Private dining has become increasingly popular in Hong Kong over the last few years as more people in the city are opting for private kitchens to celebrate an event or to have a more intimate dining experience (no doubt thanks to the size of most flats in the city, making hosting near impossible). While there are a few private kitchens that have been around for a number of years, I went to a newer raw, plant-based private dinner the other week at Masalas and Olives. I’ve never been into the whole vegan/raw eating, but I’ll admit I was really impressed with the food and atmosphere.
Since its opening almost a year ago, I’ve been wanting to try Mama Malouf after hearing plenty of good things about the place. This quaint Lebanese restaurant gets its name from the Alex Malouf’s (the owner) mother. The dishes take inspiration from Alex’s mother and the recipes have been developed from his experience growing up in a Lebanese home. You’ll find traditional, as well as more modern dishes on Mama Malouf’s menu, all of which are hearty and satisfying. In terms of atmosphere, you can expect a cozy, home-like feel at Mama Malouf with minimalist decor.
These are snippets of what I’ve experienced living in Hong Kong over the past years: from the funny to the weird, and everything in between. I’ll continue to update this post as I come across more strange and wonderful things around the city.
70. Where this anti-smoking ad is more likely to make you laugh than to quit smoking.
69. Where honesty is key.
68. Where you’ll find “Monkey Head” on a menu.
67. When monks wear “spicy” shoes on the MTR.
66. When people have too much money and too little sense, and decide to cover their Porsche in black velvet.
65. When restaurants need to specify that liquor is intoxicating, as opposed to it being..?
64. When these are the things I see on my commute to work in the morning.
63. When the Hong Kong Observatory issues a T8 (strong typhoon warning) without it even raining, and the whole city literally shuts down..
62. When precautions are taken very seriously around a work site..
61. Where people need to be reminded of proper hygiene practices.
60. When it’s 30°C outside and people are wearing a down jacket and Hawaiian shorts.
59. Where this outdoor display is meant to entice you to eat here.
58. Where the elderly take their exercising seriously.
57. Where the world’s most insane beauty products exist.
56. Where people are badass.
55. Where seeing this becomes normal.
54. Where clothes can be incredibly ironic.
53. Where you can purchase a “Mini Portable Toilet”.
52. Where you can find people sleeping at the bottom of stairwells.
51. Where soup exists for your hands.
50. Where department stores display Halloween and Christmas decorations side by side.
49. Where fashion is taken seriously.
48. Where products like this actually exist and famous soccer players actually promote them.
47. When you’re not sure what the marketing strategy is.
46. Where people own incredibly large cellphones.
45. Where you always get a good laugh out of locals wearing English shirts.
44. Where you can find a truckload of bamboo just lying on the street.
43. When fancy port-a-potty’s equipped with carpeted floors, a full length mirror, and a framed picture are rented for the Rugby Sevens.
42. Where drying your entire wardrobe along a public walkway is a thing.
41. When a notice regarding “throwing animal discharge from height” is posted in your apartment building.
40. Where the love of egg tarts is real.
39. Where you’re just not quite sure what to do in some situations (so you just take a photo instead)
38. Where you can wait for the bus in style.
37. Where you have announcements like this in the MTR:
“Please hold onto the handrails and not just look at your mobile phone.”
36. When businesses run out of the back of a van.
35. Where you can get some exercise on the side of the road.
34. Where the food safety and hygiene guidelines are questionable.
33. Where people will queue for hours on end.
32. When a water pipe bursts, construction workers are more concerned with taking a picture of the flooding street than fixing it.
31. Where advertisements sure know how to catch your attention.
30. Where DIY projects consist of sticking oven mitts to the handle bars of motorcycles.
29. Where you can buy wine by the plastic glass in the grocery store.
28. Where this is considered entertainment at a nightclub.
27. Where your choice of local grocery store is based solely upon how much its name makes you laugh.
26. Where public stretching in short shorts and no shirt is serious business.
25. When candy wrappers warn consumers that “children and elderly people should not eat absolutely.”
24. Where you can’t walk more than two blocks without seeing one of these “litter cum recyclables” bins.
23. Where you can find horse figurines, among other oddities, randomly stuck into large rocks.
22. When these are a few words of wisdom imparted on you by a local restaurant owner:
“Don’t go back to Canada. So many animal. So few people. Don’t waste your life.”
*Mr. Wong from Mr. Wong’s, Mong Kok
21. When eating pig skin is considered a delicacy.
20. When your concept of what dessert is completely flipped around.
19. When signs like this are posted outside of the washrooms at a bar.
18. Where people are really serious about Hello Kitty.
17. Where this is on display at an amusement park.
16. When this becomes a regular sight on a night out.
15. Where adults dressing the same is a thing.
14. When the smog is so thick you can no longer see half of the tallest building in your area.
13. Where embarrassment does not exist.
12. When the weather is more indecisive than I am.
11. When owning an oven is the epitome of wealth and the envy of all your friends.
10. When you can take the escalator up to the gym.
Bonus: having a McDonald’s right underneath.
9. When you can find preserved whole baby crabs in a snack bag.
8. When Groupon sells stuff like this.
7. When you climb up a mountain and have this as your view (just ignore the smog).
6. When the only way to get hot water in your flat is by turning this on.
5. Where people either fear or are obsessed with dogs.
4. When families and couples coordinate their outfits so they all match.
3. When it is 20° out and people are wearing winter jackets and boots.
2. When you’re on the MTR and see a man plucking out his facial hair with tweezers.
1. When you’re at the gym and
a) Men are wearing shorter shorts than women
b) People are wearing their work clothes
c) One in five people are talking on their cellphone
The Discovery Bay to Mui Wo hike is perfect if you’re wanting to get off Hong Kong Island without wasting much time getting to and back from your hike. This hike is very straight forward and offers fantastic views of Discovery Bay and the surrounding islands (if the weather is cooperating). The first half of this hike can be challenging, with a lot of uphill stairs and a fairly steep climb up to Tiger’s Head. However, the rest of the trail is flat and downhill. The hike ends at Silvermine Bay Beach, so bring your bathing suit and take a quick dip in the water before catching the ferry back to Central.
Hong Kong is a city where weekends are filled with boozy brunches. If you’re looking to take your standard champagne brunch one step further, head to Ozone at The Ritz Carlton for their Ultimate Dom Perignon Brunch. Indulge in a buffet spread the size of a soccer field, eat copious amounts of Joselito ham, take in the sweeping views of the Hong Kong harbor from the 118th floor, and drink all the Dom Perignon 2006 you can handle. Held every Sunday, the Ozone brunch has #treatyoself written all over it.
There are so many great brunch options around Hong Kong that it can often be quite the task to find something that sticks out from the crowd. One thing that this city lacks is a good selection of al fresco dining, so when I heard that Beef and Liberty were throwing together a massive weekend rooftop BBQ for a very reasonable HK$258 for as much as you can eat, I had to go (in fact, I’ve now been twice!). The Beef and Liberty BBQ Brunch is a great option: laid back rooftop vibes, selection of salads and grilled meat, DIY burger station, and free-flow drinks.
Tycoon Tann has been around for a little while now, but they have recently added new Chinese/Western fusion dishes to their menu, so I figured it was about time I paid a visit. You’ve likely walked past Tycoon Tann multiple times thanks to its convenient location on Wellington Street in Central. Though it may look like a small bar at first glance, Tycoon Tann actually has three floors. Each floor is its own cozy, modern, and intimate dining space, which could be a great spot to go for a date or for a celebration since your dinner will be far from cheap.
The new Michelin Guide Dining Series, Hong Kong and Macau is making it much easier for you to experience some of the cuisine found at various Michelin-starred restaurants around the world. Launched earlier this year, the dining series will showcase a different Michelin-starred chef each month for a 2 – 4 day pop-up dining experience in Hong Kong or Macau. I was lucky enough to partake in Chef Chen Kentaro of Shisen Hanten’s (two Michelin-starred Sichuan restaurant in Singapore) six-course modern Sichuan dinner with wine pairing.
Talk of Dragon-i usually surrounds a few stories of late night misadventures where bottles were bought and far too much money was spent. It’s safe to say that most people in the city associate this well-known establishment with Russian models and messy, pretentious nights out. Dragon-i is now working a new angle to entice people to pop over for dinner well before the debauchery begins. In case you were unaware (as I was), Dragon-i actually serves dinner (not just all-you-can-eat dim sum) and they’ve just introduced a new dinner tasting menu for 4 or 6 people for a bargain. Only the test of time will tell if peoples’ outlook on Dragon-i shifts from a late night club to a restaurant/club.
Having just been to Pici Pasta Bar, another of Pirata Group’s newest restaurants, I was keen to try their other new concept: TokyoLima. I heard rave reviews from friends who had tried their Nikkei cuisine (a blend of Japanese and Peruvian food), I was ready for an evening of strong cocktails, unique fusion dishes created by Peruvian Chef Arturo Melendez (formerly of Chicha), and great vibes. All of which TokyoLima delivered.