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Harlan Goldstein makes sudden exit from another dining venture; ‘health concerns’ cited

Larger-than-life Hong Kong chef Harlan Goldstein has unexpectedly left his latest dining venture – the third time he has had to walk away from restaurants he founded.

Goldstein had been about to open the last of four restaurants at 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, in partnership with ZS Hospitality. In a statement on Friday, the restaurant group confirmed Goldstein was no longer working with the company “due to personal reasons”. Geoffrey Wu, spokesman for the company, told SCMP.com the chef had resigned on Thursday “because of health concerns”. He did not elaborate on those concerns.

Contacted by phone on Friday, Goldstein refused to comment.

The self-proclaimed “number one Hong Kong celebrity chef” had opened Mamasita’s Cantina, a Mexican street-food restaurant and Cuban bar, at 8 Lyndhurst Terrace as recently as September 26. He opened Thai restaurant My Tai Tai there in late August. The first of the dining concepts there, Ee Da Le – Cantonese for Italy – opened in late July; reviews for the Italian restaurant were not glowing.

Newly opened Ee Da Le – Harlan Goldstein’s hit-and-miss Italian in Central

On Thursday, new hoardings – replacing a previous set with Goldstein’s face on – went up around the ground floor of the Lyndhurst Terrace premises, where his restaurant Eat Me Drink Me was supposed to be opening soon. Wu said it would be replaced by a new concept.

The other three restaurants were operating as usual, Wu said.

Goldstein, who is in his fifties, first worked in Hong Kong at the Aberdeen Marina Club. In 2004 he opened his own restaurant, Harlan’s, in the IFC Mall in Central, followed quickly by three other ventures – H One, G Bar, and the Box. But in January 2008 his then partner, JJH Company Limited, filed a writ seeking repayment of money he had allegedly misused for personal spending, and secured an injunction to restrain the New York-born chef from continuing to use the name Harlan’s or the company’s name.

Goldstein opened Gold at LKF Tower in Wyndham Street, Central, in November 2010 in partnership with Simon To, of Worldwide Dining Group.

In 2014 they opened Sushi To by Harlan Goldstein and Penthouse by Harlan Goldstein, but the partnership with Worldwide ended the following year. Worldwide Dining Group continues to operate both restaurants in Soundwill Plaza II Midtown in Causeway Bay. Gold had earlier closed.

Goldstein made a comeback in April 2016 with the announcement of a joint venture with ZS Hospitality to open four restaurants at 8 Lyndhurst Terrace.

In addition to the three restaurants ZS Hospitality operates at that address, the company also runs Home – Eat to Live in Central. Its Vietnamese restaurant Viet Kitchen closed abruptly earlier this year; it plans to reopen Viet Kitchen in November with Vietnamese celebrity chef Luke Nguyen at the helm. It will be Nguyen’s first Hong Kong restaurant.