Central: The Heart of it All
Central, on the north shore of Hong Kong Island and directly across Victoria Harbour from Tsim Sha Tsui, is the central business district of the SAR. When people think of Hong Kong, the cityscape of Central is often what comes to mind. Since the earliest days of the British colonial era in 1841, this district has served as the centre of trade and financial activity and remains so to this day. Hong Kong's first road, Queen's Road, was established from the area and marks where the old shoreline used to be. The ambitious Aqua Restaurant Group will open two flagship restaurants and a luxury bar in Tai Kwun this month. Paying homage to both British and Chinese gastronomic history, as is befitting of Hong Kong, The Chinese Library will celebrate various regional Chinese dishes, while Statement will showcase innovative British grub, echoing colonial heritage with a modern avant-garde culinary direction. The link between these two establishments will be The Dispensary, an elegant bar decorated with nostalgic ornaments that reveal clues to the 852's colourful past, with scrumptious drinks to match. Their shared home in Tai Kwun cannot be more fitting; first, stroll through the compound for a feel of old Hong Kong before settling down in one of these restaurants to reminisce.
Ramen lovers need to head to Gough Street pronto, where two of Hong Kong's best ramen places sit right next to each other. Both offer amazing variations of tsukemen (ramen noodles to be dipped into a rich broth), Shugetsu specialises in a fish-based soup, while Zagin Soba uses chicken to create a creamy broth. Nearby on Gage Street, Feather & Bone is always worth a visit for their deli selections; this branch also has a sit-in area where you can savour cheeses and wines.
The latest attraction in Central is Tai Kwun, a heritage and arts centre housed in the restored Central Police Station compound. Eight years in the making, the heritage building has finally reopened its doors this summer, transformed to take the city's art scene to the next level. Thoughtfully restored by Swiss studio Herzog de Meuron, this is Hong Kong's biggest ever restoration project. Poke around the nooks and crannies of the old police quarters and Victoria Prison's cells, then head to the amphitheatre for a spot of performance arts.
PMQ, the old Hollywood Road Police Married Quarters, is also worth checking out. After 15 years of disuse, the site was revitalised in 2014 to provide a platform for creative happenings and to nurture local designers. What used to be residential units for police staff are now studios, shops and galleries for creative enterprises. PMQ also regularly hosts cultural or pop-up events. Even at the height of summer, the innovative anti-uv glass ceiling will keep visitors protected. Have a leisurely stroll around the two blocks and see if you won't be moved to support some local talent.
The Central—mid-levels Escalator elevated walkway is the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world, running from Queen's Road Central up to Robinson Road. The moving walkway runs downhill in the morning until 10am to aid commuters heading into Central, and then uphill until midnight daily. The surrounding areas of Hollywood Road, Soho and Caine Road are all destinations in their own right, so we suggest newcomers hop off the escalator every so often to experience the varying landmarks of Central.
Lan Kwai Fong, the renowned party area, is packed with bars, clubs and restaurants, attracting a heady mix of curious tourists and gregarious locals ready to let loose. Start the night at a relatively quiet bar, work your way up to the infamous ten shots challenge, and when the munchies kick in, you can always roll back down the hill to Tsui Wah for late night snacks.
Gough Street is one of our favourite spots in Hong Kong. Apart from boutiques for clothing and accessories, both WOAW and Homeless stock quirky home goods, and Timothy Oulton also has his opulent furniture store here. Don't forget to oogle at the piranha tank at Gough's on Gough next door.
Lastly head down to the waterfront, and soak in the amazing views of the opposite shore from Victoria Harbour. The Star Ferry is very much a Hong Kong institution, and a ride across the harbour to Kowloon only costs HK$2.20 on a weekday. The Central Harbourfront Event Space often hosts activities so keep an eye out, or hop onto the Hong Kong Observation Wheel for stunning vistas of both sides of the harbour at 60 metres up.
The Chinese Library Statement