Supersize Hong Kong: the City's Biggest, Best and Most Expensive
Hong Kong—city of superlatives. From local bragging rights to world records, everything’s bigger and better in the SAR. By Adam White
Biggest, booziest, or just straight up craziest: Hong Kong has extraordinary food to spare.
Average sized steak not cutting it for you? Head to Shore and order the 80oz double-bone Tomahawk steak. The grain-fed beef is wet-aged for 120 days and not so much carved as hacked into an enormous hunk for you. It’s $2,376 and serves at least four: order ahead of time to give them time to bring in an extra-large cow.
3/F, The L Place, 139 Queen’s Rd. Central, 2915-1638.
This isn’t an easy one to judge in a town of ridiculous cocktails, but the prize just—and only just—goes to the frankly insane “Bloody Masterpiece” ($1,250, only available Sat-Sun noon-5pm) at Boomshack. This Bloody Mary comes in a massive jug topped with:
- 1 whole fried chicken
- 2 cheeseburgers
- 2 sausages
- 3 rashers of bacon
- 2 stuffed chilis
- 3 kinds of cheese cubes
- 1 forest of carrot, onion, olive, celery and tomato
- 1 pretzel
It’s meant to be for a party of six to eight—but we dare you to go solo.
Shop B, 8-12 Wo On Lane, Central, 2660-5977.
In July 2013 six hedge fund traders reeled in a 3.6-metre-long, 226kg Pacific blue marlin while fishing near the Dongsha Islands to the south of Hong Kong. It took 3.5 hours to catch, and was worth around $77,500. Because what hedge fund traders really need is more cash.
Most Insane Dessert
Sweet Tooth’s Waffle Super Big Mac (left) takes 45 minutes to put together and if you can down it in another 45 minutes, the $170 dish is yours for free. Nine layers of waffle crammed full of cream and stuffed with sauces and fruit… good luck, young overeater.
46 Carnarvon Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, 2721-1121.
The waffle shuffle (Paul Yeung/SCMP)
Most Expensive Wine
Last year Sotheby’s Hong Kong sold a lot of 114 bottles of Romanée-Conti Burgundy, which went for $12,556,250. That’s $110,142 per bottle for what in 1789 the Archbishop of Paris called “velvet and satin in bottles.” The buyer chose to remain anonymous. Anyone heard from Henry Tang in a while?
These bottles: More than what you get paid in a month (Sam Tsang/SCMP)
Meanwhile, the most expensive wine available in a restaurant in Hong Kong is stocked at the Island Shang’s Petrus. It’s a namesake bottle of Pétrus 1961 (left), which critic Jay McInerney described as tasting of “balsam, leather-bound books, black tea, chocolate-covered raisins, dried cherries.” All that and more, yours for a mere $296,000.
56/F, Island Shangri-La, Supreme Court Rd., Admiralty, 2820-8590.
God & Gambling
The two most important things to any self-respecting Hongkonger.
This title goes to the mighty Silent Witness, who dominated the 2003-2005 seasons. He won his first 17 starts consecutively and was ranked the world’s fastest sprinter for three years in a row, making $62,496,396 in prize money. Silent Witness became a Hong Kong hero for his unrivaled stretch of victories, right in the middle of SARS—when the city needed something special to hold on to. The thoroughbred was retired in 2007 and was sent to a glue factory home for retired horses in Australia. You can visit him at Living Legends (207 Oaklands Rd., Greenvale, Victoria, Australia). It’s right next to Melbourne airport.
Can I get a witness? (Kenneth Chan/SCMP)
How does that hymn go—“Nearer, My God, To Thee”? Churches traditionally built spires to reach up to God, but in a city of skyscrapers that’s not so impressive. Instead the SAR is home to the world’s highest church inside a building, at just under 300m high on the 75th floor of Wan Chai’s Central Plaza. The Sky City Church was the brainchild of Sun Hung Kai mogul Thomas Kwok, a devout Christian. Want to get high on the Lord? The church meets for services every Sunday at 11am in English and 6pm in English and Cantonese.
75/F, Apex, Central Plaza, 18 Harbour Rd., Wan Chai, 2521-3900.
Let's get Sky City high (Photo: @skycitychurch)
There’s just one thing that runs Hong Kong. No, it’s not CY Leung—it’s money. And boy, does money talk in the SAR…
A study in August last year found that Hong Kong is home to more multimillionaires than any other city in the world, with 15,400. New York languishes behind with only 14,300 millionaires, and London has only 9,700. Explains a lot, doesn’t it?
Most Rolls-Royces Ordered
For years this was a standing record of The Peninsula Hotel: The grand dame set the record for the largest single-order from the company in December 2006, when it requested 14 fully bespoke extended wheelbase Rolls-Royce Phantoms. The record stood until September 2014, when flamboyant tycoon Stephen Hung spent $155 million on an even more flamboyant 30 of the selfsame Phantoms for his new hyper-luxe Louis XIII hotel in Macau. Two of the cars will be the most expensive Phantoms ever commissioned, and the cars are due for delivery in early 2016. Famously, Hong Kong has the most Rolls-Royces per capita in the world. That might be about to change…
They see me rollin'
Most Insanely Crazily Priced Chicken Cup
In April last year the “Meiyintang Chicken Cup” sold at auction in Hong Kong for a world record of $281,240,000. Regarded as an exceptionally fine example of Chinese porcelain, the 15th-century cup went to Shanghainese collector Liu Yiqian. Liu paid by swiping his American Express card 24 times. What did he do once he had his hands on his prize? He brewed a cup of tea in it, of course.
Cupping the cocks (Dickson Lee/SCMP)
Most Exclusive Club
If you want to join the Hong Kong Golf Club, you’d better put your name down now: There’s an official waiting list of 20 years. Full membership is about $500,000 but in truth the club is essentially closed to new members. You’ll have to chance your arm on the second-hand market, where memberships are going in the region of $12 million. Worth it for the chance to brush shoulders with Li Ka-shing on his daily early-morning holes at Deep Water Bay, perhaps. A few million bucks short? The club allows visitors to play on its Fanling course on weekdays for a comparatively paltry $1,200 per 18 holes. At Deep Water Bay you can play Mon-Fri from 9am-2pm, for just $550. Tycoons not guaranteed.
Lot 1, Fan Kam Rd., Sheung Shui, 2670-1211 or 19 Island Rd., Deep Water Bay, 2812-7070.
Millionaire's fairway (Felix Wong/SCMP)
Most Expensive Property
Hong Kong—and Asia’s—most expensive flat sold last month for a cool $497.9 million, bought by a Dutch businessman who apparently got bored of just throwing 500 Euro notes into wheelbarrows and setting them on fire. Inside the Frank Gehry-designed Opus Hong Kong at 53 Stubbs Road, the 5,188-square-foot duplex cost its buyer a mere $95,971 per square foot.
Magnum Opus (Nora Tam/SCMP)
Hong Kong’s most expensive house, meanwhile, is House 10 at Skyhigh on Pollock’s Path on the Peak—the 5,989-square-foot house sold for $800 million in June 2011, or $133,578 per square foot. Bargain.
Meanwhile House 1 of Sun Hung Kai’s Twelve Peaks development at 12 Mount Kellet Road was put on the market last year for $819.1 million, a world record of $175,735 per square foot. There have been no takers… yet.
There’s always room for a media special, dahhling.
Best-selling Hong Kong Movie
Sorry, Wong Kar-wai fans. The highest-grossing Hong Kong movie of all time is “Kung Fu Hustle,” which earned $61,278,697 at the box office.
"Wong Kar-wai, you're an art house hack"
Longest Concert Series
After Hong Kong Coliseum was completed in 1983 the venue became phenomenally successful, hosting night after night of concerts for the city’s Cantopop-starved public. Stars included Leslie Cheung, Anita Mui and Alan Tam—all playing runs of 25 nights or more. Tam played 38 nights in a row, but the record goes to superstar Paula Tsui, who in 1992 played 43 shows over 37 days. At a capacity of 12,500, that’s a potential audience of 537,500 who saw her perform. How many Twitter followers do you have?
Warm weather, bad weather and worst weather: Hong Kong has it all.
Hottest Summer Ever
If you can’t remember a summer ever being as sweltering as this year—congratulations, you were right. June of 2015 saw monthly mean temperatures of 29.7°C, making it the hottest month since records began in 1884. Add that to relative humidity in the high 80s, and you’ve got a recipe for dissolving into a pool of your own sweat and self-loathing.
The highest peak in Hong Kong is Tai Mo Shan, sitting at 957m above sea level at what’s more or less the geographical center of the New Territories. The wettest and coldest part of Hong Kong, it’s even been known to attract frost in the colder months.
It’s easy to hike up, as Tai Mo Shan Road inclines at a fairly gentle gradient all the way to the top. You can’t get right to the summit, though: the top is a fenced-off section containing a radar station for the Hong Kong Observatory and the Civil Aviation Department—and, possibly, a secret PLA base. It’s also covered by Stage 8 of the Maclehose Trail, from Lead Mine Pass to Route Twisk.
Tai Mo Shan, I like your misty peaks (Photo: Eugene Lim Photography via Flickr)
Hong Kong’s longest road is Castle Peak Road, which runs from Sham Shui Po all the way up to the border and then to Sheung Shui, looping around the south, west and north New Territories. The shortest road in Hong Kong is Joint Street in Lai King, which is about 23m long. It connects Lai King Hill Road and Lai Cho Road near the Lai King Estate. We don’t particularly recommend visiting. Tragically, it’s a touch shorter than the fantastically named Short Street in Mong Kok.
Most Densely Populated Island
Ap Lei Chau. Wait, Ap Lei Chau? That hilly one next to Aberdeen where you go to buy furniture? Yes, Ap Lei Chau isn’t just the most densely populated island in Hong Kong. It’s actually the second-most densely populated island in the WORLD.
As of the 2011 census the island squeezed 86,089 people into just 1.3 square kilometers, meaning that there are 66,222 people per square kilometer on the island. Given that there’s a big mountain on the south side, where do all these people live? The enormous South Horizons housing estate, for one. It houses over 31,000 people, about the population of the city-state of Monaco.
Ap Lei Chau: full of dense humans (Photo: Minghong via Flickr)
Worst Typhoon to Hit Hong Kong
You hear a lot about 1972’s devastating Typhoon Wanda but it’s got nothing on the Great Hong Kong Typhoon of 1937, which struck the city on September 2, 1937. The storm hit in the dead of night, surprising all with its force. Instruments were able to register speeds of 125mph before they broke down. The waves were worse: a tidal wave estimated at 5.49 meters high overwhelmed the defenseless fishing village of Tai Po. Fires destroyed what the waves didn’t, and the territory’s death toll was estimated at 11,000.
Destruction from Typhoon Wanda, 1972 (Photo: Post Staff Photographers/SCMP)
Crazy Escalator Record Special!
For some weird reason, Hong Kong is home to a superfluity of escalator-based records. The SAR has the:
World’s Longest Outdoor Covered Escalator System: Central–Mid-Levels Escalator (800m, vertical climb of 135m)
World’s Third Longest Outdoor Covered Escalator System: Ocean Park escalator from Marine World to Adventure Land (225m)
Longest Indoor Shopping Mall Escalators: “Xpresscalators,” Langham Place, Mong Kok (vertical climb of 76m in two escalators)
Ocean Park, record-setter