With amazing views over Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour Aqua is without doubt my favourite restaurant in Hong Kong, and in my top ten in the world.
It was the first restaurant my husband booked on my first trip to Asia.
We went to Hong Kong in 2005 for a week to decide if we wanted to live there and I guess dining here contributed to us deciding 'YES' and making the move that changed our lives forever.
Over the last 10 years we have dined here many many times. We nearly always brought our guests here to enjoy the amazing views and and the equally impressive food. Now is has become a bit of a ritual and everytime we are in Hong Kong I book a table here.
When you arrive in the reception area the view is hidden behind the sliding doors that lead to the restaurant. When you are being taken to your table and the doors open the view is simply breathtaking. There is a bar upstairs too that is on a mezzanine over the restaurant with the same wow factor when you get to the top of the stairs.
There are two kitchens, Japanese and Italian. both are excellent.
Although we nearly always opt for the Italian we often mix it up a bit by having Japanese starters. Having to two cuisines in one restaurant is obviously great if you have a group of people with different tastes too.
On this occasion there was a small group of us for a business dinner with some of my husband's colleagues.
We managed to reserve a private dining room (there is a minimum per head spend I think) and everyone was impressed.
The room is like a glass box in the corner of the restaurant with the views of the harbour.
If you are dining early enough you can watch the Symphony of Lights on Hong Kong island which happens at 8pm every evening.
Food is actually quite reasonably priced. Of course you can spend a small fortune if you go all out and order champagne and top quality Japanese dishes, but you can also eat amazing Italian style thin crust pizza or delicious pasta dishes and not break the bank.
We had a plate of Japanese starters to share and then I had a scrummy ravioli with soft egg and truffle inside followed by beef cheek on a bed of mash potato. My husband also had the ravioli - it was truffle season and the waiter advised us that it was amazing - followed by pizza.
Our friends opted for a variety of dishes all from the Italian menu.
The dessert platter which we have had many times before is a great way to end the meal if there are a group of you. you get to try lots and nothing is too heavy.
Everything we had was beautifully presented and service was excellent - as always.
We have never had a bad meal in Aqua and I never hesitate when recommending it to just about anybody I meet.
In fact I just advised a small group of Americans I met in a hotel lounge in Singapore and they emailed me to say 'thank-you' saying that together with a trip on Aqua Luna (owned by the same people) it was one of the hi-lights of their trip.
When we lived in Hong Kong lots of friends and family took advantage of our guest rooms and came to stay. We had a fabulous duplex apartment half way up the peak with amazing views over Victoria Harbour. The photo above was taken from our flat - we LOVED that view.
During that time I put together a list of things for our visitors to do.
I still send this list out to friends who are visiting Hong Kong and asked me for advice... so I thought I'd share the list here too..
Hong Kong Skyline and light show. The Hong Kong skyline is what most people think of when you mention Hong Kong. The tall buildings with Victoria Peak in the background. The best views of the Hong Kong Island skyline come from the Kowloon side of the harbour. There is a pedestrianised area in front of the Hong Kong Cultural Museum where you can get great views.
You could also go for dinner in Aqua (one of my favourite restaurants in Hong Kong) which has breathtaking views.
Every evening at 8pm 47 of Hong Kong's buildings take part in A Symphony of Light. An amazing light show.. and its FREE.
There are two spots where you can hear the music that accompanies the light show, one is the area in front of the Cultural Centre and the other is on HK Island Golden Bauhinia Square in Wanchai.
I would always suggest that our visitors took a trip on Aqua Luna. This beautiful old Chinese style junk boat travels across the harbour from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui and back again several times throughout the evening from sunset to 22.45. The music soundtrack to A Symphony of Lights is piped into the boat, so you can relax on a sofa, a glass of wine in your hand and watch the light show from both sides of the harbour. Everyone we suggested this to absolutely loved it.
Here is a video on YouTube that will give you an idea of what this is all about. It doesn't do the show justice though...
Star Ferry is a 'must do' and at just over 2 HK$ per trip possible one of the cheapest things to do on the island.
The Ferry travels between Kowloon and Wan Chai or Central every 6 or 7 minutes.....It is far more relaxing than getting the crowded MTR and as a bonus you get some great photo opportunities.
Stanley is a village on the south side of Hong Kong Island. It is a bit of an expat enclave partly due to the American Club nearby, but it is a nice getaway from the busy side of the island. It has undergone a lot of renovation over the last 10 years since we first visited and it looks pretty good now. There is a row of restaurants facing the water offering everything from Pizza Express to fresh fish and local dishes.
There is also Stanley Market which was always a big hit with our guests. It has most of the things you will find at Ladies Market and the Night Market but in a smaller space, with less crowds.... well at least during the weekdays.
SHOPPING, is what all our visitors to Hong Kong wanted to know about.... and usually the markets were on peoples list of things they wanted to do. The Night Market and the Ladies' Market on Kowloon side were where we sent everyone.
You can buy all kinds of stuff here from cheap souvenirs I 'heart' HK T-shirts to decorative Chinese table decorations and knock-off handbags.
Everything can be bargained for but don't expect the t-shirts to survive a tumble dryer....
I have to admit it's not my favourite thing to do as I'm not a big shopper and I don't like chaos but everyone else loved it so its on the list !
Of course there is lots of other shopping to do in Hong Kong. Electronics and cameras for example are usually cheaper here than in Europe, but try to find a reputable dealer. I bought my camera via a dealer listed on the Canon webpage and got a great deal with some extra lens filters and a big memory card thrown in.
The Peak as Victoria Peak is know is the best spot for views on a clear day. There is a tram (a Swiss made funicular) that takes people up and down the steep climb all day long.
You can of course take a bus, a taxi or even walk up if you are feeling energetic. I would suggest a bus or taxi up, unless you are very early as the queues can be very long. Then get the tram down.
When we lived in Hong Kong I used to walk up and around the Peak a few times a week as my daily exercise.
In the morning it was such a lovely peaceful thing to do... of course after breakfast the tram starts to fill up as does the walk around the peak.
I would strongly suggest doing this as early as you can.... on a clear day.
If its too cloudy or hazy then you won't see much from up there, as you can see from my photo below which wasn't a particularly clear day.
If possible make this trip during the week. Weekends can get VERY busy.
Ride on the Hong Kong Trams from Causeway bay to Kennedy Town and drive through some of the Hong Kong's bustling streets through Wan Chai and Central.
The narrow trams are efficient and fun and best of all CHEAP. You can get a 4 day pass if there is a tram stop near where you are staying and you can jump on a tram a short walk from the busy restaurant areas of Lan Kwai Fong and Soho.
Dim Sum was one food type we encouraged our guests to try while they were in HK. The quality was so much better than anywhere else I have ever had it... and very cheap comparatively.
We usually suggested Maxims in central where trolleys of dim Sum would be wheeled along the restaurant and you can just stop the waitress when you see something you like the look of. I'm not a Dim Sum expert so I'm not sure how Maxims compares to other restaurants in Hong Kong but there is plenty of other choice, especially on the Kowloon side.
If Dim Sum isn't your thing then I would suggest High Tea at The Peninsula. Its a bit of a touristy things to do and they have a dress code - no flip flops and guys must wear sleeves on their shirts, and they are strict about, but it is nice if you have time.
You can imagine you have been swept back in time as you are welcomed into the hotel lobby by the immaculately dressed doormen.
The last three things that make up the top ten are for the active. Lantau Island and the Big Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery (photo right) is the least strenuous. There are 268 steps to climb to the base of the statue but there is also the option of a scrummy lunch (vegetarian) at the monastery.
Lamma Island doesn't have to be strenuous at all, but we always hiked across the island so we felt like we deserved lunch at the end. The row of restaurants at Sok Kwu Wan village offers a great selection of fresh fish and our personal favorite Rainbow, offered a free ferry journey back to HK island.
The last activity is a 8.5km hike over The Dragon's Back. The views are spectacular on a clear day and the beaches are not busy. Many people take picnics or BBQ and turn this into a whole day trip. But beware, its a strenuous hike, not a flip flop walk.
Of course there are LOADS of things to do that I haven't listed here.
There are amazing photo opportunities at the Flower Market, in Aberdeen Country Park (photo left) or just walking around Kowloon.
There are the restaurants and bars of both Lan Kwai Fong and Soho to discover, foot massages to be had.
For those with a bit more time you could consider a trip to Macau or even a shopping trip over the border to Shenzhen.
Discover Hong Kong is the official website for Hong Kong and its full of lots more ideas to fill your visit.
Hong Kong is a fabulous city. Its very safe but also very dynamic and exciting. If you get the chance GO !!!
As a Gordon Ramsay fan I got very excited when there was a new restaurant opening in one of the cities I visit regularly. We have been to Maze, BSK, Union Street Cafe and Heddon Street Kitchen in London and The London in NYC and I have a shelf full of cook books....
When I saw Gordon had been in Hong Kong and I knew I had an upcoming trip I was quickly online to book a table at Bread Street Kitchen. On our first night we had a table with some of our best friends, I was looking forward to a good evening.
Bread Street Kitchen is on the ground floor of the swanky Lan Kwai Fong Hotel overlooking the busy bar street of the same name.
Great Location..... the only downside is that it is upstairs from the Hard Rock Cafe.... and so you can hear their awful music pumping through the floor. The windows were closed when we visited - thankfully - but we could still hear the pounding noise.
I arrived a little early and enjoyed a drink at the bar. There were some nice wines by the glass and a great selection of gins too. The layout and design is very similar to Bread Street Kitchen in London, as was the food menu.
When my friends arrived we were seated and were all able to find several things we wanted to eat. We ordered an assortment of dishes, scallops, short ribs and carpaccio as starters and shepherds pie, fish and steak as mains.
Everything was delicious. cooked perfectly and well presented.... things went slightly downhill with the desserts.
The waitress plonked our dessert spoons (no forks) down in such a haphazard way she could just as easily dropped them from a height. Maybe she didn't like that we were sharing two desserts... its hard to say.
The desserts Eaton Mess and Mint Ice Cream and Brownies actually looked the same.. apart from the colour... both with way too much whipped cream and both with fresh mint leaves.....
To be fair I have not had desserts in BSK London, so I don't have a direct comparison, but they weren't really what I expected.
Service was very good throughout the evening (despite the dessert spoons) and I'd go back again. The location is great and I'm sure BSK will be a huge hit.
The food was good and reasonably priced... I'd just skip dessert the next time...
...as a side note... there is only one mans and one womans toilet. Not sure how they will cope on a busy evening....
Our visit to The London House on the Kowloon side was a completely different story.
We didn't make a reservation for dinner late on a Friday evening but were offered a table on the balcony. It was a nice temperature, so we were happy to be outside. Our waitress was not particularly good, only explaining the specials to my husband, who didn't understand, so I had to ask her to repeat herself to me..
We ordered drinks and food together. My husbands beer arrived, followed by the food followed by my glass of wine.... but only after I had asked for it twice.
My husbands burger was just warm and his 'fries' were cold so he asked for them to be replaced. (they were replaced with piping hot fries) Hubby didn't mention the burger because when he mentioned the fries the waitress was ready to take the whole plate away, but we like to eat together and my fish and chips were piping hot and we were both hungry so he just kept and ate the burger. The Fish and Chips were delicious. properly battered and tasty...
There was live music performing downstairs in the bar which really sounded like it was in competition with the music from next door.
It was loud and pretty terrible. It sounded more like the woman was singing karaoke Hotel California and Simply The Best.
I guess I was partly to blame for our disappointment because having been to The London in New York I had a completely different idea of what the venue would be like. I did know it was a 'pub' style venue but I didn't expect this...
if I hadn't seen Gordon Ramsay had actually visited and posted pictures on his Twitter I would assume he didn't know his name was being used.... needless to say I won't be back.
Bread Street Kitchen LKF Hotel, Wyndham Street, Hong Kong
The London House 66 Mody Road, East TST, Hong Kong
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