Judge John Hodgman and Bailiff Jesse Thorn clear the docket and rule on pizza ordering, when to watch the next season of Game of Thrones, cereal dust, learning to drive as an adult and more.
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Here’s a list of Hong Kong recommendations from listener Joseph, in reference to the Baggage Claims episode:
Take the airport train into the city and get off at Kowloon station. The station is connected to the International Commerce Center, which has a bar on the top floor (the 118th) called Ozone. It’s in the Ritz Carlton, and the concierge will offer to store your bags while you go up (it’s free and not as awkward as it sounds). The bar itself is a little too sleek for its own good, but even if you’re not a member of the Mossack Fonseca crowd, it’s worth going for the view. Order a beer and go to the semi-enclosed outdoor area and you’ll look across the harbor and see the world’s most impressive skyline from its tallest building. Not bad!
In terms of food, Hong Kong is best know for two things: dim sum and siu mei (the roast meat you see hanging in restaurant windows). For dim sum, if you’re not afraid to go local and fight their way past the hungry grandmas, I would go to Lin Heung (two locations: one in Central and the other in Sheung Wan, both on Hong Kong island). They’re both very local and well established, but the staff probably won’t know much English. The other option is to go to a more foreigner-friendly place where they can order from a menu. There’s no shame in this option and I would suggest Dim Sum Square in Sheung Wan. Sheung Wan is our kind of hipster neighborhood, so you can check out the galleries and cafes and whatever on Tai Ping Shan Street.
For siu mei, the heavy hitter is Joy Hing, which is located near the bar district in Wan Chai. It’s been around forever and has or had a Michelin star. I usually get a plate of rice and a mix of barbecue pork (char siu) and that crispy roasted pork with the snappy skin (siu yuk). But really the standard of all these siu mei places is quite high, so you can pop into any shop you see. My neighborhood spot– Sun Yuen on Queen’s Road West–is great too. Wherever you go, it shouldn’t cost more than maybe 6 USD.
As for going out, my favorite spot is Visage 1. By day it’s a single-chair salon on a hidden alley down some steps from one of the nightlight areas (Soho). On Saturday nights, however, it turns into a jazz(ish) bar. It gets incredibly cramped (there’s no stage), but there’s always excellent live music. You don’t have to be a “jazz person” to enjoy it. I spent one of my best nights there getting jabbed in the ribs by the bow of a fiddler in a bluegrass band comprised of off-duty Disney performers.
I’d also suggest you stroll around Mong Kok, which is the neighborhood people think of when they think of Hong Kong. It’s crowded and filled with those iconic neon lights (for now–the government is campaigning to reduce light pollution, so they won’t be around much longer). The area around Public Square Street is a good spot for people watching and the kind of street life theater that makes it fun to live in a city: old people do their outdoor karaoke and there are a lot of sex shops and fortune tellers. There’s one guy who uses a psychic bird to read your fortune. It can be a bit dodgy but you’ll be fine. The neighborhood also is home to the city’s Nepalese community and there’s at least one great Filipino restaurant, Belinda’s Food Trip, which I think is staffed by off-duty domestic helpers and the food is top notch. Fun to walk around in, especially at night.
Hong Kong isn’t a cultural superpower, but there are some things to check out. Cantonese opera is a dying art, so you should catch a show at the Sunbeam Theatre before their lease expires. Nearby is Oi!, a exhibition space housed in a nice colonial building, and Parasite, a contemporary art center that gets artists from across Asia. Back across the harbor is an ‘artist village’ called Cattle Depot which has people doing interesting work; there’s a great arts space there called Videotage which does a lot of installation art and new media stuff. And there’s the burgeoning artistic hub in post-industrial spaces in Chai Wan, though I don’t know much about it. The museums are all a bit meh, except for the charmingly awkward Geological Museum on the campus of Hong Kong University. Actually, across campus the University Museum has a decent collection of Chinese antiquities and paintings. Nice old-school tea room, too.
Finally, you should get out of the city. Two suggestions: hike/walk/ramble across a small mountain called Dragon’s Back on the south side of HK island. It can be crowded (it’s Hong Kong!) but it has beautiful views of the coast and you’ll usually see a few paragliders in the sky. The trail ends near Shek O, a little beach town caught in the 60s. You can take a bus back to the city. Easy and worth it. The other choice is to spend a day on Cheung Chau island. The island doesn’t allow cars and really there’s just one fishing village, so it’s pretty slow paced compared to the rest of HK. Good seafood too. You can walk around the island in a couple hours. There’s also a decent beach there, which I think is where one of HK’s few Olympic gold medalists learned to wind surf. Take the ferry from Pier 5 in Central to get there.
Also, it’s a long flight, so there’s plenty of time to read Ackbar Abbas’ Hong Kong: Culture and Politics of Disappearance. I’ve never read a more insightful account of the forces that have shaped this city, both physically and culturally. It’s probably at the library and worth a look.
One more tip: you definitely should not go to Lan Kwai Fong, our dystopian nightlife district, unless you’re into getting vomited on by drunk Australians.
Thank you, Joseph!
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