When it comes to visiting Hong Kong, there are various things you must tick off the to-do list. Baldwin Ho reveals his top tips for Asia’s World City.
The district of North Point offers an authenticity to the local way of life that is rarely seen in other districts on the island. It is situated next to a street food market where you can discover all sorts of exotic food products and some of the best street food stalls in town. The hotel also offers a complimentary shuttle bus service to the main shopping and business districts too.
The top of the checklist should be to soak up the magnificence of the Hong Kong harbour. The newly opened Hotel Hyatt Centric is just the place to capture those glorious moments. It occupies a protruded location off the harbour front at North Point with uninterrupted views of the Kowloon side of the city.
The eye-catching interior design of Hotel VIC with stunning artwork might be a sign that regeneration is about to hit one of the oldest districts on the island. Apart from the views, modernity is a key selling point at the hotel: lightning-fast WiFi, internet-enabled TV, online check-in/out services and a tailor-made app for booking restaurants are all at your fingertips.
Living up to its namesake, all six hundred and sixty-five guest rooms at Hotel VIC have a scenic harbour view; our room had a lazy couch strategically placed by the window. The slick design of the room rivals the very best five-star hotels in the more fashionable districts and they offer an in-room Nespresso coffee machine, tea-making facilities, and the bathroom has the obligatory rainfall shower.
A complimentary mini-bar, bottles of mineral water daily, a shoeshine service and best of all, your own smartphone to use even when you are out and about in the city are also offered. The smartphone includes complimentary local calls as well as calls to five international countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, the USA, and the UK.
Visiting the rooftop of the hotel is a must as it includes an outdoor swimming pool, steam and sauna rooms, and a twenty-four-hour gym. In the gym, they have a VR flying machine by ICAROS that makes working out an even more pleasurable experience.
There are numerous dining options available for hotel guests. We had a sumptuous international buffet breakfast at The Farmhouse, which offered the best of both Western and Eastern cuisines from baskets of dim sum to freshly handmade omelettes.
For a more romantic affair, I would recommend heading up to their rooftop restaurant, Cruise. They have a great set-lunch menu that is likely to please the most discerning with a Western option that has a choice of two starters and mains or a sushi/sashimi bento box option. Both come with dessert and coffee/tea. The chirashi bowl I ordered had some of the freshest salmon, tuna, scallops and sweet shrimp that I’ve encountered in Hong Kong.
There is also plenty to please the fashionistas with a holistic lifestyle mall opening recently right at the hotel so you don’t have to battle the hordes of shopping-mad tourists in places like Causeway Bay.
Another thing to tick off your bucket list in Hong Kong is to have refined Chinese cuisine – and they don’t come any more upscale than Duddell’s (which has a branch in London).
The Michelin-starred restaurant delivers understated glamour perfectly with stylish interiors that could be a showroom in the finest design store. There are entire sections dedicated to Chinese delicacies like abalone and bird’s nest but there is so much to savour on their menu; in particular, the chef’s recommendations.
Two dishes I would recommend from this section are a crispy roasted chicken with fermented red bean curd sauce and clams ‘in fisherman style’ featuring Ruinart ‘Blanc de Blanc’.
The former dish might sound deceptively simple, but the chef has undergone a meticulous search to find a chicken with the correct meat to fat to bone ratio. They use local Taion chickens that weigh approximately 2.3kg. The skin is crisp on the outside, whilst the meat is tender on the inside with the red bean curd offering added rich aromas. With the latter dish, it is a celebration of the fact that Hong Kong was once a small fishing village back in the days. Although the fisherman of yesteryear would not have used champagne, they have used it here as a tribute to Duddell’s principal art patron, Ruinart and it helps to add a touch of sweetness to the dish.
Another restaurant to consider is Duddell’s sister restaurant, Old Bailey. Apart from the incredible food, it is situated in Tai Kwun, Hong Kong’s new centre for arts (it was formerly the central police station). It is definitely worth a stroll around. The interior of the restaurant is filled with designer chic antiques whilst their outdoor terrace overlooks Tai Kwun, SoHo and Central. The food is all about authentic Jiangnan cuisine, covering places like Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou.
The menu is a treasure trove of hidden gems such as their take on the classic xiao long bao, which uses Ibérico ham for added richness and sweet notes combined with Sichuan peppercorns to give a pleasing, numbing tingle to the taste buds. Dragon’s whisker fish is another exemplary dish I’ve not seen outside of China; the dish is wok-fried with the meat shredded so there is no need to deal with any fiddly fish bones.
Chinese desserts are a relative mystery to most in Europe, but here you can sample some authentic varieties like an organic soymilk pudding and a very peculiar sounding, glazed lotus root stuffed with glutinous rice and topped with house-made Osmanthus syrup.
With so many great culinary delights and magnificent scenery to discover in Hong Kong, make sure you put this destination on your bucket list.