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Booming Hong Kong

Dynamic, best sums up Hong Kong, with its ever shifting restaurant scene, expanding creative side, area revitalisation, and breathtaking natural beauty juxtaposed by towering modern structures. 

Text:
Vicki Williams
Photos:
Reto Guntli, Agi Simoes
H

Hong Kong’s dining scene is constantly evolving at breakneck speed.

Food is part of the reason chef Shane Osborn loves living in Hong Kong. “Everything is so accessible, and food is at the centre of socialising.” The chef, one of the city’s most talented, left his two-Michelin-starred career in London to travel the world with his family, before settling here three years ago. He now has his own restaurant Arcane, opened late 2014. “Hong Kong’s dining scene is constantly evolving at breakneck speed, and so many internationally acclaimed chefs want to have a presence in Hong Kong,” says Shane Osborn. Joël Robuchon, Alain Ducasse, Pierre Gagnaire, Nobu, Akrame Benallal, Jason Atherton, Tom Aikens and Gordon Ramsay, all have restaurants in Hong Kong. It is a dining destination with such a choice of cuisines and restaurants, including Michelin-starred, the hard part is narrowing down where to eat. Current favourites for Shane Osborn are Italian restaurant and wine bar 121BC, and French restaurant Serge et le Phoque. “Both are consistently good with unique identities.”

Hong Kong is known for its dramatic, modern towering glass buildings, many of which have also been designed around feng shui principles; above-ground walkways connect many key buildings.

Another noted chef, Gray Kunz of Café Gray Deluxe says, “It’s a great food city, with fascinating diversity.” Gray Kunz enjoys visiting the local food markets and dining at street-side Chinese eateries. “You see the essence of life in Hong Kong at these places, and eating a bowl of beef brisket noodles is something I have enjoyed for over 20 years.”

KEE Club founder and art collect­or Christian Rhomberg says there are many options for enjoying the art side of the city. He suggests the Liang Yi Museum with one of the world’s largest and best-curated collections of Chinese antique furniture, the international art galleries in Pedder Building (Central), and the art districts of Aberdeen and Chai Wan, which are home to industrial buildings that have been transformed into galleries and artists’ studios. For more on these and others the website arthongkong.net has comprehensive information.

Helping to evolve the design and creativity scene is William To, creative and programme director for PMQ, and senior consultant with the Hong Kong Design Centre. PMQ is a creative hub for artists with design-led stores that opened last year (see “Where to shop”). “PMQ has quickly become one of the must-visit destinations. This is a unique place for visitors who want to get in touch with the local creative scene, and shop for gifts that are designed in Hong Kong.” It is also home to restaurants by impressive chefs, such as Aberdeen Street Social from Jason Atherton and restaurateur Yenn Wong, and Spanish fine-dining Vasco by Paolo Casagrande. William To recommends taking a walk from Sheung Wan to Central along Hollywood Road, which passes by Man Mo Temple, Cat Street market, art galleries, antique stores and PMQ. “The short journey showcases a fusion of the old and the new, west and east of our city in terms of heritage, arts, design and culture and is very interesting.”

A view of Hong Kong Island from Tsim Sha Tsui. The view across to the island, especially at night, demonstrates why residents and visit­ors alike refer to Hong Kong as one of the most stunning cities in the world.

Also a fan of exploring is Swiss national, Jonas A. Schuermann, GM of the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. “Hong Kong is extremely cosmopolitan. At the moment I am discovering all the fabulous new restaur­ants, quirky bars, and countless new local galleries that have opened in the recently revitalised Western District.” This includes Sheung Wan, Sai Ying Pun, and Kennedy Town. Hong Kong’s most unique feature for many, including Schuermann, is the fact that “within 20 to 30 minutes of the bustling CBD you can be in the most wonderful, serene country parks. No other major city in the world offers that.”

You could also be interested in:
1 What do you love about living in Hong Kong?

The people, the food (such variety), the beauty (one of the most scenic cities in the world), it is safe, and the efficiency, which I appreciate as I am impatient.

2 What is a must for the new visitor?

The Peak for the best view of Hong Kong.

3 What about for the return traveller?

Hiking, it is something I do with visiting friends.

4 Talking of Hong Kong’s green side, do you hike often?

When in Hong Kong, every weekend. Hiking to Tai Long Wan (on Sai Kung Peninsula) is a favourite, with stunning views.

5 Does Hong Kong have an artistic side?

Yes, with concerts and cultural performances, galleries and art districts, and events like Art Basel, there is a strong artistic side.

6 Hong Kong is famous for food, where do you like to eat?

At the Wu Kong Shanghai Restaurant, I have been enjoying the Shanghainese dumplings for over 30 years. And The Peninsula is close to my heart, as I am a former GM of the hotel. I enjoy dining at all of its restaurants.

7 Where do you take visiting friends?

Spices for al fresco dining and views. Seafood in Sai Kung, live seafood bought from a vendor is cooked at a nearby Chinese restaurant.

8 Known as Hong Kong’s Grande Dame, The Peninsula has been receiving visitors since 1928, does being a guest enhance the Hong Kong ex­perience?

Yes. Both share the same past, both are modern, forward- looking. We are proud that many staff have been here for a long time and are deeply connected to the hotel and Hong Kong, sharing their insider tips with guests, which is welcomed.

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