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.

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  • On February 28, 2013
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    What are the best festivals in Hong Kong?

    Check your calendar before coming to Hong Kong to see if your visit coincides with any of these events. And then, try and get tickets.

    Hong Kong Arts Festival In February, some of the world’s premiere performing artists and groups assemble in Hong Kong for a month of dance recitals, music, and drama.

    Hong Kong Sevens For three days in March, HK becomes the world capital of rugby, hosting this tournament of 28 teams, and many thousands of very enthusiastic fans.

    Dragon Boat Carnival A week of revelry surrounds the International Dragon Boat Championship, when world class rowers take to Victoria Harbour to prove their mettle in these colorful, traditional watercraft.

    Mid-Autumn Festival Rooted in agricultural traditions, this harvest holiday is marked by elaborate displays of lanterns (the most spectacular is in Victoria Park), a dragon fire dance in Tai Hang, and the mass consumption of mooncakes.

    Wine and Dine Month In November, Hong Kong's food and beverage industry kicks it into high gear for a month of special events, tastings, tours, and promotions.
  • On February 27, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What are the best rooftop bars in Hong Kong?

    At these bars, you won't just have a view of Hong Kong's legendary skyline, you'll be part of it.

    Ozone On the 118th (and last) floor of the ICC building in Kowloon, this bar at the Ritz Carlton is the world’s highest. It goes without saying that the view is unrivaled; on a clear day, you can see over the top of Hong Kong Island to the South China Sea.

    RED Bar This sprawling, casual spot above the IFC mall is perfect when you need a shopping break, or want to kill time before catching a ferry.

    Sevva On the 25th floor of the Prince’s building, this swanky complex holds a restaurant, bar, and a cake boutique. But the L-shaped terrace lounge, outfitted with comfortable couches, harbor views, and a close-up with the iconic HSBC building, is the real draw.

    Sugar Those who work in the towers of Tai Koo and Quarry Bay head to this sleek, 32nd-floor deck to unwind with creative cocktails. There’s usually a DJ, too.
  • On February 27, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What is Hong Kong’s dining scene like?

    Hong Kong’s restaurant scene is varied, dynamic, and cosmopolitan. Cantonese cuisine can be explored at every level, whether you’re looking for dim sum, street food, noodle shops, or white-tablecloth luxury. Regional Chinese cooking is also well-represented, as are other Asian cuisines, especially Japanese.

    Venues vary widely. There are tiny dives, massive banquet halls, and plenty of stylish places filled with pretty people. Many of the city’s great restaurants are in malls and hotels. Some of Hong Kong’s best food, from Sichuan home cooking to molecular Spanish, is found in so-called “private kitchens”, which essentially exploit a loophole in the law that allows otherwise unlicensed spaces to serve food if they designate themselves a private club.

    Some of the world’s most well-known chefs have outposts here: Nobu, Gagnaire, Robuchon. Even Mario Batali has gotten in on the act, which speaks to (among other things), an Italian trend that shows no signs of dying any time soon. And this is a city that loves trends. Just don't leave without trying some of the classics.
  • On February 26, 2013
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    What are the best museums in Hong Kong?

    Photo Courtesy of the Hong Kong Museum of Art In a city more known for malls than museums, these institutions serve up a healthy dose of history and culture.

    Visit the Hong Kong Museum of Art for a superb collection of Chinese antiquities and fine art, with a strong emphasis on works from Hong Kong and Guangdong province.

    The Hong Kong Heritage Museum explores the cultural and natural history of the region. The permanent collection includes galleries dedicated to Chinese decorative arts, Cantonese opera, and an interactive area for children. This museum also plays frequent host to blockbuster traveling exhibitions from around the world.

    Though not a museum per se, the Asia Society offers all kinds of cultural programming, and the site itself -- a stunning complex built partly out of a colonial ammunitions magazine -- is worth a visit. Free guided tours are available.

    The Museum of Tea Ware, in Hong Kong Park, is lodged in the Flagstaff House, the oldest architectural vestige of British rule. It holds a beautiful collection of antique tea vessels and offers regular programming about tea-drinking culture.



  • On February 26, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What is public transportation like in Hong Kong?

    Mass transit in Hong Kong is efficient, affordable, and clean. MTR trains run frequently, the stops are clearly marked and announced, and maps and signs help you get oriented at the stations, some of which sprawl far underground. Areas that aren’t covered by the MTR are well-served by buses. The 100-year-old tram still operates, too, running west-to-east along Hong Kong Island.

    Outlying islands are served by ferries, most of which depart from the piers in Central. For an atmospheric float across the harbor, take the Star Ferry.

    Trains, buses, trams and ferries (and most convenience stores) all accept the Octopus Card, a stored value card which you can obtain at any MTR station. It's by far the most convenient way to pay. Otherwise, single-journey tickets or day passes are available for the MTR, and bus and tram fares can be paid upon boarding, but change isn’t given.
  • On February 26, 2013
  • On February 26, 2013
    Barbra Austin answered the question: Barbra Austin

    What are the most unusual dining experiences in Hong Kong?

    You'll remember more than the food when you leave these places:

    Shun Kee Take to the water at this floating restaurant in Causeway Bay, made up of a flotilla of sampans, each equipped with a table for eight. On the menu? Seafood, naturally.

    She Wong Lam Snake soup is a winter delicacy, eaten for its purported healing properties. Have a bowl at this old school shop in Sheung Wan, where you'll lunch in the company of live specimens, held in the wooden drawers stacked along the walls.

    Da Ping Huo A series of beautifully presented Sichuan dishes comes with a side of Chinese opera, sung by the female half of the couple who run this arty private kitchen just off of Hollywood road.
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