Hong Kong is a marvellous place being hectic, prosperous and now, increasingly creative. First impressions of Hong Kong are always ‘busy’; so very, very busy. Construction is taking place everywhere and the port is a veritable forest of cranes loading and unloading cargo ships. At first, this makes Hong Kong look like a hard place to live; great for business, not so much for living. However, this feeling quickly dissipates when you take a seat in one of the city’s wonderful restaurants and talk with the locals, whether native Cantonese or one of the numerous foreigners who now call the island home.
Food is clearly an important part of life in Hong Kong, probably ranking just below money; which for a global financial hub, that puts it high on the list. Our first meal was a cracker at Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton’s buzzy tapas bar 22 Ships. Serving imaginative and reasonably priced tapas dishes, ‘Ships’ ended up being the best single meal of our trip. Follow up meals at the wonderful Yardbird and Aberdeen St Social further enhanced our feeling that food is one of the city’s most attractive attributes.
While in Hong Kong, I kept hearing that some of the younger generation were rejecting the more traditional academic/corporate life for something more entrepreneurial. Whilst this is still nascent, there is an increasingly interesting vibe with Wan Chai and Sheung Wan humming with a more creative crowd.
Below is a list of the places and activities recommended for a quick two-day stopover. The list is by no means a comprehensive guide to Hong Kong. Simply use it as a starting point and you will not go far wrong.
1. Coffee: well taken care of with both of the below options delivering up a superb cup of the black nectar. Be warned though, this standard of coffee in Hong Kong is about the same price as a well-made cocktail; between HK$65-$100 (AU$10-$16).
The Coffee Academics, 35-45 Johnston Street, Wan Chai | Slayer espresso machines a variety of filter coffee brews.
Coco Espresso, 2 Anton Street, Wan Chai | champion baristas and six single origin beans to choose from.
22 Ships, 22 Ship Street, Wan Chai | Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton’s superb tapas bar.
Ham & Sherry, 1-7 Ship Street, Wan Chai | ‘back bar’ for cocktails and snacks.
Yardbird, 33 Bridges Street, Sheung Wan | modern izakaya-style restaurant specialising in yakitori (skewered, grilled chicken) with good vibes and great service.
Aberdeen St Social, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central | modern British cuisine also by Jason Atherton.
Yum cha, right of building entrance at 6-14 Gresson Street, Wan Chai | locals dim sum. Sit on blue plastic stools and enjoy a simple dim sum of around 20 dishes including prawn dumplings, BBQ pork buns and congee. This place was recommended by the chefs at 22 Ships.
Sundays Grocery, 66-68 Catchick Street, Kennedy Town | take-away sandwiches and Japanese whiskey
Felix at The Peninsular Hotel | well made cocktails in the dated, yet pleasing throwback to the 90’s, Phillipe Starck designed restaurant and bar.
Star Ferry to Kowloon | iconic and wonderful at HK$2.50.
Watch the nightly lights show from the Kowloon side.
Architecture tour | walk the street and marvel at the city’s architectural gems including the Lippo Towers by Paul Rudolph, HSBC Building by Foster + Partners and Bank of China Tower by I.M. Pei.
Visit the 100 or more designers and creative enterprises in the PMQ building. At our time of visiting, there was an exhibition by French contemporary artist Invader.
4. Transport: MTR, taxis, classic double decker trams, the Star Ferry and black S Class Mercedes.