Four days in Hong Kong, part one

Hong Kong was actioned packed, comprising four days walking the streets of Central, Sheung Wan and Tia Ping Shan; hiking Hong Kong style along the Dragon’s Back trail; shopping at the Ralph Lauren flagship store; eating at Mak’s Noodles, Yat Lok and Yardbird; and sailing on the last remaining fishing junk in Hong Kong.

Our base for the weekend was The Pottinger, a stylish, luxury hotel designed by Australian Suzy Annetta. The decor is a sophisticated and modern take on the ‘Chinoiserie‘ style, popular throughout Europe in the 18th century. Breakfast each morning in the all green dining room was a treat, feasting on a mix of Asian and European cuisine while overlooking the steeply cobblestoned Pottinger Street. The rooms are large by Hong Kong standards (23 to 68 sqm in size) and feature atmospheric photographs by Ho Fan of the city during the 20th century.

Splashing out on the limousine from the airport, we dropped off our Rimowa suitcases and walked/ran the 800m to Yardbird for dinner. This is one of our favourite dining experiences in Hong Kong and one we look forward to each visit. Housed in a new venue on Wing Lok Street, the food is good as ever; along with queues for a table being just as long as ever.  Opting for a standing bench—instead of waiting for a table—, we ate a wide range of dishes including delicious fried rice balls, fresh crunchy pickles, liver mousse, Sunday’s whisky highballs and copious quantities of yakitori (various parts of the chicken barbecued over hot coals and served Japanese style on sticks).

The next morning, we walked the streets for hours. The weather was superb at 23 degrees, ideal for an amble through the gardens before taking in Hong Kong’s wondrous architecture. The buildings looked glorious in the clear morning sunshine with the standouts being Foster and Partners’ building for HSBC, I.M. Pei’s Bank of China Tower and Paul Rudolph’s brutalist gem, the Lippo building; they can be seen here.

After a failed attempt to see Art Basel Hong Kong due to the unbelievable queues of people, we bought an Octopus card (public transport) and headed to dim sum chain Lei Gardens in Wan Chai. Lei Gardens offers a high level of sim sum, with subtle flavours, fresh ingredients, a nice room and good service. Feasting on prawn dumplings, beef balls, bbq pork buns, rice noodles and custard tarts, this was the food highlight of the day.

Properly fed, we hopped in one of Hong Kong’s plentiful taxis and wound our way up the mountain to Victoria Peak. Before making our way to the lookout, we walked the 3.2km ‘Morning Track’. This track overs great views over the harbour as it works its way around the mountain. We highly recommend this track as it offered wonderful views (at least as good as those from the viewing platform) and a chance to stretch your legs in space-starved Hong Kong.

Standing in line for the famous (and crowded) Peak Tram to take us down to Central, we reflected on how different Hong Kong can be depending upon the path you travel. It is serene through the parks and on certain streets while being far less so on the narrow footpaths that run alongside busy roads.

Making our way back to hotel, we spotted the Michelin starred goose restaurant Yat Lok. We decided to join the queue of diners patiently waiting to be served, after taking cocktails at The Pottinger’s rooftop bar. This bar offers respite from the crowds below and serves well made Negronis and sophisticated mocktails for the non drinkers. Anticipating good things, we made our way downstairs to join the crowds at Yat Lok. Sadly, stopping off for drinks proved to be a misstep with everything sold out apart from the steamed chicken and lettuce which was served up by rude wait staff in crowded, dirty conditions.

Disappointed we headed back to the hotel for a good nights sleep before plunging once more into the best that Hong Kong has to offer. Continues in part two.