Sunday 11 September 2011

香港活在伦敦 Hong Kong - Live in London!


Next Chinese new year will be The Year of the  Dragon. Which I hear is very lucky indeed...

Have you ever been to Hong Kong, or at least wondered what it might be like? Well, starting tomorrow is 'Hong Kong - Live in London' - a festival celebrating all the best things Hong Kong has to offer. The street festival on South Molton Street runs from 12th-18th Sept and promises to be a lot of fun. Whether you want to attend a film, listen to music or watch street performers and dragon dancing, it's all going on here. Or you might like to head to Mews of Mayfair and taste the exquisite cuisine from Michelin starred Chef, Tsang Chiu King. For full details, check out the 'Hong Kong - Live in London' Facebook page here. There's also a chance every day this week to win a holiday for two to Hong Kong including return flights, 4 nights hotel accommodation and a dinner at the Michelin starred Ming Court restaurant. It's going to be Asia-tastic!

In association with 'Hong Kong - Live in London', I was fortunate to be invited to a special bloggers treasure hunt last week by the nice people at the Hong Kong Tourism Board which involved a mini magical mystery tour around a few Hong Kong related London hotspots. Our first clue was to find a hotel beginning with 'L' affiliated to a hotel of the same name in Hong Kong. So off to The Langham Hotel we trapsed and were greeted with a beautiful pink rose. Langham Place Hotel in Hong Kong is part of the same group of stylish and upmarket hotels, all of which are filled with the heavenly aroma of ginger lily scent.

Next stop was the China Tang restaurant at The Dorchester Hotel, which was set up by Sir David Tang who created the chic fashion emporium, Shanghai Tang. It is one of the best (if not the best) Chinese restaurants in London, reknown for its peking duck. As you would expect with Sir David Tang's impeccable taste, the restaurant has been designed beautifully with traditional and contempory Chinese art adorning the walls. Our brief visit involved a quick visit to the restaurant loos, in order to secure our next clue, where we listened to the unusual sound of a poetry reading. Peculiar I know. Then we were off in the direction of South Molton Street.

South Molton Street and Lancashire Court off Bond Street, are the main locations for 'Hong Kong - Live in London', partly because of their resemblance to Lan Kwai Fong in Hong Kong, an area of little pedestrianised streets tucked away off the beaten track, full of wonderful bars, restaurants and cafes. South Molton Street is currently full of flags promoting the festival and will be a hive of activity. Many of the shops on South Molton Street are getting involved, including Diptyque, Radley, Space NK, Ted Baker and Butler & Wilson - there will be some amazing special offers including free gifts with purchases and fantastic discounts. See the Facebook page for more details. There is also a Hong Kong film festival taking place from 13-16th September at the Prince Charles cinema in Leicester Square - click here for listings. Then why not nip around to Chinatown afterwards for some festive spring rolls and a cheeky Peking duck and a bottle of Tsingtao beer.

The next installment of our treasure hunt was Mews of Mayfair for fabulous refreshments, including a private cookery demonstration by none other than Michelin Chef, Tsang Chiu King from Ming Court, the highly acclaimed two Michelin star restaurant at Langham Place hotel in Hong Kong. It was a real honour to watch him prepare one of his signature dishes, pan-seared chicken and chestnuts with truffle and pumpkin. He made it look so effortless, and prepared it with the same ease that I prepare fish fingers! We all got to taste the dish which really was melt-in-the-mouth delicious. We also tasted the best prawn toast ever, and an unusual dish of crispy sole in a honey type fritter with pineapple. All amazing and accompanied by some very nice wines from Mews of Mayfair. Seriously, if you get a chance to try the special Hong Kong inspired menu during the festival, I guarantee it'll be worth it. It's a set menu at £24 for 3 courses or £19 for 2 courses which I think is a bargain, quite frankly!

After our pit-stop, it was off on the home stretch to complete the treasure hunt.  We whizzed our way down Bond Street to the Opera Gallery (one of various branches in the world including London and Hong Kong), and Sotheby's auctioneers, again there is a branch in Hong Kong (like the Brits, Chinese people love collecting art, antiques and rare memorabilia).  Then the penultimate stop on the trail was a whistle-stop visit to Jaeger on Regent Street to check out the shoes by Beatrix Ong. British-born of Chinese descent, Beatrix Ong grew up in Hong Kong and the UK. She started as an intern with Jimmy Choo at just 22 years old and is now an established shoe designer in her own right, with a flagship shop in Chelsea. Her shoes are beautiful, but alas, completely out of my price league.  One day...

Our final port of call to end the treasure hunt was Aqua - an impressive restaurant and bar on top of the old Dickins & Jones building with a roof terrace overlooking Regent Street.  Aqua originated in Hong Kong (hence the treasure hunt connection) and has branches in Beijing and London. We rested our weary feet and enjoyed some delicious chilled cocktails including a very refreshing lychee and pear mojito. We found a pew on the roof terrace and chatted in detail about the crazy few hours we'd just spent galavanting around town discovering so many Hong Kong-related delights.

I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and not only has it inspired me to visit the festival, but it also reminded me what a great place Hong Kong is. Funnily enough, I lived in Hong Kong when I was very young, too young to remember really, although I learnt to use chopsticks at 3 years old and have had a definite love affair with Chinese food ever since! I did return many moon (cakes) ago, shortly before the end of British rule in Hong Kong in the 1990's, and if I was to offer my albeit rusty advice on things to do and places to see over there, they would include the following...

  • Take the tram up to The Peak to check out the magnificent view (by day and night)
  • Take the Star Ferry across from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon
  • Watch the electrifying Symphony of Light show from Central. 
  • Marvel at the use of bamboo scaffolding on the high rise buildings. 
  • Watch in bewilderment as thousands of Filipino women congregate in the parks on Sundays to picnic together and chatter to the point where it sounds like happy tweeting birdsong.
  • Enjoy the social scene in Lan Kwai Fong
  • Appreciate the extraordinary architecture and the vast contrast of St John's Cathedral with the skyscrapers
  • Visit Yuen Po Street bird garden where songbird owners carry their beloved pets around in beautiful cages. The sound is enchanting and gives the Filipinos a run for their money!
  • Look out for street signs which are still written in English from days gone by
  • If you're a rugby fan, then head to the Hong Kong Sevens (23-25th March 2012)
  • Explore Lantau Island, Kowloon, New Territories and even head into China. It's all right on the doorstep.
  • If you enjoy food and are thinking of going to Hong Kong anytime soon, then you may like to attend the  Hong Kong Wine & Dine Month from 27th Oct - 30th Nov. A month-long epicurean feast!

So if that hasn't got you booking the next flight to Hong Kong, then I don't know what will! But whilst you're pondering that thought, definitely check out 'Hong Kong - Live In London' this week for more inspiration. You may also like to try a few other Chinese delights - pop into the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Knightsbridge for a cocktail, before nipping around the corner for a spot of luxury shopping at Shanghai Tang on Sloane Street (the ginger flower room spray is one of my guilty pleasures). 

Meanwhile, here are my top 10 favourite Chinese restaurants in London. Mmm, crispy duck... 

1.  Hakkasan, W1 (Alan Yau's fantastic place)
2.  China Tang at The Dorchester (about as classy as it gets)
3.  Y Ming, W1 (one of Soho's oldest Chinese establishments)
4.  Min Jiang at Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington (excellent food with amazing views)
5.  Feng Shang, NW1 (floating Chinese restaurant)
6.  Mr Wing, SW5 (an Earls Court Chinese classic since 1986)
7.  Grand Imperial, SW1 (Delicious Cantonese. And mind-blowing chocolate dim sum!)
8.  Imperial China, WC2 (a Chinatown treasure, complete with a little bridge)
9.  Yauatcha W1 (another hit from Alan Yau - terrific dim sum)
10. Peninsula Chinese at Holiday Inn, Greenwich (unlikely location. Cheap & very tasty)

I hope you enjoy 'Hong Kong - Live in London'.  Maybe I'll see you there!  Many thanks to the lovely folk at the Hong Kong Tourism Board for inviting me on the treasure hunt - such a fun evening.

*STOP PRESS! * 20th Sept 2011
I have just been awarded a fantastic prize by the HKTB for this blog post. A trip to Hong Kong in Jan 2012 to see in the Chinese New Year.  I am so thrilled!  

Feb 2012 you can read my post about Chinese New Year 2012 in Hong Kong here

Immy 小姐


Anonymous said...

You've made me want to book a flight to Hong Kong! I will definitely be visiting 'Hong Kong - Live in London' - great blog, thanks!

Anonymous said...

You've certainly convinced me to visit 'Hong Kong - Live in London'. Great blog, as always -thank you.

Katherine Galp said...

Looks amazing!

All At Sea said...

This was so interesting. I've always wanted to go to Hong Kong sometime in my life and your blog has made me want to do this NOW!
It's great to have these places in London but I am sure that nothing can be as exciting as going to the real thing!
Thanks MissImmy - you have really whetted my appetite.

Eating London said...

What a great read...great post (as always) and love the pics too! Can't wait to experience a slice of Hong Kong action right here in London!!! woooo x

Jenny Longsmith said...

My mouth is watering just reading the blog!
Thanks Miss Immy - I'm no longer at a loss with what to do with our Canadian visitors this week!

May said...

So this was the HK Treasure Hunt that Sabrina was talking about last week.

So miss HK. Used to live there and miss the great food.

BTW, South Molton Street is nothing like Lan Kwai Fong, the boozy expat hangout in Central. A street near Covent Garden with overflowing bars and clubs would have been more apt.

Missimmy said...

Thanks for all the great comments. May, I agree Cov G would be more apt. I think it's more Lancashire Ct that has the 'hidden' feel.

Time for some crispy shredded beef! x

Tamsin Allen said...

This looks amazing! Great blog post (as always...). I can't wait to go.

Anonymous said...

What an intersting blog Immy. My mouth was watering just reading about the Chinese culinary delights!
Would have loved to have the demo by the Michelin chef.
Roz x

Anonymous said...

Great blog Immy P, all that food looks so delicious. Looks like a really fun night out. Georgie x

Nikki K said...

I love the way you have described this treasure hunt and tasting extravaganza, it all sounds so delicious! I went to Hong Kong about 20 years ago and it has really made me want to go back, revisit new and old places and soak in the atmosphere which you have so beautifully depicted.

Your blog is always such a treat to read and a joy to sample....

Nikki K

Uyen Luu said...

Great posting! Very informative! thanks! will go xxx

Kirsty said...

Wow - what an impressive effort by the HK Tourism board! And that food looks absolutely delicious! will definitely drop by

Fiona said...

What a Fant-Asia-astic blog! Makes one want to visit both the HK week and HK itself! Well written!

Jacqueline said...

This blog post has come just at the right time! Although I have missed the festival in HK, I am flying out there next Thursday. Excited ;-)
Thanks so much for the tips!

Missimmy said...

Once again, thanks to everyone for leaving so many lovely and positive comments. Makes blogging all worthwhile!

Jacqueline, there's still time to go to the festival if you get a chance. Wishing you a great trip to HK!

Agirlhastoeat said...

What a thorough comprehensive post. Hope you win. Did you know that the year of the dragon is THE most auspicious year in the Chinese calendar.

Missimmy said...

Hey everyone!

I have just been awarded an amazing prize by the HKTB for this blog post. A trip to Hong Kong in Jan 2012 to see in the Chinese New Year! I am beyond excited!!

Thanks again for all your fantastic comments.

Immy x

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see you in the Kong Miss Imy P and show you some stuff that maybe you didn't know about in (if that's possible). Roll on CNY and Kung hei Fat Choy! xx

layana resort and spa koh lanta said...

Sounds like fun. It is great that they were able to decorate the place up to make it look like Hong Kong. The food looks delicious too.

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