Sydney to Hong Kong with Virgin Australia
6.8 min read
What an exciting week it’s been!
I’ve been in Hong Kong since arriving here on the inaugural Virgin Australia flight VA83 from Sydney on Monday 2 July.
It’s hard to believe 1 year has flown by since the Melbourne to Hong Kong Virgin Australia flight with Sir Richard Branson.
There were some amazing celebrations taking place through Sydney Airport before take-off. Aussie icon Dannii Minogue lead puppies in red and purple VA uniforms around on the tarmac (in celebration of the Year of the Dog) and danced with drummers and lion dancers before some media addresses were made and passengers boarded the plane.
I was really excited to jump on board, get into the galley kitchen with the crew and finally serve our brand-new Hong Kong-inspired menu to Business Class guests after months and months of hard work.
The crew and I welcomed business class passengers with our Curry spiced banana chips and signature “The Australian” cocktail – a popular and refreshing cocktail we serve in all our restaurants. It’s a melting pot of Asian flavours with fresh lemongrass, ginger and kaffir lime.
After take-off, I did some press interviews then straight back into the galley to help the crew plate up and serve the first meal.
Everyone loved the Beef wonton soup with Sichuan pepper and bok choy for starters and the Snapper fillet with cauliflower puree, broccolini, wasabi butter and chives for main was a stand out.
It was great to have some of my team with me on board, Marty (our VA Corporate Chef who helped create the menu), Minhky (our photographer/videographer capturing all the important moments) and Mauro (our group sommelier who helped create exclusive wines specifically for enjoying at altitude).
I was really happy with how everything went. We had great feedback on board and a very positive review already in Australian Business Traveller.
I couldn’t wait for dessert because we had a surprise for everyone on board - a special Hong Kong-inspired ice cream flavour, mango pancake, created specially for the flight in collaboration with local Australian artisanal ice creamery, Gundowring.
After about 9 hours we arrived at Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok airport and headed to The Murray Hotel conveniently located right in the Central Business District and the green oasis of Hong Kong Park. The rooms are modern, luxurious and generous in size and the hotel offers some really great onsite restaurants including Popinjays which has a great view over the Hong Kong city skyline.
We held a media lunch here at The Murray the next day, with Virgin Australia chief executive John Borghetti, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Dannii Minogue, airline executives and local Hong Kong and Australian media. Big thanks to Marty and our Asia Executive Chef MJ for all your hard work in the kitchen. Those floating islands were amazing!
Once the lunch was over, it was time to let our hair down a little, explore the city and celebrate with some traditional Cantonese cuisine.
We began the next day with a much-needed caffeine hit at Noc Coffee. With three outlets in Hong Kong, owners Benny Leung and Sam Chan take their coffee very seriously; they roast their own coffee beans. Everything on their all-day brunch menu is amazing.
Make sure to save some space for morning tea at Tai Cheong Bakery… they do what I believe is the smoothest and creamiest egg tart with a crumbly buttery crust. You can’t leave the city without sampling a few different egg tarts…
For lunch, I treated the team to what I think is the best fine dining Cantonese restaurant in Hong Kong, the two Michelin-starred restaurant Tin Lung Heen.
Located on level 102 of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, you feel like you’re in the clouds here, with 180 degrees of uninterrupted views of the city harbour.
They do traditional Dim Sum, which are out of this world and incredibly fluffy and flavoursome BBQ pork buns. We also feasted on classics like their famous Peking duck, Prawn toast, Braised wagyu beef cheek with tomato in sweet sour sauce and of course we ended the meal with another baked egg custard tart for dessert.
There’s no denying we were full to the brim after all that amazing food (and wine) and decided to walk it off at the local traditional markets.
For a pre-dinner drink my go to is Café Gray Bar, it’s a great city bar within The Upper House Hotel. We took a seat at their impressive stone bar, ordered a few Upper Southside cocktails of gin, cucumber, lime and mint and took in the spectacular sunset and views of Hong Kong’s harbour.
Believe it or not, when dinner time came around, we were ready to do it all again at Belon, an amazing Parisian bistro headed by chef Daniel Calvert. The menu is a refreshing genre of French cuisine with local influence. The Hors d’oeuvres and entrees of Oyster tartare and hand-cut pork & pistachio terrine were amazing. The mains are large and perfect for sharing. We opted for Whole Dover sole with artichokes and the Whole roasted chicken with Pommes Anna.
I’ll never get sick of the incredible food scene here in Hong Kong, or the fast-paced lifestyle. What an amazing city. I already can’t wait to be back…