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Hong Kong is a city that's constantly evolving. New places to eat, shop and hang out open at the speed of a video going viral and, as most of the city is packed into a few square miles, hopping from one hip spot to another never takes long. So how do you make the most of your time? Hong Kong insider Ed Peters takes us on a 48-hour tour
New menu, new décor, new chief chef – namely, Michelin-starred celeb Tom Aikens, The Pawn, a 19th-century chophouse in the heart of Wanchai, is revelling in its renaissance. The cuisine is modern British, the ambience refreshingly hip, and both lounge and restaurant benefit from balconies that look down on the trams humming along the street. A two-course lunch plus pudding or coffee costs HK$195 (£17).
Rather than being planned, many of Hong Kong’s best lifestyle areas simply grew up of their own accord. Soho and Lan Kwai Fong are two examples, and they’ve been joined by Tai Ping Shan. Star attractions include the antique Chinese furniture collection at Liang Yi Museum, Mood, a vintage clothing store and barber’s, and Nosh, whose chefs rustle up European mains and pastries.
It’s a rare day that something isn’t taking place at the Fringe Club, a mildly startling oasis of culture in the Central Business District. Expos, drama, avant-garde performances, live music, forums – it’s like a mini daily biennale. If none of that appeals, try the tapas or veggie lunch at top-floor Colette’s, named for the late London-born, Hong Kong-raised nightclub owner, restaurateur, actress, artist and film producer Colette Koo.
Dim sum, egg tarts, barbecued pork, shrimp dumpling noodles, snake soup, turtle jelly – these and many more dishes are some of the milestones on the Big Foot Food Tour, run by Singaporean Ski Yeo. The tours can be customised, and take in local neighbourhoods and culture as well as cuisine. A four-hour tour costs from HK$600 per person.
What better use for a former police barracks than turning it into PMQ, an arty mall with good restaurants, such as Sohofama, which serves organic Chinese comfort food. PMQ also houses up-and-coming fashion designers as well as big names such as Vivienne Tam. Exhibitions, casual markets and events in the central covered plaza grant PMQ some added zest.
Hong Kong includes more than 200 islands; some are tiny, others like Lamma are thriving, characterful communities. With one-way fares as low as HK$13 (US$1.60) a ferry ride is a sightseeing bargain and a fun trip out of the city. To sidestep the tourists, board the inter-island ferry that shuttles all day between Cheung Chau and Peng Chau.