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….
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.