Escape The Expat Bubble – Shek Tong Tsui
Still talking about Sai Ying Pun? You’re so last year. In previous times, some might have argued Shek Tong Tsui didn’t truly classify as a neighbourhood in its own right. Sandwiched between SYP and Kennedy Town – now two full-fledged hipster neighbourhoods – Shek Tong Tsui was simply a quiet nook, where the wet market was pretty much as happening as it got. As its neighbours began to rapidly develop following the opening of the MTR’s West Island Line, Shek Tong Tsui was put on the map. The last year or so has seen multiple restaurants and lifestyle concepts open their doors around the Hill Road artery, with a hub of trendy ventures gathered on Po Tuck Street, just a stone’s throw away from HKU station. Thankfully, Shek Tong Tsui retains its sense of character and community feel. Go now before it becomes yet another overhyped, overpriced neighbourhood!
Eat & Drink
Po Tuck Street seems to be the epicentre of trendy happenings in Shek Tong Tsui. PoHo neighbourhood favourite Teakha recently opened up its second branch, Teakha Kitchen right here on this once-quiet cul-de-sac. The Shek Tong Tsui branch has a similar feel to the original with casual seating arrangements and a communal table, while an alfresco area add to the laid-back vibes. Run by Nana Chan, the cafe specialises in an extensive varieties of teas – think Thai iced tea (our favourite), rose tea and masala chai – with not a single coffee in sight. Nibble on pastries, pancakes and sandwiches.
18 Po Tuck Street, (852) 3956 9009
A business hotel setting might not be what you had in mind when it comes to top-notch Southeast Asian cuisine – but there’s something different about this restaurant. Since its opening in 2013, Cafe Malacca has consistently delivered quality Malaysian and Singaporean fare, attracting foodies in droves. Here’s you’ll find Straits classics like assam laksa, Penang char koay teow (stir-fried flat rice noodles) and beef rendang. Even though the restaurant has a somewhat corporate aesthetic – a strange juxtaposition to the food served – the vast space means you can dine without sitting elbow to elbow.
2/F, Hotel Jen, 508 Queen’s Road West, (852) 2213 6613
Ga Gi Nang
Told you Po Tuck Street is where it’s at. Ga Gi Nang opened up in 2015, serving up exciting, if unconventional, Mexican Asian-style cuisine. Expect to find creations like quesadillas stacked with sauteed veggies and mushroom with cheese piled on top; and black and white mussels cooked with garlic, chili flakes and white wine, served with tortilla slices.
15 Po Tuck Street, (852) 3565 6641
Ba Yi is old school through and through. Serving Xinjiang cuisine, which originates from the northeast of China, the restaurant has been around since forever. There’s a particular focus on lamb and mutton, a staple in diets in the far-flung region bordering Mongolia and Kazakhstan. You’ll also find camel pancakes, hearty stews (chicken and potato; beef), and of course, dumplings.
43 Water Street, (852) 2484 9981
COBO House and Artisan Room
COBO stands for “Community of Bohemians”. Looking at the shopfront, it’s not hard to see why this name came about – what with its chic, brightly lit contemporary decor. It’s chiefly a dessert bar with delectable dishes created by the winner of the Asia’s Best Pastry Chef title, Singaporean Janice Wong. COBO House presents exquisite creations made with painstaking attention to detail – think Kyoto green tea tart and sweet and salted popcorn with yuzu parfait and passionfruit sorbet. The joint recently started offering savoury dishes, too, made with homegrown herbs among other high-quality ingredients. Afterwards, head next door to sister establishment, cafe Artisan Room for a coffee.
8 South Lane, (852) 2656 3088
See & Do
HKU takes up a fair bit of the neighbourhood, and its gorgeous historical buildings are worth a look in. The University Museum and Art Gallery, in particular, is the oldest museum in the city and houses a sizeable collection of Chinese antique pieces dating all the way back to the Qing dynasty. Taking up the Fung Ping Shan Building, the UMAG also runs a tea gallery in the T. T. Tsui Building next door. Soak up the art and artefacts, then stop in for a cuppa.
Fung Ping Shan Building and T. T. Tsui Building, Bonham Road, (852) 2241 5500
2P Contemporary Art Gallery
In many ways, the 2P Contemporary Art Gallery and adjoining boutique Luv My Dress (see below) are the OG of Po Tuck Street, if not all of Shek Tong Tsui. Established back in 2010 by Pui Pui To, the two ventures were among the first creative businesses to enter the area. 2P aims to promote contemporary art in Hong Kong through dialogues that cross boundaries, showcasing works by up-and-coming and established artists.
Shop 5, G/F, Poga Building, 6-20 Po Tuck Street, (852) 2803 2151
Luv My Dress
Tired of dressing in high street clothing and looking identical to everyone else? Check out this boutique and showroom, operated as the HQ of local online fashion store Luv My Dress. Spearheaded by creative mastermind Pui Pui To, Luv My Dress offers chic dresses, loungey basics, and flirty playsuits, among other pieces.
23 Po Tuck Street, (852) 5334 4135
Any tree huggers in the house? Get.Give sells luxury eco-friendly products alongside ceramics and kitchen goods perfect as presents – all with the philosophy of kicking “gifting guilt” to the curb. How so? Everything here is environmentally friendly, and the materials used in gift-wrapping are reusable, too.
14 Po Tuck Street, (852) 2858 0225
Lifestyle space Ethos is one of the coolest ventures to hit Shek Tong Tsui, attracting hipsters like moths to a flame. A store, cafe and event space all in one, Ethos is a minimalist-chic space offering a carefully curated collection of products like clothes, publications and home goods. It makes for a charismatic space to while away an afternoon over cups of coffee and a good book.
93-99 Hill Road
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”.