Expat Tales: Time to dine Hong Kong style

EMMA MATUSCHKA
Last updated 05:00 17/11/2013
Emma Expat Std
KIWI IN HONG KONG: Emma Matuschka says one of the best things about moving to Hong Kong is the fine dining.
Hong Kong
OUTSIDE: Lai Kwai Fong is Hong Kong's busy entertainment district.

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Emma Matuschka and husband Ash moved to Hong Kong from New Zealand three years ago and say one of the best things about the shift is the fine dining. Here's what she had to say about the life-changing move and the city of Hong Kong:

Q: Why did you move to the city?

A: While most of our friends opted to move to London, we wanted to experience a different culture and set of challenges.

Along with the professional opportunities, we also love to travel in Asia and knew that living here would enable us to see more of the continent.

Q: What do you do there?

A: Consumer public relations.

Q: What do you like or dislike about life there?

A: There is so much to love about the city, from the neon rainbow skyline of Hong Kong Island to the leafy green hiking trails and idyllic beaches in the New Territories.

I love the efficiency and fast pace of life. Something that occasionally gets me down is the smog - when the wind is blowing from Mainland China, it can become pretty grey and hazy.

Q: How does the cost of living compare to New Zealand?

A: Rent is considerably more expensive than New Zealand as a result of the limited space. On the plus side, the tax rate is only 15 per cent.

Q: What do you do on weekends?

A: We like to stay active. In summer, we'll hit the beach, go hiking or head out on a junk (a traditional Chinese boat) and cruise around the outlying islands. Rooftop barbecues at friends' apartments are also a regular thing.

Q: What do you think of the food?

A: The food is one of the best things about Hong Kong! We definitely dine out a lot more than what we did back home; it can be as cheap or expensive as you like and the options are endless. I

t's impossible to pinpoint my favourite thing to eat, however, the xiao long bao (dumplings) at Din Tai Fung are up there. A fire chicken korrito (Korean-burrito) from K-Roll in Sheung Wan is my top go-to snack. Oolaa in Soho has the best everyday breakfast menu.

Q: What's the best way to get around the city?

A: The MTR (subway): It's safe, cost-effective and very easy to navigate. Taxis are also really cheap and are a piece of cake to flag down (because there are so many of them)!

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Q: What's the shopping like?

A: Hong Kong shopping is awesome - most big international brands have flagship stores here, and there are some great street markets to scout.

My favourite place to bargain hunt is in Shenzhen (city in Mainland China which is accessible by train from Hong Kong and takes an hour get to). It's a goldmine for tailored clothes, artwork, electronics, shoes, handbags and sunglasses.

Q: What's the nightlife like?

A: Hong Kong comes to life at night. Lan Kwai Fong is bar central and heaves with party-goers every night of the week (especially on Friday and Saturday). There are plenty of cool rooftop and neighbourhood bars. My favourites are Varga Lounge in Soho and Wooloomooloo in Wanchai.

Q: What is your favourite part of the city?

A: I love Sheung Wan; it's an up-and-coming part of town with new cafes, restaurant, galleries and boutiques opening all the time. One of the coolest places to stroll along is Cat Street which has an awesome Chinese antiques market.

Q: What time of year is best to visit and why?

A: The best time to visit is from October through to early December; both the temperature and humidity drop and the skies are generally clearer. It's a great time to be outside.

Q: What's your must-do thing for visitors?

A: Hiking is an activity most don't associate with Hong Kong. Because of that, we love taking people up Mt High West (accessible via the Morning Trail on Hong Kong Island, and nestled above popular tourist spot The Peak).

Mt High West is the highest point on Hong Kong Island and, on a clear day, the view overlooking Victoria Harbour towards Kowloon is breathtaking.

Q: What are your top tips for tourists?

A: Get out of the city! Whether it's to an outlying island or just over to Stanley for a drink at one of the bars along the boardwalk, try making time to see the less built-up side to Hong Kong.

Have at least one foot reflexology massage and leave space in your luggage to pack your shopping!

Q: How easy is it for you to get back to New Zealand?

A: Piece of cake; Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific share the Auckland-Hong Kong route and fly direct daily.

If you know an expat who wants to share the inside knowledge on their home away from home, email escape@star-times.co.nz with Expat in the subject line.

- Sunday Star Times

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