Sunday 7 December 2014

Hong Kong Part 2 - Craft beer and sliders

Hong Kong is a great city to visit, especially for timid Brits who have never been to Asia before like myself. It feels exotic and comfortable at the same time. The remnants of its British past means traffic drives on the left, so I don't almost get run down every time I cross the road because I'm looking the wrong way. The transport system is similar to London, complete with an Oyster card system called "Octopus." But Hong Kong take their card system even further by letting you use the Octopus in convenience stores, tourist attractions and even McDonald’s. It's incredibly convenient and oddly satisfying to use your travelcard to purchase an ice cream sundae. I wish they would do something similar in London. Sadly the Octopus card isn't accepted in pubs - although this might be a good thing otherwise I'd spend all day touching in for a pint.

But I'm not here to tell you about public transport smart cards. I'm here to bore you about pubs and beer. After The Lovely Jemma and I had completed a successful afternoon of pubbing as detailed in my previous post, in the evening we visited the bustling Lan Kwai Fong district in Central. This is the nightlife centre of Hong Kong, packed full of bars and clubs, mostly populated with liquored up ex-pats. We visited Rockabilly, recommended by Time Out for its craft beer and sliders. For those who don't know what a slider is it is what used to be known as a "mini hamburger" until hipsters decided they needed a cooler name. The beer list was pretty good, mainly geared towards English brews but there were some Australian and US beers avialable as well.

I tried the Little Creatures IPA and it was an solid IPA, full of the fruity goodness you'd expect from an American style IPA. As it was Tuesday we took advantage of the "slider for a dollar" offer. As a Hong Kong dollar is about 10p we couldn't really pass it up. The sliders we tried were pretty good - well seasoned meat and tasty toppings. We also tried the poutine, a Canadian post drinks classic consisting of a bowl piled high with chips, cheese curds and gravy. Rockabillys version wasn't very authentic but it was pretty tasty. Sport was playing on the two large televisions in the bar and the music was a jolly collection of classic rock. We enjoyed our time here.

To finish the evening we went to Honi Honi, Hong Kongs only tiki bar. Situated on the third floor of an office block, not an unusual thing in Hong Kong where everything is built upwards, exiting the lift you're greeted with an atmospheric and delightfully stereotypical tiki bar. I didn't try the beer but the cocktails were excellent if expensive, served in gaudy animal shaped containers - monkeys, tigers and the like. Plenty of them involved fire and the bartenders were happy to show off their flame throwing skills while preparing the drinks. The crowd consisted of moneyed, hip and boisterous ex-pats, with the occasional local popping in. Great for a spot of people watching, but only those with fat wallets could enjoy a long session here.

On our last day we popped into the Trafalgar Brewing Co, a microbrewery pub in the busy Wan Chai area. This pub is situated in a block with two other beer temples nearby, Frites which had a large Belgium beer list, and Hop Shack which had a heavy English slant to the beer list. Sadly we didn't get to try them but this is clearly a destination for thirsty office workers surrounding the area. The Trafalgar is marketed as a English pub but inside it felt more like an American Sports Bar - high backed leather benched seating, dark lighting, and plenty of TV's showing different sports. I tried the in-house Hops and Glory, a splendid English IPA reminiscent of Fullers Bengal Lancer. At nearly £6 a pint, even at happy hour, this is not a cheap place but the beer was good and the atmosphere jolly.

It was great to see the beer scene being so embraced in Hong Kong, and me and The Lovely Jemma enjoyed our time in all the bars we visited. Of course there are hundreds of things to do in Hong Kong apart from drinking yourself silly, but it's nice to know there are some decent boozers around after you've filled yourself with dim sum and noodles. I loved the city and can't wait to go back!

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