Tastemakers Mark Cho and Alan See share their top picks for what to do in Hong Kong, the home base of their ever-cool haberdashery, The Armoury.
By Nikkitha Bakshani
British-inspired and Hong Kong–based the Armoury is a bastion of menswear for the global-souled modern gentleman. Mark Cho, who was raised in the U.K. and worked in Asia and the U.S., became enamored of Savile Row at the ripe age of 16. After meeting Alan See, who hoped to bring back respect for old-school tailors in his native Hong Kong, at their local tailor, the pair committed themselves to connecting a contemporary audience with the standards of erstwhile menswear. Now, with two boutiques in Hong Kong and one in Manhattan (168 Duane St.; 646-613-7613; thearmoury.com) selling Borsalino hats (established in Italy in 1857) alongside cologne from Brooklyn-based outfit D.S. & Durga (founded in 2007), it’s safe to say they’ve met their goal. Naturally, Cho and See are as talented at curating tips for where to wander in Hong Kong as they are at curating cool in their shop. Here, they share their best tips for visitors.
What neighborhood do you live in and how long have you lived there? Mark Cho: In Wan Chai, just over a year now.
Alan See: Jardines Lookout for the past 3 years.
Where do you put up friends visiting town? MC: For a good, cheap hotel, the Ibis in Sheung Wan (28 Des Voeux Road W.; 85-2/2252-2929; ibis.com). For a top flight stay, Mandarin Oriental (5 Connaught Rd. Central; 85-2/2522-0111; mandarinoriental.com) or Upper House (Pacific Place, 88 Queensway; 85-2/2918-1838; upperhouse.com).
AS: I like Lanson Place in Causeway Bay for a smaller hotel and the staff are always very helpful (133 Leighton Rd.; 85-2/3477-6888; lansonplace.com), but the Mandarin is always top choice if looking for somewhere better!
Where is the best place to find your hometown’s signature dish? MC: I like Golden China on Jubilee Street (9–11 Jubilee St.; 85-2/2545-1472), it’s an old family-run pork and duck joint near The Armoury, I go for the Char Siu on rice and Won Ton on noodles.
AS: I still love Mak’s noodles in Central for won ton noodles and beef brisket (77 Wellington St.; 85-2/2854-3810). Always great. However, I can never pass up a Hainanese chicken rice at Mrs. Pound (I’m Hainanese Malaysian) (6 Pound Ln.; 85-2/3426-3949; mrspound.com).
What is your favorite restaurant to take visitors? MC: Duddell’s on Duddell St is always a good first spot for visitors. The décor is beautiful and the food and service are very good. (1 Duddell St.; 85-2/2525-9191; duddells.co)
AS: For a bit of a show, I bring them to the speakeasy Foxglove. It’s always nice to bring them through that gentlemen store entrance and surprise them with the click of the umbrella—opening to that restaurant and bar! (6 Duddell St., Printing House 2/F; 85-2/2116-8949; foxglovehk.com)
Where can you find the best cocktails? Beer list? Wine list? MC: I generally just drink gin martinis or whiskey; Foxglove on Ice House St or Café Grey at The Upper House (Pacific Place, 88 Queensway; 85-2/3968-1106; upperhouse.com) are good choices.
AS: Egg white whiskey sour at Foxglove followed by a Bellini at BAR executive (3 Yiu Wa St., Causeway Bay; 85-2/2893-2080; executivebar-com-hk). My drink of choice is champagne—and the best place for it is the Champagne bar in the Grand Hyatt (1 Harbour Rd.; 85-2/2584-7722; hongkong.grand.hyatt.com).
Where would you choose to splurge on a night out? MC: I would go for a smoke at Red Chamber (12 Pedder St.; 85-2/2537-0977; pacificcigar.com) upstairs from The Armoury in the Pedder Building, followed by dinner at Otto e Mezzo in Alexandria House (Shop 202, 18 Chater Rd.; 85-2/2537-8859; ottoemezzobombana.com) and finishing with drinks at Foxglove.
AS: The Krug pairing dinner at the Krug room at the Mandarin is something I’d splurge on! (5 Connaught Rd. Central; 85-2/2825-4014; mandarinoriental.com)
What is your go-to after-hours bar? MC: b.a.r. Executive, it’s a classic Japanese whiskey bar in Wan Chai.
AS: Foxglove is an easy and great choice.
What’s the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon in town? MC: Hollywood Road is always a nice stroll, there are a lot of shops and restaurants and the vibe is nice.
AS: The beaches in Hong Kong are actually quite pleasant. There are nice, quiet ones like Turtle Cove beach which make for a beautiful relaxing afternoon!
What is your Sunday morning routine in your neighborhood? MC: I usually go to Victoria Park and the public library next door.
AS: Head to the playground with the kids on the Peak, and grab some pancakes and coffee on the way down!
Where is the best brunch? MC: I don’t eat brunch very often but I do eat dim sum on Sundays quite regularly. I like Maxim’s Palace in the Town Hall. (2/F Low Block, City Hall; 85-2/2521-1303; maximschinese.com.hk)
AS: Dim Sum at Pak Loh in Times Square is perfect for my Chinese brunch habits. Love the food there! (Shop 1002, 1 Matheson St.; 85-2/2577-1163; timessquare.com.hk)
Where do you go for the perfect cup of coffee? MC & AS: Fuel in the Landmark Central shopping mall. (Shop B47A, 15 Queen’s Rd.; 85-2/2500-0555; landmark.hk)
What’s your favorite view in town? MC: Anywhere secluded on the Peak, especially if you can see the back side of Hong Kong island.
AS: The best view for me is from the ferry. It is a great distraction from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, and you can see BOTH sides of the harbor. It is also such a tranquil ride, which forces you to sit down and enjoy Hong Kong for the few minutes you are on it.
What’s your favorite path or trail to follow on a walk? MC: There’s a hiking path along the back of the peak that’s peaceful and scenic.
AS: The Maclehose trail in Hong Kong has an amazing view of the greener side of Hong Kong. It’s pretty incredible that you can go from the bustling skyscrapers of HK to the green waterfalls and amazing sea scapes of Hong Kong within half an hour.
What are your favorite offbeat cultural attractions? MC: I really like Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road (124 Hollywood Rd.; 85-2/2540-0350; lcsd.gov.hk). It’s not particularly big or impressive but it always feels very warm and welcoming.
AS: Hong Kong definitely needs a bit of a narrative alongside its tour. Wan Chai is one of those areas which has been part of the whole world of Suzy Wong, the amazing stories of the yesterday Taipans and the old world red light districts etc. The government has tried to highlight this by putting up storyboards up in all these areas so that you can really explore and see the different layers of old world Hong Kong, which really gives you an idea to the cultural history of Hong Kong as well.
What’s your favorite shop or boutique? MC: The Armoury, of course! Also, it’s a strange recommendation but Wan Chai Computer Center (130 Hennessey Rd.; 85-2/5826-3698), which is a small building packed with countless tiny computer and electronic boutiques, is always fun to walk around in. It’s a type of retail that you don’t really see any more in Europe or America.
What’s the ultimate souvenir from your town—something you can only get there? MC: It sounds strange but I really like the designs of Hong Kong’s cash bills, especially the 10 and the 100.
AS: Get a traditional Chinese long robe made, and for the women, a Qipao (snug-fitting embroidered dress with a high collar). It is such a beautiful garment but a dying art.
What’s the best-kept local secret? MC: At Hong Kong airport, when you take the monorail between sections of the airport, use the elevator instead of the escalator, it’s a lot faster to get up that way and rarely very busy. The Indian restaurants in Miramar Mansion are very good but getting there and finding them is always a challenge. @wbbrjp
AS: Seeing Hong Kong by Kayak is something pretty amazing and you get to see all of the smaller islands as well!
“Do not go where the path leads, travel instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”