Two couples who left Hong Kong to escape persecution by the Chinese HK government have set up a new craft beer and Hong Kong street food bar in Altrincham.
Priscilla So and Brian Hung have teamed up with Fiona Chan and Kyle Wong to open Harcourt in the former Stamford’s Bistro unit on Stamford New Road.
Brian and Kyle bumped into each other in a brewery tap room in Manchester having previously known each other through working in the craft beer industry in Hong Kong.
The couples got to know each other and hatched a plan to open their own Hong Kong style pub – and Harcourt is the result.
The word Harcourt has special resonance for all Hong Kongers.
Harcourt Road was the home of the Umbrella Movement in 2014, occupied for 79 days by thousands of peaceful protesters demanding more transparent elections in the Chinese region.
It was called the Umbrella Movement because protestors used umbrellas to protect themselves from the tear gas used by police.
“Everything changed from 2014,” Fiona told us. “This was the first time that I felt unsafe.
“It brings back such bad memories. We were going to get married and have babies in Hong Kong. It affected me a lot.”
Unnerved by the worsening political situation in their homeland, Fiona, 38, and her husband took the decision to move to the UK in 2020. They now have two children and have settled in Sale.
Priscilla, 27, and Brian moved to the UK in February 2022 under the British National (Overseas) visa scheme.
“The biggest reason was the political situation,” she said. “It was no longer the Hong Kong that we used to know. We lost our freedom of speech. The government can use the National Security Law to put people in jail, and they don’t need to have any evidence. They can just do whatever they want. So that was a bit scary.”
Fortuitously, the move gave Priscilla and Brian more of an opportunity to explore their passion for craft beer, which is limited to a sub-culture in Hong Kong.
“Having our own bar is me and my husband’s dream,” she said.
Inside, there’s exposed brick and a chalkboard menu showing off a generous selection of 14 craft ales, all on tap. But there are Hong Kong touches as well, including a Cantonese sign in pink neon and some fortune cat figurines, a regular sight in their home city.
Food-wise, there’s an eclectic small plates menu including Typhoon shelter style deep fried chicken wings, spiced beef shin with soft boiled egg, smacked cucumber and spiced numbing chicken kidneys.
“There is a lot of Chinese food here so locals might have a stereotype about what Chinese food is like, but we want to show them what authentic Hong Kong food really is,” said Fiona.
Both Priscilla and Fiona have been made to feel very welcome in their new home. Compared with Hong Kong, the roomier housing, cleaner air and abundance of playgrounds have been plus points; the winter chill less so.
So what’s the ambition for Harcourt? “We are hoping to create an environment where locals and Hong Kong people want to come here and have a pint and some food and a lovely chat with their friends or lovers,” added Priscilla.
“Some customers have said that we’re doing a good thing by bringing something culturally different to the locals. We are trying to bring a little Hong Kong to Altrincham.”
Harcourt, 80 Stamford New Rd, Altrincham WA14 1BS.
Photography: Laura Linck