Hong Kong skyline nightlife

Hong Kong | Nurtured by neon | Shopping |Best food

Charisma and character - and just a little bit game-changing. Action!

With flights to Hong Kong from Sydney daily, reports Susan Skelly, a short break in the electropop city has never been more appealing.

Just enough time to speed date the hottest eateries, be dazzled by the mega-malls, scour the alleyways for antiques and mementos and locate the cool art. The transport system is peerless, so pick up an Octopus prepaid card from an MTR station and use it; on buses, ferries and trains. Spread yourself around – a couple of days in the mainland Kowloon side, a couple of days on the island.

Where to eat & drink

Aqua Spirit Hong Kong nightlife bar dramatic architecture

The very architectural Aqua Spirit eyrie with its bird’s-eye view of the Hong Kong skyline. Photo Miles Slater

Aqua Spirit

30th Floor, One Peking Tower,
1 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

Housed on the top floor of this landmark skyscraper – thanks to its cloak of photovoltaic (solar cell) plates – the bar has undergone a refurb. It is now all elegant black marble and a golden gloaming ambience; floor-to-ceiling glass with big steel bolts. The unruly urban landscape to the north has its appeal, but cocktails such as Reborn Blazer, Typhoon 10 and Anxiety taste better while viewing the neon frenzy that is Hong Kong Island at night.

28th Floor, One Peking Tower,
1 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

All the tables face the flashdance-of-finance view across the harbour. It’s a magic, moody space of red lanterns, elegant, dark carved wood, lots of private dining enclaves, speedy service and fabulous northern and western Chinese food: pork belly slices – mandolin-fine – ditto the cucumber ribbons sharing the plate; squid with Szechuan pepper sauce; al dente green asparagus coated with roasted sesame seeds; quail egg salad with tiny green beans and a flotilla of jelly-like fungus; minced pork and fennel seed dumplings.


Ma La chilli prawns at Hutong in Hong Kong. Photo courtesy Hutong


5th Floor, The Mira,
118 Nathan Road, Kowloon

Nothing is more heart-sinking than arriving at a restaurant to find your desired chef left two weeks ago. Luckily, the elegant European-styled food produced by William Girard’s replacement, Bjoern Alexander Panek, ex-The French Window, is inspired. Wagyu beef carpaccio wears a lattice wafer hat with studs of truffled mayo and beetroot discs on the side; chunks of Maine lobster with a delicate celeriac and curry emulsion; French Bresse pigeon with a rich garlic sauce. There’s humour on the plate: a tiny “burger” is a twirl of pickled, shredded vegetables, the “bun” a smear of foie gras. The bread basket alone could win a chef’s hat: olive rolls, sourdough buns, pesto scrolls and wholemeal slices, baked in-house. The space is special-occasion sophisticated; a taupe, charcoal and aubergine palette, with beige, faux-ostrich tablecloths and quality cutlery. Sunday Champagne brunches always get a good rap, too.


A Japanese touch to the oysters in the degustation menu at Whisk, at the Mira Hotel.

The Chairman

18 Kau U Fong, Central

Imagine calling by a monastery to find all that’s on offer is in the garden, and you have a sense of The Chairman. Its philosophy is no frills (not even a curlicue). It’s about the intrinsic flavour; nothing is tricked up. The deep-fried yellow croaker fish is jump-started by aged vinegar; prawn cakes are small and solo; the wild clams with chilli jam and basil shout their flavours. The real sensation is the mud crab in aged Shaoxing rice wine and chicken stock, served with cracking and gouging implements alongside green beans, mushrooms and flat rice noodles. To finish, two baby scoops of ice-cream: wolfberry (goji berry) and pickled ginger. Simple decor, unassuming premises: a sense of authenticity in the backstreets of Sheung Wan.

Golden Leaf

Conrad Hong Kong Pacific Place
88 Queensway, Admiralty

Sydney restaurateur and Qantas menu consultant Neil Perry lists Golden Leaf among his favourite yum cha venues in Hong Kong and so does Australian Gourmet Traveller’s food editor Pat Nourse (both also like Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons at Central) and it indeed delivers. It’s Cantonese-style dim sum, via menu rather than trolley. Prawn dumplings wear a gossamer bird’s nest; an “Eat Me” pan-fried turnip cake is topped with chopped egg, diced chilli and pork floss; there are crabmeat crescent dumplings; exceptional pork “buns” are more caramelised pastry than bread. Family groups abound, chatting and texting. This sanctum wins the editor’s award for most-generous glass of Louis Roederer in the SAR (Special Administrative Region).


Sliced pork rolls with cucumber and garlic sauce at Golden Leaf, Conrad Hotel. Photo courtesy Golden Leaf

Café Gray Deluxe

Level 49, The Upper House
Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty.

An atrium runs the length of the Upper House hotel. At the top, a candlelit sky bridge with a dome to the stars links a grand lounge room (with distant views of the new Frank Gehry residential building Opus) to the smart Cafe Gray Deluxe restaurant. With its velvety aubergine, champagne gold and dark chocolate colour scheme and glittering views over Victoria Harbour, this eatery is perfect for that big occasion. The food has a parallel elegance – tamarind grilled prawn salad, foie gras and lentil ragout, and a doorstopper of prime US strip loin (turning up on every second plate). There are wine matches if you want them. The separate Café Gray Bar is an after-work or pre-dinner hangout, home to the Zombie cocktail in which five rums rub shoulders with absinthe and mixer friends (limit: one per person per night, for obvious reasons).

Luxurious places to stay

Hong Kong-luxury-accommodation-Upper-House-Corner-Suite-lounge-with-view

Minimal and magnificent, a corner suite in The Upper House, Hong Kong. Photo courtesy Upper House

The Upper House

Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty.

Heaven on a stick. Designed by Andre Fu, this exercise in contemporary Asian luxury sits atop the Marriott with a discrete entrance through a curved “stone curtain” on the atrium level of Pacific Place. It’s very Zen, all oak and limestone and bamboo, with ambient golden lighting, and sculptural pieces (no paintings atall). Smooth, cocooning and paperless (there is no traditional check-in or check-out, room service menus or printed screeds, everything is on an iPod touch), the Upper House even has its own bespoke ginger-lily fragrance filtered throughout.

The studios and suites in the Upper House (117 rooms in total) are big by Hong Kong standards (from 68 to 182sq m), with at least half the floor space taken up by grand and spacious bathrooms. Never did a bath have such a view. But it’s all about the home-away-from-home ambience. There are no ballrooms, meeting rooms, or business centres to intrude and not a cleaning trolley in sight. A “lawn” off the lobby level is an outdoor oasis that picks up the “calm and comfort” motif.



Langham Club with its plush pin-cushioned green and blue searing. Photo courtesy Langham

The Langham
8 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.

Arrive like a celebrity. A designated desk (B14) at the airport facilitates a limo or shuttle straight to the door. Like the London mothership, this is a solid, cosy retreat, right in the middle of one of the world’s busiest luxury brand hubs (look down from the bedroom window at the queues for the hallowed worlds of Herms, Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Miu Miu). The Langham Club has been funked up, with lots of plush pincushioning and pleating, green and blue sofas, and handpainted leather wallpaper. The Langham is a short walk to the Star Ferry, and its old-English style lobby lounge is an afternoon tea imperative (bear that in mind if the queue for the famous Peninsula high tea is too long) or evening cocktails with piano on the side.

Shopping & browsing

Horizon Plaza

2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, Aberdeen.

A bit of a taxi ride (it’s on a small island connected by bridge to Hong Kong Island near Aberdeen), but there are blue-chip returns on investment in this unassuming designer outlet heaven; as well as furniture, garden equipment, carpets, toys and baby accessories, beds, homewares, pet accessories – and pianos. Apparently there is food, wine and coffee, too, but who wants to eat when there’s a diet of Marni, Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith, Jimmy Choo, Moschino, Ann Demeulemeester, a floor or two of Joyce and Lane Crawford designer threads (Lanvin, Givenchy, Chlo, Stella McCartney, Haider Ackermann)? Be still, my beating heart. A printed pamphlet at the entrance advises which labels are on what floors.

The Prada and Miu Miu Factory Outlet

2nd Floor Marina Square (East Wing), South Horizons, Ap Lei Chau, Aberdeen.

Take the shuttle bus from the loading dock of Horizon Plaza around to the relatively posh residential precinct of South Horizons, which, on the western end of Ap Lei Chau, boasts views to Lamma Island and, more importantly, the targeted shopping experience that used to be known as Space and is the official outlet for out-of-season Prada, Prada Sport and Miu Miu. Get there early, and still expect to queue, politely, this isn’t a jumble sale. Be rewarded by good price cuts on still-flash fash – bags, shoes, hats, jackets, dresses, jewellery – the selections to be carted off in big crisp white Prada carry bags. Be brave and take a double-decker bus back to town.

Sheung Wan

At the end of an MTR Island line, one stop after Central (the Macau Ferry end), this is browsing territory and an antidote to the luxury behemoths of the big end of town. Browse up hill and down dale among the dried food and sweet shops, garage-style workshops (see artisans cutting sheets of metals to make teapots), vintage clothing shops with genuine designer caches, funky gift shops, foot massage pit stops, tearooms, cupcake shops, art galleries and homewares boutiques. Meander from the Sheung Wan MTR up to SoHo, factoring in Morrison Street, Tung Street, Upper Lascar Row ( “Cat Street”), Hollywood Road, Gough Street, Aberdeen Street and up Elgin Street to pick up the…

Mid-Levels Escalator

Sailing up Shelley Street and more functional than fanciful, this is a great peek into everyday Hong Kong. An urban Faraway Tree, it passes apartments, cafes, bars and intriguing alleyways as it ascends from the IFC building to Conduit Road in Mid-Levels (it’s a 20-minute hike from here to Lower Peak tram station). Hop off anytime to explore, but remember it’s one-way only – the higher you go, the longer the trek down. This is no friend to high heels.

Hong Kong art update

Art is flourishing; at last look, the Hong Kong Gallery Guide listed 126 addresses. Still smelling of fresh paint when we visited was one of the key new clusters, Art One (Mezzanine Level, Convention Plaza, 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai); tenants included Fabrik, Eastation and VA Gallery.

Joining Gagosian Gallery, Ben Brown Fine Arts and contemporary Chinese art specialist Hanart TZ Gallery in the Pedder Building (12 Pedder Street, Central) is London’s Simon Lee Gallery.

Warning to those wanting to browse art and shop it up in the same place: unfortunately the iconic Shanghai Tang emporium has left the building and moved to Duddell Street.

White Cube – whose roots lie in the provocative YBA (Young British Artists) movement – boasts a 550sq m space over two levels in the office tower at 50 Connaught Road, Central.

The Asia Society NGO now has its Asia Society Hong Kong Centre in four former British military buildings in Admiralty. The gallery got off to a flying start with Transforming Minds: Buddhism In Art, showcasing Buddhist works from the collection of Mr and Mrs John D Rockefeller, with contemporary works by leading Asian and Asian-American artists inspired by Buddhism.

Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan is still a thriving enclave of antiques and Asian eclectica. Scour the alleyways as well as the main drag.

Source Qantas The Australian Way September 2012



Editor. Writer. Traveller. Keeping tabs on all things fab. susan@excessallareas.com.au

'Hong Kong | Nurtured by neon | Shopping |Best food' has no comments

Be the first to comment this post!

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.

Copyright © Susan Skelly 2020.