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20 of the best in hong kong's

Old Town Central is Hong Kong's most historic neighbourhood, where east meets west, past meets present, and tradition contrasts with innovation. With treasures at every turn, this is where the essence of the city can be found.

Meet 20 of Hong Kong’s most accomplished residents and discover their unique stories as they take you through the depths of Old Town Central.

Photos by @jordanleephoto

Caryn Yap

Brand Consultant
Malaysia

Caine Road

When Caryn arrived here 17 years ago, she only intended to stay for a few years, but the city’s appeal meant she never managed to leave. “Hong Kong is a city that never sleeps and it has an amazing non-stop energy that I didn’t experience when I lived in London or Amsterdam.”

A brand and PR consultant, she has launched some of Central’s most popular F&B concepts including the recent Dragon Noodles Academy and Elephant Grounds. Even when she’s not working, she spends her time in Central: Lily&Bloom for a night out with friends, Mandarin Grill or Amber for celebrations and Sushi Kuu for Japanese.

When corporate life gets too much, you’ll find her at meditation or reiki at Shakti Healing Circle, “…my oasis from all the madness you find in the restaurants and clubs!”.

Hong Kong is a city that never sleeps and it has an amazing non-stop energy that I didn’t experience when I lived in London or Amsterdam.

Raymond Huang

Investment Banker and Advisor to Klook’s Art Tours
China

HOLLYWOOD ROAD

“I live and work in Central. It is my favourite district in Hong Kong as it is a district condensed with arts.” If not at his desk, investment banker Raymond Huang will be where the art is.

From China, he’s now living his dreams in Hong Kong where colours form and texture ignite his senses.

My favourite corner in Hong Kong is Hollywood Road…a melting pot of local culture and trendy street art.

Raymond collects art and can be found wandering past Central’s numerous galleries like Park View Gallery, The Yan Gallery, Karin Weber, La Gallerie 1893 and Kumquat. They’re all on Klook’s SoHo Gallery Walk and street arts walking tour that Raymond helped design.

“HK means a lot to me. It is home to me after seven years and the best place for me to extend my career ambition.”

May Chow

Chef
Hong Kong

Gough Street

Award-winning chef May Chow will capture you instantly with energy and dynamism. It’s the same spirit reflected in her food, a mix of east and west in style and flavour. Her restaurant ‘Little Bao” on Staunton Street puts her in the heart of Central. “I would say I love the Gough St Area. As within a very close space you have both old and new.” May grew up in Canada but now calls Hong Kong home.

People walk faster, work quicker and talk at record speed. This energy and the density of the city enable one to be struck with so much visual and cultural impact in a matter of minutes.
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Miyako Kai

Freelance writer & editor
Japan

ELGIN STREET

“Without consciously thinking about where to look, I somehow end up finding the most interesting and stylish places in Central”.

Over the past 10 years, Miyako has interviewed countless owners, chefs and bartenders in Central, including some at her favourite places such as Teakha, Quinary, J. Boroski, Mott 32, Neighborhood, Duddell’s and Inbetween. She accredits their passion to do the best in what they love to Central’s unique energy and beauty.

“The deep-rooted contrast between the East and West, Old and New, Luxury and Casual, Skyscrapers and Street markets, somehow blend together to create a perfect harmony”.

Miyako introduces Hong Kong’s attractions to media outlets across Japan and on her blog hk-tokidoki.com.

One of her most recent finds is a Chinese dress rental shop called Yan Shang Kee. “It’s a fun idea for tourists to try on the traditional outfit and take photos with Central as their backdrop”.

“It made me feel like I was a part of one of Wong Kar-Wai’s movies.”

Shane Osborn

Chef and owner of Arcane Restaurant
Australia

POTTINGER STREET

“I love Pottinger St. which still has the original cobble stones. I have my watch repaired, buy the newspaper and purchase funny dress costumes for my kids in one of the many market stalls”. You might find Shane Osborn, renowned chef and owner of Arcane Restaurant, wandering through the bustling wet market for local ingredients or Pottinger’s steps – one of Hong Kong central’s oldest streets. Osborn has swapped his native Perth and London for Hong Kong and brings his culinary talents to a place he now calls home.

“I love this city more each day. It’s a city that excites all senses in so many ways.”

I love this city more each day. It’s a city that excites all senses in so many ways.

ARON HARILELA

Chairman & CEO of the Harilela Group
India

Chancery Lane

Beyond great street food, culturally diversity fuels Aron Harilela’s huge enthusiasm for Central. “There’s so much life and dynamism. It’s a microcosm of Hong Kong.” He grew up in a time when the city was finding it’s feet as a portal to Western business, when the Harilela name became a respected part of Hong Kong’s community. Today Aron travels the world, running the family’s hotel businesses but Hong Kong is where his heart is. “ I feel more of a Hong Konger than absolutely any other nationality.”

...there’s English people, French people. Chinese people, Indian people, and nobody blinks an eyelid, nobody blinks twice.
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Harrison Wong

Fashion designer
Hong Kong

Upper station street

“It is such an interesting street mix with independent boutiques, modern studios, cafes and much more. The corner has a wonderful relaxed atmosphere and an arty vibe.” At the junction of Upper Station and Tai Ping Shan streets, Hong Kong fashion designer Harrison finds a vibe he can call his own.

With such a mixture of old and new we sometimes forget which decade we are in.

Inspired by day-to-day life, his collections are elegant but edgy, a mix that overflows at Aberdeen Street’s PMQ, home to his menswear boutique Harrison’s Shop. “It is a city full of hard working people and at the same time a city that is compatible with an enriching lifestyle. I travel a lot, but I always like to come home. Hong Kong is incomparable really.”

ARI MAHARDHIKA

Designer and photographer
Indonesia

Bridges Street

“My best moment was the first time I went to Victoria Peak and watched the sun rise over Hong Kong…I think it is still my favourite spot to go until now. As a photographer, Hong Kong provides so many different ambiences whether it’s in the city or out in nature.”

Capturing the personality of a building or even a sunrise is second nature for Indonesian photographer Ari Mahardhika, who studied Architectural Design. Take hidden gems like the YMCA on Bridges Street. “It gives me a feeling of Old Hong Kong, very different to the image of cosmopolitan Hong Kong. It has an American brick house design but uniquely combined with Chinese architectural features such as a green glazed tile roof.” “Everywhere I explore there’s always something new to discover.”

Hong Kong provides so many different ambiences whether it’s in the city or out in nature.

Beckaly Franks

Co-owner and Bartender at 'The Pontiac'
United States

Old Bailey Street

Raw energy and power, Beckaly Franks sees Hong Kong as a city playing host to her dreams. “There’s so many amazing moments here”, she enthuses brightly. Beckaly is an award-winning bartender, from Portland, Oregon who moved to Hong Kong about two years ago. She lives and breathes Central’s community spirit. It’s a vibe she creates at her neighbourhood bar, ‘The Pontiac’, where patrons are encouraged to connect with all their possibilities.

… it’s like a fast village so I tend to get a vibe of strength. I walk pretty strong when I walk through the streets.
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Eunice Lim

PHOTOGRAPHER, CONTENT PRODUCER & BLOGGER
Singapore

Stanley Street

“Hong Kong is ‘Home Kong’ to me. It feels like I’ve lived here in my previous life.”.

She may be Singaporean but Eunice Lim is all about Hong Kong.  She’s the @foodtravelbabe and Central is forever satisfying her curiosity.

WITH THE NEW AND THE OLD, I GET TO EXPERIENCE THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS.

Shuttling between Singapore and Hong Kong, Eunice photographs food and people and writes about Hong Kong at AsiaOne.

“Whenever there is a new kid on the block, I’ll be there to check it out.” Being a city girl at heart, the vibrancy of Central satisfies her need for new experiences in the midst of old Hong Kong charm.

You might spot her at places like Yardbird, SPIGA or Belon for dinner, but “Sing Kee” the longstanding Dai Pai Dong (open air food stall) that serves Cantonese stir-fried food is her all-time favourite place for an authentic old Hong Kong experience.

Craig Au Yeung

Cartoonist, Author & Cultural don!
Hong Kong

PMQ

From food to art, cultural connoisseur, author and cartoonist Craig Au Yeung has this city in his blood. “Hong Kong is my hometown, a place that I can always return to. It gave me so much support, courage and inspiration during my time growing up.”

A firm believer that food culture can be an art form, he established the Taste Library at Old Town Central’s creative hub PMQ. The Taste Library serves as a platform to blend art, design and culture in one place.

“My favourite corner in Central is the uphill open wet market along Graham Street. It was one of the oldest wet markets in Hong Kong. It features every detail of our local food culture, home cooking, customs and behaviour, full of energy, very down to earth - yet sophisticated.”

It features every detail of our local food culture, home cooking, customs and behaviour, full of energy, very down to earth - yet sophisticated.

Stewart Chen

Director of marketing and communications, W Hong Kong
Taiwan

Sheung Wan

When you’re director of marketing and communications for The W Hong Kong, it pays to be up on what’s trending. Stewart Chen knows. “Bibo, the colour-land always excites me from the decor, fine cocktails and fabulous brunch selections. This is the ultimate place to see and to be seen.” That’s just one of his top picks for Central, among many. Beyond the sharp suits and luxe branding though, Stewart, who hails from a slighty slower paced Taiwan, notes that Hong Kong boils down to one simple treasure. Wherever you are on the island, “…. it’s the people that make the moments memorable.”

Hong Kong is all about fresh and new places yet to be discovered.
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FLORIAN KNOTHE

Director, University Museum & Art Gallery, The University of Hong Kong
Germany

MAN MO TEMPLE

Florian Knothe’s roots are German but his heart is in Hong Kong where he’s spent some of his best moments. He met his wife on his second day in the city. Now married, with a child, they often come together to the Hollywood street district.

“..the steps leading down from Hollywood road to Queens road are culturally so mixed. There are old Hong Kong vendors as well as a more European flare, all opposite the temple.”

Between being a husband and father, he enjoys daily inspiration running the University’s Museum and Art Gallery. Situated on Bonham Road, it’s a metaphoric plunge into arts, culture and history just like his top walks.

..the steps leading down from Hollywood road to Queens road are culturally so mixed. There are old Hong Kong vendors as well as a more European flare, all opposite the temple.

TUM MARDSUA KUNCHAT

Muay Thai Fighter
Thailand

LAN KWAI FONG

“Work, money, busy life and fight”, that plus a little destiny, is what Hong Kong means to Muay Thai fighter and trainer Tum Mardsua Kunchat. He’s been living in the city for 4 years, training clients at Epic MMA & Fitness, a fixture in the area.

“I spend most of my time in Central, I enjoy running near the Central ferry pier, it's a long run and I like the great view and fresh air. And the gym where I work is in the heart of Central, right next to Lan Kwai Fong, I often go there for a quick bite. Sometimes when I am less busy, I will go to Lan Kwai Fong for a drink with friends.”

As for the destiny part, “…the best moment I will never forget is the day I met my wife, Queen, in Hong Kong.” Who says fighters don’t have a soft spot?

Arnault Castel

Founder and Owner of Kapok
France

PO HING FONG

“It was my own private episode of Chungking Express..” Recalling the 1994 movie set in Hong Kong, Arnault Castel describes the day he met the city in person. He’ll regale you with tales of being lost in a hectic labyrinth. “It was like a huge shock but I thought the movie captured the reality, you know so active and a bit crazy.” For the owner and founder of the kapok design stores, that’s the charm Central has.

It’s not all modernised. You still have a lot of old buildings. It’s a nice place to get lost I think.
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MARK SAUNDERSON

Co-Founder and Director, Asia Contemporary Art Show, Singapore Contemporary, Asia Contemporary Art Buyer & Fabrik Gallery
United Kingdom

TAI KWUN

“Nestled in the heart of Central is Tai Kwun on Hollywood Road, the juxtaposition of Hong Kong old and new. The hustle of finance and commerce, alongside timeless street stalls and hawkers.” It’s possible to hear the echo of Mark Saunderson’s Hong Kong. He’s been in Asia for more than 30 years and co-founded the region’s leading art website, Asia Contemporary Buyer. “International, cosmopolitan, spectacular skyline, hot humid and city smells…” to name just a few of the words that mean ‘Hong Kong’ to Mark. On memory lane he notes key moments like meeting Andy Warhol in 1983 and a 2006 Banksky exhibition. “Standing at the crossroads to witness history on June 30th, 1997 was a highlight of my time in Hong Kong.”

Paul Chan

Co-Founder Walk in Hong Kong
Hong Kong

PAK TSZ LANE PARK

“This area was well connected with several exits and hence revolutionaries could escape easily once they picked up any winds of ambush.” Local heritage expert Paul Chan talks about the area around Pak Tsz Lane Park, between Aberdeen and Peel Street, which once housed the Furen Wenshe, the intellectual group which provided assistance to various abortive revolts against the Qing dynasty before the eventual successful revolution in 1911.

A walking tour with Paul is to plunge deep into the history of Central. “Nowadays travellers look for truly unique local experience and hope to fill their journeys with stories, memories and inspirations. Central is the place to go as it is, where East meets West, old mixes with new, and traditional blends with trendy stuff. I am simply proud of my home city.”

After a long walk though, he’ll direct you to a Tai Pai Dong in Stanley Street, “One of the best outdoor experiences in Hong Kong and simply down-to-earth. Get ready for the endless clattering and shout!”

It is where East meets West, old meets new, and traditional blends with trendy stuff. It is simply my home city.

Rony Fortich

Music Director, Hong Kong Disneyland
Philippines

The Fringe Club

Rony Fortich feels the city’s rythym. As musical director for Hong Kong Disneyland, for him all of Hong Kong is a stage and the scene in Central especially. “There’s the Fringe Club which I love for all their live performances and visual arts. The building is rich with history and the ambiance is just full of personality.” From the Philippines, Rony has an outstanding career as a musician but his other love is food, like simple pleasures at Maxims, City Hall. “The dim sum is divine and on top of all that, well right downstairs actually, you have more art! It’s a great deal.”

The city is in constant motion, driven almost like a constant pulse.
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JASON GINSBERG

Wine Merchant
Canada

SoHo ESCALATOR

“Actually, my favourite area to take friends and family visiting Central would have to be a ride up the escalators, especially the area between Queens Rd and Hollywood…it’s so full of life in every direction including up and down.” Simple wonders, Canadian Jason Ginsberg loves to share, owning one half of Ginsberg & Chan wine merchants, opened with wife Mandy in 2010.

"It’s a bustling, noisy, vibrant area that’s full of sights, sounds and smells from so many cultures, not only Chinese!"

"I love the steps off Gough Street. The restaurants there are always lined up and you have this old charm of the steps leading up to Hollywood Road. You can sense the history here. For me, personally, Hong Kong is about opportunity…it’s the most dynamic market in Asia and has a thriving wine and dine scene that has almost no rival.”

It’s a bustling, noisy, vibrant area that’s full of sights, sounds and smells from so many cultures, not only Chinese!

KIM PAN-GON

Head Coach of Hong Kong Football Representative Team
South Korea

Blake Garden

“My favourite corner in Central is Blake Garden. As a football coach, I am pleased to see that we have a football pitch at Central, an urban area with high population density.”

Not just any coach, but head coach of the Hong Kong Football Representative Team, Korean, Pan-Gon Kim spends most of his life on the turf. “It is a place where football lovers spend the countless hours in preparation for one single match, practicing everyday and connecting to each other.”

“A football pitch is much more than just a green field with white lines around it.” Outside those lines, he’s a fan of Hong Kong Central’s dynamism and welcoming nature, put simply:

“This small district is culturally very diverse, and it’s a dynamic mix of different cultures, ages, races, lifestyles, genders. I think it’s amazing and worth visiting.”