We travel for experience. The opportunity to add stories to our dinner party repertoires, to see, taste and live moments that are otherwise unavailable in the place we call home. In general, these experiences come at a cost, forcing us to pick and choose between all the fabulous places where we'd planned to ‘check in’. With budget in mind, this month I offer you a few great ways to get the most bang for your buck with quintessential Hong Kong experiences and access to bragging rights that won't cost you the world.
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THE MICHELIN EXPERIENCE: DIM SUM
A visit to Hong Kong is incomplete without experiencing an all out Dim Sum degustation. This traditional Cantonese cuisine is historically a lunch time affair, wherein from a dizzying selection of dishes you select numerous smaller dishes to devour. So legendary is Dim Sum's greatness on the global gastronomic scale that two select venues in Hong Kong have received the much lauded Michelin stamp of approval. In other cities, the opportunity to say you ate Michelin endorsed grub requires hundreds of dollars and plenty of forethought to book in advance. Not so in HK, where each restaurant listed here will set you back around $25 AUD per person - an absolute steal considering you'll need to roll right on out of there. Think BBQ pork buns, plump glistening shumais ‘dumplings’, deep fried taro and almond dumplings with mayonnaise and, if you’re feeling adventurous, steamed chicken feet with black bean sauce.
The venues are characteristically local, full of jovial ambience and Tsingtao beer from the can. You'll need to wait 15 – 50 minutes for a table, but that’s all part of the fun. If you visit Tim Ho Wan make a day of it and explore the surrounding neighborhood of Sham Shui Po, one of Kowloon’s oldest villages. I half live here as it’s the wholesale fabric district with button loads of haberdashery treasures to uncover. For the boys, head to Apliu Street’s open air market; a DIY paradise of tools, gadgets and electrical, err, stuff.
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Photo via That Food Cray
Photo via That Food Cray
Photo via Emilie Joy
TIM HO WAN
Where: G/F, 9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po, and several other locations
Phone: +852 2788 1226
When: Monday to Sunday, 09:00 - 21:00
ONE DIM SUM
Where: Shop 1-2, G/F, Kenwood Mansion, 15 Playing Field Road, Prince Edward
Phone: +852 2789 2280 / +852 2789 2180
APLIU STREET FLEA MARKET
Where: Cheung Sha Wan Road, Sham Shui Po District, Hong Kong.
How To Get There: MTR Sham Shui Po Station, Exit C2 or A1
Website: Apliu Street Hong Kong
THE WORLD FAMOUS RESTAURANT EXPERIENCE: ZUMA BRUNCH
There are few things more bougie-lush than contemporary Japanese restaurants. All that streamlined interior design, Zen lighting, raw fish and a dainty saki cocktail brings out the smug Carrie Bradshaw in all of us. However, $20 for a piece of sashimi means that this cosmopolitan experience is generally left to those of more lavish means or much smaller appetites.
If you find this so depressing, never fear; I have a lovely little life-hack up my sleeve. World-renowned Zuma is the brainchild of British restaurateur Rainer Becker. It's an Izakaya inspired luxury restaurant with outposts in London, Istanbul, Dubai, Miami, BKK and Abu Dhabi. Basically, it’s the final word in Chi-Chi jet set. Every weekend Zuma offer a famous brunch experience: all you can eat DELICIOUS sashimi buffet, a choice of sensational entrées and mains and free-flow (yes, that’s right) Veuve Clicquot. Compared to the other choices on this list, it's still reasonably expensive at $90 AUD per head (half of what you would pay for dinner here), but if you soak up Champagne like I do, they're basically losing money - so it seems only fair.
As with any great deal, it's hugely popular. So as soon as you book your flight, book your brunch. Outside of rainy season (April-September) ask for a table on the terrace. Zuma is conveniently situated in the decadent Landmark building, HK's ground zero of designer fashion. I suggest a post-brunch tumble next door to Harvey Nichols. You may (whoops!) drunkenly max out your credit. But I mean, go on, you totally deserve it, darling.
ZUMA HONG KONG
Where: Landmark Level 5-6, 15 Queen's Road, Central Hong Kong
Phone: +852 3657 6388
Fax: +852 3657 6399
Hours: Lunch Monday - Friday 11:30 - 14:30; Dinner Monday - Thursday 18:00 - 23:00, Friday & Saturday 18:00 - 23:00, Sunday 18:30 - 23:00; Brunch Saturday 12:00 - 15:00, Sunday 11:00 - 13:00 & 14:00 - 16:00.
Website: Zuma Hong Kong
HARVEY NICHOLS HONG KONG
Where: The Landmark, 15 Queen's Road, Central Hong Kong
Phone: +852 3695 3388
Hours: Monday - Saturday: 10.00 - 21.00; Sunday: 10.00 - 19.00
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Photo via Asia Bars
Photo via Eating Hong Kong
THE CULTURE AND SEAFOOD EXPERIENCE: CHUEN KEE IN SAI KUNG
Hong Kong’s best-kept secret is its abundance of natural beauty. Less than one hour drive from the buzzing metropolis you can find a slower pace of life reminiscent of Hong Kong’s South East Asian neighbours. One of the best spots for a day trip is Sai Kung, an age-old fishing village where locals and expats live side by side on the beautiful bay. Don’t be daunted by the distance, Sai Kung is located in the eastern new territories and easily reached by MTR and mini bus - just take the MTR from Central to Choi Hung station, then take exit C2 and minibus 1A to the very last stop.
The village has many seafood options, including the ability to shop direct from docked fisherman and take your catch to nearby restaurants that'll charge a simple ‘cooking’ fee. However, if your grasp of Cantonese is limited, head to Chuen Kee on the marina. You'll be instructed to select seafood from the tanks and consult with your waiter on how it should be prepared. They'll weigh your selections and quote a price based on the daily rate. This will likely be anything from $10 - $100 AUD depending on your choices. If it’s out of your price-range, pop it back and ask for a cheaper alternative. Locals will go for Abalone, a local delicacy, so prices on these items will be higher.
I prefer lobster, jumbo shrimp and mussels with plenty of garlic. Add a side of rice and seasonal steamed Asian greens with oyster sauce and you're set. Soak up the good vibes, throw back some tinnies and breathe in the fresh air. After a few days in the city, this Instagram-ready respite is the perfect mini-break from your Hong Kong escape.
Address: 87-89 Man Nin St, Sai Kung, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2792 6938
Hours: 07:00 - 23:00