A few weeks ago we headed off on one of our walks – on Lantau, the largest island in Hong Kong – between Discovery Bay and Mui Wo. But this time was different. We normally take an easy route, partly along the coast via Nim Shue Wan and then over the hills via the Trappist Monastery. There are some steep stretches but it’s pretty much all paved. It takes around one and a half to two hours depending on how fit you are.
This time, we decided to attempt the alternative route via the Tigers Head. We’d seen this route while hiking around Discovery Bay and thought “how difficult can it be”? We headed off on a Saturday morning with the tops of the peaks still covered in cloud. It turns out it’s quite a long way, it’s very steep, it isn’t paved in key parts and, well, it’s knackering. Now all this is relative – we were passed as we struggled up a steep slope with lots of loose scree by one guy jogging along, carrying a bike. If you’re fit, this won’t be too difficult. But for us it was exhausting.
When you reach the top (465m above sea level) you’re rewarded by amazing views to both sides of Lantau and beyond. Or you would if you weren’t in the middle of a cloud. The first minute or so of this YouTube video by some guys with a drone gives you some idea of the views you get on a fine day – they don’t show the knackering climb to get there though.
So we arrived in Mui Wo after lunchtime having misjudged the time, missed the ferry back we were targeting and very hungry. We had taken over four hours to do seven miles or so. And we headed to what has become our eating place of choice in Mui Wo – The Kitchen.
The Kitchen isn’t much to look at from the outside. It’s small, facing onto a car park near the ferry piers, and is a little bit scruffy. It doesn’t have a menu outside or a website as far as I can tell. When I’d seen it before, I’d wrongly got the impression it was more of a bar with some snacks than a proper restaurant. Checking out TripAdvisor and, especially, OpenRice hadn’t encouraged me. OpenRice has some terrible reviews of the place. On closer inspection, they are old and there is mention more recently of much better experiences and changes in management. But there aren’t many reviews and so it seemed a bit risky. The first time we tried them, it was because the Nepalese restaurant not far away bizarrely decided they were going to shut on a Saturday lunchtime – surely one of the busiest times for a Mui Wo restaurant aimed at visitors.
Anyway, we somewhat dubiously tried The Kitchen and it was a revelation. Their name comes from their open kitchen and they were cooking a range of mainly Italian dishes from scratch in a traditional way. The pizza, when it arrived from their specialist pizza oven, was great. If you’re a fan of deep-dish pizzas, then this is not for you. Their pizzas are wonderfully thin, they’re crispy and they stay crispy – in the picture at the top you can see the amazing cornicione (to give it the Italian term for pizza crust) which had a snap like the thinnest crispbread. This one was a spicy chorizo. They do two sizes – small and large – and this was the small one. Everyone who goes there is surprised by the sizes – they should really call them large and giant. The small one ran for around HK$138 so maybe not cheap for Mui Wo but good value compared to the likes of Pizza Express.
Mrs CookWithNoName had a black truffle pasta which was a deep combination of flavours. My iPhone picture doesn’t really do it justice. They have quite a range of pizzas and pastas plus a few standbys like burgers. We were astonished to see one guy who was eating a pizza have a burger and fries to follow – we weren’t around to see if he managed to finish it but, if he did, it was quite a feat.
They have just a couple of choices for dessert. We tried the tiramisu which was OK but, to be honest, nothing special. They have the usual drinks and what looks like an interesting choice of wine although I never saw a wine list.
It’s quite small so you might have to hang around at the bar for a table on weekend lunchtimes but the staff are friendly. They deserve to be better known – a bit of effort to put a menu outside and have a website would probably do them a world of good. But then we might not get in next time we arrive exhausted from some remote peak on Lantau.
Shop 1, G/F, Scenic Crest, 18A Mui Wo Ferry Pier Road, Lantau Island
Tel. 5991 6292
OpenRice (for map)