Escape the expat bubble: Tai Hang and Tin Hau
On the lookout for Hong Kong’s coolest neighbourhoods? Head east of Causeway Bay. It’s hard to imagine that Tai Hang, a thriving neighbourhood right by the bustling shopping district, was once a quiet village – while Tin Hau next door was a town populated by fishing families. These days, the two adjoining neighbourhoods are better known for their abundant dining options, attracting foodies on the hunt for top-notch Japanese fare to fine Italian cuisine. Skip the chain restaurants and luxury retail outlets in crowded Causeway Bay and soak in Tai Hang and Tin Hau’s casual-cool vibes.
Eat & Drink
Before a new generation of eateries invaded the neighbourhood, Tin Hau had already been known for its Japanese restaurants – and Ramen Kureha is among the best of them. The ramen joint uses a homemade recipe to create its flavoursome tonkotsu soup base and churns out bowls and bowls of al dente noodles paired with pork, chicken as well as all the usual suspects you’d find in an authentic bowl of ramen. You’ll spot Kureha from afar – the restaurant’s decor is inspired by old-school Japanese eateries.
Shop B, G/F, 20-22 Wun Sha Street, Tai Hang, 2808 4468
Hipster-friendly bar Guay (Spanish for “cool”) is a neighbourhood joint that serves up some pretty potent cocktails. Case in point: there’s a drink called the Graveyard, consisting of vodka, gin, rum, tequila, Everclear spirit and craft beer, along with sour mix. It might sound like a frat party kind of drink, but the cocktail tastes curiously good – it’s like a Long Island Iced Tea for grown-ups. The bar snacks all have a Spanish/Latin flavour – think patatas bravas and steak on toast with chimichurri sauce. There’s a real neighbourhood feel to the place – it’s small and intimate, but tables by the window add a welcoming vibe.
9A Sun Chun Street, Tai Hang, (852) 2618 8782
Gu Ma Ma
Serving Shandong cuisine – originating from the northern Chinese province – Gu Ma Ma is particularly famous for its dumplings. You’ll also find hearty comfort foods like dan dan noodles and pork and rice, as well as refreshing nibbles like shredded chicken with cucumber. Like many other Tai Hang joints, there’s a pretty cosy vibe to the place – perfect for a low-key dinner.
14 Ormsby Street, Tai Hang, (852) 2881 8869
For a slice of Italy, look no further than Panevino. The Italian restaurant has been open since 1997, and in the Hong Kong food scene that’s practically a lifetime. There’s a reason why it’s still going strong, what with its solid, authentic Italian fare made using fresh ingredients in a rustic setting. Its appetisers (Italian sausage in tomato sauce; fresh calamari; prosciutto) are a must. The Tai Hang branch is Panevino’s second – the original is located on Mid-Levels.
36 Tung Lo Wan Road, Tai Hang, (852) 2881 5525
If you like no-frills dive bars, you’ll love Forever Lounge. Prefer sipping champagne with butler service? Move right along. This is where you’d find dice games, electronic darts and cheap decorations aplenty – but hey, you’re not here for the decor. You’re here to have a good time while downing half a dozen bottles of beers, which will only set you back HK$196. What’s not to love?
G/F, Kin Wah Mansion, 176-178 Tung Lo Wan Road, Tai Hang, (852) 2887 6543
See & Do
Tin Hau Temple
Tin Hau is the Goddess of the Sea, said to protect fishermen and sailors. That’s why you see temples dedicated to the deity in coastal areas all over Hong Kong. In the neighbourhood named after Tin Hau, the temple dates back to the 18th century. To this day, descendents of the family who built the temple still manages the site, which is a declared monument.
10 Tin Hau Temple Road
Fire Dragon Dance, Mid-Autumn Festival
The famed fire dragon dance in Tin Hau is quite a spectacle. Taking place every year during Mid-Autumn Festival, which usually falls in September, the 136-year-old tradition sees a “fire dragon” made with lit joss sticks fly through the neighbourhood. The story goes that Tai Hang was once hit by a plague and a typhoon just before the Mid-Autumn Festival. Wise Men advised villagers to stage a fire dance for three days and nights – and their misfortunes were reversed. The custom has remained ever since. Check the Hong Kong Tourism Board website for details on the next one.
One of the first stores of its kind to open in Hong Kong, Midwest Vintage pretty much kick-started the trend. This is where you’ll find band T-shirts, Levis denim, military jackets, cowboy boots and a whole host of unique items – it’s all very Rebel Without a Cause.
Shop 58, G/F Victoria Centre, 15 Watson Road, Tin Hau, (852) 2802 6886
La Belle Epoque
La Belle Epoque is a place for lovers of cute, retro items hand-crafted with painstaking attention to detail. Here you’ll find handmade crafts and small knickknacks aplenty. Check out dates for regular workshops on its Facebook page.
G/F, 62 Tung Lo Wan Road, Tai Hang, (852) 6301 8893
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”.