A Local’s Guide: Sonia Cheng’s Hong Kong

Sonia Cheng, the Hong Kong–based CEO of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, picks out some of her favorite hometown spots.

129 Second St, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong
If you think of gin and tonic as a nothing-special default cocktail, Ping Pong 129 Gintonería, across from exit B2 of the Sai Ying Pun station, just might change your mind. In a cavernous subterranean ex−ping-pong training center that’s been given an artsy but raw makeover, you can deep dive into an impressive array of small-batch gins and, yes, tonics from around the world. By Janice Leung Hayes. This appeared in the May/June 2016 issue.
Kun Lock Building, Nathan Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
When it comes to street eats in Hong Kong, egg waffles are the ultimate comfort food. Griddled into a sheet of egg-shaped bubbles, the iconic snack is crisp on the outside, and chewy on the inside. There are plenty of places to find it, but Lee Keung Kee in Kowloon’s North Point neighborhood is beloved among locals.
Amigo Mansion, 79A Wong Nai Chung Rd, Happy Valley, Hong Kong
Since opening in 1967, Amigo is beloved by locals...and the generation after them, known affectionately as the “restaurant with the golden sun”. Renowned for classic decor (think velvet, Italian tiles and high-backed chairs) and great service from tuxedo-clad staff, Amigo’s resilience in the fickle Hong Kong dining world continues to win old and new fans over with their take on classic French fare with dishes like Bisque D’Escargot, lamb chops and Foie Gras. This restaurant is a favorite among the romantics, so reserve a table and open a bottle of wine to mark that special birthday or anniversary. Have the live band perform his/her favorite song and you’re all set.
47號 Parkes St, Jordan, Hong Kong
Local residents lead cosmopolitan lives, but their appetites never weaken for recipes reminiscent of Old Hong Kong. Hong Kong-style cafes, or “cha chaan tengs,” are loved for their eclectic menus, which, aside from casual Hong Kong dishes, also offer Hong Kong-Style Western cuisine. They are best for quick and affordable meals like fried noodles and classics like baked porkchop rice. For breakfast, the Australia Dairy Company in Yau Ma Tei has best scrambled eggs on toast in town. (Their secret ingredient? Canned cream soup.) At Central’s famed Tsui Wah, pair a beef brisket curry with rice with the signature Hong Kong drink “yeen yeung,” a mixture of coffee and milk. Grab a fresh egg tart for dessert and you’re good to go.
Hotels
14 Shek Tsai Po St, Shek Tsai Po, Hong Kong
Within an hour, travelers can transport themselves from the lights and sounds of Central, Hong Kong, to the green hills and deserted beaches of Lantau Island. Opened in 2012, the Tai O Heritage Hotel encourages guests to immerse themselves in the natural beauty and history of Tai O, a colorful fishing village where stilted houses line the waterways of western Lantau Island. A collaboration between the government and the Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation, Tai O Heritage Hotel was built in the former Tai O marine police station, from which officers defended Hong Kong from pirates for more than 100 years. Three buildings were transformed into nine guest rooms, an interpretation center, and a glass-roofed restaurant, earning the project a UNESCO award for cultural heritage conservation. Historic features such as cannons, guard towers, searchlights, and holding cells, as well as original architectural details like French windows, Victorian granite steps, a Chinese-tiled roof, and century-old fireplaces, were all restored in the process. The hotel also serves regional foods, employs villagers, and gives back to the Tai O community, demonstrating its commitment to celebrating the local culture. Beyond the historic walls of the hotel is a mystical landscape with dozens of butterfly species, Chinese white dolphins, and Hong Kong’s best sunsets.
Level 3 Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell St, Central, Hong Kong
Two Michelin stars give this restaurant culinary clout, and the elegant, magazine-worthy decor add style on top. With eye-catching art on the walls and talks, screenings, and exhibits of international contemporary art held frequently, the two-story restaurant feels like an art collector’s private home. Both breathtaking and welcoming, Duddell’s is a place to savor traditional Cantonese cuisine like braised whole South African abalone, or crispy Iberico pork with fried rice, or a double boiled fish and pork soup. Not surprisingly in this atmosphere, the food is plated beautifully. Even if you aren’t the type to take pictures in restaurants, you may rethink that while dining at Duddell’s.
Wong Nai Chung Gap, Hong Kong
Amid the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, it’s hard to believe that nature is always just a short taxi ride away. Opened in 2009 as a designated historic site, the Tai Tam Waterworks Heritage Trail on Hong Kong Island is a picturesque network of idyllic pathways along the dams and pumping houses built by the British in the 19th century. On sunny weekends, you’ll bump into locals with their dogs in tow.
255 Queen's Road Central
For some of the most sublime cuts of beef in the city, head to Yakiniku Great, which specializes in kuroge wagyu, which is flown in each day from Japan. Snag a table in the low-key dining room, where each wooden table’s central grill allows you to cook your own meat to your liking.
AFAR Journeys
More From AFAR