Hong Kong

hong kong.

[spotlight series. jessica baird walsh]

[hong kong soundtrack. stolen dance]

this crazy, smoggy, chaotic city might not be everyone’s cuppa tea…but we love it here for a quick stopover on our way somewhere else. its busy, its loud, its dirty, the traffic is painstaking, people are pushy…but there is still a lot of beauty to be found if you give it a chance. apart from the big city fix you will get in bounds, hong kong also offers an abundance of natural beauty – hidden beaches, beautiful hiking trails, and endless boating opportunities.

to caffeinate…

since our last fleeting visit here a couple of years ago, we are happy to find that things are looking up on the hk coffee scene. with only 48 hours here this time, we were still able to sniff out a few super cute spots for good caffeine brews.

unar: our favorite of the lot, in our favorite neighborhood – tai hang. no indoor seating, just a long outdoor bench. grab your cup of choice (they do a great flat white) and grab a perch. look out for the delicious bakery goods from googg bakery as well (at the unar coffee star ferry outpost).

rabbithole coffee and roaster: we like this super cute spot down landale street in wan chai. you can choose your blend of choice, as you order. wifi as well.

coco espresso: two locations (the original in central). we love the gorgeous little oasis on anton street, which also has a cute courtyard out the back, and the most adorable aqua green coffee cups we have seen.

the nest coffee shop: a great little initiative opened by the nesbitt centre, a vocational training organization for adults with learning challenges. really good coffee, made by people with special needs, giving them a supportive environment to prepare for heading out into the wider world.

to eat…

bakery goods: googg bakery, not far from the hustle and bustle of hong kong’s sham shui po in kowloon, for fresh biscuits made into novel shapes. also available at unar coffee outpost at the star ferry.

burgers from the butcher’s club: this new burger joint in wan chai is proving hugely popular. and rightly so. their meat here is from black angus cattle from nsw in australia! and its all organic hormone-free, and grass fed. juicy, quality burgers, and good vibes.

grassroots pantry: a very cute lunch spot in sai ying pun – focused around healthy, nutritious, plant-based dishes. unprocessed, local, sustainable and organic ingredients are used where possible.

dumplings: dumplings for days… a shanghai specialty, hong kong also does these precious parcels of deliciousness with ease and expertise. so popular, arriving early at any of the stellar dumpling joints can alleviate the time spent potentially waiting for a table.

check out: tim ho wan (two locations) in mong kok, and sham shui po – for renowned michelin dimsum. or otherwise, din tai fung – a big world chain – but don’t let that deter you. fast, efficient service and amazingly delicious dumplings. you can watch the chefs in the kitchen painstakingly make each dumpling from scratch. the steamed shanghai dumplings still remain our favorite – but you must also try the black truffle ones, and the spicy shrimp as well.

little bao: if you like buns, this is the place for you! vietnamese buns filled with all sorts of goodness. the standard flavors are pork and fish – and then add some crazy sides to go with them as well. worth checking out, but be prepared to wait. in central.

a chicken dinner at yardbird: almost exclusively chicken-based, focused around yakitori. try the kfc (a must), and the yardbird caesar. no ressies.

no.5 italian: a cute and charmingly authentic italian joint in tai hang. always busy, so make sure you book. a cute little courtyard as well.

tung po: a super local canto joint at the top of the north point municipal market – way off the normal beaten track. bookings essential.

chachawan: for great thai food on hollywood road in sheung wan.

chef studio by eddy: a private kitchen in an old industrial building in aberdeen (middle of nowhere from a tourist perspective). come for the experience, not necessarily the food.

italian from 121 bc: from the same people behind vini and 121 bc in sydney, come here for authentic italian, cute wine bar and bottle shop.

for the spectacle more than the ice cream itself, check out this sciencey ice cream joint – lab made, which dishes up ice cream made from liquid nitrogen, right before your very eyes.

to drink…

café gray on the top floor of the upperhouse: its definitely no secret, but its by far and away the best place for amazing views of the harbor from the 49th floor, while sipping deliciously good cocktails.

honi honi tiki cocktail lounge: meaning “kiss kiss” in polynesian, honi honi is a fun place for cocktails in central.

pastis: a cute little sidewalk café/bar, pastis is popular with the french expat community and offers classic french bistro food, with a good range of french wines, beers, aperitifs, and cognacs. cosy, casual and always busy.

china club: located in the old bank of china building – this is member’s only club is an oldie, but a goodie. a beautiful outdoor terrace, perfect for before or after dinner drinks. great food as well.

to shop…

our number one store in all of hong kong: cos. the same swedish owners as h&m, their clean, structured lines make us weak at the knees!

tai hang: a cool little neighborhood only 10min walk from causeway bay. wander through the little sidestreets and stumble across goodness. we like the little retro store feel so good, selling a great range of vintage pendant lights, and other homewares. volume one is a cute little boutique somewhat hard to find. part teahouse/part fashion and accessories – we like the space itself more than the actual contents of the store – but its definitely cute for a quick squiz.

wai chan: wander the streets around star, ship and sun streets. we love vein – a store that stopped us in our tracks when walking past for the first time – beautiful scandinavian labels in hong kong. perfectly curated. we also love themonocle store in st. francis yard. monocle is one of our favorite magazines, and we love this edit of monocle collaborations and old issues of their awe-inspiring mag.

gough street: a great little street in central to poke around in. some super cute vintage stores. some of our favorites include mr blacksmith, a design ware store for industrial homewares…andhomeless (various locations) for more modern home goods.

peekaboo: a cute little store in causeway bay filled with simple, well-structured, korean designed pieces.

reverie: for beautiful vintage pieces in the heart of central.

to do…

find this secret beach – ham tim beach - in sai kung. this is our favorite place in all of hong kong. just off the coast of the new territories, you can access the beach by a bus from sai kung town and then you need to find the walking trail which will take you down to the beach. it’s a bit of a mission, but this magical hidden beauty is definitely worth it. you can even camp on the beach overnight, and camping stuff is available from the basic restaurant down there, making it really easy. don’t miss this.

happy valley: for laidback wednesday evening horse racing.

take a junk trip: grab a group of buddies and set out for a day of fun on the sea.

hike up to the peak for some amazing views (and a good workout).

practice tai chi with the oldies in victoria park, causeway bay, or kowloon park in tsim sha tsui on the kowloon side.

visit the oil street art space in north point to check out the i’mperfect xchange. a project run by designers, hung lam and eddy yu, doing good through creative collaborations focusing on the acceptance of imperfection. i’mperfect xchange has a barter system for making transactions. bring a can of food, or other produce, and in return, you will be given a little herb plant. all food collected is taken directly to those in the community who are in need.

eat dumplings, and more dumplings (see above)…

visit the beaches of stanley, chung hom kok, and repulse bay.

nails: be pampered. a couple of spots we like….iyara, and the nail library.

blow dry: get a blow out at hk’s first blow dry-only salon, airplay (for the full blow dry bar service complete with champagne and big tv screens showing project runway!), or mina de’vwil - a reliable alternative on cochrane street (next to iyara nails). a bargain at 88hkd (usd10) for a wash and blow dry.