The Cool Kids’ Guide To Hong Kong
Make it count, you guys.
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Everyone ends up in Hong Kong at some point, but not everyone makes it count. Its reputation as a stopover city sees most visitors satisfied with a decent meal and a few hours shopping in the always-busy suburbs of Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui. So, whether you’re just passing through or are making an entire trip of it, our cool kids’ guide is here to help you make the most of your time in Hong Kong.
Where to eat
Let’s start with breakfast: yum cha. You want it. You need it. And you’ve come to the right place. While Tim Ho Wan may be famous for its Michelin star and crispy pork buns, there are far better experiences to be had in town. For yum cha with a dose of history, it’s hard to go past Luk Yu Teahouse, where you’re likely to bump into an old Hong Kong celebrity or two in the bathroom. For something a little more modern, Yum Cha makes up for its unoriginal name by serving steamed buns with the cartoonish features of different farm animals (hint: the pork bun, or “char siu bao” is the little pig).
For a truly authentic experience, head to Sun Hing, a stubbornly local restaurant in newly gentrified Kennedy Town. Here you’ll be sharing a table with at least one family and battling with other patrons for trays of dim sum. There’s no English spoken here, so you’re going to have to point your way to the deliciously runny lau sa bao (custard buns). This place is known locally as 3am dim sum thanks to its unusually early (or late, depending on how you look at it) opening time. Nothing says Hong Kong like trading in your end-of-night kebab for some fresh dim sum.
If all the fatty pork has you in need of a bit of green, Hong Kong has you covered. Mana Fast Slow Food and Home are both casual cafes that do some killer vegetarian food in the form of wraps, salads and smoothies. Here you can improve your gut health for the rest of your travels with some locally brewed kombucha.
But you’re not allowed to be too healthy in this city. Gai dan zai (egg waffles) are a must-try. This local street snack can be found all over town, but Oddies Foodies do a modern take with some pretty delicious gelato options. Check your diet at the door.
Where to drink
Before we get to the booze, you’re going to need a coffee. And if you want a coffee that stands up to the best brews of home, Winstons Coffee is an Australian-run neighbourhood café in Sai Ying Pun that does a mean flat white (plus a memorable avocado and mozzarella sandwich). If you’re on the other side of town, head to Nutsy: what it lacks in space, it makes up for with Melbourne-roasted Redback Coffee and the best cookies in Hong Kong. Noc Coffee & Roaster in Central is a local-run café that also has you covered for quality.
Hong Kong tops the list for having the most skyscrapers in the world, so it lends itself pretty well to a decent rooftop bar. Sevva is an institution and always worth a visit but Seafood Room does the best to balance views and vibe without feeling too exclusive. Speaking of exclusive, closer to ground Ophelia and Iron Fairies are worth visiting early in the evening to ogle at the design details alone but be warned: these ain’t no backpacker bars. For that, you’re going to want to go to Billidart in Wan Chai, where you can play beer pong until 2am. Game on.
If you prefer beer that’s not in a plastic cup, you’re in luck. There’s something of a beer revolution taking place in Hong Kong, driven by local breweries like Moonzen and Young Master, which both bring local ingredients and flavours to their ales (think Sichuan peppercorns and salted limes). Finding their warehouse locations can prove a bit tricky, so if you’d like to limit the adventure to your palate, opt for Second Draft instead, a new gastropub in quiet-but-hip Tai Hang. The food menu is also designed by May Chow, who was recently crowned the Best Female Chef in Asia. You can skip the beer and sample the Chinese-style hamburgers that made her famous at the original Little Bao.
Where to master your Instagram game
Hong Kong isn’t just a foodie’s dream – it’s a haven for photographers. The constant power play between buildings and nature, people and culture make it almost impossible to take a bad photo. But if you’re all about those ’grams, make sure to point your lens in the direction of these beauties.
Choi Hung Estate has become famous for its rainbow-coloured towers, strategically placed palm trees and a laid-back vibe that would feel more at home in southern California. If you want to step out of the hustle and bustle, lace-up your hiking boots and conquer Fei Ngo Shan (Kowloon Peak).
For those looking for a different muse to tame, Sheung Wan and next-cool-suburb-in-town Wong Chuk Hang provide endless pieces of street art to discover. Take your time, wander the alleys and you’ll stumble upon enough pieces to keep you well and truly occupied between meals. Or if it’s too humid for aimless wandering, Sai Wan Swimming Shed on the west of Hong Kong Island provides you with a fixed location for picture perfection. It’s a nice shot at sunset, but the brave use this spot as a quiet access point for swimming in the harbour, so bring your swimmers.
All that Instagramming is hungry work, so once you’re done it’ll be time to tuck back into the local food scene. Just don’t forget to bring your camera.
(Lead image: Mark Lehmkuhler/Flickr CC)