"Let life enchant you again." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Travel
February 25, 2011

Hong Kong Favourites (15-11)

If there are two things Hong Kong is well known for, it’s shopping and eating. The city thrives on dining and retail experiences and both sectors feature prominently in tourist marketing, lifestyle and culture journalism and online writing in blogs and social media. Of course, the reality on the ground is complex. There are lots […]

Toy Museum

If there are two things Hong Kong is well known for, it’s shopping and eating. The city thrives on dining and retail experiences and both sectors feature prominently in tourist marketing, lifestyle and culture journalism and online writing in blogs and social media.

Of course, the reality on the ground is complex. There are lots of amazing places to eat, from great affordable eateries to magnificent high end dining. But sometimes food and standards of service, even in fine dining establishments can be poor. And, while Hong Kong has become something of a mecca for luxury shopping (especially for cash rich “mainland” Chinese), the general retail experience has dropped in a lot of sectors (for example, it is cheaper and easier to order camera gear from the US than buy it locally).

Still, the city has an awful lot to offer and this short list is a partial and personal reflection of that. There are also food and shopping entries in other parts of this top 25 list. Anyway, here goes,

15. Peninsula Hotel Lobby Cafe – I must admit now to two guilty pleasures, colonial hotels and club sandwiches. As much as I deplore colonialism, I have a strange affinity to its products, in the form of hotel service and architecture. Case in point would be The Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe and The Imperial Hotel in Delhi, India and of course, The Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong.

Tourists flock here for the afternoon high tea (expect a long wait if you choose to join them). I’d rather pop in for an early lunch and enjoy what is perhaps the best club sandwich in town. Sit back and enjoy the ambience (and parade of high end tourists) and wonder why this old jewel of a hotel doesn’t get more praise and media attention (maybe it just doesn’t need it).

14. Tom Lee Music – Hong Kong doesn’t have many musical instrument stores, but Tom Lee Music almost makes up for that. Sure the service can be terrible and making a special order requires the patience of Job. But, the eye candy in the guitar department, especially at the flagship store in Tsim Sha Tsui is delightful. Tom Lee usually has Fender Custom Shop, Gibson, James Tyler, Martin, PRS and Vox guitars in stock. Go on a weekday morning and have some fun.

13. Page One, Harbour City – It just wouldn’t be right if I didn’t drop a bookstore somewhere into this top 25. Page One had a cool branch in Central, which sadly closed down not long after I moved here. Amongst the remaining outlets in town the one in my favourite Hong Kong Mall, Harbour City, is my favourite. Decent design, photography and cooking sections keep me coming back (and in those categories the prices are better than Dymocks). However, they could do with a bigger literature/classics section and they failed to keep pace with Bookazine for magazines.

12. Crystal Jade, ifc Mall – OK, I should probably have opted for a more foodie credible choice in this category – maybe Ye Shanghai, Manor, or even the wonderful three Michelin starred Lung King Heen – but, Crystal Jade in the ifc Mall is a personal favourite and a great example of how good things can be when Hong Kong pairs up quality with convenience. It’s easy to forget that this food in a shopping mall, right above a train station (and airport check-in). Simple but well done cuisine, with quick service at a nice price. It’s been a long, long time since I had a bad meal there – and, I’ve eaten at Crystal Jade a lot!

11. The Toy Museum – It’s hard to put into words how much I love this tiny, crowded and insanely fun little store in the Princes Building. I featured it in my CNNgo piece on Hong Kong storefronts and I’m still enraptured by the place. There’s the latest and newest as well as some great collectable stuff to bring back childhood memories, (or even give you a glimpse of what your parent’s childhood looked like). A welcome reminder that Hong Kong loves toys and has more than its fair share of serious toy collectors as well.

Anyway, there’s an awful lot more to be said about food and shopping in Hong Kong (and there’s more to come as I conclude this list in March). Thankfully, there are some great locally-focussed blogs we can turn to for more detail. In particular, I’d recommend taking a look at

Aromas y Sabores
Butter Boom
Chicharrero por Hong Kong
e*ting The World
Fist Of Food
Gregoire Michaud
Hong Kong Fashion Geek
Life As A Bon Vivant
Mochacholata Rita
Neon Punch
Sassy Hong Kong

Earlier instalments in this series include, Hong Kong Favourites (20-16) and Hong Kong Favourites (25-21).

Tom 13 years ago

Many thanks for the link.

Nice tip on books. Since I got a kindle I have found my soul is much happier in Hong Kong as I was previously desperate at a lack of serious book stores with in depth catalogues. Now I find it much easier to be happy. Still interested to see Page One and how that is.


jisampedro 13 years ago

Indeed is not an easy choice between all the food options in town, the list would be quite extense, hehe. I remember to have tried the Crystal Jade in Shatin and the food was nice. Must try the one in IFC but knowing your experience, sure I will be satisfied.

Regarding the books, maybe you have been to the Page One in Festival Walk, Kowloon Tong. I know is kind of a bit more far but the selection of books is good too.

Thanks for the recommendation in the links. I am thinking to write something similar inspired by your idea of HK favourites.


Fernando Gros 13 years ago

Tom – thanks for the comment. Page One lacks a big, serious, non-Fiction section. Eslite in Taiwan wins on that score. Still, Page One crosses the “inspiring” threshold for me.

What I would really like though is something like Nomad, my local bookstore in London. Not huge, but just really well put together and with staff who know their way around the books.

Fernando Gros 13 years ago

Javier – yes, there are so many places that are worth mentioning. Thankfully we have so many good food blogs!

Festival Walk is my second favourite mall in Hong Kong and the only reason I don’t there more often is that it gets really, really busy on weekends. The Page One there is bigger than the one in Harbour City, but a bit noisier and not as nicely laid out.

Rach 13 years ago

Regarding books, I really like the Hong Kong Book Centre in Tai Koo. They have a fantastic selection (definitely the best Island East side), their staff are super helpful and friendly and they also have a 15% discount card which we didn’t have to pay extra for. You can use the card at any of their other stores (which I have yet to check out – in Central and Swindon Books in TST). What with it being in Tai Koo, it’s a bit quieter than Page One – and, by my reckoning, a little bit cheaper too!

Love these lists… may do one myself one of these days!

Fernando Gros 13 years ago

Rach – thank you. I don’t get to Tai Koo very often, but agree that’s a good store. And, great point about the cards being paid for in other stores like Page One and Bookazine.

Hope to see your list one day.

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