New attractions for culture vultures to visit
The revitalized West Kowloon district, among others, promises a host of new cultural and gastronomic experiences for tourists in Hong Kong.
The Pearl of the Orient may be closed to international travelers for now, but it is far from hibernating. Home to a resilient, creative and enterprising people, Hong Kong is constantly abuzz with change and new launches, especially in the F&B and arts scenes. Tourists can expect to experience a reinvigorated city with a host of exciting new hotspots.
We’re rounding up some of these attractions for your vacation itinerary, while taking a cue from the little black books of two Hong Kong-based expats who are also “Hong Kong Super Fans” – a term coined by the Tourism Board. of Hong Kong to describe a community of people who travel a lot and love the city.
West Kowloon, which spans Jordan and Yau Ma Tei on the Kowloon Peninsula, has always been a hotbed of culture and heritage. The area is rich in historical architectural sites, centuries-old shops and traditional crafts. Now West Kowloon is about to get even more vibrant with the new West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD). Sitting on 40 ha of reclaimed land, the WKCD will be one of the largest cultural projects in the world when fully opened.
As its name suggests, art and culture will be honored here. Five of the 17 new cultural spaces are already open, although the spaces can be dedicated to a variety of uses. The centerpiece here is the M+, a visual art museum with a striking inverted T-shaped structure designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the Swiss architecture firm behind London’s Tate Modern. Just opened on November 12 to great fanfare, M+ is currently hosting six themed shows.
Of the many spaces to explore in WKCD and nurture her love for the arts, Indonesian-born and raised artist and designer Lie Fhung says her favorite spot is West Kowloon Art Park. “I love how everyone can feel free to relax on a vast expanse of greenery surrounded by trees and the creative energy of the art spaces around,” adds Fhung.
Singaporean chef Barry Quek of Restaurant Whey, who has been based there since 2017, names West Kowloon’s seafront promenade as his favorite place in WKCD for a stroll ‘to get away from the hustle and see the sunset “. Quek adds that the surrounding area is worth exploring as it is full of heritage restaurants.
There are also several F&B newcomers in WKCD that foodies should check out. FAM, which is located in the art park, is recommended for its delicious Chinese cuisine with a contemporary twist. For traditionalists, dim sum staples are of course on the menu, but FAM makes dining fun with its colorful and eclectic interiors, original music playlist and light art installations. A great choice for the family and a highly Instagrammable spot, FAM also offers the most incredible views of the lush Art Park and glorious Victoria Harbour.
Two restaurants from M+ are worth checking out when they open in early 2022. Mosu Hong Kong is the first overseas outpost of Mosu Seoul, a two-star Michelin restaurant in South Korea, while ADD+ which stands for “All Day Dining’ features a full-service restaurant and bar with avant-garde decor, as well as a take-out section.
A little southeast of WKCD is Tsim Sha Tsui, home to the Hong Kong Museum of Art. Although it opened in 1962 and is a well-known institution, Fhung and Quek consider the museum a must-visit for its collection that spans old and new, local and international. “The museum bookstore offers cool and thoughtfully curated books on Hong Kong art, design and culture, as well as imaginative and inspiring children’s books,” Fhung offers. Just a five-minute walk from the museum is the Avenue of Stars on Victoria Harbour’s scenic waterfront, which is another of Quek’s recommendations for sightseeing.
Hong Kong Island
Across Victoria Harbor from the Kowloon Peninsula, a number of new restaurants and bars have sprung up on Hong Kong Island during the pandemic. Head to Penicillin in Central if enjoying a good cocktail is as important to you as saving the planet. Founded by Agung Prabowo and Roman Ghale, formerly of The Old Man bar in Hong Kong, Penicillin held an online “Sustainable Cocktail” masterclass as part of the virtual events organized by the Hong Kong Tourism Board during the Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival for a month. 2021 in November.
The turnout was phenomenal, as the winner of Asia’s 50 Best Sustainable Bar Award for 2021 has already made a name for itself for its creative and eco-friendly concoctions. The ultra-chic watering hole is also Hong Kong’s “first closed-loop cocktail bar”, which uses only local or recycled ingredients for its drinks and food. In its mission to be ‘wasteless’, nothing – from skin to seed – is wasted here, while bric-a-brac of fruits and vegetables are fermented for other uses. According to Probowo, “When people come to Penicillin, we want to send the message to them that they can become sustainability ambassadors, so they can start doing it in their daily lives – not just following a trend. “
As more and more people become aware of their environmental footprint, Slowood would appeal to locals and tourists alike for the range of sustainable yet interesting products it offers. Since opening its Kennedy Town flagship store in January 2019, the zero-waste concept grocery and lifestyle store has launched three more outlets in Hong Kong.
There is also something here for design lovers, since the philosophy of Slowood also encompasses furnishings. The lampshades, chairs and parts of the tables available for retail sale are made from recycled polystyrene, wooden wine boxes and even mushrooms. For something you can easily take home with, look at the back of the store for household goods from Japanese brand Wasara, which makes compostable and disposable tableware.
It’s never too early to plan your next Hong Kong vacation itinerary. Visit discoveryhongkong.com to find out about the latest news and attractions in the city.
(Main and featured image: West Kowloon Cultural District by Virgile Simon Bertrand de Herzog de Meuron; all images courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board)