Shopping and eating are top of the list for most visitors, and Hong Kong dosen’t disappoint. Shopping is a way of life here. Every high end brand has a glamourous flagship store, most with more than one. Then there is the other end of the spectrum, the ever popular market and laneway shopping, where ‘real’ imitations of high end brand clothing and accessories can be had for a fraction of the original price, along with an amazing array of trinkets, and what many would call ‘junk’.
For me though, my shopping heaven is just across the border in Shenzhen, a 45 minute train ride away. More about that in another post.
Locals are always eating, their greeting to one another is usually,” have you eaten yet?” The choices are endless, and the city is renowned for it’s culinary diversity.
HOLLY BROWN COFFEE
As I find it hard to start the day without a good coffee (see my Wake Up and Smell the Coffee post), in Asia, that is often hard to find. So when a friend told me of a great new cafe, I was there like a shot. I love the fact that they have properly trained baristas, two of whom run the show, and are HK Grand Barista Champions. The beans are roasted on site, the roaster taking pride-of-place in the modern and spacious store. The Gelato Bar is hard to resist too, as are all the goodies to eat that go so well with coffee … and there’s free wi-fi.Ground Floor G19, Ground floor 22 Stanley Street 18 Hanoi Road Central, Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Across the harbour in Kowloon, another favourite place to eat, especially for a delicious lunch, is Rice Paper. Located in the Harbour City shopping mall, it serves Vietnamese food with a modern twist. The menu is an eclectic mix of everything Asian. I have been eating here since it opened almost 10 years ago. If you can, try to get a window seat, or if the weather is good, a table on the deck overlooking the harbour.
Soft Shell Crab Rice Paper RollsHarbour City, Gateway Arcade Level 3, Shop 3319 17 Canton Rd TST
It’s Happy Hour…
Hong Kong has so many great bars, how can one choose, especially if you only have a short stay. One of my favourites, especially for the view is the Terrace Bar at Sevva, in Central. I just love being outdoors, so this bar does it for me. It’s not too high, only 25 floors up – so most of the city buildings tower above you. While the drinks are not exactly cheap, they do make a mean Cosmopolitan, and super-dry Martini, worth every cent – a great way to start an evening, or at least finish a long day. Probably the most cost effective drinks are the bubbles and beer.Prince Building Level 25 6 -14A Chater Rd Central, Hong Kong
Just across the road from Sevva, in Alexandra House, the Peking Garden Chinese restaurant, serving Pekingese and Northern Chinese dishes. It’s always full of locals and expats. If you want a good Peking Duck, this is the place to go, as this dish is the speciality of the house.
Presented first as the whole golden roasted duck, it is then carved and served with flour pancakes, shallots, cucumber and a thick honey plum sauce. Don’t forget to ask for the second course of the duck, served san choi bow style, in crisp lettuce cups. The final stage of this dish which many don’t know about, is the beautiful duck broth.Shop B1, Basement 1 Alexandra House 16-20 Chater Road Central, Kong Kong Phone: 2526 6456
Sok Kwu Wan, Lama Island – for fabulous seafood
Tai Yuen Seafood Restaurant
If there is one food you must sample in Hong Kong, it’s the seafood. Huge tanks of live fish and bubbling containers of prawns, crabs, scallops, clams, oysters and other seafood vie for attention. Preparing fresh, live seafood is a culinary art in Hong Kong. Sok Kwu Wan, a small fish farming village on Lama Island, is the perfect place to escape the hectic pace of the city. Take the ferry from pier 4 in Central, for a 40 minute ride to the island. As you step off the ferry, a long line of similar looking seafood restaurants await, each beckoning diners with their promises of free beers, and “the best seafood on the island”. Most locals have their own firm favourites that they have frequenting for years. Rainbow Seafood and the Lama Hilton seem to get the most publicity, but our favourite is the Tai Yuen Seafood Restaurant, which we have been going to for years. There are rows and rows of tanks with live seafood in front of all the restaurants, so you are assured that what is coming to the table is fresh.
Fish farms just outside the restaurant
Sweet and Sour Pork
Steamed Prawns with Ginger and Shallot
Steamed Scallops with bean thread noodles, garlic and shallots.
A Must Do – High Tea at the Peninsular
Yes, everyone is doing a High Tea these days, and many would argue that the High Tea at the Pen is not the best in town, but to my mind there is nowhere that has a setting quite like the Pen – colonial elegance at it’s best. Once the haunt of governors and generals the Pen has been serving up high tea to Hong Kong for nearly 100 years. Plan to arrive at the Peninsular Lobby early, as the there is always a queue.
Afternoon Tea is served from 2 – 6pm.
A good trick for jumping the queue, is to arrive in time for a post-lunch G&T, and then stay at your table for the High Tea.