Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.
PAX reports On Location, from Hong Kong.
It’s Tuesday night and Robby Cheung is doing the splits for his customers.
As co-owner of Tung Po, a no-frills, cafeteria-like, seafood-serving eatery located in Hong Kong’s North Point neighbourhood, energetic Mr. Cheung knows how to keep his patrons entertained as he does well-fed with his classic Cantonese and fusion dishes.
Wearing an apron with white leather wellington boots with the tops scissored into edgy zig-zags, the spikey-haired restaurateur moonwalks, opens beer bottles with chopsticks and takes rowdy group selfies with customers as the bass line to Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean slithers in the background.
READ MORE: Hong Kong posts big arrivals gains
Hong Kong: a culinary extraordinaire
Tung Po’s deep friend oysters, Wind Sand Chicken and “beer bowls” generate plenty of oohs and aahs amongst guests – a mix of locals and tourists – but the true scene stealer is when the room erupts into a chorus of roars and whoops when the big boss does the splits.
The sight is like watching the finishing move of a lip synch battle on RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s no wonder the place is reportedly sold out every night.
Had we found the rowdiest eatery in Hong Kong? Perhaps. If anything, the zany night out reminded us that we hadn’t had a dull dinner (or breakfast, snack or lunch for that matter) since stepping foot into Hong Kong.
A destination for multi-destination travellers
Last week (Sept 7), PAX joined the Hong Kong Tourism Board and Hong Kong Airlines on a whirlwind press trip to the skyscraper-studded city to experience its eclectic sights, tastes, sounds and history.
The first thing that struck us was how vast and densely-populated Hong Kong (which means Fragrant Harbour in Chinese) really is. With a population of more than seven million people, the hilly and mountainous territory consists of 18 eclectic districts, each boasting their own unique scene and flavour.
“Every neighbourhood is a different world,” Michael Lim, director, Canada, Central & South Americas at the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), told PAX over breakfast at Hotel Vic on The Harbour, the brand new and gushingly-chic hotel in Hong Kong Island’s North Point district that hosted us.
Taiwan: an add-on experience like no other
The HKTB is currently marketing itself with the multi-destination traveller in mind.
“Ninety per cent of travellers coming to Hong Kong already have their next destination ready to go. They don’t come all the way from a long-haul market, like Canada, for just one spot,” Karisa Lui, assistant manager of marketing at the HKTB, told PAX.
Part of that strategy includes promoting Taiwan as an add-on destination for travellers heading to Hong Kong, a partnership the Hong Kong Tourism Board established with the Taiwan Tourism Bureau four years ago.
“Hong Kong is very cosmopolitan whereas Taipei in Taiwan, [for example], there’s hiking, cycling and soft adventure,” Lim illustrated.
(PAX will be visiting Taiwan on the second leg of our trip, too).
How do you get there?
Finally, getting to Hong Kong can be as exciting as the destination itself. Flying Business Class via Hong Kong Airlines, which offers direct service from Vancouver to Hong Kong with connections to nearly 40 Asia Pacific destinations, we had the opportunity to experience the airline’s gourmet inflight menu designed by Dynasty Seafood, its full-service Skybar and the zen-like Club Autus lounge at HKG, which opened last year.
“Your Hong Kong experience starts the moment you step onto Hong Kong Airlines. It’s where everything begins,” said George Liu, chief marketing officer at Hong Kong Airlines.
While it would be impossible to “do it all” in just a handful of days, PAX has made it our mission this week to dive deep into both Hong Kong and Taiwan, one dumpling at a time.
Stay tuned for our ongoing on-location coverage!