Dining high in Hong Kong
|The InterContinental Kowloon|
Yet Kowloon's makeover, with the glamorous international ocean terminal and Elements shopping and lifestyle complex, has sent it on an interstellar flight far from street markets and dodgy basement bars.
Either way, either side, grab a seat at one of the best bars and dining rooms on high.
HONG KONG ISLAND
Looking to Kowloon
|Felix restaurant and bar.|
For exciting contemporary Spanish, FoFo is a tapas bar at the back of Central. Sadly, the rooftop bar is only for private parties. But the views of HK Island's Mid-Levels from the dining room are expansive. Snack on 36-month-old Iberian ham, beef cheek cooked with banana and passionfruit, or crispy suckling pig dished up by Barcelona's Alex Martinez Fargas and married with one of FoFo's many marvellous tempranillos or the house's Sexy Sangrias. Open for almost two years, it's already a Bib Gourmand - meaning you can score a quality three-course meal for less than $HK300 ($37) - in the HK Michelin guide.
Isola, in the IFC Mall in Central, doesn't have to be a night-time gig. In fact, we'd recommend slipping into its little rooftop terrace bar for a lunchtime pizza, as Maria Sharapova has been known to do. Set right on the harbourside, it's the spot to watch the Star Ferry slosh by.
For a late-night option with the same views, head to the glass-cube G Bar (Podium Level 4, IFC Mall).
Super-chic Sevva has a "lazy type of glamour", somewhere to have your divine cake and eat it in divine surroundings presided over by HK-Australian fashion and cake maestro Bonnie Gokson. Get the elbows and knees out to bag a terrace sofa and gaze at the best of Hong Kong architecture, from the old Legislative Council to the Norman Foster-designed HSBC Building. The clientele ranges from Hong Kong tai-tais (ladies who lunch) to cigar-chewing VIPs (complete with bodyguards). An arty party set descends at sundown and Fridays are deservedly manic. Dress code: fabulous.
You wouldn't think Hotel LKF would have any decent views but the little boutique hotel set in the Mid-Levels is built up the hillside leading to the Peak. So when you ascend to Azure restaurant on the 29th and 30th floors, you'll also find the swankiest, most secretive little bar with the worst name - Slash. Pitched at the indie-design set, it doles out cocktails until 1am most nights and 3am on Thursdays to Saturdays, with a daily three-hour happy hour from 5.30pm.
ToTT's is on the 34th floor of the four-star business hotel The Excelsior, in Causeway Bay.
It's easy on the wallet, with cocktails below $HK90, but uneasy positioning means it's not the best place for the Symphony of Lights. However, the revamped rooftop bar is the place for a post-shopping restorative bevvy - the hotel is just minutes from the late-closing Causeway Bay shops. Ask for the Moonlight Lychee Blossom, mixing Aviation gin from Oregon in the US with rose water, green lychee liquor and brut sparkling wine.
The Harbour Grand is breaking new ground in the eastern HK Island locale North Point. The five-star hotel's cheesily named Le 188° indicates just how far the views span, encompassing both harbour entrances. BBQ in the Sky starts in September, with seafood barbecues every weekend until 1am. The best way to get there is via Exit A of the Fortress Hill MTR station.
Wooloomooloo is best known for its steakhouses but the Wan Chai branch includes a chic rooftop 32 floors high, plus 360-degree views. You can just about stretch out and touch the Peak up above. The meat here is 120-day Australian Black Angus, with set lunches from $HK138. Beloved by meat lovers and naughty Hong Kong ladies whose husbands don't like heights.
M bar at the Mandarin Oriental does dark and moody to a T. Renovated last year, the 25th-floor bar whispers the secrets of molecular cocktails but the staff still remember how to do a good old-fashioned one. Hot tips: wrap your lips around a Hong Kong Legend, a mix of vodka, lychee liqueur and kuei hua chen chiew, a Chinese wine that's almost a health drink, dammit. We also love the elegance of the Earl Grey Mar-tea-ni (geddit?). And if you're hunting for a HK banker, this is definitely the place to prowl.
Of course, there's a pool at the Grand Hyatt's open-air Waterfall Bar, a teensy 36-seater in the heart of Wan Chai, by the convention centre. Cuban-cigar lovers will relish the alfresco puffing and city views and the rack of booze is as smart as the dress code (which reads "smart", not "smart casual").
Looking to Hong Kong Island
"Hong Kong Island's skyline at night yanks New York's shorts down and whups its butt, hard," say the saucy scribblers of Luxe Guides.
The biggest news on the Kowloon side of town is the opening of the Ritz-Carlton and its OZONE bar on the 118th floor, which it claims is the highest bar in the world. You can eat and dance here and, of course, there's a signature cocktail, the Senses, which blends Hennessy VSOP with vanilla syrup and blackberries.
There are no reservations, so get in early to grab a prime table by the windows. Without a swanky name, the Lobby Lounge at the Intercontinental could be dismissed as another dreary hotel bar but it's not. And Kowlooners agree it has the best views of the light show. This great HK staple is also blessed with a gorgeous Mariage Freres afternoon tea, jazz at 6pm and crooners at 9pm. The drinks to drink are the Nine Dragon cocktails (all $HK120), ranging from the Dragontini (kuei hau chen and Jagermeister) to the non-alcoholic Green Dragon.
We suggest you wear white when you visit Aqua Spirit so your friends can see you in the sultry darkness. Key spots are the glam curtained alcoves and the drink de jour is the Aquatini, which swirls Ketel One Dutch vodka, Chambord, lychee liqueur and, because it's Hong Kong, gold leaves. Otherwise, order a One Peking, which blends jasmine tea, peach schnapps, saffron and elderflower cordial.
Felix is the restaurant atop Tsim Sha Tsui's iconic Peninsula Hong Kong and atop the restaurant is a little bar designed by Mr Fabulous, Philippe Starck. Take your drink to the window and look across to Victoria Peak, HK Island and down on Victoria Harbour. Otherwise, men can head to the glass urinals to wow while they wizz. Avoid if your wallet is dieting: this is one to visit if you're hell-bent on impressing.
There are plenty of bars we haven't got to yet: RED bar and Barcepage wine terrace on HK Island; Living Room in Kowloon's W Hotel; the Sheraton's Sky Lounge in Tsim Sha Tsui ...
We'll leave you to it.
Aqua, 30/F, 1 Peking Rd,
Tsim Sha Tsui, +852 3427 2288, aqua.com.hk.
Cafe Gray Deluxe, Upper House, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, upperhouse.com.
Felix, The Peninsula Hong Kong, Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2315 3188, peninsula.com.
FoFo, 20/F, M88 Building, 2-8 Wellington St, Central, 2900 2009, fofo.hk.
Harbour Grand Hong Kong, 23 Oil St, North Point, 2121 2688, www.harbour-grand.com.
Isola, Level 3, IFC Mall, Central, 2383 8765, isolabarandgrill.com.
Hotel LKF, 33 Wyndham St, Lan Kwai Fong, Central, 3518 9688, hotel-LKF.com.hk.
M bar, Mandarin Oriental, 5 Connaught Rd,
Central, 2522 0111, mandarinoriental.com.
Lobby Bar, Intercontinental Hotel, 18 Salisbury Rd,
Tsim Sha Tsui, 2721 1211, intercontinental.com.
OZONE, ICC, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, 2263 2263, ritzcarlton.com.
Sevva, 25/F, Prince's Building, 10 Chater Rd, Central, 2537 1388, sevva.hk.
ToTT's, The Excelsior, 281 Gloucester Rd,
Causeway Bay, 2894 8888, mandarinoriental.com.
Waterfall Bar, Grand Hyatt, 1 Harbour Rd, Central, 2588 1234, hongkong.grand.hyatt.com.
Wooloomooloo, 31/F & Rooftop, 256 Hennessy Rd, Wan Chai, 2893 6960, wooloo-mooloo.com.