Interior designer Joyce Wang’s Hong Kong highlights
This article is part of a guide to hong kong by FT Globetrotter
Being in lockdown mode in Hong Kong has had its perks, especially for me and my family reconnecting with the great outdoors. The fresh air and vitamin D were especially valuable when we were locked up most of the time throughout the week. Family or dog-friendly hikes, scenic and challenging in equal measure, are on the rise purple hill Where Mount Butlerstarting with Park view. These are my tried and trusted routes. They offer you a bird’s eye view over the hills to the seaside.
On weekday lunchtimes, it’s a treat to grab take-out from one of the local places near my studio and get on the roof of the Asian society (which is on a former British military site) for a picnic. It’s my favorite piece of architecture in the city. The elegant building weaves its way through the foliage of the wild jungle, taking me on a meditative journey amidst the bustle of the city – and amazing film screenings take place in the historic former munitions storage facilities. Before returning to the studio, I head to The upper room hotel to grab a latte to go in the pop-up space showcasing the hottest dining concepts in town.
My children’s piano lessons take me to a lesser known part of Hong Kong. Main Street Ap Lei Chau has some hidden gems. 友和士多 (Yau Wo See-Dor) is one of the last family stores selling freshly made Chinese desserts and old-fashioned sweets that my parents’ generation grew up with. I first stumbled across this place when I spotted a taxi driver pull over, put on his emergency flashers, and rush over for a freshly fried sesame dumpling with a red bean paste filling. Later I tasted one myself and it was right to delay traffic.
Next door is the Kam Kee Bakery, which makes traditional Hong Kong pastries. Pandan bread is soft and bouncy with divine flavor. On the side streets you’ll find shops specializing in Chinese sauces (stocking oils, marinades and cooking sauces), toy shops with gumball machines and fishing shops selling rope and bait. At the end of the road is three fools, a Taiwanese restaurant serving pork tang and cheesy egg pancakes. I can’t think of a more authentic neighborhood in Hong Kong.
On weekends we take the ferry from Aberdeen Pier at Lamma Island. It’s a door-to-door 45-minute trip to a completely different world. The ferry itself is different from those that depart from Central’s main pier – it’s smaller, naturally ventilated, and kids can play captain on the upper deck balcony as the wind and water splash the boat. We go down to Mo Tat Wan and climb to the top of the summit, where there are large rock formations ideal for scrambling. Children are enticed to quickly descend the hill by a local family store serving mochi with all kinds of delicious toppings – the mango is our family favourite. Yung Shue Ha Beach is another must-see for its little coves and coves that are perfect for sandcastles and soaking on a hot day.
For a sumptuous meal on the town, I have so many favorites, but I’m a big fan of the different Black sheep Restaurants. They are attentive to delicate dietary needs and flavor preferences, and they will remember what you enjoyed and serve it without you having to ask on your next visit. I have a weakness for belon, not only because we worked on its redesign, but the General Manager Lauren is a pearl. She is the wife of Le Belon chef, Matthew Kirkley, and she has previously worked with chef Thomas Keller. She gave me tips on everything from the science behind making Dippin’ Dots Ice Cream Snack to her Buttermilk Fried Chicken. I confess that I like the conversation as much as the food.
Joyce Wang is an award-winning interior designer based in Hong Kong and London.
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