In 2019, the West Kowloon Cultural District, then under construction, invited Wu to bid for the coffee shop. Wu's company won after three rounds of bidding.

"We are able to update our menu to reflect the ongoing shows and exhibitions in the cultural district. This became our competitive edge because we can ensure foot traffic on a constant basis," said Wu.

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On top of Wu's personal acumen, Hong Kong's status as one of the world's largest hubs for art trade also helped his business flourish

The business formula proved successful when visitors to a Yayoi Kusama exhibition last year snatched up lattes bearing her iconic polka-dotted pumpkin images. Also sold out on the first day of release were popsicles and chocolate snacks shaped like bronze masks from southwest China's Sanxingdui archaeological site on display at the Hong Kong Palace Museum.

Wu got his artistic inclinations from a seven-year experience working at an art broker before starting his firm. On the wall of the restaurant CVIEW at M+ hangs a handwritten menu by the legendary Chinese artist and renowned gourmet Zhang Daqian, which he bought at a Sotheby's auction in 2022.

The menu inspired an upcoming series of cuisine dedicated to the painter, who penned it in the 1960s for a dinner party with friends. One of the new dishes, Liuyisi, came straight from the seven-dish-and-one-soup menu.

Originally a stir-fried dish with squid shreds and shreds of five different vegetables including leek sprouts and lettuce invented for Zhang's 61st birthday, Liuyisi now takes on a stylish appeal with the six ingredients each standing on its own in delicate garnish.

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At XIA, the restaurant at the Hong Kong Palace Museum, Wu recreated some of the famous scenes of Qing Dynasty Emperor Kangxi's (1654-1722) trip to the West Lake, now a UNESCO World Heritage site in east China's Hangzhou City. From the menu, customers can learn about historical anecdotes of the imperial cuisine that inspired the dishes at the restaurant.

"We have worked to enrich the experience of Hong Kong Palace Museum visitors by rendering a relatable environment," said Wu.

On top of Wu's personal acumen, Hong Kong's status as one of the world's largest hubs for art trade also helped his business flourish.

"Hong Kong's art and cultural environment is particularly vigorous now," said Wu.

Working out of the West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong's new cultural landmark, Wu's team are using the coffee shop and restaurants as venues for exchanges between local artists and their global counterparts. They are also developing new cuisine to go with the Hong Kong Palace Museum's upcoming products.

"It is my heartfelt wish to promote traditional Chinese culture, which is also what the market needs in the future," said Wu.