Cheongsam & Then Some
If it's a cheongsam you must have, then look no further than LINVA (from $285; 38 Cochrane St., Central; 852/2544-2456), where Mr. Leung sews incredible beaded versions of the traditional Chinese dress in amazing sherbet- and berry-colored silks. The tailors at SOONG'S SALON DE MODE (from $600; 8-10 Hankow Rd., Kowloon; 852/2723-1400) can duplicate almost anything, even working from a photo. They'll also help you design your own suit or dress from scratch. And at POWER COMPANY (from $350; 8 Fenwick St., Wanchai; 852/2527-7830), leather is the specialty—from black stretch to powder-blue calfskin—made into pants, coats, you name it.
Han pottery and Tang horses can be found all over Hong Kong (mind you, most of them knockoffs), but seriously beautiful vintage textiles are hard to come by. At TERESA COLEMAN FINE ARTS, the colorful imperial robes ($1,300-$13,000) and wonderful silk jackets and fans ($1,300-$3,200) are reliably classic and utterly stunning—the sort you would sooner frame and hang on a wall than wear. Textiles are her speciality, but Coleman also offers paintings, rugs, and, occasionally, furniture. At 79 Wyndham St., Central; 852/2526-2450; www.teresacoleman.com.
—LUCIA VAN DER POST
Hotel of the 22nd Century
LE MERIDIEN CYBERPORT hotel, in the new Internet-technology hub, has taken its location to heart. The 173 rooms are so high-tech that you can check in on the elevator, find a laptop at the snap of your fingers, and gaze at the plasma screen in your room. The Meridien isn't just some technogeek's idea of nirvana, though. The gentle colors and Gehryesque furniture will keep the design-obsessed happy, while Nam Fong's modern Chinese menu will please food snobs. It's 15 minutes from Central district by cab, but that's a small price to be on the cutting edge. From $205 to $1,260. At 100 Cyberport Rd.; 852/2980-7788.
There's no chicer place to wait for boarding than in British designer John Pawson's first- and business-class wing for CATHAY PACIFIC at Hong Kong International Airport. The 48,000-square-foot space is outfitted with Josef Hoffman furniture, private rooms, and a rosewood library. The whole wing is wireless, too (the staff will loan you a laptop). Cathay opened a second lounge in 2001, but the architecture alone makes the Pawson wing a better choice. www.cathaypacific.com
After more than a decade of near-paralysis on the hotel front, two major players have just opened: FOUR SEASONS and LANDMARK MANDARIN ORIENTAL (the original Mandarin Oriental closes in December for a face-lift). The Landmark ($515-$5,400; 15 Queen's Rd., Central; 852/2132-0088) includes 113 rooms, each averaging 540 square feet—cavernous in space-squeezed Hong Kong. The 399 rooms at the Four Seasons ($490-$5,145; 8 Finance St., Central; 852/3196-8333) aren't quite so big. But the hotel is located in the vast International Finance Center, a magnet for new ventures.
Private Clubs and Heavy Pampering
Face it: Hong Kong is all about eating and shopping—and the food, like the fashion, is delivered with flair. For piquant Sichuan and Yunnan cuisines, there's SHUI HU JU, a cozy, lacquered spot. If it's a harbor view you desire, HUTONG has one, along with terrific beef ribs wrapped in lotus leaves. Parched? Fret not, the members-only KEE CLUB will open its oh-so-exclusive doors for you—if you're staying at the Peninsula, Grand Hyatt, or Jia hotels. Though the dim sum lunch is a tad low-key, at night the place is anything but. (If only Kee could lure away the bartenders from the Mandarin Oriental's Vong when the hotel closes for renovation—they make the best martinis in town.)
Let's talk shop(ping). Your first call should be to set up an appointment with SONJIA NORMAN at her studio at The Peak. She sews stunning pieces for women in all sorts of mod fabrics and vintage trimmings. Be sure to ask what's in her secret closet. For something gorgeous and practical, head to Louise Garnaut's BOOKWORKS to pick up a photo album or notebook crafted with Italian paper and bound and covered in Chinese silk.
While Hong Kong seems to move a million miles a minute, it also offers quiet nooks. Schedule a few hours at the PLATEAU SPA at the Grand Hyatt. The huge pool, gym, and lush gardens float on a zen cloud of minimalist luxe. Or take off to the scenic SIA KUNG country park and coastline for dinner at the tiny, charming French bistro ONE-THIRTYONE.
HUTONG Dinner, $80. One Peking Rd., 28th Fl., Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; 852/3428-8342
KEE CLUB Lunch, $50. 32 Wellington St., Sixth Fl., Central; 852/2810-9000
ONE-THIRTYONE $ Dinner, $200. 131 Tseng Tau Village, Shap Sze Heung; 852/2791-2684
SHUI HU JU $ Dinner, $100. 68 Peel St., Central; 852/2869-6927
BOOKWORKS Ho Lee Commercial Bldg., Eighth Fl., 38-44 D'Aguilar St., Central; 852/2559-0175
SONJIA NORMAN Available by appointment only; 852/2849-8504
PLATEAU One Harbour Rd., Wanchai; 852/2584-7688; www.plateau.com.hk
All the Tea in China
In bustling Causeway Bay, MOON GARDEN TEAHOUSE carries on the calming ritual of Chinese high tea. There are some 70 kinds of cha on the menu, including the rare pu erh, listed at $50 a pot. Some of the teas are imported from Taiwan; the knowledgeable staff can explain each and every one. The kitchen also prepares accompanying plates of Sichuan bean curd, Cantonese stir-fried pork, and Hakka-style lotus-root cake. And all the well-chosen chinoiserie furnishings—tables, chairs, chopsticks, Buddha statues, birdcages—are for sale. Dinner, $65; tea, $15 per person. At 5 Hoi Ping Rd.; 852/2882-6878.
A Mountain of Buddhas
Guidebooks and concierges may try to send you to the Giant Buddha on Lantau Island, but beware: The kitschy behemoth is thronged with tour groups. Instead, head to the village of Shatin, in the New Territories, where you'll find the TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS TEMPLE. The winding hillside trail leading up to this massive ancient structure is lined with, yes, literally 10,000 almost life-size statues of the deity in endlessly varied poses. In the temple courtyard is a stand selling marvelous do fu fa (tofu custard) made with mountain springwater. If you go on a weekend, you might run into a handful of locals; on a weekday you'll have the custard and the Buddhas all to yourself. Ask the concierge to arrange a car to take you to Shatin.
Something of a clearinghouse for well-crafted objets, INDIGO stocks old and new pieces from all over the East. Look for a teak valet from Indonesia, a handmade chess set from India (featuring elephants of various sizes), a fiery dragon head that looks as if it came from the prow of a Hong Kong racing craft, and these carved jade coasters housed in a walnut box ($75). At G111-112, 109 the Repulse Bay; 852/2592-8721.
A Tale of Three Temples
In futuristic Hong Kong, the ancient traditions of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism still hold strong, and many of the region's devout practice their beliefs at three important temples. MAN MO (Hollywood Rd. at Ladder St.), just north of the Central district, is straight out of central casting: tiny, dark, and wreathed in incense. At the beautiful but less-visited PEEL STREET TEMPLE (Peel St. at Staunton St.), the faithful burn coils of incense that hang in the air in this shrine to the earth god To Tei. The most popular temple in Hong Kong, the airy and modern WONG TAI SIN (Wong Tai Sin Rd. at Upper Wong Tai Sin Estate), sits next to a Kowloon subway stop. Worshippers come here to consult with the god of good fortune and healing about the most auspicious dates for getting married, starting a job, and having a child.
Cuisine de Chine
Experimental kitchens come and go in Hong Kong, but occasionally something truly special comes along: Four years after its opening, XI YAN has the longest waiting list on the island (two months). Relying solely on word of mouth and tucked away in a gritty Wanchai commercial building, this simple dining room serves outstanding pan-Asian cuisine. Chef Jacky Yu's sprawling prix fixe menu can whisk you to Sichuan via Korea and France, or to Beijing with stopovers in Shanghai and Vietnam. Dinner, $150. At 231-233 Queen's Dong Rd.; 852/9020-9196.
Kowloon from on High
One of Hong Kong's best standard rooms with that big wow-factor view can be found at the SHANGRI-LA in Kowloon. Every room facing the harbor features full-length windows that front the skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island, on the other side of China's busiest shipping lane. The hotel's decor is smart, if not exactly stylesetting, with wireless Internet and flat-screen televisions. From $500 to $3,285. At 64 Mody Rd.; 852/2721-2111; www.shangri-la.com.
ISOLA, in one of the IFC towers, is where the movers and shakers come for Gianni Caprioli's divine thin-crust pies, as well as simple dishes of baked buffalo mozzarella and whole bass cooked in a sea-salt crust. A glittering crowd gathers at the luxe upstairs bar, a fishbowl that makes waves long into the night. Dinner, $130. At 33071-5, IFC Mall, 8 Finance St.; 852/2383-8765.
Treatment To Get
The dry-float therapy at ELEMIS, Hong Kong's chicest spa, is a 55-minute regimen that involves resting on a water bed cocooned inside a flotation tank, a cloud of Balinese coconut essence enveloping you. $90. At Century Sq., Ninth Fl., 1 D'Aguilar St., Central; 852/2521-6660.
In the early nineties, SCHOENI ART GALLERY was one of the first in Hong Kong to show works by innovative young artists from the mainland. Run by figurative artist Nicole Schoeni, daughter of the late founder Manfred Schoeni, the gallery exhibits the bright paintings of Zhang Lin Hai and Liu Hong Yuan, whose pieces start at around $1,500. At 21-31 Old Bailey St., Central, 852/2869-8802, and 27 Hollywood Rd., Central, 852/2542-3143; www.schoeni.com.hk.
Top of the World
Already a major draw as the home to Alain Ducasse's Spoon, the INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL has just hung the last towel in another stunner: the new Presidential Suite. Created from two existing rooms, the 4,500-square-foot duplex fiefdom has five bedrooms and a 2,500-square-foot rooftop terrace big enough to hold an infinity pool, a whirlpool, and 50 people for dinner. $ Suite, $8,300. At 18 Salisbury Rd., Kowloon; 852/2721-1211; www.intercontinental.com.
Fusion with Finesse
Hong Kong is full of stylish new restaurants that dabble in fusion cuisine of all stripes—with varying degrees of success. LUMIERE, we can report, is one such arrival that works. This dining room in the IFC complex pairs Sichuan and Latin American food, two unlikely but equally spicy cuisines, for one of the most inventive menus in town. Seared Chilean sea bass is revved up with a Sichuan peppercorn-laced sauce, and who knew Dan Dan noodles went so well with Peruvian ceviche? The 15-foot bar also serves Chinese-Latin tapas and smart cocktails to a skyline-gazing crowd: The floor-to-ceiling windows allow for a full view of the harbor. Dinner, $90. At the IFC Mall, 8 Finance St., Central; 852/2393-3933.
At the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden in Mong Kok, in northern Kowloon, thousands of parrots, bulbuls, mynahs, and other feathered exotics are up for sale. The real reason to come here, though, is for LEUNG KEE's remarkable birdcages. This local craftsman turns rosewood and bamboo into little ornately filigreed houses, which start at $40 and go up to $320. $ At 31 Yuen Po St.; 852/2392-3729.
is for LEUNG KEE's remarkable birdcages. This local craftsman turns rosewood and bamboo into little ornately filigreed houses, which start at $40 and go up to $320. $ At 31 Yuen Po St.; 852/2392-3729.
The Best of Hollywood Road
Hollywood Road, between Wyndham and Possession streets, is a half-mile stretch of shopping, both high-end and highly ridiculous. Plenty of tourist traps hawk knickknacks by the cartload, but among the antics are some genuine antiques. LAM & CO. (852/9235-1179) represents the upper end of the scale, with Tang, Song, and Han dynasty pottery figurines ($300-$2,000). You'll find more Han artifacts at MY GALLERY (852/2850-4882) and a wide selection of Tang terra-cotta statues ($500-$1,500) at DRAGON CULTURE (852/2545-8098), which has two showrooms more or less opposite each other. Bronzes and pottery (from $500) are the specialty at ARCH ANGEL ANTIQUES (852/2851-6848), and at JADE HOUSE (852/2735-7491) C. K. Liang sells beautiful jewelry and bottles in every hue. CARAVAN (852/2547-3821) and HONEYCHURCH (852/2543-2433) both stock handwoven carpets ($250-$30,000). Run by American Lucille Vessa, Honeychurch offers an eclectic mix of opium pipes and antique books. SACRED ANTIQUE LAND ($ 852/2541-5866) is the place for gorgeous Tibetan chests (from $3,000). For all things Buddha, visit CHAK'S (852/2548-8702). It holds free antiques appreciation classes every Friday. Remember, reputable shops will always give you a certificate of authenticity.
Tips from a Dealer
Bonnie Groot of Arch Angel Antiques provides a few rules of thumb to help you navigate Hollywood Road.
1 | Asking a concierge is the best way to start when seeking a trustworthy dealer.
2 | Ancestor portraits from the 19th century are a good buy—from $1,500 a pair.
3 | Though many dealers don't comply with the law, no pre-1795 artifacts can be taken out of China.
Up, Up, and Away
There is really only one way to take in the extraordinary landscape of Hong Kong: from the air. If you're staying at the Peninsula, arrange a ride in the hotel's helicopter. Otherwise, HELIEXPRESS runs 12-minute chopper flights every day from Kowloon, flying over sardine-tight skyscrapers toward the majestic Tsing Ma Bridge and then back down the harbor channel. Zooming past junglelike forest and the densest harborside hills on earth is exhilarating. The harbor tour costs $100, and HeliExpress can also take you to Macao for $220 round-trip. 852/2108-9899; www.heliexpress.com.
In Hong Kong, golf has become something of an obsession—and no place is more devoted to the sport than the MISSION HILLS GOLF CLUB (greens fee, $135-$205; 1 Mission Hills Rd.; 86-755/2802-0888; www.missionhillsgroup.com). An hour outside Hong Kong, in Shenzhen, this ten-course complex features 180 holes and is ranked by Guinness World Records as the largest links on the planet. It has 7,500 members (each of whom paid up to $130,000 to join) and 2,400 multilingual caddies, but guests are welcome to play the layouts designed by such big names as Faldo, Singh, and Norman. There's also a David Leadbetter academy, a hotel, and several restaurants. Next year, a second clubhouse will open at the Dongguan end of the complex.
Mission Hills may have the world's largest collection of courses, but the most beautiful layout in Shenzhen may very well belong to XILI GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB (greens fee, $65-$130; Tang Lang Village; 86-755/2655-2888; www.xiligolf.com). The four nine-hole courses are lush and intimate, ringed as they are by verdant hills and flanked by a villalike clubhouse with a terra-cotta roof.
Closer to Hong Kong, SAND RIVER GOLF CLUB (greens fee, $110-$160; 1 Bai Shi Rd.; 86-755/2690-0111) and NOBLE MERCHANT (greens fee, $65-$115; Dawei, Shahe; 86-755/2690-9999) stretch out side by side in the Nanshan district. More modest than Xili and Mission Hills, both are still imaginatively laid out. Noble Merchant includes two nine-hole courses; Sand River has three.
The city's only public course, KAU SAI CHAU (greens fee, $82-$120; 852/2791-3380; www.kscgolf.com), sits on an outlying island in the spectacular bay of Sai Kung. On a clear day, the walk matches any in the city—the greens on the two Gary Player-designed courses are surrounded by blue seas and corralled by some of the highest mountains in Hong Kong.
Is This the Perfect Shirt?
No one leaves Hong Kong without at least one custom-made shirt. At ASCOT CHANG, the tailor shop between Cartier and Gucci on the promenade of the Peninsula hotel (with three more outposts in the city and one in Shanghai), the minimum order is three. We dare you to find a more perfectly fitted shirt—or to stop at just three. Much has been made of the clientele at this 53-year-old atelier; the current Chinese president is one loyal customer. What's really impressive, however, is the range of colors and patterns available, from subtle blue stripes to bold red gingham. From $70 to $380 each; Salisbury Rd., Kowloon; 852/2366-2398.
Though Hong Kong may seem all neon and steel, there is another, more nature-loving side to the region that most travelers miss. You're only a taxi or tram ride away from rural China; as for getting there, leave that to your concierge.
MAI PO NATURE RESERVE
About a quarter of the world's 1,000 black-faced spoonbills spend the winter at this reserve about 45 minutes from Kowloon, on wetlands in the northwestern part of the New Territories. Some 340 bird species have been documented here, and up to 55,000 may pass through in a single season. 852/2526-4473; www.wwf.org.hk.
LUGARD AND HARLECH WALK
Lugard and Harlech roads circle what is still officially referred to as Victoria Peak, in honor of you-know-who. It's a two-mile stroll past grand gated residences and through thickets of fan palms, Chinese hackberry, sweet viburnum, and red machilus. The panoramas over the harbor, city, and South China Sea are stupendous here.
KADOORIE FARM & BOTANIC GARDEN
Originally from Baghdad, the Kadoories arrived in Hong Kong in the early 1900s and quickly became one of the region's most notable and philanthropic families. They opened this rural retreat—on the slopes of Tai Mo Shan, the highest mountain in Hong Kong—in the fifties to help farmers. The place now promotes conservation and biodiversity, evident through the incredible variety of flora and fauna. It's an hour from downtown but well worth the trip. At Lam Kam Road, New Territories; 852/2488-1317.
Shhh! The New Speakeasies
Private restaurants—unlisted rooms with a handful of tables—have earned a cult following among Hong Kong's food lovers. Called si fong choi (private home cooking), these spots can't be seen from the street and devotees swap their phone numbers like baseball cards. "It's easier, on a small scale, to experiment with new ideas in Chinese cooking," explains Lau Chun, manager of the 35-seat YELLOW DOOR KITCHEN (dinner, $60; 38 Cochrane St., Central; 852/2858-5555; www.yellowdoorkitchen.com.hk). Lau's specialty is a Hangzhou-style treasure duck (stuffed with sticky rice and braised to perfection) that aficionados swear is better than the mainland version.
Si fong choi venues range from plastic-tablecloth joints such as MUM CHAU'S SICHUAN KITCHEN (dinner, $50; 37 D'Aguilar St., Central; 852/8108-8550), which serves a 13-course Sichuan dinner, to DA PING HUO (dinner, $65; 49 Hollywood Rd., Central; 852/2559-1317). Decorated with Chinese calligraphy, Da Ping Huo doubles as a stage for the opera-singing chef. Then there's CLUB QING (dinner, $85; 8-11 Lan Kwai Fong, Central; 852/2536-9773; www.clubqing.com), a replica of a Ching dynasty teahouse, where the set menus are paired with a selection of fine teas.
So popular are these private restaurants that they've spawned an offshoot: the "public" si fong choi. While these tiny eateries aren't exactly hidden, they do have limited seating and rely on word of mouth. KIN'S KITCHEN ($ dinner, $50; 9 Tsing Fung St., Tin Hau; 852/2571-0913) is run by well-known art critic Lau Kin Wai. The simple, eight-table TIM'S KITCHEN ($ dinner, $130; 89 Jervois St., Sheung Wan; 852/2543-5919) cooks the best si yau gai (soy-sauce chicken) in town.
Workout With a View
Cesar Pelli's two-year-old tower at the International Financial Center remains a remarkable example of contemporary architecture. And there's no better way to experience it than from the inside; at PURE FITNESS, which takes up the fourth floor of the 88-story building and features a spa, restaurant, and walls of windows that make you feel as if you're jogging straight into the harbor. Fee, $30. At 8 Finance St., Central; 852/8129-8000.
Subway or Star Ferry?
Still the quickest way to cross the harbor, the subway takes a mere five minutes to zip beneath the shipping lanes from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon (during rush hour that would beat a Ferrari's best time). The most glamorous way to go from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island, though, is aboard the Star Ferry. This breezy historic boat has plied the waters since colonial times. It's not at all luxurious—but it's an experience.
The design alone is worth your making a dinner reservation at WASABISABI: all plush velvet, mirrors, and swooping curved walls. The food is equally beautiful (the avocado-and-smoked eel temaki stands out), as is the crowd. All the HK swells gather here for rolls at the low-lit sushi bar and sake in the glamorous cocktail lounge. Dinner, $80. At Food Forum, Times Sq., 1 Matheson St., 13th Fl., Causeway Bay; 852/2506-0009.
If you've come to Hong Kong in search of china (as many do), WAH TUNG CHINA is filled with it: wonderful blue-and-white pieces, hand-painted porcelain, huge ginger jars, all available in almost every pattern known to man. The store also takes orders for special colors, sizes, and motifs—say, your crest, a yacht, or a horse. From $120. At 3 Yue Fung St., Tin Wan, Aberdeen; 852/2873-2272.
The CHINA TEE CLUB is the place to break for lunch between sprees at Shanghai Tang and the cashmere shops in the Pedder Building. This charming room with potted palms, tiled floors, and marble-topped tables is technically for members only. But guests are still welcome to drop in for such hearty dishes as mushroom pie and roasted duck rice-paper rolls, as well as for sightings of Hong Kong movie stars. Lunch, $40. At 101 Pedder Bldg., 12 Pedder St., Central; 852/2521-0233.
Having a suit made is at the top of most Hong Kong travelers' lists. Indeed, walk out of the Peninsula Hotel any day of the week and you will be accosted by guys promising six shirts and two suits delivered to you in 24 hours. Caveat emptor: It's simply not possible to produce a suit that quickly, unless you want one with three arms. Any good tailor will request two fittings carried out over a few days plus another three days to complete the garment. He may insist that you select one of his fabrics, but it is perfectly acceptable to bring your own. So where do you go? From a field of many, we've narrowed it down to three.
SAM'S TAILOR is one of Hong Kong's most popular bespoke ateliers, occupying a tiny store in a shopping alley called Burlington Arcade. The range of fabrics is exhaustive, and Sam's charming head tailor, Manu Melwani, will even come to your hotel. Prices start at $400.
MODE ELEGANTE, in the Peninsula, stocks a wide assortment of fabric, mostly from Italy and Britain. Suits begin at $600. Director Gary Zee and his team of tailors will require a few fittings and then ship the final product to your home.
Just behind the Peninsula, WILLIAM CHENG & SON carries a huge selection of wools and linens, which Cheng sews into suits for women and men (from $300). He custom-designs dress shirts ($25) as well. If you already have a favorite style, he's more than happy to replicate it. Once your measurements are on file, the tailors will make to order and send the finished pieces anywhere in the world.
MODE ELEGANTE Peninsula Hotel, Mezzanine, Salisbury Rd., Kowloon; 852/2366-8153; www.modeelegante.com
SAM'S TAILOR Burlington Arcade, 94 Nathan Rd., Kowloon; 852/2367-9423; www.samstailor.com
WILLIAM CHENG & SON $ 38 Hankow Rd., Eighth Fl., Kowloon; 852/2739-7888
Win, Place, and Show
In money-loving, gambling-mad Hong Kong, everyone—and we mean everyone—heads for the weekly Wednesday races at the downtown HAPPY VELLEY RACECOURSE and the weekend stakes at the suburban SHA TIN RACECOURSE. The heads of major companies entertain clients with Champagne and gourmet food in private boxes; blue-collar workers sit in the stands drinking cans of beer and scarfing down chicken wings. The evening races at the skyscraper-ringed Happy Valley possess all the charm and style—it's always a big night out for regulars, as they watch from the hopping STABLE BEND TERRACE restaurant (dinner, $80; 852/2966-7111). Sha Tin, with its expansive public terraces, tiers of private boxes, and giant TV screens, is for the serious track fan—it's where the most high-stakes races are run. To book a private box, call 852/2966-8558 (Sha Tin) or 852/2966-8210 (Happy Valley). For more information, visit www.hkjc.com.
China in Black and White
Run by the knowledgeable Jonathan Wattis, WATTIS FINE ART specializes in vintage photographs of Hong Kong and mainland China (from $50), as well as period maps of the region. The collection is superb; the pieces chronicle not only the shifting borders and changing landscape of the country but also the transformation of its culture, from colonial times onward. Browsers may find old maps of San Francisco and New York, too ($65-$9,000). At 20 Hollywood Rd., Second Fl., Central; 852/2524-5302.
Hostess and stylist LU KOU has cleverly outfitted a penthouse apartment with pieces from her own collection: lingerie ($75-$330) in the bedroom, Persian rugs ($515-$4,500) in the library, French and Belgian crystal ($30-$930) in the dining rooms. The shop has also become a salon of sorts, hosting ladies' lunches and cigar evenings. At 19-20 Connaught Rd., 22nd Fl., Central; 852/2530-2234.
Harlan's on My Mind
After learning his trade in Europe, Harlan Goldstein went on to wear the top toque at Hong Kong's exclusive Aberdeen Marina Club. Now at his own restaurant, HARLAN'S, he's doing remarkable things with American-fusion cooking. Rarefied ingredients are one fixation—spider crab in lobster jus, Japanese hamachi "massaged" with truffle oil. But his New York roots shine through, too, in such dishes as the hamburger with truffle mayo and smoked Gouda, and the Tuscan beef, prepared using his Brooklyn grandmother's recipe. Dinner, $115. At IFC, 8 Finance St., 2075 Podium Level 2, Central; 852/2805-0566; www.harlang.com.
On the Waterfront
For centuries one of the most important shipping ports in the world, Victoria Harbor is also among the most beautiful, with a network of picturesque backwaters and some 200 islands for exploring—by yacht, junk, or speedboat.
CHARTERING A YACHT
Skipper VIC LOCKE runs a hands-on operation making day-trips to remote Hong Kong islands. His 45-foot-long Vanguard sets sail from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and holds a total of 12 guests—all of whom are expected to help out and take a turn at the tiller. $ From $120 per person; 852/9333-8084; www.yachtingventures.com.
HIRING A JUNK
JUBILEE runs a fleet of those classic masted Chinese vessels that have been sailing the harbor for centuries. The company, which provides the crew and the meals, specializes in scouting out hidden coves and deserted beaches. From $320 for an eight-hour charter; 852/2530-0530; www.jubilee.com.hk.
BOOKING A POWERBOAT
PAUL ETHERINGTON takes passengers around the rugged islands of the Sai Kung region in a rocket-fast boat previously used by cops to nab smugglers. The vessel leaves from the Sai Kung town pier, zooming through turquoise waters past coral reefs and breathtaking rock formations. $ From $77 per person for a four-hour trip; 852/9300-5179; www.kayak-and-hike.com.
Returning to Their Roots
Much of the jewelry in Hong Kong follows the region's flashy, forward-looking ethos. A handful of designers, though, are honoring tradition in their work. SIN SIN ATELIER (from $200; 18 On Lan St., Central; 852/2521-0308; www.sinsin.com.hk) showcases pieces by designer Sin Sin, who has funneled her study of Chinese calligraphy, pottery, and opera into filigreed rings (right) and necklaces set with jade. Just down the street is LIFE OF CIRCLE (from $50; 9 On Lan St., Central; 852/2868-3890; www.life-of-circle.com), where Sorbonne-trained Dickson Yewn draws inspiration from I Ching and Taoist philosophies for his simple silver jewelry.
Starck Lands in Causeway Bay
Designer Philippe Starck's first Hong Kong property, JIA, is really more of a residential hotel (each of the 54 rooms comes equipped with a kitchen, for example). But the place is still a triumph for its übercool design—a youthful mix of sleek steel and marble surfaces, Baroque-style tufted velvet, a palette of sunny yellow and marshmallow pink. And Australian chef Teage Ezard's kitchen at Opia, Jia's haute dining room (Y's is his casual bistro), has created major buzz among Hong Kong's smart set with its divine Asian-Australian cuisine. From $205 to $770. Dinner, $130. At 1-5 Irving St.; 852/3196-9000; www.jiahongkong.com.
The Buzz of BoHo
The streets between Shin Wong and Pottinger, just below Hollywood Road (hence, BoHo), were once an outré area of grimy alleyways and lanes. But in the past year or so, BoHo has morphed into a spirited district for young entrepreneurs. Gough Street has a trio of hot spots, including GOUGH 40 ($ dinner, $115; 40 Gough St.; 852/2851-8498), LOT 10 (dinner, $80; 34 Gough St.; 852/2813-6812), which prepares terrific French dishes, and QUAY (28 Gough St.; 852/2815-6986), serving cocktails to a lively weekend crowd. At DOZO (dinner, $60; 44 Lyndhurst Terr.; 852/2581-1338), sushi platters buzz by on a conveyor belt, while BLUE DOOR (37 Cochrane St.; 852/2858-6555) serves as a canvas for graffiti artist King of Kowloon and a space for live jazz. GOCCIA (dinner, $100; 73 Wyndham St.; 852/2167-8181) presents novel Italian dishes such as orecchiette with Sardinian mussels, and BOMBAY DREAMS (dinner, $65; 75-77 Wyndham St.; 852/2971-0001) gives Indian cooking a modern twist.
Where It All Started
You may think you know SHANGHAI TANG from its outpost on Madison Avenue, but the flagship promises something altogether different. This rarefied emporium carries truly unique items: silk-covered notebooks, Pumas emblazoned with Chinese peonies, scarves and bags, delicious candles, and, of course, clothing that beautifully straddles East and West. The store also offers bespoke services for wedding dresses and amazing mandarin-collar black-tie suits for men. At 12 Pedder St., Central; 852/2525-7333.
The Peninsula Hotel
In knock-it-down, build-it-even-higher Hong Kong, the Peninsula is the city's closest thing to a national treasure. Nearly 80 years old, this grande dame is where Clark Gable famously taught the bartender to make a screwdriver—yet it never feels dated. The more lavish suites look as though they came straight from the pages of Country Life magazine (albeit with a few stylish Far Eastern touches); then you discover the curtains open with the flick of a switch. While Gaddi's restaurant still has white-gloved waiters carrying domed plates of fine French cuisine, the Philippe Starck-designed Felix, on the very top floor, has a black-clad waitstaff and a footprint-sensitive dance floor. No other hotel in town—or perhaps in the world—strikes quite this balance. Where else can you choose to arrive via private helicopter or, say, in a vintage Rolls-Royce? The Peninsula was always the place to stay. And it still is. From $340 to $5,065. At Salisbury Rd., Kowloon; 852/2920-2888; www.peninsula.com.
Art on the Cutting Edge
"Asian art has an increasingly significant role to play on the international stage," says Johnson Chang, whose HANART TZ GALLERY has for the past 12 years championed the works of avant-garde painters and sculptors from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland China. The works displayed at Hanart often turn traditional Chinese images on their head: One recent show featured a video installation of calligraphy written backward by Qui Zhujie; others highlighted Mongolian Dashi Namdakov's sculptures and Tang Zhigang's paintings of babies dressed as Communist generals in various surreal scenarios. Hanart, on the second floor of an office tower in the financial district, is aimed at the serious collector; Chang, a graduate of Williams College, is often on hand to advise. At 202 Henley Bldg., 5 Queen's Rd., Central; 852/2526-9019; www.hanart.com.
A Haute Night Out
Dim-sum'd to death? Hong Kong's culinary aspirations reach far beyond Chinese fusion fare, with stylish tables serving all manner of haute European cuisine. The ne plus ultra of formal French cooking is the hushed and gilded RESTAURANT PETRUS (dinner, $190; Pacific Pl., Supreme Court Rd., 56th Fl.; 852/2820-8590), ensconced in a columned and swagged room at the top of the Shangri-La on Hong Kong Island. The kitchen's precision is staggering, and the service flawless (yes, Madam, that is a stool for your handbag). Quite a bit looser around the collar, M AT THE FRINGE (dinner, $115; 2 Lower Albert Rd., Central; 852/2877-4000) is a bohemian-chic institution much loved by locals. Set in the charming colonial-style Fringe Club, M (big sister of Shanghai's M on the Bund) has been serving its inventive, casual take on mod-Continental food for 16 years, with many of the original staff still on board. High above the hopping, fun-loving area of Lan Kwai Fong, FINDS (dinner, $100; 33 Wyndham St., Central; 852/2521-6600) adds the cool factor to the equation. The ice-and-crystal interior came off the pages of Wallpaper; the rich but simple menu arrived via Scandinavia. Our favorite: thick slabs of bin-smoked salmon with creamy stewed morels. The excellent martini list lubricates the see-and-be-seen crowd out on the terrace.
A Hidden Gem
Jeweler KAI-YIN LO began her career crafting pieces for friends and a few private clients lucky enough to get a referral. She's recently opened her doors to the world with a new shop in Central Hong Kong, but her designs are no less exclusive than before: Every ring, bracelet, and necklace is a one-off, made of, say, antique carved jade combined with gems, stones, or pearls. From $900 to $1,300. At New Henry House, 10 Ice House St., Ground Fl.; 852/2525-8876.
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