On the far western edge of Hong Kong island lies Kennedy Town, a district previously known as Lap Sap Wan or Rubbish Bay, and now a port of safe harbour to many entrepreneurs wanting to avoid the sky-high rents of Central and willing to drift a little further than Sheung Wan. In recent years coffee shops, boutique groceries, and co-working spaces have taken the place of slaughterhouses and other old unwelcome industries, and while some have found a comfortable niche and survived, others have floundered due to the propensity of Hong Kong’s landlords to charge unsustainable rents once they sense a gold rush.
But even in this rapidly gentrifying area there are quiet alcoves like Holland Street, which is where Alvy’s, a New York stylised pizza parlour with the finest selection of bourbon and rye in Hong Kong, has somehow managed to pull off a sleight-of-hand with their fit-0ut to make it seem like they’ve been in the neighbourhood for the better half of a century.
What compels me to write about Alvy’s is their dedication to not only making some of the best pizzas on the island, but also their support of local breweries and the aforementioned American spirits. They regularly host visiting brewers, stock rare bottles in their shelves, and make sourdough pizza bases from the same yeast starter as locally brewed sour beers, resulting in an unusually flavourful and beautifully leopard-spotted pizza crust. This is a crust that doesn’t get discarded by even the fussiest eaters. They also experiment with a few local flavours to provide a reminder of Hong Kong, although we prefer their more confidently made comfort food dishes such as latkes in sour cream and meatball parmigiana.
In a way, one man’s trash is another’s treasure in the long gone Lap Sap Wan. Big dining groups have opened up a flurry of cloned restaurant concepts in the area since few independent chefs can afford those ambitious rents, while gems like Alvy’s exist just around the corner. It’s the inevitable evolution of this overgrown city, and means unfortunately that if we want genuine diversity in our food choices, we have to avoid places that don’t really care about the food they churn out. This means skipping Jaspa’s and the Butcher and Baker Cafe (which doesn’t even have a butcher anymore), and supporting real venues that have passion.
If you do get the chance to pass by Kennedy Town, put on those stretchy pants and give Alvy’s a chance. They also serve up an undeniably decadent brunch on weekends if you’re in the mood to tackle a giant stack of buttery pancakes and bourbon syrup.
Alvy’s can be found on 8 Holland St, Kennedy Town and is open from 4pm-midnight on weekdays, and 11am-midnight on weekends.
Written and shot by Anne Berry.