A former explosives magazine compound built by the British army in the mid-19th century, the site underwent a conversion by New York-based architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien to become the the Asia Society Hong Kong Center.
AMMO – slang for "ammunition" – is also an acronym for Asia, Modern, Museum and Original. The phrase perfectly acknowledges the café's Asian roots and identity, its modern Continental cuisine, its unique position within a heritage landmark museum and its original concept, and it also indicates the overall culinary and dining experience you can expect here!
Opinion at AMMO is divided: Which is cooler – the menu or the space? — Photo courtesy of AMMO
The team behind AMMO is local celebrity chef and restaurateur Tony Cheng, together with his mentor Chef Roland Schuller from The Drawing Room. Their aim is to serve simple, elegant and affordable cuisine with unpretentious service.
Paying respect to the East-meets-West nature of Asia Society, AMMO offers a cross-cultural blend, where the menu comprises Mediterranean cuisine with an Asian twist, each one prepared simply yet elegantly.
Signature starters include quail salad with braised grapes, pancetta and quail sauce; marinated black cod with miso and baby eggplant; and ravioli stuffed with zucchini, buffalo mozzarella and tiger prawns.
The tapas spread reads like a trans-world travelogue. Examples include fennel risotto with scampi and fennel pollen foam; Spanish baby lamb; and trumpet zucchini croquette.
AMMO's bar scene is equally tantalizing, featuring an impressive wine list of over 300 varieties, a martini menu and a bevy of signature cocktails like Ammo Smash, Kiwi Basil and Lychee.
Bringing AMMO to life, Wang – a boutique design practice fresh off its renovation of the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles – created a design that not only references AMMO's prestigious context, but also pays tribute to it aesthetically and conceptually.
Wang created a cinematic experience in an interior space. The team drew inspiration from the film noir masterpiece "Alphaville," a 1965 science fiction film directed by Jean-Luc Godard that explores the connection between art, technology and society.
The central feature of the space is a set of three sculptural spiral staircases (a recurring theme of the film) constructed as chandeliers purely out of copper plumbing pipes and cascading from the 20-foot-high ceiling. The shades of the chandeliers are crafted out of bent copper mesh and rods, a reference to materials used in military and industrial settings.
The bunker-like ceiling is supported by copper ribs and lit warmly to further reference the explosives magazine history. The copper mural on the wall behind the bar, another dramatic feature, will have diners pondering the design narrative, with clues revealing the site's history and significance.
All furniture and fixtures were custom-designed to communicate a cohesive bespoke environment using luxurious materials such as leather, velvet and silk to offset the hard-edged custom fixtures and detailing. The surreal yet modern interiors are cossetted by lush greenery visible through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Nestled within this stunning landscape backdrop, AMMO is a veritable dining retreat – and a pleasant surprise in the midst of bustling Hong Kong.