Hong Kong Part I
It seems I always form attachments to big cities and Hong Kong is no different. This beautifully chaotic city really gets under my skin and my relationship with it can be as intense and as passionate as any love affair.
Hong Kong is a sophisticated city with its perfect mix of modern and traditional and it is also one of the most densely packed cities in the world with a population of over 7.3 million people. There is massive wealth right alongside those who are poverty stricken and believe it or not, this city is still growing with construction and sympathetic renovation.
Hong Kong does not sleep. It sets a cracking pace 24 hours a day but do embrace this wonderful chaos as it is all part of the adventure. If you do need a break, there are many places and much green space where you can seek moments of respite from the mayhem and heat……….and there is always ice-cream.
Hong Kong has the highest concentration of skyscrapers anywhere in the world. It has an absolutely stunning skyline but I could not help but wonder if Hong Kong suffered the worst feng shui because of it. My fears were allayed as the planning and design of these magnificently enormous structures are not only decided by the architects and engineers, but also by feng shui masters. These towering structures are always positioned and shaped with respect to nature which in turn brings good fortune. How this sky-scape must continually grow and change.
Perfectly positioned geographically, Hong Kong has mountain ranges to the back and water to the front. There is a lovely belief that dragons, those mythical bearers of good luck and positive energy, live in the mountains and their energy blows over and through Hong Kong. The dragons also need to make their way from the mountains to the water to drink and bath and this is why some buildings, especially those directly along the water front, have ‘holes’ in them. These gaps allow the dragons an unobstructed path to water. How wonderful is that.
Eat Hong Kong…….
Hong Kong is an absolute food lovers paradise. This really is one of the great food cities of the world from its humble street food to its top-end restaurants. It is also where you will find the best dim sum.
Translated, dim sum means ‘to touch the heart’. The sticky glutinous joy of chickens and duck feet, bossy trolley dollies, billowing steam from stacked bamboo baskets, dusty pink shrimp, pungent tea, cramped quarters full of locals perched upon stools and the most perfectly fluffy steamed buns EVER (big call I know). It all makes for the ultimate dim sum experience which really will touch your heart…….. although I did skip the thousand year old eggs!
The perfect steamed pork bun on the streets of Hong Kong…….
In Hong Kong, your food experience is as fast paced as the city itself. Blink and your meal is ready. There is also never a bad time to eat so if you have a craving for dim sum or roast goose or beef brisket in broth or char siu or congee at 3am you’ll get it. And do try ‘pantyhose milk tea’. This is black tea and milk strained through pantyhose which gives the tea its silken texture. Don’t expect it to be served in fine bone china though as this tea is best appreciated while sitting in a busy local filled establishment. And if its not made from an old fashion stocking, then its not the real deal.
I can never pass up one (or five) of these……….
Velvety egg tarts. Smooth, cheerfully yellow egg custard nestled in the most perfect butter pasty shell. And I can state with confidence that you really haven’t had pastry until you have had it in Hong Kong! For almost eight years we lived in the heart of Fitzroy, a suburb of Melbourne, and this is where my true romance with these delicate little morsels really began. The brilliant Brunswick Street and Johnston and Smith along with all the narrow back streets and alleys of this suburb and its surrounds became our backyard. We knew every inch of Fitzroy. The places to eat and drink, the wait and bar staff and some of the most interesting and eclectic inhabitants of that beautifully bohemian suburb. Walking home from work, I would occasionally take a short cut through Chinatown (located along Little Bourke Street in the central business district of Melbourne). Now truth be told, it really wasn’t much of a short cut at all but it did take me directly to the epicenter of egg tarts. Our time in Melbourne was unforgettable and standing on a busy street in Hong Kong with one of these little tarts in my hand, I could but for a moment have been back in wonderful Fitzroy.
You will find beautiful tea houses with art deco décor, alleys lined with hanging roast goose and pork (and these aren’t window dressings!), small areas with a folding table and plastic stools and noisy jam-packed markets to sample some of the best cuisine on offer. Be open-minded and curious and go where the locals go. This is how we love to eat, mixing and mingling with the locals so if you see a small and unassuming place filled with locals, go in. These unpretentious little spaces are the soul of eating in Hong Kong. You can even finish off with an egg tart………what the heck, you can even start your meal with one too.
Drink Hong Kong…….
This breathtaking city also has a very impressive craft beer industry with some top notch brews on offer from light summer ales to big bold darks. We found a couple of great little spots, Roundhouse in particular, where we sampled many a beer because life really is far too short to drink bad beer.
You can go high end or low brow for a cocktail in Hong Kong, which for very good reason, are ranked as some of the best in the world. Negroni’s are king with their fruity bitterness and the gin and vermouths are gently infused with lavender, elderflower, marigold and thyme. Just beautiful so Yum La.
I can never go past the perfect G & T…….
And what better way to bar hop in Hong Kong than on the worlds most intricate network of covered escalators, skyways, tunnels and walkways most of which, are air-conditioned. Once up here, you don’t have to set foot on the ground all day. Not only does it offer a birds eye view of life on the streets below, but it is also the perfect place to people-watch…….especially those on awkward Tinder hook-ups.
Honestly, if you can’t find something to love about Hong Kong then there really is no hope for you. Part II coming soon…….x
Footnote: Yum La translated means drink up….