Using Hong Kong as a stop-over finishing our holiday in Australia, I had long ago decided on the trip to include a private tour guide and a top of the pops dinner. We would land 8 am, and leave again same day midnight. I realized from the start that I would have no chance of profitting from this short visit without some professional help. I had consequently booked a tour with Chris Rawthorn at http://www.hongkongprivatetour.com Chris is a writer for Lonely Planet and is arranging private tour in among others Japan and Hong Kong. With two small boys with us, I imagined a private tour would give us more flexibility should they or we “run out of gaz” along the way.
I have no pre-knowledge about Hong Kong, so basically we let the whole tour in the arms of our guide Jim Kushner. That meant we missed out on a few suggestions from friends. A standard walking tour is 6 hours and can be fit to suit in any respect.
Jim Kushner and Hong Kong
Jim was waiting for us with a big smile when we arrived a little late at the city center. He walked us to the shuttle service of Four Seasons and we drove to the hotel for a quick check in – later the room and Lung King Heen would be waiting for us.
Jim is a genuine warm and nice person with a lot of inside knowledge of the city, the good things, the bad things, the food, the people, the buildings, the government etc. etc. etc. I have forgotten how many years he has lived in Hong Kong, was it 30?. In the beginning of the tour Jim said he hoped that after the day we would share his passion for the city. As it turned out, well…we did not – the noice level, the smog, the grey weather got to us. But Jim did manage to convince us of HIS passion for Hong Kong
A few impressions:
In Hong Kong the individual banks not the central bank issue the bigger notes, below a selection of 20 dollar notes. All same value. Must be a heaven for copy artists ?
HSBC has it head office here, and all the building has been accepted by a world leading expert of Feng Sui. He “only” had corrections to the placement of the old lions in front of the building, so their positions were adjusted accordingly. Solar driven the building is 100% self supporting with energy and build in modules, so part of the building can be moved or re-arranged . Lego anyone ?
Whats your preference ?
Some people told us the only way to explore Hong Kong is on your own. Well not for me. Jim was everything we had hoped for. He did a monster job in keeping us together and he fit in this monster of a city.
Due to the fact that the boys (as I) did run out of steam in the end, and the fact that the legs and speed of kids was not up to the pace of Jim (our appologize Jim)…we ran out of time and all and some part of the trip had to be cancelled, temple, food markets – but again compliment to Jim – he was very good in seeing this. The build in visit to the park with the colourful birds and the playground was surely highlights for the kids. Oscar later proclaimed the steep train ride to the Peak was the best. At all time Jim suggested this or that…so we were free to choose.
Hong Kong is vibrant and alive and ever changing…now. Should any-one happen to be in Hong Kong. Follow the link above or below. Jim Kushner comes highly recommended. Add your own likings to your trip, in respect to restaurants or things to see. I am sure we saw only a fraction of the city, but the inside information we got from Jim, the history could never have been reached in the 6 hours we had. So a big THANK YOU Jim, may you stay…forever young – healthy and happy.
The price for all this. I dont know for sure, check it out online. Due to a misunderstanding in the original planning of the staff of Chris Rawthorn, we got a – let me just say – a very good price. Thanks for that Chris. It all turned out lovely in the end. For tickets to the parc, the train, the Peak and lunch (Chicken thai curry) with soft drinks we paid roughly 50 Euro for 4 people.
After 8 hours on the plane and 6 hours on our feet in Hong Kong, a nice warm bath, a quick rest on the bed and Lung king Heen was waiting. As it turned out the staff of the hotel, bar and restaurant were all friendly, good with the boys but levels, many levels away from George V. in Paris, the only other Four Season hotel I have been lucky to stay in on several occasions. Maybe its the Asian way, but everything had a certain stress level to it. Example..in the Blue bar. Our babysitter arrived 5.25 so that gave us good time to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail. The bar had space for 50-60 people, and was half full. There were 9 waiters…so give or take 1-1,5 table per waiter to service ! And they were all running around like ants – with drama in the eyes. At some point a head waiter came. Beautiful young lady with a calmness and attitude you would expect. But before that happened a small discussion had already taken place next to us, 4 waiters talking/discussing loudly. I thought of the quiet peace in George V. and could only laugh. The cocktail was nice, and a small table of snacks were included in the 9 eur price per cocktail. Now thats not expensive.
Lung King Heen
The only chinese restaurant in the world to hold 3 michelin stars is placed on the fourth floor of the huge Four Seasons Hotel complex. Overlooking the other part of the Island and part of the harbour.
Our table was at 6 pm, which gave us 3 hours to dine before check-out. As it turned out that was more than plenty. Christian Bau had told me that there were certain things that would be “different” than in European top restaurants. He was right.
At first the restaurant was naturally quiet and empty, later it would be more or less full and a bit more hectic. At all times we had people checking on our well-beeing and to look out for wine, water etc. I got a copy (very poor print) of the menu when leaving. The actual menu was nicely bound and beautiful. It consisted of something like 130 different dishes. The wine list high on French wines, with an level of 80-150 euro per bottle for a white Burgundy village wine. On the expensive side.
The dishes ranged from 6-100 euro, many on the lower end of that scale. Example – Peking duck to feed 3-4 people was 55 eur and my pieces of Waguy beef was on the higher end with 80 eur. But the waiter suggested 2 starters and 3-4 main dishes, and even suggested to make half portions on the scallops and the beef which we agreed to.
With 130 items…choosing was bound to be hard…but we did not want to take the easy road and therefore opted out on the menu which came at around 115 euro.
The amuse being very poor, the scallops great but not outstanding, and the chili sauces very nice.
The chilis lovely, spicy as warned. The vegetarian dish very tasty but the sauce got really sticky as it got colder, the beef lovely.
Probably the best dishes of the evening.
Now we did opt out on the peking duck, but I did get a chance to “shoot” the big bird when leaving, and it looked really good.
I will now show you a picture of the pre-desserts – sweets and stuff that came with the tea – look closely….here it is.
It is of course impossible to compare chinese food and traditions to European standards. Lung King Heen is for sure the best Chinese restaurant I have been to. The dishes came in at around 150 euro for 2 people. Add the wine.
I think Schloss Berg, Le Cinq, Soelleroed Kro, Noma, Lameloise and some of my other favourites are so superior to the level of Lung King Heen that words can not describe it. Think amuse and sweets and there is no compare, really not. But the food and service was at a good level. Was it 3 stars. Not in a million years. 2 stars – no way José. Was it 1 star ? Maybe – but then Soellerod is 3 stars. So why on earth do they have 3 ? Again, I dont know. I really dont. But we had a nice meal, and it was outstanding to taste Chinese food at this level, and maybe we are just spoiled Europeans with a francophile taste.
A chunk of crisp rice was left on the table during all the meal including dessert, the cuttlery placed/replaced like at your local Brasserie. The starters arrived at the same time, the main dishes the same, like in your local chinese restaurant. But in the end the dinner was a quick one and we left after 1 hours and 50 minutes of fine chop-stick dining. Full, happy and a little disappointed.
Rating for this restaurant visit: Food 6p(10) – Service 4p (5), Ambience 3,5p (5) – Total score 13.5p (20)