Ah, Thursday night — the only truly social night of the week. It’s the night when babysitters are booked, friends convene, and drinks are imbibed. There are no family obligations to fulfill, no amateurish weekend crowds to elbow through — and the possibilities are endless. The night starts after work and ends whenever you want. In any city. All over the world. This week, we’re presenting the perfect Thursday night in Hong Kong.
Mystical. Cultural. Epicurean. Elegant. And extremelyinternational. There are dozens of adjectives that might apply to a night out in Hong Kong. With nearly 7 million people living on a landmass that’s only 426 square miles, you get a lot of influences. There are three main territories to explore: Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, and the New Territories. If you have only a single night, stick to Kowloon and Hong Kong Island for this trip.
Begin by heading to the Man Mo Temple Compound in Sheung Wan on Hong Kong Island. It’s three blocks of beautiful temples, all featuring classic Chinese architecture dating back to the 1840s. Man Mo is one of Hong Kong’s oldest temples; it was dedicated to the Chinese god of literature, Man Cheong, and the Chinese god of martial arts, Mo Tai. To enter, under the smoke from immense incense coils, is to step away from the modern city into another world and another time, when this building was both a place of worship and a courthouse during the Qing Dynasty.
Grab a taxi, ride the MTR underground, or take the iconic Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour to Kowloon, and alight at Tung Choi Street North — aka the Goldfish Market. This is a fantastic spot for young children. The streets are lined with dozens of shops selling all kinds of tropical fish, hung in bags streetside. Venture into the shops for a closer look at an array of lizards, and as you continue down, you’ll even find some selling puppies and kittens. The Chinese believe that having an aquarium adds both beauty and good luck to a home.
It’s time for a cocktail. Get sky-high at Ozone inside the Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong. Not only is this one of the finest hotels in the world, but also Ozone is the highest bar in the world. It’s on the top floor of the ICC building — that would be floor 118, to be exact. Giant windows provide panoramic views of brilliant green mountains and blue water in the daylight, and at night, the twinkling neon for which Hong Kong is so famous. Make reservations for a window seat. At 8 p.m., “A Symphony of Lights” begins (it’s designated by Guinness World Records as the world’s “largest permanent light and sound show”). For 13 minutes, the buildings on both sides of Victoria Harbour flash their neon to synchronized music.
For dinner, you can head downstairs in the Ritz to the elegant Tosca for Italian or to Tin Lung Heen for delicious Cantonese. Both restaurants are Michelin starred. If you want something more authentic and far less fancy, Kowloon still has you covered. Try the street foods available from carts at the Temple Street Night Market. Start at Jordan Road and walk the bustling five blocks north on Temple Street, where hawkers sell jade jewelry, intricate paper fans, and an array of Chinese street foods, from pork dumplings to fresh prawns off hot grills. For dessert, make sure to try an egg tart. It’s a creamy, sweet custard, tucked inside a flaky pastry similar to a quiche crust.
Brickhouse isn’t the easiest place to find in the Central neighborhood of Hong Kong Island, but it’s worth the extra effort. The address is 20 D’Aguilar Street, and finding the dark, secret cobblestone lane leading to it adds to the fun. You walk down the alley to arrive in a hidden, open courtyard space focused on authentic Mexican fare. The octopus tostadas are a must if you still have room in your belly. The tequila list does its home country proud, and the décor here creates a romantic, urban, cantina vibe thanks to artistic graffiti on the walls, giant hanging plants, and flickering light from scattered candles.
Ori-Gin (also in Central) serves until 2 a.m. on Thursdays, and it’s a perfect place to get a nightcap at the end of a crazy, wonderful trek through Hong Kong. The menu is focused primarily on gin, with beautiful craft cocktails designed by Antonio Lai and his team of skilled mixologists. Alongside the epic libations, the carefully curated design is aimed at whisking your mind back to the days of British rule, with exposed brick, a wrought-iron-caged bar, and lofty ceilings.
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