10 Things We Love About Hong Kong
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.