Escape The Expat Bubble: Aberdeen and Wong Chuk Hang
Industrial chic? Check. Instagram-friendly coffees? A day in Hong Kong’s hippest areas? Check. The Aberdeen neighbourhood on Hong Kong Island was once a quiet fishing village, while Wong Chuk Hang next door was known more for its concentration of industrial buildings than anything else. In the last few years, however, the areas have seen a renaissance of sorts, with eateries, art galleries and boutiques opening up, attracting hipsters in droves. Thankfully, Aberdeen still retains its charm, with fishing boats and sampans aplenty; meanwhile, Wong Chuk Hang is fast becoming a hub for all things hip. Once you’ve done Ocean Park and Jumbo Floating Restaurant – the two major landmarks in the area – make some time to explore these gems Aberdeen and Wong Chuk Hang have to offer.
Eat & Drink
Looking for something a little different than your standard meal on dry land? Located on a 63-foot yacht, Kea’s Kitchen offers a truly unique dining experience. Run by affable owner Kea, the floating private kitchen is docked at the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter, offering Thai-inspired cuisine against a picturesque setting for two nights a week. Two set menus are on offer: for HK$598 or HK$798, you’ll have the chance to try a range of Thai dishes, many of which use fresh seafood ingredients.
Row One, Mooring 5345, Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter, Aberdeen, (852) 6077 5964
Any health nuts in the house? Nestled in an industrial building in Wong Chuk Hang, the original Southside branch of 3/3rds is a sun-drenched, welcoming space, providing healthy foods using fresh, top-quality ingredients. There are salads and sandwiches aplenty, with a menu that changes regularly.
22D, Yally Industrial Building, 6 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang, (852) 3462 2951
The Butchers Club
While meat-lover heaven The Butchers Club now boasts a number of outlets around town, its very first branch is a private kitchen nestled in the Tin Wan neighbourhood in Aberdeen, which boasts a dry-ageing room. The space accommodates up to 16 people and serves a signature “Big Beef Experience” menu, while also hosting regular sausage-making and nose-to-tail butchery classes.
13C, Sun Ying Industrial Centre, 9 Tin Wan Close, Aberdeen, (852) 2552 8281
Vietnamese restaurant Noodle Mi runs a small Sheung Wan outlet – but there’s also a more spacious branch in an industrial building in Wong Chuk Hang. What’s special about the place is that everything on the menu caters those who are gluten-intolerant, with a selection of hot, piping pho, delicious salads and Vietnamese classic banh mi.
8C, Kwai Bo Industrial Building, 40 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, (852) 2253 1113
ABOVE, the rooftop bar at Ovolo Southside, has gorgeous views of the rolling hills of island south, plus the beach and the ocean beyond. It’s a sprawling, laid-back space to kick back with a classic cocktail or a refreshing glass of prosecco. What’s not to love? If you get bored of the view (hardly likely), come for a spot of people-watching – there’s always a glamorous crowd gathered here. Also, the Happy Hour deal is totally worth the visit: $180, 2-hour open bar. Need we say more?
23-24/F, Ovolo Southside, 64 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, (852) 3460 8100
Featuring modern European fare, CIRQLE at Ovolo Southside is a sophisticated space that comes complete with a gorgeous outdoor terrace, with a bird’s eye view of island south. You’ll find European classics with a creative twist here – everything from light bites and salads to meaty dishes. Want to go all-out? Head here for brunch on Sundays, which features BBQ and seafood stations. It’s HK$298 per person; add an additional HK$148 for free-flow wine and HK$288 for free-flow champagne.
4/F, Ovolo Southside, 64 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, (852) 3450 8157
See & Do
The Southside Art Scene
The Aberdeen and Wong Chuk Hang neighbourhoods are home to a burgeoning art scene, with a number of galleries all opening up. Here are a few worth checking out:
Blindspot Annex: Whether you’re a diehard photography fan of an amateur armed with an iPhone, Blindspot Gallery will be of interest. The gallery features pieces by up-and-coming photographers all over the world. 15/F, Po Chai Industrial Building, 28 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang, (852) 2873 3819
Gallery Exit: Specialising in works that cross boundaries, Gallery Exit shows pieces in various medium. 3/F, 25 Hing Wo Street, Tin Wan, Aberdeen, (852) 2541 1299
Art Statements: Art Statements is renowned for its exhibitions of internationally acclaimed artists across the world. 8/F, Factory D, Gee Chang Hong Centre, 65 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang, (852) 2696 2300
The Cat Street Gallery Annex: The original branch of the Cat Street Gallery is located in Sheung Wan, and its Annex in Wong Chuk Hang boasts a sprawling space with contemporary and modern pieces from both up-and-coming names and acclaimed artists. Viewing is by appointment only. Unit C, 26/F, Gee Chang Hong Centre, 65 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, (852) 2544 6223
Pekin Fine Arts Hong Kong: If you enjoy Chinese art, make time for Pekin Fine Arts’ Hong Kong outpost. The Beijing-based contemporary art gallery represents international names with a particular focus on artists in the region, and is also a champion for promoting Asian artists. 16/F, Union Industrial Building, 48 Wong Chuk Hang Road, (852) 2177 6190
Plum Blossoms Gallery: Art gallery Plum Blossoms was established in the 1980s and continues to be a force to be reckoned with in the local art scene. Expect to find cutting-edge pieces by young Chinese artists alongside an a collection of antiques. 14/F, Cheung Tak Industrial Building 30 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang, (852) 2521 2189
Aberdeen Floating Village and Sampan Ride
The Aberdeen harbour is home to hundreds of junks, forming a community of fishermen and their families. These days, most fishermen work on the boats rather than live in them, but you can still catch a glimpse of them through a sampan ride in the harbour. You’ll find stations dotted around the Aberdeen promenade, offering a half-hour ride across the Aberdeen harbour at around HK$80 per person – although the price is, of course, negotiable.
Don’t think that men’s shopping is overlooked here. ED1TUS is a sprawling showroom featuring over a dozen high-end fashion brands catering to guys, but that’s not all. The space also houses Casa Capriz, a vintage furniture brand that sources its gorgeous antique pieces from all over Europe.
16F, Shui Ki Industrial Building, 18 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang, (852) 5648 6728
Located just a stone’s throw away from Aberdeen, Ap Lei Chau is the second-most densely populated island in the world, but to Hong Kongers, that’s not its only claim to fame. While it’s mostly a residential area, Ap Lei Chau is home to Horizon Plaza, a treasure trove brimming with factory outlets offering cut-price designer fashion. Don’t let the Horizon Plaza’s nondescript exterior fool you – brands inside the 28-storey building include Hong Kong luxury retail giant Lane Crawford; Ralph Lauren; Hugo Boss; and Marc by Marc Jacobs. Furniture brands have also set up shop here, including Tequila Kola and Shambala.
2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, (852) 2554 9089
Andrea Lo is a freelance journalist and translator based in Hong Kong. After cutting her teeth in the industry as a staff writer at a lifestyle magazine, she embraced the freelance life in 2015 and hasn’t looked back. She spends her time exploring the best of Hong Kong’s dining and nightlife scene, trialling new fitness trends, and travelling to exotic locales – all in the name of “research”.