The John Anthony restaurant brings old school British cool to Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s John Anthony restaurant is a fusion of cultures like no other, mixing Cantonese cuisine with essences of East Asia and the charm of London’s East End thrown in for good measure.
The name of the Hong Kong haunt is in tribute to John Anthony who was the first Chinese man to be naturalised as a British citizen in 1805 and celebrates how these two cultures have a long, intertwining history which the establishment is a celebration of. The restaurant, which was designed by Linehouse, opened its doors in 2018 and has begun to garner a worldwide reputation for its ambience just as much as it has gained acclaim for its cuisine.
John Anthony’s story is a truly remarkable one that is well worthy of having a restaurant named in his honour, an employee of the East India Company, the aesthetics dear from Anthony’s experience which saw him embark from the East to West arriving in Limehouse, the east end docklands of London. Once he arrived, his job was to ensure lodgings and food for arriving Chinese sailors where he became the father of Limehouse’s booming Chinatown.
Linehouse’s design drew inspiration from John Anthony’s incredible journey, exploring the fusion of architectural styles and materiality between Eastern and Western architecture along with eastern detailing, a combination which creates this unique British tea hall meets Chinese canteen. The inner details of the restaurant’s interior draw from the type of materials in which that Anthony may have used himself when he first arrived on British shores all those centuries ago.
Guests are immediately escorted down a vertical staircase of white metal and backlit diffused glass upon arrival which gives them a glimpse of the magical journey they are about to venture upon. Greeted by terracotta render walls with a triple-height arched ceiling clad in pink tiles, and a lime green terrazzo floor, infinite reflections of the arches are captured in the high-level mirrors add another unique dimension.
The restaurant’s primary dining hall is influenced by London’s East End docklands with the addition of the vaulted ceiling juxtaposed with the floor being paved with reclaimed terracotta tiles from abandoned houses in rural China which embodies the spirit of John Anthony.
The private dining rooms are carefully lined in hand-painted tiles featuring large scale illustrations celebrating the relationship between the British and Chinese by showcasing the commodities they traded in the 18th century such as medicinal poppies and exotic animals. To top things off, there is an addition of a hand racked arched plaster ceiling which separates it further from the design of the main hall.
The meeting of these two different cultures with a tight-knit relationship and centuries-long history was not the only inspiration for Linehouse who also had a sustainability aspect in the forefront of their minds when designing the interior for the building. Menus and coasters are made of up-cycled paper and plastic, the floor tiles are reclaimed and materials are sustainably sourced.
This sustainable spirit also runs through into the kitchen which uses traceable ingredients from sustainable food suppliers and employs equipment to reduce energy usage. Wines and spirits are also sourced from environmentally responsible vineyards and craft distilleries to make John Anthony’s as sustainable as humanly possible without losing any quality along the way which truly makes it the ultimate modern classic.