Dragon’s Back Hike

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Times flew by just as if you were fasting forward the video cassette, 6 months back into home land but yet I cannot forget how easy access Hong Kong is for hiking. You can hike any peak on any given good weather weekend without any advanced planning. Unlike my Brecon Beacons hike in September, took 3 days off for hiking.

Having been real slow with sharing some of my Hong Kong highlights, I pull myself to write up the hikes now esp its the best season in HK right now to hike. Hong Kong is still standing at above 25C degree, making it the perfect time to explore the nature again.

And here I am, sharing one of my beloved hikes in HK that I have experienced… The Dragon’s Back.

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All hidden before sunnies, I am sure my friends wouldn’t mind I shared this photos on my blog! There you go, a bad example of hiking gear was to wear converse to hike. Make sure you wear shoes with good support to your ankle for any hikes.

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Off we go, we took the bus to Shau Kei Wan MTR, Exit A3 towards the bus stop, for bus 9 towards Shek-O, alight at To Tei Wan on Shek O Road where you will see the hike sign that we took a selfie from.

From that starting point, we decided to finish the hike at Shek-O and aiming to hop on the Tai Long Wan (Big Wave Bay) for a dip of water to end our day. Literately, as soon as you start the hike you will not get lost, but rather crowded with loads of hikers around.

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That day was a warm day with loads of clouds blocking the sun, else I am sure I will get burn like crazy!  The path are all clear without any shelters, so you have to make sure you’re sunscreen covered, visor or hats ready for this harsh sun. Think HK has the deadly sunshine compare to UK…

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Look at the landscape views that you get from this hike,  any hard work is worth it right?

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And yes, our aim was to walk down hill to the Tai Long Wan (Big Wave Bay) and there its where we was aiming.

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Time flies when you’re having fun, a few more jokes, resting stops for the nice view, viola, we arrived at the bay to enjoy some chilled out by the bay. Enjoyed a few snacks by the stall nearby, brought a red bean ice lolly and sat by the bay….

Some useful information
Starting point:
From MTR Shau Kei Wan Station Exit A3, take bus 9 at Shau Kei Wan Bus Terminus to To Tei Wan, Shek O Road.
End point: Walk from Tai Long Wan to Shek O. Then take bus 9 at Shek O Road back to Shau Kei Wan Bus Terminus. From here, public transport is available to other destinations.
Distance: 3 km over duration 2 to 3 hours depending on your pace

Yuen Tsuen Ancient Trail Hike

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Hong Kong once again is a hiking heaven. The easy accessible hiking trails on your weekend is as easy as finding a cafe alike. You can decide to hike on your last minute decision and still can make a day out of it.

I want to tick of all the major trails (obviously i did not! hahah) and hence we went for something more of a distance and interesting; in the end we went for this Yuen Tsuen Ancient Trail 元荃古道 which is “a trail linking Yuen Long and Tsuen Wan in the New Territories of Hong Kong. The trail was the major trail for travelling between two major towns for villages trading their necessaries before the completion of Castle Peak Road.” (Ref. Wikipedia).

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We started off from Tsuen Wan MTR station, walked further up got to this deserted car park and think errr…??

Then we found the staircase (to the heaven!) of the start of the Tsuen Wan Ancient Trail sign and my god… I have not walked that many stairs for a very long time until this and We’ve managed our way up and this is the point were your bottom gets a little stiff.

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Walk further a bit we got to a bit of a rough path which was quite steep up and until you get to the more paved path route; though this is still going uphill.. and we get to the point where we see this further uphill path. We went on a dry good sunny day and I was sweating finally in Hong Kong…

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The uphill section wasn’t hard but it does give you a good bottom workout. When you reach this part of the trail, the scenic that you get to see is amazing and rewarding! What’s that hard work?

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We chilled a little bit at this location for some fun and back shots, can still smile as I am standing up…

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Look at how close the mother nature and the urban city is from this hiking trail.. isn’t it amazing? It felt like how if you’re step away you can reach the city by an arm reach length ….

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Wow…. you get to see the two major bridge that connects the islands together!

Overall the hike was mostly on paved paths and in some parts you get to share the path with cars. The hike was pretty steadily and manageable for any beginner. However, in around more than half way of the trail we realised we are pretty much out of waters and decided that we should cut short the hike which we ended up to Sham Tseng instead of Yuen Long. And what’s famous there… I had a gorgeous meal of the infamous roasted goose!

What do we exercise for? to eat…. speechless!

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In general, this trail was not difficult at all for any beginners but my advise would be to bring with you at least 2 litre of waters. It was a big mistake that we did not take enough water for us. And do make sure you have enough some sun protection ie hat, visor and suntan lotion and some enthusiastic to enjoy this trail!!!! =)

Some useful information
Starting Point – 
Take the buses from Tsuen Wan MTR Station to Allway Gardens. Alternatively, take public transport to Castle Peak Road and walk for 20 minutes to Allway Gardens.
KMB – 39M Allway Gardens – Tsuen Wan MTR Station
Distance – 12.5km over duration of 5.5 hours

Lung Ha Wan Country Park Trail

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Most people understand as a city that’s full of sky scrapers and neighbour area full of housing estates but the least you know is that Hong Kong has amazing green lands. Although, I didn’t do as many trails I would want within the 6 months that I was there but there are some unforgettable trails that I went on and definitely has been an eye opening experience to what country side of Hong Kong can offers.

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I went on this hike via meetup.com on Hong Kong Hiking Group, the trail organiser and assistants at the hike were amazing. Guided the hike all the way and make sure everyone is at the similar pace and ensure the same number of people are there from start to finish.

Beginning of the hike was a little too much of stairs, how on earth you do a nature hike on stairs I wonder, this is totally different to any UK hike that I have been on. Once I was 1/3 up, not to the summit but almost, the scenery that I have got rewarded was breathe taking.

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Took a photo with the girl, Sophia, that was queuing next to me before we got on the bus. She is such a nice girl with a more western mindset in comparison to local Hong Konger I would say. Quite enjoyable talking to people mixed age and widen my perspective on what kids nowadays thinking like..

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Would you not say these scenery is amazing?

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I went wonder how people lives in villages, must be quite tiring travelling so far for the city.

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Once we made up to the summit, there were some areas that were pretty easy and flat. We admire the scenery that we got rewarded and starting to hike downhill and reach the Lung Ha Wan aka Lobster Bay.

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We took some group photo for the meetup website and we quickly ran off for our own sport outfit shoots (hahahhaaa~~~~~~). In fact, I have taken more photos with myself in it than scenic only on this hike. Pretty good to have Sophia on board.

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Great hike. Hong Kong Government has made some really good website for hiking info, below I have included the official hiking link to this hike. Please do check out other routes while you’re there.

Lung Ha Wan Trail – Hiking gov reference

Trail information
Bus journey – Diamond Hill Plaza Holloway; Take Bus 91 and get off at Tai Au Mun Road: Journey should take around 40 -45 mins
Hiking route – Start off at Tai Au Mun Road, walk for 10-15 mins to the starting point of the Lobster Bay Country Trail; takes about 25-30 mins to reach to summit; another 30 mins down and walk back to the Tai Au Mun Road
Hike statistics – 5 km, total ascent 200 m, estimated time 2.5 hours
Finishing Point transport – You can catch Bus 91 and travel back to Diamond Hill Plaza Hollywood to take the MTR/Taxi/Buses for your next destination.

must visit coffee spots in Hong Kong

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Apparently, there is a steadily increase in the number of western coffee shops around Hong Kong in comparison to the traditional canton style cafe which are decreasing. I mean its such a struggle to take preference as I love both equally and definitely does not want our canton style cafe disappearing because that’s where the fundamental Hong Kong foodie culture comes from.

Nevertheless, my take on sharing with you where I have been (in the past 6 months in HK) and let you decide whether its worth adding them onto your to visit list while visiting Hong Kong…

Cafe Deadend – 72 Po Hing Fong, Hong Kong
Located on the quiet area of Sheung Wan, this cafe is famous for quality food menu served with bread made from Po Atelier next door. What I enjoy the most is coming early around this area and enjoy a quiet breakfast sitting outside while reading your book. This place gets a little busy at lunch and afternoon so its probably wiser to come early. Beside the good hot or iced latte that I have tried, their apple tart is something that you should not be missed out on.  I made my way after my leather class one Sunday and learnt that it was SOLD OUT only around 3pm. You might have guessed what I did… I went before my class just to eat their apple tart on the following Sunday!! A perfect cafe to enjoy chill time on your weekend.

ToolssToolss – G/F, Fook Tin Building, 38 Wai Chi Street

A new comer in the end of 2014, the owner was previously a fashion editor but got tired of the fashion chasing and go for his dream of owning a coffee shop; he drew an associate of coffee with stationary (sth new hey!). Located in Shek Kip Mei amongst those industrial buildings and car garage, a different atmosphere! The shop is petite but love the wooden bar and stools also their serving cups/tray. However, I do feel the body lacks a little aroma and body. It might have improved since my visit!? Nevertheless, if you are near this neighbourhood, its worth stopping by.

Cafe hayfeverCafe Hay Fever – G/F., 62-64 Flower Market Road

This visit was unexpected, I walked by the shop while I was exploring around the flower market near MTR Prince Edward. And bump into this shop that the front half is a shop, the back half is a coffee shop. Its in a floral shop so you do see loads of greens and floral related items/books lying around in the cafe. The coffee and latte art was indeed really good, I cannot resist such a nicely made latte art on my coffee top. Nice little cafe perfect for stopping by after your weekend floral purchase.

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No one will not recognised this developed chain of coffee shop/cafe that does western dinner too. I tend to avoid well known chains if I have got a choice but we was out of choice at the time for wifi and sockets. Coincidentally, we went to this shop and guessed what I found? My favourite carrot cake(!), something I misses of the London scene. Howdy, not the best carrot cake I have tasted but nevertheless, the coffee in this cafe is definitely better than some chain but not as good as other boutique barista coffee shop though. I still enjoyed my hangouts in this chain though.

cocoexpressoCoco Espresso – Stanley Street

I never get around to visit their Queens Road branch and thank god they’ve opened one on Stanley Street! Yay! Closer to my then office, so I made my way there one lunch to pick up some photos after my South Korea trip. This little gem is definitely worth a visit, the atmosphere is modern and pleasant with some tall tables at the back of the shop. There’s some by wall bar table with stool, not the most comfortable sitting ever but you do get that casual hang out feel from this boutique coffee. Make sure you visit this place early around lunch time to get a seat, otherwise the place get filled up; of course, you can always buy one to go like most…

coffeeacademic (2)Coffee Academics – 35-45 Johnston Rd, Wan Chai

On the top of the list to visit while you are in HK, my first visit was after a lunch run to airport and back into HK island just so that I can doss the remaining hours  of my day in this coffee shop before I trek home back to NT side of Hong Kong. The shop have from by window bar table to high communal wooden table; and to more cosy small tables to choose from. I personally choice would be the high communal table, love how everyone brings their laptop and work on it alone. Do we go coffee shop to find some company to prove you’re not the only solo person? howdy, I would say the service lack a little but their barista skills are top notch, love how rich and full body my flat white was.. can’t stop keep getting the top down view of them. Perfect place to work alone with a nice cup. what about noises? when you focus on doing what you’re doing, you won’t get to hear a thing!

coffteaThe Cofftea Shop – Yue On Building, 78-86 Catchick St, Kennedy Town

Knew about this place so long ago, but its so far beyond Sheung Wan for me to visit. Not until one Sunday that I get dragged my bestie to go Kennedy Town to check out the area when Kenndy Town MTR was finally operating. Cofftea is a tiny coffee shop by the corner of the neighbour, not many sitting space and expected people are mainly buy to go. This place was special in terms of the machine that they use, they were still using hand press coffee machine to extract the coffee out. I got curious and asked why or how… the barista replied and goes its all by experience! booo! Nevertheless, using the hand press and still can get a decent shot is still amazing! Howdy, the latte was great, not overly powering of the coffee taste but a smooth pleasant cup I would say. Worth to pop by if you’re in Kennedy Town!

colourbrowncoffeeColour Brown Cafe – Sai Kung

This was definitely out of expected visit in Sai Kung after my walk around and waiting for dinner hours to arrive. There I ordered my latte with a typical HK Peanut butter toast with condensed milk. Nice heart latte art hey! Sitting outdoor enjoying the breeze was something that you should do on your weekend in HK before the humid summer arrives. The atmosphere plus this glass of decent latte, I would say it was definitely a good ending to my Sunday weekend.

commongroundCommon Ground – G/F, 19 Shing Wong Road, Central

Well well…a little of a hike up heel when you want to visit this little gem on in between Sheung Wan and Central. I love this place, not too much on the foods that they provide (why would my english breakfast all chopping up and served individually?!) but for their coffee I will definitely return for it. The ambiance of this coffee shop is neat and cosy, right next to a stair case but it still offers a quiet environment for you to catch up or do your own things in the shop. They have outside stable and stair seating as well. If you walk up you will have reach Caine Road.. Imagine that steep up heel climb? The furniture, loved wooden stuff! and take a looky to their China used, quality!! The staffs were pretty laid back and appears to be from aboard that’s probably brought the whole western environment back in town. Must visit from me!

cuppingrm-2Cupping room – off Queen’s Road

Another boutique turned into a few shops (I do wonder why can’t people create new names rather than a chain?? I hate chains!!!!) Their brunch choices were amazing, equally their coffees aren’t bad considering their barista was the winner in the Barista Championship. Having said that my personal preference kicks in and found that their coffee is slightly more sour and bitter to my usual cupping. Can’t fault much of this place beside the lamps on top of the reflected table, making it super hard to get nice shot down.

elephantgroundElephant Ground – Gough Street

Lost count of how many times I have been to Elephant Ground at lunch just to get my coffee fix. Elephant Ground operates inside a clothing shop, very tiny corner with some bar sittings and outside bar sittings. One Friday lunch I literately just sat by the outdoor bar bit and enjoy my own quiet Friday to unwind for the weekend. It was very pleasant, overlooking what people do in the park below the coffee shop.Their iced and hot coffee are good, their cups were pretty big and loved the half body of the elephant legs! And what’s getting famous is their ice-cream sandwiches!!!!! I only had it twice so far, wish I get to try more when I was around… must go on weekend!

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Lof10-2Lof10 – G/F, 1 U Lam Terrace, Sheung Wan

Saw a lot of IG shots of this coffee shop, they have stools on the shop font and people enjoy outdoor sitting there! Additionally, they have this raw communal table and wooden stools by the entrance makes it extra attractive to enter into this coffee shop (maybe only me!?). I was hungry after leather class and went for a flat white and pineapple roll. Really enjoyed both, love how the presentation of the roll and how it has chopped pineapple inside.  The coffee probably one of the best in town and enjoyed every sip of it. Other bloggers have said the staff stares at them a lot while they were there. I didn’t feel any of that, when you are focus on doing your own things, you will definitely not get affected by other’s sight. Please do go to Lof10 if you are up the hill already, love that quiet atmosphere….

themixingbowlhk-2The Mixing Bowl HK – 5 Shin Hing St, Central, Hong Kong

Another gem but hidden off the side road of Gough Street. Totally quiet and peaceful when you want a quiet environment to work, there’s wifi in the shop… I didn’t know this place until some IGer posted a photo, quickly I popped by at lunch for one. Can’t fault my latte, just felt the services were a bit cold (I think this is a culture of HK…)! as always loved the wooden furniture; its more of a mix before natural and modern interior design. Apparently if you want to seat outside, you will only get a paper cup! Make sure you double check before you place your order. I do recommend this place for weekday quiet time.

IMG_4512-2Brew Bros – 33 Hillier St, Sheung Wan

I bumped into this coffee shop on my way to find Nail Point in central, hidden in a side street off Queen’s Road. Tiny shop with slight dim setting (not my usual preferred style) but the counter and bar area are neat and tidy. Though, once again I have got sucked into this shop due to the wooden sign of the shop front. Placed my order and waited for my coffee by the little side table into the shop. I do occasionally like latte served in glass and on this occasion I cannot fault anymore with the latte art that I get to see, I am a real sucker for pretty latte art! Drank the latte without any sugar, a good sign to tell me that the coffee beans were rich and full body without the bitterness that I dislike on some of the cups that I taste.

Its only recent that they had their 1st year anniversary and hopefully many years to come for Brew Bros. Another worthy place to go for a cup of quality coffee.

And while I visited other places but doesn’t quite have a nice photo to share.. but still worth a visit are;
Rabbithole – Wan Chai
Fuel Coffee – IFC
St Francis Street – Wan Chai
Veygo Coffee – Sheung Wan

favourite lunch spots in Central, Hong Kong

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Having been working in Hong Kong for 6 months, I thought I would share my top lunch spots around Central, Hong Kong. The infamous two foodie streets of Wellington street and Stanley street are full of top spots for breakfast to dinner; the nearby Gough Street and Gage Street makes it such a good place to explore around for your quality and affordable lunches!

Lok Heung Yuen Coffee Shop 樂香園咖啡室 蛇竇 – 中環機利文新街8-12號地下
The photo above is the infamous place for rice with scrambled eggs and cha siu. To make it even better, you order it with an iced HK milk tea. Everyday this place gets a super long queue at lunch, ideally is the place to go for one or two as this get you into the restaurant faster. Take out is not the same as eating it straight after its cooked. Not to forget to grab the Chinese version of chicken pie which is so gorgeously baked!

IMG_5593Law Fu Kee 羅富記粥麵專家 – 中環德輔道中140號地下

The famous Law Fu Kee is the place to be for the best affordable smooth congee. A classic match is to have a bowl of plain congee with some fried soy chow mien, yet I went for their beef congee with a small plate of deep fried fish balls … what a lunch!

IMG_3743Gyotaku 魚作 – 12/F, 11 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong

I never get to understand why restaurants are opened in some hidden building blocks, how could you get customers if no one sees this place!? Gyotaku is the same, I found this place on Openrice after loads of positive review of their foods quality. I went a good few times and their set menu for lunch is pretty reasonable with a main and dessert. Tea is in house. The sashimi don is my top choice but their beef stew rice is equally popular!

IMG_3110Kau Kee Beef brisket 九記牛腩 – 中環歌賦街21號地舖

How can I not mention this famous beef brisket place, said by this name, this is the famous place with a long queue waiting for its famous beef brisket noodle. I have tried both plain beef brisket and curry beef tendon brisket with noodles or flat noodle. My perfect bowl is curry beef tendon brisket with flat noodle. 咖喱牛筋腩粗麺. Done!  Don’t be surprised when you give your order and the waitresses have no responses, they are taking your order without any expressions… ah! and when you ordered an ice milk tea, they will call out their shorthand 涼茶 (Bitter tea!) and this is what makes Hong Kong culture totally different to anywhere else!

IMG_2582麥奀雲吞麵世家 – 77 Wellington St, Central, Hong Kong

My favourite place for my bowl of wonton noodle… you know the traditional way to serve a bowl of wonton noodle is where the noodle goes above the wonton. When you see your bowl arrived but without any wontons, don’t panic just dig under your noodles. I had many return visits at this Wellington branch and later on my favourite combo becomes wonton noodle with beef brisket plus a plate of Chinese broccoli, less oyster sauce. Viola!

IMG_6351新景記粉麵 Sun King Kee Noodle – 已結業

Its such a dilemma, good to see Sheung wan redeveloping but yet its so sad to see good old traditional shops and restaurants closed down. Sun King Kee is a prime example that got closed down by this cycle… It still deserves a mention! I went to visit a lot at its final month of business. The good old place for a hot bowl of fishballs ho fun with a bottle of vita milk…  Hope it will reopen one day!

IMG_2602Lan Fang Yuen 蘭芳園 – 中環結志街2號

A lot of people says this place went downhill as it got famous, I think it can be a hit and miss on the days you dine in this place. The must have is their famous milk tea, I often orders mine in iced milk tea, less sugar and ice! And the next thing is their famous dried instant noodle served with pan fried chicken thigh/pork chop…. there are loads of other choices on their menu and I have had the best deep fried french kaya toast to date in this place!!! Oh and not to forget their pork chop bun are pretty famous too!

IMG_5670威記粥店 Wai Kee Congee Shop – 中環士丹利街82號

You have the luxury choice to visit Tasty in IFC for expensive congee lunch, but if you want affordable and reasonable congee and deep fried dough then this Wai Kee would not disappoint you. A bowl of plain congee and deep fried dough in rice roll comes less than 30 dollars. Additionally speaking, the only place that I managed to get 牛俐酥 (a sweet fried dough) in around Central which are made freshly everyday at their shop.

IMG_5606麵鮮醬油房 周月 Shugetsu – 中環歌賦街5號地舖

This place is located in Gough Street, the hipster street in Sheung wan. A small restaurant and again a long queue at lunch. By the window there is a noodle machine to demonstrate their freshly made ramen noodle. I decided to go for the famous Abura ramen instead of their signature plus soy sauce egg; you mix a raw egg in with the meat, bean spouts and the sauce at the base of the bowl. Some people might dislike the al dente texture of the ramen but who likes soft noodles?? A must on Gough Street.

IMG_5307橋香園雲南桂林過橋米線 – 中環威靈頓街91號地下

You might have walked past this place so many times and see this place. Its next to a shop that sells DIY items.This place is famous for rice noodles with mixture of toppings of your choice at its reasonable price; you also get to choose your spicy level for your soup base. I went for enoki mushroom, beef and bean curds, my favourite! Just a word of warning, this place is quite small so be prepared to share table with others during lunch hours after queuing.

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玉葉甜品 Leaf Dessert  – 中環蘇豪伊利近街2號 2 Elgin Street, Soho, Central

This place located in the weirdest place in Soho area, at the end a steep road! Even the table and stool are sitting at an angle so when your bowl of noodle arrives, make sure its not rolling down the table. It has pretty much of basic choices of noodles with beef, wonton, trotters etc and what they are also famous for is their bowl of sweet soup and rice ball dumplings with sugar nuts mixture. The location wins more than the food, personally I think this is a good place to absorb the local culture.

IMG_2830勝香園  Sing Heung Yuen – 中環美輪街2號排檔

If you had the Kau Kee beef brisket then you will have seen this place too, its diagonally opposite it. The famous place for tomato base noodle, personal top pick is beef macaroni in tomato base with an added egg then order a toasted bun with condensed milk on side…the perfect lunch! The UPS of this place of this place is there’s no queue, how do you fight for a space? Stand next to the potential leavers and sit on their seats as soon as they have left…. and yell at the ladies for your order. The local HK culture is amazingly unique!

The list above may not hold all the top quality spots around Central Hong Kong but consist of places that I find special and worth giving a try if you’re in town. Love every single bits of Hong Kong eat out scene!