On Hollywood Road

Getting a Haircut (without having to walk too far)

Posted in Uncategorized by Alex Daye on December 9, 2009

Now that I spend most of my days between Moustache and our workshop on Hollywood Road, I’ve started to get to know the area quite intimately and don’t tend to stray too far. One of the more frequent questions our customers ask is where to go in the neighborhood for a haircut. Hong Kong people are famously into their hair, and while there is certainly, by no stretch of the imagination, a shortage of salons within a stone’s throw of our shop- upstairs, downstairs, outside, in the park, in someone’s apartment- I always suggest to them Visage One, a most unusual and inviting one man shop down an alleyway behind Moustache. The owner and barber, a very affable man named Ben, in an act of inspired, almost brilliant foresight, set up shop four years ago in a space that previously served as storage for one of the neighborhoods many printing presses- most of his neighbors are still storage units, though right around the corner on the steps leading from Hollywood Road to Gough Street it’s all boutiques, restaurants and galleries.

As you can tell from his sign, Visage One is more than just a salon- twice a month, Ben, a Jazz buff and one time cafe owner, opens up the tiny space for a late night jazz performance, and peering in the window, one could be forgiven for mistaking the shop for a bar.

That said, Ben is no mere bartender. I first went for a haircut there on the suggestion of my friend Tsyuoshi, a friend from the U.S. whose hairstylist in New York made house calls- obviously someone who takes his haircuts very seriously. He was over the moon that there was but one chair in the shop and that all the cutting was done with scissors. He was also very taken with Ben, whom he said had an almost hypnotically soothing presence. I’m quite a fidgety person, particularly in the barber’s chair- which has on more than one occasion led to a less than satisfactory hair cut- so I was keen to try him out. Needless to say, it was a total revelation- not only did I have one of the best haircuts of my life, I actually enjoyed it. Ben, who worked many years in a salon before realizing he didn’t like working for other people, is my kind of man. The music was relaxing, and his little shop probably one of the coolest spaces I’ve been in in Hong Kong.

Obviously, a man as talented as Ben is going to be quite popular, so an appointment is required (+852 25238988).

If you just can’t stand your shaggy locks another minute, though, and Ben is booked out, or if you are looking for something a bit more old school, there are a couple of other interesting options just steps away. Just off Hollywood Road by the Press Room, there’s a flight of stairs leading up to Caine Road. Walk to the right as if you are going to walk behind the building and there’s a little green metal shed which you might mistake for, well, a shed. Peer inside, though, and you will find a delightfully, very old school barber shop.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a phone number, and as it’s a green metal shed behind a giant skyscraper (and there are a perplexing number of green metal sheds in Hong Kong), you may or may not be able to find this shop. If that’s the case, there’s another strange little place down on the corner of Aberdeen and Wellington Streets which you might mistake for an antique shop because, well, it is an antique shop. Ellis and I were haggling over an old lampshade one afternoon when we spied a barber’s chair behind a half ajar door.

Unfortunately (I hate to use that word so much!), the proprietors of this barbershop are not very keen on publicity, and refused our requests for a brief q & a and picture taking session. If you are more persistent, though, I’m sure you could get a decent cut there; at the very least, you might walk away with a nice tchotchke and a funny story to tell your friends.