This is a post by Sophie Williams, who’s just come back from a 6-month stint in Hong Kong…
You could go to Hong Kong and bankrupt yourself by shopping in the IFC Mall or Festival Walk. Or you could decide to go after wallet-friendly Hong Kong, like I did. It took a bit of digging, but I found a restaurant where you’ll get an all-you-can-eat buffet for a fiver and a bar that sets out acoustic instruments to play for free.
Here’s my guide to an evening with the locals in Hong Kong…
Dinner at Mr Wong’s
Your first stop should be Mr Wong’s, the amazing buffet place I mentioned above. Jump on the MTR (Kwun Tong line) to Yau Ma Tei stop and head to the intersection of Kwong Wa Street and Yin Chong Street. There you’ll find a gloriously shabby restaurant with chairs and tables outside, packed full of locals (always a good sign).
The owner, Mr Wong, is a man with a passion for European theatre (Les Miserables in particular). He loves a chat, as you’ll soon find out when he sits down next to you for a natter. If you’re the shy, retiring type this probably isn’t the place for you.
The best thing about Mr Wong’s (apart from the food)? The regulars, who are friendly, chatty and very open about HK life. The traditional Cantonese fare is such good value for money; the plates are best shared and larger groups have food ordered for them by Mr Wong (who likes to add in a few of his specialities).
The all-you-can-eat buffet costs HK$50 (£4.16) per person and includes unlimited beers, wines and soft drinks. You can stay there for as long as you want.
Drinking at Sense 99
Hop back on the MTR (Tsuen Wan line to Central) into Central and head to Wellington Street. You’ll need to get yourself buzzed into Sense 99 (99 Wellington Street), then navigate your way up the steep steps to the second floor, with its grand antique chandelier, and order a beer for HK$40 (£3.30).
It feels like a secret bar and is very chilled compared to the hustle and bustle of the city outside; I loved just watching the world go by from a balcony overlooking the street. The locals gather on the top floor where there’s a collection of musical instruments; anyone can play and it’s a great way of breaking the ice.
Sense 99 has that house-party-with-the-Skins-cast thing going on. It feels like a very posh house, for one, and gets filled up with regulars from the local arts scene, who crowd onto the comfy sofas for a good old catch-up.
This is my idea of a perfect evening in Hong Kong; I reckon they are the perfect antidote to the more touristy bits of HK.
Take a look at our travel guide to Hong Kong.