After More Than 20 Years as an Autonomous Territory, See How Hong Kong Is Setting Itself Apart
It’s been more than twenty years since Hong Kong returned to China as an autonomous territory, but the former colony’s roaring entrepreneurial culture is casting a more powerful spell than ever.
In 2017, the 20th anniversary year, Hong Kong performed on the world stage as a force of stupefying energies, stunning architecture, internationally renowned arts and culture, superlative restaurants and financial acumen. Welcome to Asia’s pleasure capital.
The anniversary celebrations saw China’s Imperial collections leaving the Forbidden City for Hong Kong, England sending treasures from the British Museum and France, from the Louvre. The Beijing opera and Berlin Philharmonic visited. The festivities were non-stop.
Following the 20th anniversary celebrations, Hong Kong continues to unceasingly reinvent itself. The new ICC Tower on Kowloon side looms over the legendary harbour at a record 118 storeys. Its 360-degree, all-indoors Sky 100 observation deck delivers a bigger-than-IMAX perspective.
A new way to experience the city is the double-decker Tramoramic trolley, which streamlines the 65-stop public transit route into a rocking hour-long adventure–a great ride on a par with the Star Ferry.
A perennial favourite, the three-masted junk Aqua Luna, takes visitors on a piratical spin around the world’s most beautiful harbour. Towering red sails toss against Hong Kong’s glittering skyline. Visitors sprawl on deep cushions on the upper deck, drinks in hand, imaginary plunderers of the South China Sea.
Nor is exploring confined to Hong Kong Central. Just minutes away, Lantau Island sends you aloft on the Ngong Ping 360 cable car ride, the longest in Asia. The Lantau adventure continues on to the impressive Po Lin Monastery and its colossal Buddha, the exquisite Kam Yam Temple and 300-year-old Tai O fishing village.
Strangers are invariably surprised by Hong Kong’s sumptuous natural beauty. This is the point again en route to the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark, a new attraction of eye-popping 140-million-year-old rock formations. A hike among the columns at the High Island Reservoir East Dam may kick-start your sense of wonder and coax out your inner geologist. Travel by land or boat, both adventures in nature.
And Hong Kong—the eating-est city in the world—does food, and food like nowhere else. Nobu in the InterContinental hotel serves up the art of celebrated chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa.
This Hong Kong outpost dazzles from a ceiling rippling with 450,000 sea urchin spines to a sushi bar made of a single ficus tree trunk.
For the memory book are yellowtail tuna sashimi with uzu and jalapeno peppers, whitefish sashimi with fiery Chinese XO sauce and Saga beef that gives Kobe and Wagyu runs for their money. Dessert is “iced cappuccino” layered with coffee brulee, crushed coffee beans, cocoa crumbles, ice cream and topped with whisky foam. This is nothing less than miraculous.
But three-Michelin-starred Bo Innovation is perhaps Hong Kong’s most cutting-edge Chinese restaurant. The chef is Toronto-raised Alvin Leung, who bills himself as “the Demon Chef.” His stock-in-trade is “X-treme Chinese.” “Alvin looks plenty punk.
But what springs from his decidedly original kitchen is no laughing matter. He promises kokumi, the sixth taste, which he defines as “rich and delicious, with a big aftertaste.”
He whirls in flavours like prawn oil (“pure umami”), foie gras powder and sandalwood smoke. He takes har gow, traditional shrimp dumpling, up-market with tiger prawn, black truffle and prawn oil. He makes a tempura of tofu, sits it in a sauce of pine nuts, chili oil and bell pepper and adds a dollop of salmon caviar. The Hong Kong lily is better than gilded.