Hong Kong hotspots
In 2014, the Hong Kong Island Line was extended as far as Kennedy Town. The result was the revival of the western tip of Hong Kong. Local hipsters are flocking to this neighbourhood in droves. A now houses a gin bar; the bearded, laptop-carrying crowd sips socially responsible coffee in a pop-up store and even the university bookshop has undergone a high-tech design makeover.
Pop-up shop and coffee bar
The tastefully decorated Ethos presents its fashion and dishware lines along with the creations of local designers with museum-like grandeur. Well, at least in the pop-up shop side of things. Ethos also serves as a café where local freelancers whip up fashion blogs on their MacBooks. To get your day started reach for a piping hot cappuccino, accompanied by a late breakfast order from the small menu, which in addition to an ‘all-day breakfast’ also offers aesthetically and culinary appealing salads and paninis.
Book paradise in a historic manor
Kennedy Town owes much of its young and dynamic vibe to the proximity of the University of Hong Kong (HKU). The Run Run Shaw Heritage House is one of the main campus attractions for visitors. This Chinese version of a British manor once accommodated Western engineers, but a few years ago it became the home of the Hong Kong University Press Bookshop. The interior of this book paradise has been designed with special 3D software to ensure that the bookcases fit seamlessly into the craggy corners of this historic building. They are stacked with works on the history, culture and architecture of this unique corner of China.
Lo Pan Temple
Hong Kong boasts an abundance of lovely temples, but only the Lo Pan Temple is dedicated to the patron saint of builders and contractors. The saint has done good business here: 132 years after the construction of the temple, the island is overrun by a jungle of skyscrapers. From the outside the unusually ridged roof stands out, but the real treasure awaits inside. Admire a large number of murals – more than anywhere else on the island – and unique sculptures of Chinese mythological figures. To this day, construction workers come here to seek blessings.
Refreshing dive off the pier
Sai Wan Swimming Shed
The Sai Wan Swimming Shed is located on the most western tip of Hong Kong Island. The pier was built in the 1950s as a facility for islanders who enjoyed going for a refreshing swim in the so-called ‘Sulphur Channel’ at the entrance of Victoria Harbour. For those who prefer to stay on dry land, this is a fabulous spot to watch the sunset. The narrow pier will certainly yield some Instagram-worthy pictures.
The name of vegetarian restaurant Vanimal already suggests that vegetarianism and machismo can certainly go hand in hand. The cocktail menu confirms this with ‘Mad Men’, a potent concoction of tobacco-infused whisky. Despite its touch of sixties nostalgia, the restaurant is firmly rooted in the 21st century. The ‘catch of the day’, for example, is a selection of vegetables instead of fish. Your selection is prepared with home-made herbal oils and transformed into a custom-made salad. Too much, you might think. But the food is beautiful and delicious, and Vanimal is one of the most popular eateries in Kennedy Town for a reason. Try the slow-cooked Japanese egg, served with a beurre blanc of shiitake mushrooms and artichoke crisps. Looking for an exciting drink? Order the cocktail made with vodka, beet juice and pomegranate.
Ping Pong Gintonería
Hip spot for gin lovers
The worldwide trend of speciality gin bars has also reached Hong Kong: but the Ping Pong Gintonería also serves Spanish tapas on the side. Located in the former table tennis hall Ping Pong City, this popular bar is strictly speaking outside of Kennedy Town, but it’s close enough (in the neighbourhood of Sai Ying Pun) that it would be a shame to miss out on a visit. Behind the red doors awaits a mixture of Hong Kong nostalgia and Mediterranean atmosphere. The bar serves over 100 different varieties of gin. Be sure to go beyond the classic gin-tonic with a twist of lemon; alternative garnishes such as fresh rosemary, grapefruit peel or cinnamon are all the rage here.