one are the days when going out for a great meal meant dressing up, sitting up straight and keeping track of your forks. Set at the far end of the bright and airy ground-floor promenade of The Pulse in Repulse Bay, Hotshot is the latest example of a global trend that’s been catching on fast in Hong Kong: good food served in stylish, casual places.
With a hip surf-shack feel, a cool pop soundtrack and an impressive collection of world-class street art on exposed concrete walls, Hotshot is a gastro-diner, according to chef Wes Long.
Inside, “SEA SEX SUN” is spelled out overhead in vinyl records and skateboards painted by artists such as Jeff Koons and Takashi Murakami. Mismatched cafeteria chairs surround communal wooden tables, where vintage napkin holders urge “Have a Coke” and the paper menu featuring Hotshot’s cartoon duck mascot doubles as a place mat. The bartender works out of a shiny Airstream trailer, making mint iced teas and spiced strawberry milkshakes, with or without rum, as an oversized ceiling fan slices through the early summer heat.
“From the very beginning, the idea was to do something special, something different, to redefine what dining is about,” says Arturo Sims, food and beverage manager at Le Comptoir, the restaurant group that owns Hotshot. “These days, you cannot just sell food in your restaurant anymore. That’s not the game. The game right now is about selling the experience.”
Le Comptoir, whose flagship, Bibo, made a splash with foodies and art lovers alike when it opened in Sheung Wan in 2014, is expanding rapidly. Hotshot will be joined by two new restaurants at The Pulse this summer— Ocean and Tree, serving seafood and Balinese cuisine respectively—as well as a Nikki Beach-like rooftop project that’s hushhush for now.
Sims, formerly a manager at the Press Room Group, has worked in fine dining for more than 10 years. He moved here from Switzerland, where he studied at the prestigious Lausanne Hotel School. To stay competitive in a “restaurant wonderland” such as Hong Kong, he says, it’s important to remember that the same guy who has lunch at a local cha chaan teng might turn up at your restaurant and pay $3,000 for dinner. “Fine dining is truly about catering to and adapting to [the customer] as an individual. One size does not fit all.”
Sims has enjoyed getting to know the different sides of his regular clientele, who come to Bibo after work in high heels and Hotshot on the weekend in flip-flops. “I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like to eat in a casual restaurant.” He believes what discerning customers value when dining is to