16 January 2019
A barbecue dozens of stories above Central wasn't a joke, after all. Photo: HKEJ
A barbecue dozens of stories above Central wasn't a joke, after all. Photo: HKEJ

A barbecue in Central

An old friend of mine was in an excellent mood and suggested we all have a barbecue night.

Deep Water Bay on southern Hong Kong Island or Bride’s Pool in Tai Po instantly popped into my mind.

However, he said: “Central.”

Oh, I’ve got it. A barbecued meal, then! At which restaurant?

The host maintained his patience with us, repeating himself loud and clear: “We shall have a barbecue together in Central.”

So it wasn’t a joke. But how could that be possible in the central business district?

He laid out the plan for the day briefly: we would first watch a performance at Sheung Wan Civic Centre and then set off to Central together.

I bet he enjoyed seeing us overwhelmed by unanswered, burning questions.

The day finally came.

Standing at a railing atop a multistory building, I was thrilled. People downtown, hurrying along Queen’s Road Central, looked tinier than ants.

The two towers of the International Finance Centre were not far from us, while to the east there were the tortoise shell of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center and the silver snake of the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal.

I could hardly believe that I would be taking part in a barbecue in Central, where an inch of land costs an ounce of gold!

I recalled the days I was in the crowd dashing around in the city centre. Would there have been a handful of onlookers standing on top of the buildings gazing at the streets like I was doing now?

Our host is a landlord in Central. He can do whatever he likes, not least hold a barbecue in his own space.

However, the weather bows to no one’s wishes. Though huge beach umbrellas sheltered the sofas, the showers kept them damp.

It’s not easy to appreciate the romance of staying outside on a cold rainy night.

As for the barbecue, I guess it was more or less the same as for everyone: a chance to recall good times sitting by the fire and rolling the barbecue forks to grill perfect pairs of chicken wings one after another.

The barbecue organized by the landlord had of course to be done in a superb fashion.

At a corner of the rooftop, a gas barbecue grill had been installed. It was now in the hands of chefs and waiters who staff his five-star hotel.

As you can imagine, the food served was of top-shelf quality and taste: steaks, pork chops, scallops, cod fillets and squid, all of excellent provenance.

The chefs did the cooking chores, and their delicious handiwork was quickly transported by the waiters to the sub-penthouse floor, where we sat comfortably inside the host’s personal office.

All we had to do was dig in.

An extravagant night, indeed.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 3.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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