Daisann McLane, travel journalist and director of private tour company Little Adventures in Hong Kong, shares some insights on her adopted home.
I love the local neighborhood diners known as cha chaan teng. My favorite is For Kee (852/2546-8947), on the corner of Tai Ping Shan Street and Pound Lane. Itâ€™s a family-run hole-in-the-wall thatâ€™s about 40 or 50â€¨years old; they make these amazing dishes with pork chop that is tenderized and then cooked to order. You can have it on rice or in a bun, though I also recommend the sandwich of curry beef and caramelized onion. Over on Mallory Street in Wan Chai, Ho Wah CafĂ© (852/2574-3069) makes an excellent milk tea in friendly, atmospheric surroundsâ€”the diner has expanded into a row of restored shophouses from the 1910s. Among the cityâ€™s last remaining dai pai dong, or traditional open-air food stalls, is Sing Heung Yuen (852/2544-8368) on Centralâ€™s Mee Lun Street. One highlight is chui chui, or crispy toasted buns with honey; another is the macaroni in tomato soup. Nowhere else in Hong Kong does it better.
I usually send visiting friendsâ€¨over to PMQ, where the shops are always changing and have an artistic bent. For local designer goods, you canâ€™t go wrong with plasticized cotton tote bags from Mischa; theyâ€™re comparable to Goyard but a tenth of the price. Loveramics in Causeway Bay does some lovely pottery, mugs, and dish sets, all locally made. And on weekends, vintage hunters should seek out â€¨the utterly charming Sun Sat Store on the outlying island of Peng Chau. Itâ€™s curated by a pair of Cathay Pacific flight attendants who travel the world buying â€™50s and â€™60s knickknacksâ€”like old wind-up toys and desk fansâ€”made during Hong Kongâ€™s golden age of manufacturing.
If you want to get away from it all, you have to go hiking. My idea of a great afternoon is to hop on a ferry to Lantau Island and hike for two hours from Discovery Bay to Mui Wo. Itâ€™s a little strenuous, but you pass a Trappist monastery and the views from the trail are extraordinary. Hong Kong is also full of pristine beaches that are only accessible on foot or by boat. On Lamma Island, hiking southward from the village of Mo Tat Wan (which has ferries to and from Aberdeen) will bring you to Tung O Wan Beach, where I once saw a woman harvesting sea urchins straight from the ocean.
This article originally appeared in the February/March 2018Â print issue of DestinAsian magazine (â€śHong Kong Highsâ€ť).