Besides the views and outdoor pursuits, it's worth going to South Lantau just to eat, for the villages offer fine cosmopolitan fare
If you come over the mountains from Tung Chung in good weather, on wheels or on foot, you're given a wide-open view of Lantau's coast, the South China Sea and mysterious islands near and far. But besides the views and outdoor pursuits, you might come to this part of Hong Kong just to eat, for the villages linked by the South Lantau Road are home to some fine restaurants of cosmopolitan character.
26 Tong Fuk Village, tel. 2980 2582, closed Tuesdays
In a city where restaurants sometimes close their doors before their menus have had time to get splashed with condiments, The Gallery must have been doing a lot of things right, as it has been serving big portions to hungry hikers and South Lantau residents for 20 years and more.
Tables are either indoors or out on a terrace which overlooks the quiet road. Besides pastas, pizzas and steaks, there's a Mediterranean flavour to the menu with items like falafel kebabs and Greek salads.
Blackboards detail the day's seafood specials. If the cold snap returns later this month, then warm yourself up with the home-baked beef and Guinness pie with gravy and winter vegetables, or the white bean, kale and chorizo soup with toasted Turkish bread.
50 Lower Cheung Sha Beach, tel. 2980 2699, closed Wednesdays
Moving on along the coast to the next village, the Stoep is a similarly longstanding South African and Mediterranean restaurant which has moved from its original beachfront location. It now occupies its own little "cove" just back from the sand with tables set around a koi carp pond.
People come here for the home-made boerewors (South African sausage seasoned with coriander seeds, nutmeg and cloves) and bobotie (curried beef mince baked with an egg-and-milk topping). The grilled cheese and home-made multigrain loaves are also popular.
On weekends and public holidays the Stoep serves a simple home-made breakfast: bread, pork sausage (Namibian-style bratwurst), muesli and yoghurt. As soon as the weather improves, it will be firing up the outside grill for a real South African braai (barbecue).
Lantana by Brian
40 Lower Cheung Sha Beach, tel. 5465 5511
Hop over the stream to find Lantana, a small open-air restaurant with rustic wooden tables and lovely tree-shaded views of the beach. Mussels in white wine are served here, along with pastas, pizzas and salads such as rocket with tomatoes and parmesan. Interesting pizza toppings include florentine (feta, egg, spinach and herbs) and four-cheese with applewood-smoked cheddar. Sit out on one of the beach tables if you want to enjoy the sunset.
Next door to Lantana, there's the Lantau Grocer deli, so you can stock up on imported favourites on your way home.
The Beach House
32 Lower Cheung Sha Village, tel. 2504 4788, closed Mondays and Tuesdays
A little further along the same waterfront, the Beach House has a larger terrace and outdoor furniture which is a bit more swish. New on the menu are fish and chips which have changed to use sustainable Norwegian cod, and fritto misto - a seafood platter large enough for two, with spicy salt and pepper squid, soft shell crab, sweet prawns and battered cod served with salad and tartar sauce. Lighter items include pulled chicken salad with feta and avocado. There's a children's menu too.
Choose from treats such as banoffee pie and blackberry swirl cheesecake for dessert, or for afternoon tea which is served as a set every day.
Pui O Beach, tel. 5662 8552, open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
There are eating places on the roadside in Pui O, but Mavericks has the entire sweep of the beach to itself. The "surf/skate shack" puts an emphasis on serving foods which are seasonal and natural. In addition to working with a local organic food provider, it has its own plot of organic farmland in the wetland behind the beach which supplies the kitchen. Grilled salmon, for instance, is served with broccoli, peas and mint from their own garden. Any food waste is composted and put back into the ground at the farm - a maverick move which should be followed by others.
New on the menu is the bloody dog: a home-made British pork sausage with punchy bloody Mary salsa. Also new are proper Cornish pasties, thanks to the coastal origins of one of the restaurant's owners. Grab yourself a pasty and look out at the waves, and after a few bottles of IPA from the St Austell Brewery you will almost imagine you're in Poldark country.
Bahce Turkish Restaurant
Shop 19, 3 Ngan Wan Road, Mui Wo, tel. 2984 0222
In Mui Wo, at the end of the South Lantau Road, there are plenty of eating and drinking choices to fill the time before your ferry arrives.
Bahce was one of the first Turkish restaurants to open in Hong Kong. Décor consists of colourful rugs and children's drawings pinned to the walls. The food is rather good. If you're unfamiliar with Turkish cuisine, it might be worth ordering either of the mixed meze platters - hot or cold - as they include a good variety of items like hummus, dolma (stuffed vine leaves), baba ganoush (aubergine and onion dip), falafel and so on. All the classic dishes are served, including varieties of shish kebab, and everything comes with salad, dips and pita bread. There is baklava for dessert, and Bahce has live music every Friday night.
Deer Horn Restaurant & Bar
Shop 11, 3 Ngan Wan Road, Mui Wo, tel. 3484 3095, closed Tuesdays
If you've hiked Lantau Peak and a mental retreat to base camp is in order, then step into Deer Horn; its dark wood interior and prayer flags will instantly put you in mind of the Himalayas. This tiny restaurant serves up mostly Nepalese food - barbecued lamb with roti bread, dal bat tarkari (lentil soup, rice and curried vegetables), deep-fried soya beans with garlic, ginger and Nepalese masala - but also has Tibetan-inspired dishes such as home-made momos (dumplings filled with minced chicken) and yak cheese, served either plainly sliced or as fritters.
More unusual menu items include nettle and spinach soup, and a warming mixed berry tea with Amaretto. Thursdays are "the day of lamb" and sets include the meat done any of five ways.