To say that Deana Saukam and Paul Qui are well-traveled and well-fed would be an understatement. In just the time we’ve been corresponding about this specific story, the couple has been to Hong Kong, Seattle, Vancouver, Alaska, Copenhagen, New York and Portland, and since the duo owns and operates some of Austin’s most renowned restaurants (East Side King and qui), they know where to seek out the very best cuisine in each locale. So when we caught wind of their trip to Hong Kong, we had to get on board. Totally exotic to us, we knew we could count on Paul and Deana to show us all the amazing sites and restaurants the city has to offer, and with famed photographer Bonjwing Lee in tow, they certainly didn’t disappoint. Take it away, Deana!
We visited Hong Kong for culinary and cultural exploration. Paul and I had never been before and were super excited to travel to a new city on the other side of the world, and since it was also both of our birthdays, we had a lot to celebrate. We stayed in the Intercontinental Hong Kong, a 5 star hotel with one of the best views of the Hong Kong’s electric skyline and overlooking Victoria Harbour. The hotel is also home to three Michelin-starred restaurants, so we knew we had come to the right place!
Our itinerary included lots of eating and shopping. We made sure to check out modern restaurants in Hong Kong as well as more traditional cuisine, and when we weren’t eating, we made sure to hit up the miles upon miles of shopping. Planning to travel to Hong Kong? Pack an empty suitcase for all of the things you’ll bring back with you…
Lunch at Tim Ho Wan, the famous 1 Michelin star dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong.
What you’re eating: Dim Sum! Baked Buns with BBQ Pork, Steamed Egg Cakes, Steamed Pork and Shrimp Dumplings, Vermicelli Rolls, Steamed Chicken Feet, Deep fried bean curd skin roll, Tonic Medlar & Osmanthus Cake and more.
Here we are peeking through the window into the steamy kitchen. What makes Tim Ho Wan so unique is that it’s a hole in the wall, and the least expensive Michelin-starred restaurant in the world!
After our Dim Sum lunch, we enjoyed the breathtaking view at The Peak. As the highest post in Hong Kong, you can view the Victoria Harbour, and the countless skyscrapers and buildings that make up Hong Kong’s famous skyline.
I’m wearing a dress by Pink Stitch, Billy Reid shoes and Ray Bans. Paul is wearing a Vince t-shirt, Converse x Maison Martin Margiela sneakers and a Will Leather Goods bag.
Later that afternoon, we visited PMQ. Built in 1951 to house police officers and their families, the housing units have been converted into an incubator and home to more than 130 designers and artists. Most of the tenants are young, up and coming local designers and artists, making PMQ the design hub of Hong Kong’s design. In addition to retail shops, PMQ also has artist studios, a rooftop garden, cafes, a cooking school, restaurants, bakeries, pop-ups, and two “hotel” rooms that host artists. We chatted about possibly doing an East Side King or qui pop-up at PMQ one day… fingers crossed!
The Food Library is located inside the library at PMQ, and is the world’s first library dedicated to food.
We were invited to preview the library before it had been announced and opened to the public. We could have spent hours exploring rooms filled with books about food, design, architecture and fashion… talk about inspiration!
Up next, a private lesson in the Lock Cha Tea Shop.
We learned all about how tea is harvested and produced, and the differences between black, white, green, yellow, red, and oolong teas. It was really interesting learning the traditional way to brew tea, and how the different kinds of teas affect the body’s chi.
For dinner, we enjoyed a multi-course tasting menu and the very special Chef’s Table overlooking the kitchen at Bo Innovation. Chef Alvin Leung defines Bo Innovation’s cuisine as “X-treme Chinese Cuisine.”
What made this meal special: Since we went to this dinner on my birthday, it was super memorable. We also loved hanging out outside after our meal and chatting with Chef Leung.
Paul and Deana kicked off Day #2 with lunch at Kwan Kee Bamboo Noodle.
Out of all the noodle places we visited in Hong Kong, this was my favorite. Absolutely delicious. The hand-made bamboo pressed noodles here are made by kneading the dough with a giant bamboo stick.
What you ate: We enjoyed noodles with shrimp wontons, noodles topped with pork knuckles and beef brisket noodle soup.
After lunch, we headed to The Ladies’ Market, which contains hundreds booths selling bargain clothing, accessories and souvenirs that stretch over half a mile. As you can imagine, it’s the perfect place to sharpen your haggling skills! Though it’s named after the large amount of clothing and accessories geared towards women, there are so many other trinkets for sale (electronics, watches, selfie sticks and more), that it’s fun for everyone to visit.
We ended up haggling with the vendor and buying five selfie sticks. A german tourist nearby even joined in on the haggling and purchased a selfie stick for himself with the group rate we negotiated.
What you’re wearing:
Paul — jacket from Barbour, shirt from American Apparel, shorts from Topman, socks by Opening Ceremony and Alternative Country boots.
Bibo is a french restaurant with an impressive collection of street art. It is a collaboration between anonymous project coordinator BIBO and creative design agency Substance. Pieces include installations by mr brainwash, JR, Space invader and Takashi Murakami, and artwork by Banksy, Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons, to name a few. Bibo also invites local and international artists to add their creativity to the space.
What you ate: A contemporary French menu mixed with classical techniques. Chef Mutaro Balde is formerly of Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athenée in Paris and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in London.
Your favorite thing about Bibo: The collection of contemporary and street art is incredible! Being surrounded by the works of so many talented artists in one space is beyond inspiring. There was so much amazing artwork that there was barely any white space left in the restaurant, and the space as a whole is a piece of art that is constantly evolving.
For a late afternoon snack we stopped by Tai Cheong, a Chinese Bakery with multiple locations scattered throughout Hong Kong, famous for their egg tarts. It was really rainy on this day, and eating the warm, flaky egg tarts on the street right outside the shop felt comforting and magical.
Moustache Tailors is a bespoke men’s tailoring shop, established in 2009. The tailors specialize in both classic English and Italian tailoring inspired by 1960s Hong Kong. Each custom suit takes about 6-8 weeks to complete, with 3-4 fittings from start to finish.
Paul was able to sit down with the tailor and hand-pick all of his fabrics, details and finishes. After the first fitting, the suit fabric and lining were ordered from Italy, and three days later the fabric arrived! We stopped by for a second fitting to check in and talk about more details… we can’t wait for our remaining fittings, and the final product. Amazing!
For a grand last dinner, we visited Mott 32, A newly opened restaurant in Hong Kong that specializes in traditional Cantonese cuisine, representing modern Hong Kong. It’s named after 32 Mott Street in New York City, which was NYC’s first Chinese convenience store. The setting and decor here were amazing.
What you wore:
Deana — a Mara Hoffman dress