HONG KONG, AT ITS CORE, REMAINS a destination based on fusion. Chinese and British history and culture continue to influence its personality: Its gastronomy offers an amalgamation of flavors drawing on Chinese, French, American and other cuisines, while its architecture, inspired by its Asian past and influenced by the West, proves distinctly Hong Kong in nature.
Over the years, an economy built on fishing and farming transformed into one based on finance and commerce. Hong Kong regained autonomy in 1997, and the Chinese government guarantees it for at least 50 years. Today it stands as the world’s fourth-most densely populated region; 92 percent claim Han Chinese descent, 95 percent of the population speaks Cantonese, and 53 percent speaks English.
Because it’s one of the world’s largest economic hubs, global business travelers regularly arrive and depart. More than 120 airlines fly in and out of Hong Kong International Airport, including United Airlines, British Airways, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, American Airlines and Cathay Pacific. The latter is Hong Kong’s flagship carrier; if you fly business or first class, you’ll get to appreciate Cathay Pacific’s six lounges in Terminal 1 with amenities like napping cabanas, serviced shower suites, foot or back massages and workstations. Dining concepts include a noodle bar, a Champagne bar and global fusion cuisine at sit-down restaurant The Haven.
After you’ve cleared immigration and customs at HKG, you can make the 20-mile trip downtown via Uber, taxi or public transportation. If you plan on taking mass transit during your stay, it pays to purchase an Octopus card, a contactless refillable card valid for all public transportation and also accepted at retail shops. And on your day of departure you can actually check in and check your luggage downtown at Hong Kong Station rather than lug it all back to the airport — a convenient and ingenious solution for business travelers.
A few new hotels opened in the past year. At the 5-star Rosewood Hong Kong, located in the Victoria Dockside Global Arts and Design District, 80 percent of the rooms and suites offer sweeping views of the harbor; it’s also the first urban outpost of Asaya, which promotes a wellness journey with spa treatments as well as expressive arts therapy, emotional awareness, meditation and mindfulness, and health- conscious cuisine in Asaya Kitchen. Most recent to open on site: Bayfare Social, a tapas-inspired gastro-market featuring all-day light dining and a convivial and leisurely setting for groups.
The St. Regis Hong Kong, a residentially inspired property in the vibrant Wan Chai District, lies a five-minute walk from the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Host clients at L’Envol, serving innovative French cuisine overseen by Michelin- starred chef Olivier Elzer, or at Cantonese restaurant Rùn, led by award-winning chef Hung Chi-Kwong.
Tucked down a nondescript alley in the Central District, The Old Man may be tricky to spot, but it’s well worth seeking out for creative cocktails. Despite its recent opening in 2017, the lounge snagged the No. 1 spot on the 2019 list of the World’s Best Bars in Asia and ranked ninth on the overall list of the World’s Best Bars. Industry veterans Agung Prabowo, James Tamang and Roman Ghale created an intimate ode to the works of Ernest Hemingway via a mosaic Cubist back bar portrait of the author and liquid creations like The Sun Also Rises, with copra fat-washed applejack, curry leaf-infused gin, sweet vermouth, sous vide pandan leaves and makrut lime. It doesn’t take reservations, so get there early or plan on waiting to grab one of the coveted 29 seats.
Female chefs helm the kitchens of some of Hong Kong’s most exciting restaurants. Michelin-starred chef Vicky Lau owns and cooks at Tate Dining Room, which infuses an avant-garde sensibility into an eight-course tasting menu of “Edible Stories” melding French and Chinese cuisines. Dishes evolve but may include surprises like seaweed jelly with cauliflower purée and conch and a warm sea scallop with aged kumquat Grenobloise sauce; an optional wine pairing offers pours to accompany three, six or all eight courses.
In 2017 Chef May Chow was named Asia’s Best Female Chef by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants; today she runs three concepts in Hong Kong. Little Bao in Causeway Bay proves perfect for a quick lunch of shareable plates and bao sandwiches; Second Drift in Little Tai Hang appeals to a happy hour crowd craving craft beer and inventive snacks like fries seasoned with cumin, takana, pickled mustard greens and dried chilies; and Happy Paradise fulfills Chow’s vision of a neighborhood hangout with neo-Chinese food like shiitake and garam masala tacos washed down by modern libations like Get Nuts, with peanut-infused bourbon, Sichuan salt and pepper, and sesame oil.
If you or your dining companions are vegan or vegetarian, make a reservation at Grassroots Pantry, a progressive plant-based restaurant in Sheung Wan run by Chef Peggy Chan with a mantra of “To make food do good.” Her philosophy shines in plates like beetroot carpaccio with aged cashew Parmesan, capers and fermented grainy mustard; and jackfruit rendang with butternut squash, broccolini, pickled chard, turmeric and ginger brown rice.
At FXExpress Publications, Inc., we can’t wait to #ComeBacktoTravel, and we can’t wait for the travel industry and others to #ComeBacktoGT. Join us over the next several weeks as we entice you with photos from some of the places we’re most excited to visit. Take a visual journey through some of the Florida Keys’ most breathtaking sights with us, just in time for the June 1 reopening.
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