Name: Natalie Robinson
Originally from: London
Occupation: Lawyer/ Blogger
What street do you live on?
Closest MTR station?
How long have you lived here?
Just over two years.
I first walked along Chancery Lane just after I moved to Hong Kong, around six years ago. I was on my way to Pure Yoga and decided that this would be my ideal place to live in the city – a peaceful little pedestrian street, slap bang in the middle of Central. A few years later after spending three months looking for a new flat, my estate agent (Naomi at Nest Property) called to say she had the perfect flat for me; when I discovered it was on Chancery Lane, I knew it was meant to be!
When you walk out of your place, the first thing you see is:
Cranes and scaffolding peeking above the brick wall that used to surround Victoria Prison. The former Central Police Headquarters just in front of Chancery Lane is in the process of being converted into an arts and retail complex which should finally open next year.
The closest store to your front door is:
Lok Man Rare Books – a tranquil bookworm’s paradise crammed full of first editions and an eclectic collection of rare and unusual tomes on any and every subject imaginable.
Your neighbours are great, but you wouldn’t mind a little less:Construction noise on Saturday morning when I’m trying to have a lie in.
The unofficial uniform of your street is:
Lulu Lemons and yoga mats – Chancery Lane is basically a thoroughfare to Pure Yoga.
If a celebrity moves in next door, it will most likely be:
Someone tiny (the flats are all shoebox-sized walk-ups along the street) who likes yoga just as much as spinning around a dance floor in a minute pair of gold hotpants. I guess it’s got to be Kylie.
When you’re in need of a dose of culture, you:
Scuttle a couple of doors down the street to 10 Chancery Lane Gallery – a great little gallery space that always houses interesting contemporary exhibitions.
If you’re missing home, you:
Head to M&S just down the hill, on the escalators. There’s nothing like some buttered crumpets and a packet of Percy Pigs to alleviate a dose of homesickness.
A mandatory stop for taking out-of-town guests is:
The porcelain shop just around the corner at 17 Staunton Street. Packed from floor to ceiling with every variety of blue and white china, this is the ideal spot to take visiting friends and family to stock up on inexpensive crockery. Just make sure you’re not held responsible for them going over their luggage limits; I always come away laden down with shopping bags.
You’d swap houses in a second with:
One of the owners of one of the stunning properties on the Shek O headland.
A common myth about your neighbourhood is:
That it’s noisy. Sandwiched between Caine Road and Wyndham Street, it certainly should be. But, after the building site packs up for the day, when you open the window, you can genuinely hear the birds singing rather than the rumble of buses and the blare of horns.
If you’re ever woken up at night, it’s almost always due to:
A stray crew of Lang Kwai Fongers wandering back up to the Mid-Levels after a few too may bottles of Champagne in Dragon i.
A massive late-night rager on your street is likely to involve:
A new exhibition at the gallery which tends to involve a very chic art crowd spilling out onto the street and sipping wine well into the night.
Your hands-down favourite neighbourhood joints are:
Too many to mention, but numbering among my current faves are:
* On Caine, for day-to-day essentials; Pacific Gourmet for organic fish and meat; Il Bel Paese for Italian wines, cheeses and cured meats; and Eric Keyser for the best French bread in the city plus my nemesis, freshly baked cherry and pistachio financiers.
* For a long lazy brunch, Posto Pubblico on Elgin, or if it’s cool enough for a Bloody Mary or two alfresco, the terrace at Aberdeen Street Social.
* Places that make my credit card weep: Edit (67 Hollywood Road), Christian Louboutin (10-12 Wyndham Street) and Joyce Beauty (Queen’s Road Central).
* Come nightfall, I love informal dinners and strong cocktails at Yardbird on Bridges Street and 121 BC on Peel Street, late night drinks at Wyndham of 4th, Stockton and Salon Number 10. If you’re up for further debauchery, head for a midnight feast at notoriously tricky-to-find 001, tucked behind an anonymous black door in the wet market; believe me, their grilled cheese sandwich washed down with the perfect Earl Grey martini more than compensates for managing to hunt this speakeasy down.
You won’t find better local food than at:
I’m not a huge Chinese food fan in general, but my favourite modern Chinese restaurant is Ho Lee Fook at the junction of Elgin Street ad Hollywood. You can’t beat a bowl of their mindblowingly great “Mom’s ‘mostly cabbage but a little bit of pork’ dumplings”, and just think of all the luck you’re absorbing sitting beneath the wall of waving lucky cats.
The strangest thing you’ve ever seen on your street is:
A set of students using the street to paint huge pro-democracy banners just before the protests at the end of last year. The whole street was paved with five-metre-long signs, each painstakingly painted with pro-democracy slogans.
The best bargains in your neighbourhood are:
Caty on Caine Road – a jewellery boutique – literally a hidden gem. Whether you want a pair of elegant cocktail earrings, a bling-tastic statement necklace or a pair of A-list worthy dark glasses, Caty has you covered; and best of all, the prices won’t make your credit cards wince.
The guiltiest pleasure in your area is:
The Diner on Arbuthnot Road, dangerously just a hop, skip and jump from my front door, and which serves up the best burgers in town and a sinfully enormous American breakfasts (think buttermilk bacon pancakes, breakfast burritos and Fat Elvis Waffles). And don’t get me started on the milkshakes – hello, Malted Malteser Milkshake; delicious in a cup and truly worth every last calorie!
One thing you’d never change is:
The cheerful cardboard box man who diligently spends all day collecting, sorting and bundling up cardboard around the city to be recycled, and always smiles and waves whenever we walk past.
But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing go is:
The cranes and diggers. The building work has been going on at the former Police HQ ever since we moved in. I’m super excited for the new arts and retail complex to throw open its doors and will be very pleased not to see a muddy building site out of my window every morning once it’s finished.
The city gives you $5 million to soup up your street. You use it to:
Plant rows of palm trees and clouds of Bougainvillea along the Victoria Prison Wall to make it feel even more of a leafy oasis in the heart of the chaotic city.
Why should your neighborhood be featured in a guidebook?
It generally does feature in guidebooks in some way or another, though I think people should focus less on following the well-trodden tourist route around Central, and instead just wander down random alleyways and windy back streets keeping their eyes peeled. In Hong Kong, you’re just as likely to stumble upon a creaky old antique shop selling priceless relics, as you are to uncover a day old molecular mixology joint that even the most in-the-know HKers haven’t cottoned on to yet.