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10 Things We Love About Hong Kong

Honk Kong at night.

By Bobbie Leigh

1. The art scene:  more contemporary galleries, auction houses, and even an “art hotel”  (The Mandarin Oriental).   The old Pedder Building  at 12 Pedder Street is no longer the place for fashion insiders. Instead, it is rapidly becoming an art gallery  destination.  Gagosian and Hanart TZ Gallery have already moved  in with others on the way.  Sotheby’s  is opening new  quarters on the fifth floor of One Pacific Place. The auction house will also host lectures, exhibitions, and special events. Vietnamese art is also playing a role in the HK art scene, especially at 10 Chancery Lane Gallery in Central.  Well established,  but  an important gallery for new Chinese art is Zee Stone at 1 Hollywood Road.  Now that  China’s emerging collectors dominate sales, the US is  second to China, which is the world’s largest art market.

agnes b. Le Pain Grille

2. The French  invade Hong Kong.  France   is to Hong Kong what Italy is to Manhattan. Some of the  best restaurants are French. The best wine bars, cafes, and bakeries are French.  The snaking line in front of Chanel  is a  stunning testimony to the importance of French  luxury  status symbols here.  One of the best places for a morning café au lait and flaky  almond croissant  is the  new agnes b. Le Pain Grille  cafes  which dot the city. The décor is cozy provencale and the menu  so typically French you can order a crocque monsieur for lunch.

3.  Caprice, the incredibly formal and chic French restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel,  has garnered a notable three- Michelin stars thanks to the meticulous and innovative cuisine of  Vincent Thierry.  Caprice is as haut monde as the George V where Thierry once worked. Two-star Alain Ducasse’s Spoon at the InterContinental,  feels  more  informal and casual until you are served exquisitely  arranged plates designed to please eye and palate. The  amazing  homard Breton (lobster from Britanny with truffles and cepes) is  not to be missed.  One more reason to stay at the InterContinental is Tai Chi with a Japanese master on the balcony overlooking Victoria Harbor at sunrise.

4.Patrick Goubier of Chez Patrick restaurant  is a  three-Michelin-star luminary whose bright, white, contemporary restaurant is so thoroughly French that even the fish comes from France. A major difference he has noted  among Hong Kong diners and those  from  Paris   is that  his  local  customers eat very quickly and  they  like  to  share and pass around  plates.

5.  Fable Cashmere with a new shop at  Melbourne Plaza, 33 Queen’s Road Central, sells only top quality cashmere sweaters for men  and women at  fairly good prices, certainly less than for similar quality in the U.S.  The selection is mostly classic, but the colors and styles are quite varied.

 

The Jade Market

6.The jade market in Kowloon  consists  of  small stalls or booths crowded into  a barnlike, street-level warehouse.   For intricate, stylish, hand-made jewelry head  for  stall Number 148 in the main building  and ask for Alice who  has  her own creations —handmade beaded, embroidered, brightly colored jewelry  and belts.

 

Sidewalk

7.  Gough Street in Soho,  (Central) a short walk from the Starr Ferry terminal),  is not just trendy, but  the  place to  check out  idiosyncratic,  one-of-a-kind boutiques and restaurants that  are rapidly disappearing  elsewhere.  Not to be missed is tiny Sidewalk (4-6  Gough Street) where you can never be sure what art will be on the walls or clothes on the shelves.  Most recently,  silk caftans from Australia and swim shorts (worn by Daniel  Craig in the upcoming James Bond  movie)  were hot items.   Mrs. B’s Cakery, cupcake central, is at 39 Gough St.  Japanese  born, London-trained  Kimlai’s jewelry  (49-51 Gough  Street)  showcases  up-to-the second contemporary styles,  some of the best are the enamels  and stacking rings.

8.  The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) college is an award-winning institution located in the totally rejuvenated North Kowloon Magistracy Building.  It’s a must for architecture buffs, especially the chance to see a rare neoclassic building in HK with a  traditional courtroom and jail cells.  Many campus events—lectures, performances, exhibitions—are open to the public.

9. Expect the unexpected  at  Ten Feet Tall, the new foot reflexology and massage center.  The brainchild of Hong Kong’s nightlife impresario Gilbert Yeung (think Buddakan)  the décor is “island chic,”  bright and sunny. Treatments  range from Swedish to Asian along with manicures and pedicures. Reserve by calling 852-2971-1010.

Luk Yu Tea House

10.  From posh to plebian, dim sum, which means “touch the heart”  (but could easily mean touch the wallet here)  is popular for breakfast or brunch, but can really be eaten anytime in HK.  Posh is Lung King Heen, the three -Michelin star restaurant at the Four Seasons where the lobster and scallop dumplings are unrivaled.  City Hall’s Maxim Palace is  too bright, too noisy, and too crowded. The wait for a table can be long, but the trolleys loaded with bamboo trays of  piping hot  dim sum are hard to resist. The classic and most traditional  place for dim sum  is the  79-year old Luk Yu Tea House, something of a tourist enclave, where the  traditional  décor — complete with spittoons —as well as the dumplings are decidedly old school.

 

  Bobbie Leigh has written for many national publications including The Wall Street Journal, Travel & Leisure, andDepartures. Currently she is a New York correspondent for Art & Antiques.

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