Escape The Expat Bubble: North Point
You’ve no doubt read the tourist guide books that tell you about the great shopping at the night markets of Mong Kok and Elements mall in West Kowloon – but these neighbourhoods offer so much more than that. Mong Kok has always been one of the most exciting areas in Hong Kong, with its world-famous street markets and plentiful food options, while West Kowloon – a hop and a skip away on the MTR – is packed with luxury hotels and myriad dining establishments and entertainment. This guide features some of the must-dos in the neighbourhoods, as well as some lesser-known gems you should check out.
You’ve done the Big Buddha, ridden on the Peak Tram, hit the bars at Lan Kwai Fong, people-watched in Sai Ying Pun and shopped till you dropped in Mong Kok. What else is there to do in Hong Kong? North Point is your answer. A predominantly residential area, the sleepy neighbourhood on the east side of Hong Kong Island is often overlooked by tourists – but the area has some pretty good, unexpected spots that are worth venturing to. From an iconic Cantonese opera house to a sneakers outlet, check out our top picks here.
Eat & Drink
Tung Po Seafood
No trip to North Point is complete without a visit to the venerable Tung Po Seafood. Once a humble eatery located inside a cooked food centre – government-run, no-frills establishments with multiple food options – Tung Po was put on the map by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain when he visited in 2007. These days, Tung Po is on the top of just about every foodie tourist’s list. Despite superstardom, Tung Po retains its dai pai dong (cooked food stall) feel, with plastic stools, rolls of toilet paper as napkins, devil-may-care waiters and beer drank out of Chinese bowls. Choose from Cantonese classics like deep-fried shrimp with garlic and pork knuckle fried in bean curd. Tung Po’s signature black ink squid with spaghetti is not to be missed – although do expect your lips to turn into a dark, sticky mess afterwards. Admittedly, Tung Po’s fame means that it’s a bit overpriced, but if you want that authentic Hong Kong dai pai dong dining experience, Tung Po is where it’s at.
2/F, Java Road Municipal Services Building, 99 Java Road, North Point, (852) 2880 5224
Tsui Yuen Dessert
Tsui Yuen Dessert has been opened for quite some time and remains a firm neighbourhood favourite. If you’ve never tried traditional Chinese desserts, you’re missing out. Here you’ll find the likes of red bean and green bean soup – piping hot sweet dessert soups; steamed ginger milk curd, a sticky bowl of milky goodness that works well with ginger, which cuts into its sweet flavours; and tong yuan, glutinous rice balls usually served with a sweet sesame filling. The place is cheap and chips, and there’s no English sign nor menu – just point to what other people are having!
G/F, 5 Shu Kuk Street, North Point, (852) 3120 4828
Sichuanese restaurant Little Chilli serves up delicious, mouth-numbingly spicy dishes for unbeatable prices, making it a popular spot for office worker bees at lunchtime and as well as groups looking for a casual dinner. Try the twice-cooked pork, kung pao chicken (the real deal, not the westernised version), and Sichuanese staple “saliva chicken” – poached chicken in chilli sauce. If you don’t like spice, don’t bother with Little Chilli – they don’t hold back here!
33 North Point Road, North Point, (852) 2571 9822
We love China Kitchen, a restaurant serving Beijing, Sichuan and Shanghai cuisine that specialises in seafood, especially signature whole fish slow-cooked in soup (though that’s probably not for the squeamish). China Kitchen is versatile, serving up a variety of regional classics like Beijing-style beef roll wrapped in fried dough, soup dumplings and salt-marinated white-cut chicken. Ingredients are fresh: noodles are made from scratch every day.
G/F, 7-9 Kam Ping Street, North Point, (852) 8208 8809
See & Do
If you haven’t seen a Cantonese opera performance, we’d recommend that you check out this fascinating art form. Cantonese opera venue Sunbeam Theatre is a North Point institution. The venue was established by Shanghainese emigrants in the 1970s, who settled in the area after the outbreak of the Chinese Civil War. Over the years, it became a landmark performance space in the city for the Chinese arts. At one point, Sunbeam Theatre came under the threat of closure. Thankfully, it survives and continues to put on an array of performances. Look out for the iconic red Chinese signage.
Kiu Fai Mansion, 413-423 King’s Road, North Point, (852) 2856 0158
Chun Yeung Street Wet Market
Wet Markets in Hong Kong make for a special shopping experience, and Chun Yeung Street is a particular highlight. While it’s chock-full of old school local businesses selling fresh produce (fruit, veg, seafood, meat), Chun Yeung Street is also known as “Little Fujian” thanks to the Hokkien population in the area. Expect to find special snacks hailing from the Fujian region.
Chun Yeung Street, North Point
Hong Kong is usually more about tearing down old buildings than preserving them – but fortunately, Oi! has become a fine example of a well-run heritage structure. The contemporary art space takes up a Grade II-listed historic building that was originally built in 1908, then home to the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s headquarters. For years after the war, it was used as garage space. In recent years, it’s been developed into an art space, innovating young people in the creation of art. Exhibitions regularly take place here, and the building itself is worth checking out.
North Point–Kowloon City Ferry
You’ve probably done the Star Ferry – now try a different route that gives a whole different view of the Victoria Harbour. The ferry ride takes you from North Point to Kowloon City, giving an extensive view of Kowloon Bay and beyond. FYI: Kowloon City on the other side of the harbour is known as “Little Thailand”.
Chinese Goods Centre
The Chinese Goods Centre doesn’t look like much from its exterior, but inside it’s a treasure trove of Chinese-made products and souvenirs – everything from calligraphy brushes and statues of deities to qipao and traditional Chinese medicine. Spare some time to wander through this multi-level department store.
395 King’s Road, North Point (852) 2856 0333
Nike Factory Store
If you’re in the market for some new sports gear, the Nike Factory Store is where it’s at. Everything here is offered at discount prices – from a great selection of sneakers and athletic wear to yoga pants. You’re looking at at least 30 percent off normal prices on brand new goods, so hop to it!
G/F, 21-53 Wharf Road, North Point
Andrea Lo is a freelance journalist and translator based in Hong Kong. After cutting her teeth in the industry as a staff writer at a lifestyle magazine, she embraced the freelance life in 2015 and hasn’t looked back. She spends her time exploring the best of Hong Kong’s dining and nightlife scene, trialling new fitness trends, and travelling to exotic locales – all in the name of “research”.