Check out two of the hippest up-and-coming neighborhoods in Hong Kong.
In Hong Kong, the second a neighborhood becomes “trendy,” two things happen. 1) Lifestyle magazines gush about it and 2) investors rush in, snap up all the remaining property, causing artists and artisans to pack up and leave. The trick is to find out about an area when it’s just on the cusp of awesomeness. Here are two areas on Hong Kong island to include in your itinerary.
There was a time that Stone Nullah Lane, at the northeastern limits of Wan Chai, was home to only three things: the St. James’ Settlement charity; the historic Blue House, and a lorry-load of auto repair shops. These still remain, but the lane is increasingly growing into a community thanks to the government’s heritage-driven approach to the Blue House, which has kept its residents post-renovation and given the area a real sense of character. “I think it’s going to be a cool area,” says chef Maureen Loh of neighborhood restaurant Maureen. “Right now you see four old men playing mahjong—but if the government decides they want the big names coming in, it might destroy the area.”
Stone Nullah Tavern
The food is “New American”, complete with craft beers. And with floor-to-ceiling windows, you can sit here all evening and watch the neighborhood get cool around you.
69 Stone Nullah Lane, Wan Chai, 3182-0128.
This 16-seater restaurant, serves up a molecular take on classic Chinese lo mein, complete with a foamed shallot sauce. You get specials such as 48-hour beef short ribs and Cantonese-style sous vide salmon. Just next door, Tai Lung Fung (5 Hing Wan St, Wan Chai, 2572- 0055) is a bar with a 60s-era Hong Kong décor—and some very modern cocktails.
11 Hing Wan St., Wan Chai, 2915-2261.
A women’s vintage clothing shop that splits profits 70:30 between itself and its donors. It’s a great place to pick up a bit of pre-loved Lanvin. If you’re more oatmeal than haute couture, check out Green Shop (3A Kennedy St., Wan Chai, 2116 -1106, greenshop.sjs.org.hk) just around the corner that produces organic food for the rabbit in us all.
85 Stone Nullah Lane, Wan Chai, 2831-3204.
Headtable is no ordinary deli: high-quality frozen meat is their specialty and there are monthly specials—right now they’re offering US dry-aged beef steaks, Canadian lobster tails and candied fruits.
64 Stone Nullah lane, Wan Chai, 2574-7767.
Wan Chai Visual Archive
A hyper-cool community-centered art space that tries to combine the spirit of the area with art.
5 Hing Wan St., Wan Chai.
South of Causeway Bay, sandwiched between Caroline Hill Road and the cul-de-sac of Haven Street lies a creaky block called Lei Shun Court. It doesn’t look like much, but go around the sides and you’ll find a strip of restaurants that’s recently bloomed into life. Plunge into the dingy, strip-lit interior, among the tailors and a shop dedicated to bowling balls to find some of the coolest little places in town. “The area’s kind of amazing: old stuff and new stuff, old people and new people,” says Leo Li of super-hip design, accessory and home store In Between (Shop 12, Lei Shun Court, 1 Caroline Hill Rd., Causeway Bay). “The whole feeling’s like Star Street ten years ago.”
Fortunately there isn’t a Hawaiian shirt or board shorts in sight. The charming menswear establishment is all about classic English tailoring—tweed-heavy as you’d expect—with a little hipster flair. A window in the shop opens onto a tailor’s workshop, where a custom suit will cost from just HK$1,980 ($326).
17A Haven St., Causeway Bay, 2870-0245.
The only overseas branch of the legendary Tokyo outlet, this chaotic zakka (“many-things”) store is full of life-improving delights. It’s jam-packed with simultaneously useless-and-must-have items, and everything
11A Lei Shun Court, 1 Caroline Hill Rd., Causeway Bay, 2808-0304.
Three words: foie gras burger.
7 Caroline Hill Rd., Causeway Bay, 2890-9170.
Oscary Wine & Art
Art lessons and booze? This space has got it all. But if you’re after a creative place to sit and work, there’s R&C Design Library (22-24 Haven St., Causeway Bay, 2890-9838, www.facebook.com/cafernc). It’s like Starbucks, but nice.
Shop 30, 28 Haven St., Causeway Bay, 2964-9111.
5. Danish Bakery
This place has been here since time immemorial, but you’ll find no smørrebrød here. The bakery specializes in Hong Kong-style deep-fried delights, such as breaded pork chop buns. There’s always a queue and you have to like grease, but it’s an unmissable landmark.
106 Leighton Rd., Causeway Bay, 2576-7353.
There’s loads more to Caroline Haven. Check out this map put together by the community.
Flights with Singapore Airlines start from $338 through March 31, while Tiger Airways flies to Hong Kong from $168.
Where to stay
Hotel Indigo Hong Kong Island
242 Queen’s Rd. East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong Sar, Hong Kong, +852 3926-3888.
This slick accommodation has a cool vibe offers stylish rooms, an impressive rooftop pool and great breakfast. Rates per night start from $263. Elsewhere, a perfect compliment to your hip hood exploring is the newly opened Pentahotel Hong Kong Kowloon.