Secret Shoppers These hidden boutiques provide retail solutions to problems you didn’t even know you had. Filling the Cofres Bored of current trends? Check out high-end second-hand store Cofre Del Tesoro for everything from antique porcelain and furniture to designer clothes and jewelry. 2/F, 55 Queen’s Rd. Central, 2810-0052. Dot The Dots Up a flight of unassuming stairs on Elgin Street, The Dot houses a collection of scarves, pocket squares and travel accessories. It’s a cool concept—all of the designs are digital prints from bold European and Asian artists. M/F, 2 Elgin St., 2386-6061. Tiny SAR Traditional Chinese water bottles, vintage rice cookers, woks, tea pots and a lot of Hong Kong-style small items… all miniaturized to fit in your palm. Green tin store owner Mr. Au tells us all the miniatures are handmade by a local artist. Corner of Peel Street and Queen’s Road Central, roughly 9:30am to 5pm. Feather Lights Tiny Chung Leung Ching Kee on Wing Wo Street is stocked full—literally up to the ceiling—with feathers. There are fabulous and decorative feathers in many different colors and textures, as well as the widest range of feather dusters we’ve ever seen. Because who wants a dumpy duster? 7 Wing Wo St., 2544-8366. Linger Longer Stock up on a few naughty numbers ahead of Valentine’s Day at Fishbelly , a Berlin lingerie brand that opened its doors to shoppers in Central last year. 1/F, 45 Hollywood Rd., 6075-0962. Ah Moon Rising Want to make your own leather goods? The friendly and knowledgeable staff at Ah Moon Leather Workshop is here to help: this workshop provides materials and offers lessons for you to make wallets and leather bags, starting from $650 for three hours. Room 302, 3/F, Kamming House, 49-51 Queen’s Rd. Central, 2510-0031, www.ahmoon.com.hk . Ma Cher2 Amour Cher2 stocks nail varnishes of every shade imaginable. The selection here is epic—find bottles from OPI, Essie and China Glaze at half the usual retail rates. Shop 1202A, 12/F, Century Square, 1-13 D’Aguilar St., 2810-0171. USA! USA! You don’t have to schlep out all the way to Sheung Wan’s Gateway for your Twinkies and Honey Nut Cheerios. A&M in the middle of Central has all the high-fructose corn syrup, Trix cereal and 8-pound tins of Hershey’s chocolate syrup that any true American could ever need. 12/F, Manning House, 38-48 Queen’s Rd. Central, 2548-8280. Bars & Bites Back-alley watering holes and off-the-radar diners. Clandestine Porcine Feel like a smoke? Marked by the sign of a pig wearing an eye patch, the Blind Pig is Lily and Bloom’s hidden cigar lounge. Order a cuban and an Old Fashioned via the antique telephone and make like an old-timey banker. 6/F, 33 Wyndham St., 2810-6166. Tea for You Nestled along the pedestrian end of Peel Street, Tea Saloon by AnotherFineDay is about as quaint as they come. Even if you don’t dig your tea, prepare to be charmed by the uber-cute pastel interior and Victorian-themed furniture. G/F, 80-82 Peel St., 2525-8257. Jaa Rule Down a small alleyway off Peel Street, Jaa Bar is rumored to have once been a secret shelter for Dr. Sun Yat-sen. It’s now decked out with glitzy chandeliers and plump furniture. A signature “Jaa” Prosecco cocktail feels just right. Jaa Bar, Pak Tsz Lane, 2815-8887. Lan Party Apparently, Gage Street cha chaan teng Lan Fong Yuen isn’t happy with its legendary milk teas and pork chop buns. It’s been tarting up half of its restaurant into something fresh. But this is no standard renovation. Outside, the new space has brushed black metal walls with a hint of trendy rust. On the inside? A bar. The boss is refusing to divulge any more details until it opens: now that’s secret. 6 Gage St. For Goodness’ Snakes Some of the best martinis in town are hiding away at snug basement bar Medusa , which is covered in all kinds of serpentine artwork—just as the name suggests. 49 Staunton St., 2858-3129. Drunken Discovery Whether you’re killing time before catching the ferry or simply soaking up some sun, Discovery Forest —the beer garden on top of Pier 3—is a chilled place to knock back a Singha draft or a bucket of Chang beers ($216 for eight bottles before 8pm). To share, of course. Pier 3 Garden, 3579-8662. Hershey’s Kisses OK: It might not be the best-kept secret in town but if you don’t know about Hazel & Hershey , get over there ASAP. It’s got fantastic coffee, cheerful service, hard-to-find coffee gadgets and quirky surrounds. What more do you want? Shop 3, 69 Peel St., 3106-0760. Dai Pai Gone Central is home to a shrinking number of dai pai dongs, serving up delicious alfresco eats. Seek ‘em out before they disappear. An Offal Flavor One of Central’s few remaining dai pai dongs, Shui Kee is renowned for its beef brisket noodles and their rich beef bone broth. Foodies, however, come for the legendary ngau sa gwa—the smallest of a cow’s four stomachs. The dai pai dong makes only two bowls a day—those lucky enough to have tried it say it’s chewy on the outside and tender inside. Gutzlaff St., 2541-9769. Cheung Funny The 70-year-old Wai Kee Congee Shop serves up a thick congee with a wide variety of condiments, alongside carrot cake and za leung—fried dough sticks wrapped with cheung fun rice noodle rolls. And the real star is the cheung fun. While most other shops shape them by hand, Wai Kee rolls them with a piece of cloth, which means the finished product is thinner, less watery and more tender. 82 Stanley St., 2551-5564. Clandestine Kitchens Eating with the common people? So over it. Treat yourself to the best of Central’s private kitchens instead. Fa Zu Jie Putonghua for “French Concession” and named after Shanghai’s famous quarter, Fa Zu Jie is all about fresh takes on Shanghainese staples—which are usually served in six classy courses. 1/F, 20A D’Aguilar St., 3487-1715. Dai Ping Huo This Sichuan private kitchen is hard to find but worth the effort. Come here for 11-course dinners that include signature dishes like steamed chicken with chili sauce and braised beef. L/G, Hilltop Plaza, 49 Hollywood Rd. (enter on Graham Street), 2559-1317. Club Qing Living up to its name, Club Qing transports you back to the imperial past with fine-dine Cantonese cuisine and specialty Chinese teas. 10/F, Cosmos Building, 8-11 Lan Kwai Fong, 2536-9773. A Lunch for Every Budget Need a bite—but it’s the end of a month? These delicious deals will keep you full and in pocket. Under $50: Hokkaido Dairy Farm has an awesome spread of sandwiches, all for under $42. Our fave is the 3-inch fried eggs with Hokkaido 3.6 milk ($28). 8/F, The Loop, 33 Wellington St. $50-100: Sprint over to Manchurian Candidate for $60 spicy Sichuan noodles or dumplings with chicken—only served between noon and 2pm. 5/F, Winner’s Building, 37 D’Aguilar St., 2522-0338. $100-150: If you’re all about bang for your buck then fill up your plate at Bombay Dreams ’ lunch buffet. It’s $138 for all-you-can-eat samosas, kebabs, curry, salad, naan, dosas and dessert. 75 Wyndham St., 2971-0001. Secret Streets Stealthy secrets hidden down Central’s lesser-trodden byways. Stave it off Take a wander down Staveley Street next time you’re at a loose end. This short street is home to printing presses, a claypot rice dai pai dong and Chong Kee (9 Peel St., entrance on Staveley Street, 2544-3423), one of Central’s last gold smelters. Got some odds and ends of gold lying around? They’ll buzz you in and buy it on the spot to be melted down and formed into ingots—you can even watch them do it. Washing Town If your shower’s broken and the plumber’s not coming until Wednesday the Gutzlaff Street Public Toilet and Bathhouse is a surprisingly clean option for a quick wash. The cleaning lady we spoke to said that people hardly bathe here anymore, but she assured us that the water still runs hot. Between Gutzlaff Street and Chuk Hing Lane. Temple Time You may spend a lot of time out in Lan Kwai Fong but have you ever stopped to think about the tiny temple at the top of Wo On lane? It’s opposite Baby Buddha, just before the amphitheater. The structure is the Sanyi Jun , the Temple to the “Three Righteous Ones:” generals and blood brothers Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei who rose to fame during the Three Kingdoms period. It’s the only temple of its kind in Hong Kong. “Many people worship the temple, but mostly triad members and policemen. They go there seeking protection,” says Pawan Rai, who until recently owned Baby Buddha next door. “I named my bar after it. I worshipped it too, and felt protected by it.” Take a right in the tiny alleyway leading to Brick House in the heart of Lan Kwai Fong, walk up 12 flights of stairs and you’ll find Yan Lo temple . Located in a commercial/residential apartment complex, this Taoist temple isn’t much to look at, but it’s been reassuringly left in the 1970s. Take a peek at the black-and-white photos of the founders on the left-hand wall, or stick your head around the door to the shrine and prayer area on the right. 6/F, 20-22 D’Aguilar St. The Pak Kung Temple at the corner of Peel and Staunton streets is a beautiful and compact temple sitting on the steps themselves, stacked dense with incense coils. Pak Kung is said to have been a Chinese medicine doctor who would heal the poor for free. When he died, the Hoklo, or Hokkien, people of the area put up a shrine in his name. 41 Peel St. Rest Stops Take it easy at these stealthy snoozeries. Massage in a bottle Managed by the Hong Kong Government, Charlie’s Acupressure and Massage Centre of the Blind employs qualified blind masseuses who focus on acupressure, a massage method that is said to help promote blood circulation and relieve pain. Room 1103, 11/F, Chung Sheung Building, 9-10 Queen Victoria St., 2877-9999. Don’t you Darianna Get your hair styled like Hong Kong’s upper echelons at this tucked-away salon. Among its clientele, Salon Darianna counts Hong Kong billionaires like Chow Tai Fook tycoon Cheng Yu-tung and government bigwigs such as former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa and former Legco president Rita Fan. It’s not expensive either: a gent’s cut will set you back $210, while it’s $350 for ladies. Once you’ve got the haircut, it’s an easy step to joining the oligarchy. Right? 1/F, Melbourne Plaza, 33 Queen’s Rd. Central, 2523-7895. Barely There Head to the discreet little Barely Beauty for everything from Brazilian waxes to facials to eyelash tinting. Charming owner and therapist Gaby Kwok uses only premium products from Australia, Singapore and France. Room 1106, 11/F, Commercial House, 35 Queen’s Rd. Central, 5162-7880. A Quick Znozz Hungover? Strung out? Take a little snooze at Znozz , a lounge that rents out private and shared rooms for 15-minute blocks. Each room has Wi-Fi, TV, a shower, sofa, pillows and room to chill out—or pass out. Need to sober up before heading home? Znozz opens til 2am on Friday and 6am on Saturday. $120 per half hour, rates improve for groups or longer bookings. 1/F, Eurasia Building, 6 Stanley St., 6101-0755. A Bit of History Flowers for Suzie Wong Lyndhurst Terrace in Chinese is bai fa gai—”Flower Arrangement Street.” It gets its name from the multitude of flower shops which lined the street in the early days. The flowers were sold to clients of the city’s westerner-friendly brothels, which were once all concentrated around that area. Her Majesty’s Pleasure Victoria Prison, built in 1841, was the city’s very first penitentiary. It was so small at first that instead of being imprisoned, most convicted Chinese prisoners were caned, had their queues cut, or were tattooed instead. Convicts who got corporal punishment would be kicked off Hong Kong Island and were sent to Kowloon, which was governed by the Qing Dynasty. Ho Chi Minh spent half a year in the prison, between 1931-2. Backwards Thinking Rednalexa Terrace has a curious name. Legend goes that it was originally to be called “Alexander Terrace”—but when the name was registered, the Chinese-language clerk wrote the letters down right-to-left. Hence, “Rednalexa.” Philippine national hero Jose Rizal, who had an eye clinic at 5 D’Aguilar Street, lived briefly on the Terrace for seven months between 1891-1892.