Top Tips: Chef Vicky Lau’s Guide to Hong Kong
This article is part of a guide to Hong Kong by FT Globetrotter
I was born and raised in Hong Kong until I was 15, when I moved to the United States for school, and stayed to study at New York University. I had a career as a graphic designer, and before deciding to get into the culinary arts, I had hoped to return to Hong Kong to work with my sister in advertising.
But it’s a different path that brought me back to town. Following my training at Le Cordon Bleu in Bangkok, I returned to Hong Kong to work under the tutelage of chef SÃ©bastien Lepinoy at the Michelin-starred grape variety. In 2012, I opened my restaurant, TATE Dining Room, where I serve French-inspired dishes with Chinese influences from my upbringing here.
As a chef, I love living and working in Hong Kong. We are spoiled with fantastic food and an innovative food scene, and the city itself is vibrant, exciting and energetic. Here, I’ve shared with you a mix of some of my favorite places to eat and drink, along with some suggested cultural activities, markets to visit and more.
LG / F, H Code, 45 Pottinger STREET, Central, Hong Kong
The Diplomat reminds me of a good New York-style cocktail bar where you can enjoy classic drinks with an innovative twist. An evening here with friends is guaranteed to be a good time.
I’ve tried the entire cocktail menu (and everything is delicious) but my all-time favorite drink here is Tarling – pandan infused gin, white port, baking spices, clarified orange juice, and coconut water. It’s so refreshing and heartwarming.
The food offered goes well with the drinks menu. The Diplomat Burger is my favorite and is done properly with a good bread / meat ratio, and the Cubano Pulled Pork Sandwich has the tastiest and tastiest sauce.
5 / F, CCB Tower, 3 Connaught Road, Central, Hong Kong
At Howard’s Gourmet, you will enjoy unique and distinctive modern Chinese cuisine in a warm environment. I love the way Chef Howard Cai creates light and refined dishes based on traditional ingredients and classics from Chiu Chow. The hot and sour noodle soup here is something I always crave – the base has a lot of depth and the acidity comes from the lemon, which is very refreshing. The crispy pork knuckle is also exceptional: perfectly juicy and chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside, demonstrating the skill and technique of the chef.
Yuen Kee Dessert
32 Center Street, Sai Wan, Hong Kong
Yuen Kee Dessert, created over 130 years ago, serves thong sui, Cantonese Dessert Soups – sweet and hot soups or custard served at the end of a meal, prepared with a traditional stone grind. One you must try is the sweet mulberry mistletoe tea soup with lotus seeds and eggs – it’s such a classic dish but few places make it yet. The sweet almond and sesame soup is also delicious.
Liang Yi Museum
181-199 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Liang Yi is the largest private museum of design, crafts and heritage in Hong Kong. You can find world-class collections of Chinese and European antiques here. Its exhibitions are renewed every six months, and the themes are always well thought out and intelligently organized. The museum offers tours by appointment only, where you can interact with the exhibits in an intimate, boutique environment. This gives you a unique opportunity to understand the history, design and cultural significance of the collections.
21 / F Penthouse, MW Plaza, 40 Kimberley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
INUF (I Never Use Foundation) is an environmentally conscious lifestyle concept store and spa that offers 100% herbal formulas. Its all-natural products are free of harmful chemicals and the packaging is minimal and made from recycled materials. B5 moisturizing gel is an important part of my daily routine.
The spa can be booked exclusively for private appointments, which is a great way to treat a partner, family member or friend for a special occasion. I also love to indulge myself with one of their facials or body treatments. My favorite is the English Rose Miracle, a facial treatment that helps soften and nourish my skin, and also includes a back massage.
Things to do
Lantau Island, Hong Kong’s largest outer island, is well worth a visit for its beautiful beaches, landmarks such as the Tian Tan Buddha, unspoiled countryside, and excellent bars and restaurants. For those who enjoy the outdoors, Lantau has a lot to offer, with stunning scenery to walk through, waterfalls to see, and peaks to challenge you. Depending on where you’re coming from and what part of the island you’re heading to, Lantau can be reached by ferry or MTR.
One of my favorite places in Lantau is the fishing village of Tai O. Famous for its traditional Chinese stilt houses, it is one of the few remaining fishing villages in Hong Kong. You can spend an entire day here exploring its small streets, enjoying fresh seafood and snacks, and taking photos. I recommend trying the street food from the old fashioned stalls, like the giant fish ball with chili sauce, the tofu pudding and cha guo (tea balls).
Ap Lei Chau Market
8 Hung Shing Street, Ap Lei Chau, Hong Kong
Wet markets are essential spaces for the Hong Kong community. The Ap Lei Chau market is worth a visit. There is a pier right next door so you can find the freshest and best seafood selection here. Variety depends on the catch of the day, but is generally wider than most wet markets in Hong Kong. I love to walk around to discover what the sea has to offer and to bring home fresh or interesting ingredients to create a new dish.
Vicky Lau is the owner and chef of Dining room TATE two Michelin stars in Hong Kong
What are your highlights in Hong Kong? Tell us in the comments
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