Barbra Austin

Correspondent

  • Hong Kong, China, Asia

Barbra Austin is a Forbes Travel Guide Correspondent who is based in Hong Kong and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide. A former pastry chef, she lived in New York City for many years before decamping for Paris, where she began writing about food. Now in Hong Kong, she is filling up on char siu and cheong fun but hasn’t tried snake soup just yet. She has written for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Frommer’s and Zagat, among others.

  • On December 12, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What restaurants does The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou have?

    With an appetizing list of restaurants, guests at The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou will not go hungry. For refined Cantonese cooking, reserve a table at Lai Heen, housed in an elegant space divided by dark wood frames that create a sense of intimacy. Six private dining rooms are available as well.

    Limoni offers contemporary takes on comforting Italian favorites such as spaghetti carbonara and osso buco. The kitchen is open to the modern dining room, with a yellow-lit ceiling that bring to mind restaurant’s namesake fruit. The popular set lunch offers an antipasti buffet with a choice of main course, and the wine list is among Guangzhou’s most extensive.

    Foods has all-day dining to suit every taste. Asian and western specialties are served, buffet-style, from the open kitchen stations. Look for fresh oysters every Monday to Thursday, and fresh seafood such as lobster and abalone on the weekends. Foods has indoor and outdoor seating.

    The Pearl Lobby Lounge serves drinks all day starting at 10 a.m., and a popular afternoon tea set that includes sweet and savory treats. Those feeling peckish at the pool can order a light meal at the H20 Bar. Also keep in mind that in-room dining is available at the luxury hotel 24 hours a day, offering a wide range of Chinese and western fare, as well as a children’s menu.
  • On December 12, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    Where is The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou located?

    The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou is located near the Pearl River, in the Zhujiang New Town area of the Tianhe district, in Guangzhou, China. As the name implies, the area was only recently developed – in large part to host the 2010 Asia Games. In just a few years, it has become a thriving central business district, home to a fascinating collection of contemporary architecture and cultural institutions, set along a sweeping, multi-level pedestrian mall. Next to the luxury hotel is the new Guangzhou Library, its structure resembling stacks of books. Beyond that is Zaha Hadid’s famous Guangzhou Opera House. And across the river is the Canton Tower and observation deck. Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport is 40 minutes away by car, and the Guangzhou East Railway Station is just a 10-minute ride.
  • On December 11, 2013
    Marie Bobel is now following Barbra Austin
  • On December 11, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    Where is Tosca located?

    Tosca is perched high on the 102nd floor of the International Commerce Centre building — Hong Kong’s tallest tower — within the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The Ritz-Carlton hotel, in Kowloon. On the terra firma below is the West Kowloon Cultural District and waterfront promenade (the future home of the ambitious M+ contemporary art and visual culture museum), as well as the Elements mall, which offers plenty in the way of luxury shopping. The Star Ferry and other attractions of Tsim Sha Tsui are a quick cab ride away, and cross-harbor transport is fast and easy, via taxi or the trains that stop directly below the building.
  • On December 11, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What is the dress code at Tosca?

    The dress code at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong’s Tosca is officially smart casual. Gentlemen are further admonished to avoid beach sandals and other open footwear, as well as shorts and sleeveless shirts. Ladies have a little more interpretive leeway, but still, you’ll want to leave the flip-flops at home. At lunch you’ll see a broad range of dress, from jeans to business attire, while the feeling in the evening is more formal, with low lighting and, of course, the glittering skyline providing a dramatic backdrop for dinner. Either way, this is a stylish restaurant that draws a savvy crowd. You’ll want to look the part.
  • On December 11, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    How do I get a reservation at Tosca?

    The dining reservations line (+852 2263 2270) at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong handles bookings for all of the hotel’s restaurants, including Tosca. Inquiries can also be made through e-mail to restaurantreservation.hk@ritzcarlton.com. There is currently no system for online reservations. Bookings should be made a few days in advance, or more for prime weekend times, though last minute reservations may sometimes be possible, especially at lunch. Larger groups interested in any of the three private dining rooms should inquire well in advance, by phone or e-mail.  Note that children under three years of age are only welcome at Sunday brunch.
  • On October 24, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What is the dress code at Yan Toh Heen?

    The official dress code at Yan Toh Heen is smart casual. Women have some leeway to interpret that as they wish, but men are advised to avoid sleeveless shirts, shorts, slippers and open shoes. This is a popular lunch spot with business diners in suits and dresses, but you’ll see more casually dressed clients as well, many of whom are hotel guests. Dinner feels a bit more formal. Either way, this is an elegant dining room filled with fine art and fine wine, and frequently a choice for special occasions. In other words, you’ll probably feel more comfortable at the smarter end of smart casual.
  • On October 24, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What is the scene like at Yan Toh Heen?

    At midday, Yan Toh Heen is filled with a mix of power lunchers, families and hotel guests. Some diners come for a light bite of dim sum, others are having a multi-course meal. Evenings, the feeling is more formal, though you can expect the same mix of professionals, families and groups of friends gathered for special occasions. The newly decorated dining room is luxurious in an understated way, with comfortable seating, and screens placed throughout the room to create intimate nooks and alcoves. The biggest draw, however, may be the floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the Hong Kong harbor and skyline.
  • On October 24, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    How do I get a reservation at Yan Toh Heen?

    Reservations at InterContinental Hong Kong’s Yan Toh Heen are highly recommended, whether for lunch or dinner, as the Cantonese restaurant is popular with locals and travelers alike. Bookings can easily be made by phone or online. For online bookings with immediate confirmation, visit the restaurant’s website, click “Online Reservations” and follow the prompts. Note that online booking is only possible for parties of five or fewer. Groups of six or more must reserve by phone or by emailing fb.hongkong@ihg.com. And for last-minute bookings, it’s best to call.
  • On September 23, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    How do I get a reservation at Rech by Alain Ducasse?

    Reservations are imperative at Spoon by Alain Ducasse, the legendary chef’s contemporary French restaurant in the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star rated InterContinental hotel. But booking isn’t difficult. Simply call +852 2313 2323. Several days is generally enough lead time to guarantee a table, but for larger parties or special occasions you may want to call further in advance to ensure availability. The restaurant also offers online booking with immediate confirmation. Simply click on the “Online Reservations” button on the restaurant’s web page, and you’ll be guided through a few short steps. Note that bookings for parties of six or more must be made by phone.
  • On September 23, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What is the scene like at Rech by Alain Ducasse?

    Graced with clean lines and a calming, neutral color palate, there’s an understated elegance to Spoon by Alain Ducasse, the contemporary French restaurant in the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star rated InterContinental Hong Kong. The fantastic views of Victoria Harbor, along with the Ducasse name, make Spoon an obvious choice for special occasions (you’ll see plenty of couples on dates), but it’s the personalized, professional service that retains the regulars. Though the crowd is generally fashionable, diners here are less concerned with who’s at the other tables than what’s happening at their own. The scene here is on the plate and in the kitchen.

    Note that the Sunday brunch is a bit more boisterous, with a less-formal menu and free-flowing wine.
  • On September 23, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What is the dress code at Rech by Alain Ducasse?

    “Smart and elegant” is the official directive for dinner dress at Spoon by Alain Ducasse, located in InterContinental Hong Kong, a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star property. That means no tank tops, sleeveless shirts, shorts or sandals for men, and no athletic wear or flip-flops for men or women. Ladies are left with a bit more freedom, but will still want to look sharp for a night of fine dining.

    No jacket or tie is required, and jeans are not expressly forbidden, but it’s best to err toward elegance, and dress in a way befitting the chic setting and beautifully presented food.

    For brunch, the “smart casual” code is only slightly less exigent, meaning no sleeveless shirt, short pants, slippers and opened shoes for gentlemen.
  • On August 23, 2013
    Lisa Burns is now following Barbra Austin
  • On July 30, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What is the best Hong Kong nightlife?

    Hong Kong's main nightlife hub is Lan Kwai Fong, a drinking, dining and dancing district in Central known where bankers blow off steam. Trendy restaurants and crowded clubs please an international crowd that gets more rambunctious as the week wears on. Lan Kwai Fong and Wyndham streets are the main strips, which will be obvious enough when you hear the music blaring and see crowds pouring out into the street.

    Nearby Soho is slightly more subdued, but plenty lively. A short escalator ride from the Mid-Levels, the bars and restaurants cater to those more keen to try a new restaurant than dance the night away. Staunton, Elgin, and Shelley (along the escalator) are the main drags.

    Wan Chai used to be a port where the US Navy docked, and there is evidence of that legacy in the many bars along Jaffe road. It's rougher around the edges than LKF or Soho, but (mostly) good clean fun.



  • On July 30, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    Where is the best Hong Kong shopping?

    Last year, Hong Kong's Causeway Bay stole the trophy for world's most expensive real estate from NYC's Fifth avenue. Why? Retail, retail, retail.

    The Lee Gardens, Times Square, and Hysan Place malls are the place for luxury labels and familiar mid-range brands, while bargains abound at Island Beverly Centre, which houses colorful mix of Korean and Japanese brands to feed the trend-hungry hordes. But it's not just malls and megabrands; street level shops are big business, too, and their are still plenty of smaller, quirkier shops if you're up for an adventure. As for department stores, HK's own Lane Crawford has a location here (in Times Square), as does Japanese juggernaut Sogo.

    Almost as frenetic as CWB is Tsim Sha Tsui, on the Kowloon side. An entire day could be spent in Harbour City mall. Canton road is the place for luxury flagships. And Nathan road is lined with jewelers.

    For a slightly more subdued shopping experience, try the IFC mall, Pacific Place, or the Landmark, all great for serious designer duds.