It’s all going down in Kennedy Town
Take the Island Line of the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) — Hong Kong’s impeccably clean and efficient subway — to its westernmost terminus and find yourself in a seaside neighbourhood true to Hong Kong’s seafaring roots. This is Kennedy Town: a rare stretch of land along Victoria Harbour unobstructed by elevated freeway. Since the MTR extended here at the end of 2014, the neighbourhood has become an appealing residential alternative to expats who work in Central — it’s a ten-minute trip by train, but the salty breeze tastes like a world away.
1. Craft Brew & Co.
It’s easy to resent the craft beer craze, which came and went in New York years ago, and in many cities on this side of the world can feel derivative and somewhat corny. But Craft Brew & Co. is responsible in its subtlety and splendid in its extensive menu. To enumerate the beer options fully would require far more text than this page allots. As for food, there’s a selection of rather good (if somewhat pricey) American favourites: loaded hot dogs, chilli fries, and the like. The open-air restaurant is on a quiet corner a block from the water, ideal for a weeknight drink in the warmer seasons.
2. Missy Ho’s
Missy Ho’s is a hectic little bar that specialises in what might be called Asian tapas — a premise that would be insufferable if the food were anything less than excellent. This is not the case with Missy Ho’s. In a town where expat-oriented dining is all too often uninspired, the crew at Missy Ho’s is bold enough to push the envelope and challenge a palate at this point unaccustomed to unoriginality. They do it successfully. Try the chicken avocado roll. Try to stop eating once you’re full. And do make the most of the cocktail menu.
3. Instagram Pier
Hong Kong is a maritime town, and also a place where open air is plentiful, if you know where to look for it. Appreciate both of these things at Instagram Pier (Christian name: Western District Public Cargo Working Area), the long barnacle-crusted block of dock that abuts the western end of Hong Kong Island parallel to Kennedy Town. It’s a good place to watch the sun go down over the water, or to go for a run, or — as the vernacular name suggests — to snap an Instagram. Bring a bottle of wine and make your own picnic.
4. Imperial Kennedy
One of the newest additions to the cluster of luxury high-rise residential buildings in Kennedy Town is the Imperial Kennedy, a strikingly sleek tower that rises emerald-like over the hillside neighbourhood. It opened in June 2016 and offers 161 units ranging from HKD23-30 million (USD3million-3.9million). They range from 700 to 930 square feet and feature balconies that offer sweeping views of the western mouth of Victoria Harbour, where freighters and tugboats crawl in and out of port against the orange sky. The building’s clubhouse might make residents never want to leave: the crown jewel is the terrace pool.
5. One South Lane
This new luxury development sits on the understated eastern end of Kennedy Town, in the shadow of the stately green campus of the University of Hong Kong. This side of the neighbourhood is not yet gentrified, which is a good thing. Pop into one of the fluorescent-lit diners just down the hill on Des Voeux Road West and have some reasonable but delicious dumplings or wonton noodles before returning to the cradle of luxury that is One South Lane, which stands at 28 stories with 92 units. The units are on the small side — studios and one-bedroom apartments mostly — but feature massive windows that offer sweeping views of the harbour and city. They range in price from HKD4-7million (USD515,000-902,000).
6: Lo Pan Temple
How fitting is it that in this town of endless expansion, where scaffolding is ubiquitous and the chorus of jackhammers inescapable, there is a temple dedicated to the patron saint of builders and contractors? The temple to Lo Pan was built in the late nineteenth century and stands today on a quiet lane refreshingly out of sync with the energy of the city that rises above it. Stop in for a moment and escape the chaos, then go through a stroll through the leafy campus of the University of Hong Kong just up the hill.