Stanley: the south side of the island

I have lived in Hong Kong for over half a year now, and I hadn’t gone to one of the best markets until yesterday. Stanley Market is located on the south of the island, overlooking the South China Sea. We arrived as the sun was setting, the sky orange and pink in the heavy particulates (HK also had high pollution yesterday, though nowhere near the 800 levels of Beijing). Our bus ride took about 30 minutes, and passed by views of Ocean Park, and various beaches.

We got there, and I was instantly mesmerized. It is just beautiful. The water is actually clear in parts, and you can see an extended vista without a city skyscraper. There is an outdoor mall, with a “dog parking” location, outdoorsy shops and an American market that sells deodorant sticks (a rarity!) and mega boxes of Cheerios.

Dog ParkingWe walked along the promenade, (which Pete coined ‘Hong Kong’s much nicer version of Alexandria’s corniche’) and went into the market (known for being cheap and nice). First we walked by a painting shop, mostly red things, some abstract and surrealist next to Chinese characters. A shop selling beaded jewelry, incense, rows of purses, more knick knacks. in the first section, there were at least 5 different shops selling art.

We went into one art shop that was more gallery-like than the others, and started browsing. There were framed cups and pipes and mahjong sets: 300HKD. That is about 50$ American money. For beautiful things in frames. Apparently a framed mahjong set is supposed to bring happiness. There were watercolor prints of HK for 80 HKD. Original canvas oil paintings, for 300 HKD. Our artistic lust was awakened. We managed to not buy everything in the shop, but walked away with a pair of long tall oil paintings of cherry blossoms. This is the sort of thing we are going to keep for many years.

Pleased with our purchase, we returned to the corniche, and decided on a restaurant: The Boathouse.  It is amazing.

First of all, I was thrilled by the shortness and spaciousness of the entire area: all the buildings are three stories tall and overlook an inlet. This particular restaurant seems older, stucco style and painted light blue, such that it feels mediterranean. We walked in and the maitre-d asked us where we’d like to sit: outside, inside, upstairs, downstairs, top level balcony etc. We say, why not the top! He walks in and tells someone else “give them the best table!” (direct quote, not kidding). He looks up availability and sends us to the top floor. There the hostess takes us to a table on the balcony, overlooking the harbor and the crescent moon and the entire corniche. This is what I saw from my table:

View from the boathouseI was pleased with the dinner already and hadn’t even ordered anything.

We ordered a caraffe of ‘Peach Freeze’ (white port and peach and mango soda), and a bucket of mussels, crostini, beef carpaccio and two boston clam chowders. While the clam chowder was a bit green (we couldn’t figure out the mystery ingredient) it was delightful and fresh. The mussels were perfectly cooked and the white wine sauce was ideal. It was exactly the right amount of food, and we had some token arugula on the carpaccio to make us feel we had vegetables.  Excellent service, excellent food and a white port cocktail. What more could you ask for? Of course, they also give you a view and space and an ocean breeze.

I learned yesterday, that Stanley is a great place for dinner and art. If I lived there, I would spend more money on luxuries, just because it’s there. It might be good that it’s a bus ride away, but I am going to make that place a habit.



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