While one of the last cities to reopen its borders earlier this year, Hong Kong quickly left the pandemic behind with a slew of new restaurant and bar opens. Hotels and establishments that had boldly begun their businesses during Covid-19 have also found their second wind with their revitalised menus and programmes. Meanwhile, the stalwarts that were undergoing extensive refurbishments are also now ready to roll. There’s never been a better time to visit this harbour city, and when you do, here are the places not to be missed.
Where to eat in Hong Kong
Adventures in umami with Singapore
Chef Barry Quek’s sustainability-minded Whey has been proudly flying the Lion City’s flag in eclectic Sheung Wan by way of its Singaporean-inflected cuisine. It quickly earned its first Michelin star back in 2021 when it opened, and has since continued to turn out dishes that combine quality ingredients with an inventive explosion of flavours.
Standouts include chef Quek’s bluefin tuna, ginger flower with pickled watermelon radish and dried baby shrimp, and earthy yet silky buah keluak emulsion accompanied by brioche baked fresh daily. Meanwhile notes familiar to the Southeast Asian palate such as sambal chili and taucheo (salted, fermented soybeans) pepper the menu. The crowning glory: Maoshan Wang durian ice cream with kristal caviar and milk crisp, a must-try for fans of this polarising fruit as well as the gastronomically curious.
While there: Head down Queen’s Road Central towards Upper Lascar Row (also known as Cat Street) for an al fresco street market where you can peruse vintage tchotchkes and haggle with seasoned vendors. Don’t miss Select 18 just round the corner, a den full of old-school memorabilia.
French fine dining with a point of view
This might be an unpopular opinion, but French fine dining can sometimes feel samey, even if excellent. Chef David Toutain bucks this trend with his new restaurant Feuille (French for ‘leaf’ or ‘foliage’) in Sheung Wan, just upstairs from Whey. With a strong “vegetal-focused” concept that revolves around the life stages of a plant, Toutain keeps the menu razor-tight and lets his choice of local ingredients really shine.
His green pea dish served with local clams and almond milk is exquisite, as is the shiso leaf fried tempura-style with crème fraiche, mustard seed and sea grape. The choice of rustic tableware and plating is a thoughtful touch that transports one to the woodlands. The restaurant just opened in May and is a great opportunity to sample Toutain’s work for those whom his two-Michelin-starred eponymous restaurant in Paris is a smidge too far out of the way.
While there: Browse wares by local designers and artist at the nearby PMQ, the former Central School campus and the Police Married Quarters that’s now a buzzing creative hub.
An education in Latin American cuisine
The cosy 30-seater Mono in Central is one of those restaurants that make you wonder why they aren’t decorated with more Michelin stars (Mono currently has one). But with a pitch-perfect menu exemplifying the range of flavours across a wide array of Latin American ingredients, great wine pairings and impeccable service, it’s simply a matter of time before the awards panel – and the rest of the world – catches on.
The roasted Iberico pork loin served with a mole (traditional Mexican sauce) derived from 21 ingredients is their pièce de résistance, but pretty much everything on this extensive tasting menu will have you hankering for more. This open by Venezuelan chef co-owner Ricardo Chaneton is a heavyweight in Latin American representation in the APAC region, and an absolute must-try while in town.
While there: Walk off the deliciousness at nearby Tai Kwun – Centre for Heritage and Arts, the repurposed former Central Police Station Compound which now regularly stages quality contemporary art programmes.
A revitalisation of Cantonese cuisine
At two-Michelin-starred Rùn housed within The St. Regis Hong Kong in Wan Chai, veteran chef Hung Chi-Kwong’s even-handed approach ensures that every dish deploys the natural flavours of traditional ingredients to exquisite effect. The braised minced crab broth with frog, winter melon and herbaceous telosma cordata buds is a delicately balanced concoction with a light sweetness that leaves you yearning for more – but don’t neglect the dim sum, which is rightfully exemplary.
To round off this yum cha experience, ask the in-house tea sommelier for some premium tea pairings to accompany your meal.
While there: Try a bottle of their sparkling tea from Hong Kong-based brand Mindful Sparks – it’s a bubbly surprise featuring traditional Chinese tea flavours that will delight tea enthusiasts and those seeking non-alcoholic options alike.
Where to drink in Hong Kong
The recent proliferation of bars can make it difficult to decide where to head to first, especially when one is already spoilt for choice when it comes to the local cocktail bar scene. Here are a few strong contenders, if you’re seeking something different from the usual suspects.
For dog-friendly, al fresco weekday lounging
Thirsty Shaker opened in the middle of the pandemic in April 2022 – a bold move for a bar, to say the least. Its breezy outdoor terraces overlook the streets of Central, and are the perfect perch for watching the world go by. Share one of its signature punch bowls with your squad, or nurse your own cocktail. Whichever you choose, drinks tend to run on the sweeter, fruitier side, which is just how the locals like it. The best part? It’s dog-friendly, so expect to see lots of cute pooches especially on a weekend afternoon, and perhaps even make a new furry friend.
While there: There’s no shortage of quality cocktail bars in Central, so turn your lazy weekend hangout into a bar crawl by checking out The Pontiac, Tell Camellia and Penicillin, all a stone’s throw away.
Cocktails worth straying off the beaten path for
By day, stalls peddling fruit and produce line Gage Street. Come night, the unassuming ORCHARD opens for business, serving up fruit liquors and perfectly balanced cocktails. It’s flown under the radar so far compared to its fellow recent opens Savory Project (sibling of renowned COA) and Bar Leone. But the quality and vibes to be found at here are no less sophisticated, and those in the know happily make that extra five minute jaunt off the main streets of SoHo to join the raucous party beyond Orchard’s unassuming doors.
While there: If you’re looking for something to sop up all that boozy goodness, the Central outlet of pizza and donut haven Dough Bros are a mere five minutes’ walk away. These sourdough pizzas and cinnamon-encrusted donuts are the perfect late-night eats and they’re open until 2am on weekends.
For that last hurrah at the airport
This cocktail bar hidden away on the Sky Bridge (find its entrance between gates 12 and 24) of Hong Kong International Airport is not the easiest place to find, but it’s well worth the hunt. Intervals Bar proves that sophistication can persist in miniature, with these flights of scaled-down cocktails that are conveniently sized by the amount of time one has.
Memorable concoctions include the Green (grappa, green peas, chartreuse and green apple) and Growth (Amontillado Sherry, elderflower, Fernet Hunter, orange wine) from their Fruiting menu that’s designed for a 30-minute-long stopover. You’ll want to make this a mandatory part of your pre-flight checklist, regardless of whether you’ve got 15 minutes or 45.
While there: Don’t neglect their eats, especially The BAM – a smashed croissant where caramelised banana, almond butter and maple syrup come together in heart-stealing crunchy perfection. And also, don’t miss your flight!
Where to stay in Hong Kong
And of course, you’ll want a place to put up after your adventures out and about. If your last trip to Hong Kong was pre-pandemic, you’ll find some new choices alongside old favourites have refreshed their offerings.
The St. Regis Hong Kong
For a glimpse of New York’s Gilded Age
Class and comfort take centre stage at The St. Regis Hong Kong, tucked away in Wan Chai a stone’s throw from the Hong Kong and Exhibition Convention Centre. It’s easy to fall in love with the stay when it reminds one of a luxury home away from home, courtesy of award-winning darling of the hotel industry André Fu. Fu artfully marries the design sensibilities from the original St. Regis in New York with his personal memories of Hong Kong, for a timeless yet somehow nostalgic expression of refinement.
The lush furnishings soothe away every care, but if they don’t, you can count on the signature St. Regis butler service to put all else to bed. Guests can also partake in other longstanding St. Regis traditions such as their daily sabrage at 5.30pm in the Lobby. If you’ve not witnessed it before, it’s a fun activity – and comes with a glass of champagne to boot.
While there: The Art Deco-inspired The St. Regis Bar is atmospheric whether night or day, and serves up a potent Bloody Mary (invented at the original St. Regis Bar in New York, after all).
A design-forward boutique stay
For a chic stay that’s close to the harbour cruise in Wan Chai, consider The Hari. While it may not boast as many amenities as a larger property, it nonetheless delivers on comfort and personality. Design enthusiasts will enjoy the approachable yet elegant interiors by London-based designer Tara Bernerd. These contemporary furnishings are accompanied by art at every turn, curated by London-based gallery, Ben Brown Fine Arts and regularly refreshed.
The hotel has furthermore just announced the results of its inaugural Art Prize, and the works of the finalists are currently on view at the hotel until December 2023. Luxury Mühldorfer bedding & linen aside, it’s these touches of art and textures that make it a stay to remember.
While there: Nurse a cocktail al fresco at the hotel’s The Terrace, or find some Zen at nearby Mizunara the Library, a Japanese-style whiskey and cocktail bar with its own rock garden on the patio. This elegant spot is ensconced in an office building just across the street. Reservations recommended.
Oriental-inflected contemporary luxe
Can opulence be understated? The freshly refurbished Island Shangri-La proves that it certainly can. The world-renowned Tristan Auer-designed interiors exude a modern sense of grandeur, with their artful light fixtures, ornate wallpaper panels and brushed gold bathroom furnishings. Add to this contemporary touches such as motion-sensitive bedside panels and Toto washlets leverage technology, and what results is the serene bliss of being taken care of at every turn. At the breakfast buffet, the options are staggering, but the dim sum section truly sparkles.
While there: Be sure to stop by the hotel’s lush, brand-new holistic spa Yun Wellness for next-level treatments and fitness classes. The staff’s pampering attentions will spoil you, and they have all the latest technologies in wellness, including Hong Kong’s first far-infrared sauna.
For a family-friendly five-star stay
Cordis’ art collection remains unparalleled, with Taiwanese artist Ju Ming’s Tai Chi Series greeting you at the hotel lobby. From there, works by notable artists the likes of Gao Yu and Wang Guangyi present themselves at every turn – perfect for the art enthusiast keen on getting acquainted with some art of the region.
Art aside, Cordis’ unbeatable location right next to Mongkok MTR station and its dedicated kids’ programme makes it an ideal stay for families. Children can look forward to welcome gifts, personalised in-room amenities and complimentary food (for some age groups and meals). The hotel itself is replete with dining options such as Michelin-starred Ming Court, where the nourishing Cantonese menu have begun to feature locally grown produce such as winter melon and turnip. But if you’re intending to stay in, opt for a family suite with an attached kitchen for maximum convenience.
While there: Hop over to American diner-style Graceland a five-minute walk away, for nourishing Southern nosh – if you’re seeking something different from the usual Canto fare.
To learn more about Singapore Airlines’ flights to Hong Kong, visit the official website.