Interior designer Joyce Wang’s Hong Kong highlights

This article is part of a guide to hong kong by FT Globetrotter

Being in lockdown mode in Hong Kong has had its perks, especially for me and my family reconnecting with the great outdoors. The fresh air and vitamin D were especially valuable when we were locked up most of the time throughout the week. Scenic and challenging family or dog-friendly hikes are at Violet Hill or Mount Butler from Parkview. These are my tried and trusted routes. They offer you a bird’s eye view over the hills to the seaside.

The Asia Society Hong Kong building weaves its way through greenery. . .

A sculpture of the head of Buddha in the roof garden of the Asia Society Hong Kong

. . . and its rooftop garden is home to this sculpture by Zhang Huan, ‘Long Island Buddha’, 2010-11 © Asia Society Hong Kong (2)

On weekday lunchtimes, it’s a treat to grab takeaway from one of the places close to my studio and head up to the roof of the Asia Society (which is on a former British military site) for a picnic. It’s my favorite piece of architecture in the city. The elegant building weaves its way through the foliage of the wild jungle, taking me on a meditative journey amidst the bustle of the city – and amazing film screenings take place in the historic former munitions storage facilities. Before heading back to the studio, I head to The Upper House hotel for a takeaway latte in the pop-up space showcasing the hottest dining concepts in town.

A pop-up food stall at the Upper House hotel in Hong Kong
Wang heads to The Upper House hotel pop-up space for coffee

My children’s piano lessons take me to a lesser known part of Hong Kong. The main street of Ap Lei Chau is full of hidden gems. 友和士多 (Yau Wo See-Dor) is one of the last family stores selling freshly made Chinese desserts and old-fashioned sweets with which my generation parents grew up. I first stumbled across this place when I spotted a taxi driver pull over, put on his emergency flashers, and rush over for a freshly fried sesame dumpling with a red bean paste filling. Later I tasted one myself and it was right to delay traffic.

Next door is the Kam Kee Bakery, which makes traditional Hong Kong pastries. Pandan bread is soft and bouncy with divine flavor. On the side streets you’ll find shops specializing in Chinese sauces (stocking oils, marinades and cooking sauces), toy shops with gumball machines and fishing shops selling rope and bait. At the end of the road is Mad Three, a Taiwanese restaurant serving pork floss and cheesy egg pancakes. I can’t think of a more authentic neighborhood in Hong Kong.

Stone stairway and rocks on Ling Kok Shan Hill on Lamma Island in Hong Kong overlooking the sea
Ling Kok Shan hill on Lamma Island, where Wang and his family like to spend a day © Tuomas Lehtinen/Alamy

On weekends we take the ferry from Aberdeen Pier to Lamma Island. It’s a door-to-door 45-minute trip to a completely different world. The ferry itself is different from those that depart from Central’s main pier – it’s smaller, naturally ventilated, and kids can play captain on the upper deck balcony as the wind and water splash the boat. We descend to Mo Tat Wan and climb to the top of the peak, where there are large rock formations ideal for scrambling. Children are enticed to quickly descend the hill by a local family store serving mochi with all kinds of delicious toppings – the mango is our family favourite. Yung Shue Ha Beach is another must-see for its small coves and coves that are perfect for sandcastles and soaking on a hot day.

One of Wang’s favorite fine dining restaurants is Belon

The foie gras tartlet at Belon

For a sumptuous meal in town, I have so many favorites, but I’m a huge fan of the various Black Sheep restaurants. They are attentive to delicate dietary needs and flavor preferences, and they will remember what you enjoyed and serve it without you having to ask on your next visit. I have a soft spot for Belon, not only because we worked on its redesign, but General Manager Lauren is a gem. She is the wife of Le Belon chef, Matthew Kirkley, and she has previously worked with chef Thomas Keller. She gave me tips on everything from the science behind making Dippin’ Dots Ice Cream Snack to her Buttermilk Fried Chicken. I confess that I like the conversation as much as the food.

Joyce Wang is an award-winning interior designer based in Hong Kong and London.

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