In the wood-panelled spaces of The Aubrey, ukiyo-e woodblock prints mingle with Victorian pencil portraits and Belle Époque furniture, all burnished with the muted glow of Tiffany stained glass lamps—a tableau that could easily have been plucked from a salon in 1880s Paris. It's somewhat of a shock, therefore, when looking out the window, your gaze is met with the geometric futurism of the Hong Kong skyline from 25 floors up. Despite the cognitive dissonance, The Aubrey's home on the top level of Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong writes another chapter in the hotel's—and by extension Hong Kong's—story of cultural exchange.
Dubbed an "eccentric izakaya", The Aubrey is a paean to Japonisme, a cultural movement that swept Europe in the latter half of the 19th century following Japan's forced reopening from its self-imposed centuries of isolation in 1858. In the ensuing years, European travellers and merchants brought back examples of Japanese art, porcelain, curios and photographic documentation of people and architecture, sparking a frenzy among artists such as Van Gogh and Degas for all things oriental.
That fervour is manifested in The Aubrey's impressive 140-strong art collection—much of which was procured through auctions—as well as the food and beverage programmes. The culinary side of the equation is headed by veteran chef Yukihito Tomiyama, formerly of Michelin-starred Shinji by Kanesaka, who has curated a menu of Edomae-style sushi and sashimi, alongside robata (charcoal grill), tempura, and elevated izakaya dishes.