I still remember being stunned by the beauty of Hong Kong's verdant hills and seemingly endless ocean views after moving to Hong Kong. I distinctly remember thinking "this really looks like Hawaii!."
Like many tourists, I only knew of Hong Kong's tall skyscrapers, crowded streets, and vast shopping and eating opportunities - not a lush island that really does remind me Hawaii in some ways. I really do love the numerous hiking trails in Hong Kong, and I've made an effort to start showing friends and family a different side of Hong Kong when they visit.
When my mom came to visit me in Hong Kong last November, I purposely booked a dinner at Lamma Rainbow, a well-known seafood restaurant on Lamma Island that even provides free boat rides for its guests from Central (Pier 9) and Tsim Sha Tsui to Lamma Island.
We decided to book an early afternoon boat so that we could spend the afternoon hiking around Lamma Island. The free ferry from Lamma Rainbow goes to Sok Kwu Wan, one of two main piers on the island. Sok Kwu Wan has the feel of an old, traditional fishing village.
It is smaller, consisting mostly of seafood restaurants, live seafood stalls, and small shops selling various food stuff.
The other pier is Yeung She Wan, which is bigger and feels more like a town with restaurants, souvenir shops, homes, and markets.
Hiking on Lamma Island
A popular hike you can do between the two towns takes you up and down through beautiful views of the ocean, mountains, little temples, and even views of the Lamma Island power plant.
The hike is called the Lamma Island Family Walk and is pretty accessible for people of all levels, provided they are OK with stairs and some elevation. The path is very well paved and you can even buy drinks along the way. The entire hike is around 5 km, which takes about 1.5 - 2 hours depending on how quickly we walked.
We didn't have time to do a whole round trip hike before our dinner reservation at 6PM. In hindsight, instead of taking the free boat, we could have bought a ferry ticket from Central to Yeung She Wan and then just hiked one way towards Sok Kwu Wan for dinner.
Nevertheless, we did hike for about 1.5 hours (roundtrip - 45 minutes out, 45 minutes back) and still saw many beautiful parts of the path.
Lamma Rainbow for Dinner
Lamma Rainbow Seafood Restaurant is huge and has several different spaces on Sok Kwu Wan.
Like most seafood restaurants at fishing villages like Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Rainbow has many tanks full of all different types of live seafood.
It was tough to narrow down when there were so many choices. Finally, our table of three people managed to eat five different dishes (!).
Deep fried squid ("calamari") was lightly fried and simple yet enjoyable.
I have fallen in love with steamed garoupa in Hong Kong. Its delicate white meat is delicious just simply steamed with scallions, ginger, and soy sauce.
One of my favorites is a steamed scallop (in its shell!) with loads of garlic on top and rice vermicelli. I love the flavor of the scallop "juice" and garlic, which all gets soaked up by the vermicelli noodles. The final bite is so, so good.
Simple fried noodles had a really nice chewy Q texture.
We rounded out the seafood meal with a nice, refreshing late of stir fried pea shoots with garlic.
All in all, it was a great way to end the day after a nice 1.5 hours of hiking around beautiful Hong Kong.
Lamma Rainbow - General Thoughts
To be honest, there are many, many excellent seafood places all over Hong Kong that serve this type of food. I think the food at Lamma Rainbow is similar, though not necessarily leaps and bounds better, than these other places. What Lamma Rainbow offers is an entire experience. It's fun to hike around Lamma Island for the day, and we enjoyed having a small private boat take us to and from the restaurant (as opposed to getting in a long line to board the ferry back to Central after dinner).
We bought some fun unique food souvenirs from the shops in the fishing village. I met a woman who makes all sorts of dried seafood and spices. She recommended to me a homemade dried fermented black beans with chili and garlic, which I've used in many of my stir fries. I love its fresh, natural flavor, which I prefer to the supermarket black bean sauce I usually buy in jars.
I think my mom enjoyed the unique outing, and we had a great time taking in Hong Kong's beautiful scenery (together with some exercise!) before sitting down to a seafood feast.
Next time, I want to hike the entire trail, which means either leaving enough time for a round-trip hike or taking the boat to the opposite side of the island. Either way, I'm sure I can't go wrong!
G/F, 23-27 First Street
Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island, Hong Kong