Junk © 2011 . All rights reserved.

HK’s best – the islands

I’ve been known to give Hong Kong some stick for its tourist tagline “Asia’s world city“. The reason for this is that it plain isn’t and to even assert it is stupid. I mean Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul….

Hong Kong - junk trip to Po Toi Island
Po Toi island

To be quite frank I don’t know why Hong Kong wants to pretend it is a “world city” as world cities are often pretty tough places to live. Realistically there are only three or four of them (NY, LDN, TOKYO and….) and Hong Kong plain doesn’t punch at their weight. But this has a positive aspect as well. It is a far easier place to live.

Hong Kong - junk trip to Po Toi Island
Po Toi island

A lot of the world’s best cities to live in are emphatically not “world cities”. Think of Paris, Buenos Aires, Portland etc.. They are parochial when pressed up against places like Tokyo but you can build an incredible life there. And in that context Hong Kong rocks as it has ease and quality of life in spades.

Hong Kong - junk trip to Po Toi Island
Po Toi island

And a lot of the quality of life comes from Hong Kong’s rather unique geography as it abuts the sea and squats on the hundreds of little islands dotted round the coast. There are not many cities in the world and definitely no “world cities” where you can get in a cab and be on a pretty decent beach in half an hour (Shek O) and a great one in an hour (South Lantau).

Wai Kee restaurant in Mui Wo Cooked Food Centre
Wai Kee in Lantau

And for me one of the best things about Hong Kong are the islands and the ferries which link them. In half an hour’s boat ride from Central you can find yourself in another time and place where the shopping malls haven’t invaded and there are no Gucci or LV stores shitting in the mouth of history and culture. And in Hong Kong it is actually practical and commonplace to live on an island and commute in every day. Quite frankly, wow.

Wai Kee restaurant in Mui Wo Cooked Food Centre
Wai Kee in Lantau

And for a food blog the really cool thing is once you get to the islands the food is plain Hong Kong. Exactly what you would expect from the stereotype and all the better for it. No fake imported Italian dishes or trendy ramen, but real old school steamed fish and mussells in black bean sauce.

Hong Kong - junk trip to Po Toi Island
Po Toi island

These are all pictures from just two of Hong Kong’s many islands – Po Toi and Lantau – but the same story applies for each of them. Quite frankly the best Hong Kong/ Cantonese food I had in Hong Kong was at a little cooked food centre on Lantau island. You take the ferry to Mui Wo and go to the cooked food centre just to the right of it. You get a seat right on the sea front and look out over the beautiful coast and order everything you can manage to it. The restaurant is called Wai Kee.

The quality and freshness of the food is amazing. And it is churned out day in and day out for pennies. I miss it and the uncomplicated and almost vintage life you can escape to out there on those little islands.

For more post on HK’s best click here.

 

 

5 Comments

  1. I used to live on Lantau, back in the days when Tung Chung had just a bus stop and not an international airport. I’m not sure about the ‘wow’ factor. Even then, living on Lantau was a pain. The ferries [and local buses] ran on schedules that suited the cartel that won the tender rather than the passengers. There were some nice beaches if you knew where to find them, but they were strewn with barbecue forks and plastic bottles every weekend from the day trippers. The local restaurants served seafood but it was nothing to write home about. The HK govt policy for the islands seemed to be to cover as much of them with concrete as possible. Are you sure there are no other world cities with a decent beach within a cab ride of the centre? I now live in a grotty suburb of Sydney that has a Russian Club, a Burmese restaurant and an Irish pub run by Koreans. I can’t afford to live in a swanky beach suburb, but they’re only a 20 minute drive away.

    • Mick – thanks for the comment and sorry for the delay in replying. All I can say is things must have changed or we are going to different places. The beaches on South Lantau are now all very clean (and have an old women walking up and down them at all times picking up rubbish drifting in from China). Similar story on most other isladns. If you go a bit off the beaten track (like when you hike around more obscure bits of Lantau) you do see rubbish but it isn’t excessive.

      Also the food, quite frankly the food at Miu Wo Cooked Food Centre is plain wow. I’ve had bad meals on the islands but that would generally be at more expaty places. Maybe the food has got better?

      Agree about the concrete for sure. Some of the world’s best hiking but peversely they try to cover the paths in concrete.

      And I’ve not been to Sydney but am looking fwd to going. But from what I have heard from my Aus friends is that the reason they are all in Ldn is precisely because it isn’t a ‘world city’.

  2. And for me one of the best things about Hong Kong are the islands and the ferries which link them. In half an hour’s boat ride from Central you can find yourself in another time and place where the shopping malls haven’t invaded and no Gucci or LV stores shitting in the mouth of history and culture.

    I concur. I often thought whenever I trek into Lantau, Lamma or Cheung Chau, it is like… stepping back in time.

    Have yet to visit Po Toi. Apparently the best seafood in HK can be found at a family-run restaurant on that island!

    • Go to the Mui Wo place I recommended, much better than Po Toi! Still I really love the feeling of dropping out of modern HK on the islands.

  3. tanja

    So true! I lived on Lamma and have been trying to find a similar seafood in HK… yes you can, but you have to pay. An honestly, where else than in old-fashioned eateries, like on the islands, they serve the sweet-n-sour souse that doesn’t look like it comes from the bottle? Dont know, but may be I ma spoiled by my Lammas local places. Went to Sai Kung this weekend – disappointed! As touristic as LKF. I keep Lamma to myself, with sea urchins, the beaches you can watch the fluorescent algies, and the seafood at the non-Rainbow restaurants.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.
Required fields are marked:*

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>