Po Toi O

Famous for its seafood restaurants and appearing in a Hollywood blockbuster, Kristy Wong finds out more from the residents of Po Toi O.

The picturesque scenes of Po Toi O

Make your way down Po Toi O Chuen Road on Clearwater Bay Peninsula and its not long before you are greeted by the smell of saltwater and the sound of a few dogs barking. “Po Toi” which translates literally as ‘sack bay’ reflects the shape of the bay and surrounding land. The village of Po Toi O dates back more than two centuries and was only accessible by road around 40 years ago. Most villagers are indigenous Hakka people and still bear the family name, Po.

As well as the village houses of Po Toi O, there are two seafood restaurants, a few stalls selling fish products and small businesses renting out motorboats. Two luxury housing developments, Seacrest Villa and Fairway Vista, lie on the hill above the village. Hung Shing. Temple, said to be some 300 years old, remains one of the village’s landmarks.

While the area is usually a sleepy corner of minimal activity, the 2003 Hollywood blockbuster Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life filmed a six-day shoot on location in Hong Kong which included scenes shot in and around Po Toi O. If you venture into the village during an early weekday afternoon, the area is tranquil and you are unlikely to cross paths with many people. Cats lie lazily under the shade while old men sit outside their homes under the sun, the sound of Cantonese-language radio is never too far away. Some play mahjong inside their homes with the front doors ajar, inviting neighbours to join in the fun.

Walk further into the village and you will soon stumble upon stalls selling dried fish maw, fish tripe and dried shrimps. “These are all self-made fish products, you can’t get them elsewhere”, explains Mr. Lee, long-time owner of one of the fish product stalls. A peculiar sight at first, a bucket containing golf balls for sale for $4 each sits next to the fish products. “Golf balls are swung from the nearby Clearwater Bay Golf Club into the water and are caught by the fishermen’s nets. We didn’t know what to do with them at first, but they are high quality golf balls so we decided to sell them!”.

The village turns into a popular destination during weekends as many visitors make a beeline for the seafood restaurants. Difficult to grab a  table during the weekend, weekdays are much quieter. The restaurants may look basic – a white piece of tablecloth, wooden tables and plastic chairs – but the quality of the seafood draws in the crowds. Many local species are prepared including mud crabs and coral trouts.

Tucked away in the peninsula of Clearwater Bay, the village’s authenticity and traditions are well-kept. If you are looking for a quiet afternoon with good food, Po Toi O is an ideal place to go.

How to get to Po Toi O
• Take the No. 16 green minibus from Po Lam or Hang Hau MTR station, costs $8.8 per trip and takes 30 minutes. At the final stop you will see the village on your right.

• Take a taxi from Po Lam MTR station, takes around 20 minutes.