Kowloon Café Culture
Kowloon Cafe Culture - The HK HUB's top picks for cafes in Kowloon including Yau Ma Tei, Prince Edword and Mong Kok.
Guide To Kowloon’s Best Coffee Spots
Did you know that Kowloon has coffee too? Some of us are brave enough to live far from civilization (just kidding, we even get Wi-Fi here in Kowloon), and we too enjoy coffee and lounging around in cafés like we have nothing better to do with our weekend. However the dark-side-dwellers don’t always want to take the arduous 5-stop journey to the island. This short guide is for those with a more adventurous soul wanting a change of scenery, or for those, like me, who are in search of a new local hangout.
The Squirrel Coffee & Kitchen
In an unassuming location, heading out of Mong Kok towards Ho Man Tin, is Squirrel Coffee & Kitchen. This twee little Western café has a balanced clientele of western and locals (where the local patrons I suspect come from the nearby Metropark Hotel Kowloon). Here the faultless English-speaking staff provide a swift service and a varied menu. From Canadian Pancakes to a Squirrel burger (not actually made from Squirrel), you can grab something here for any palate. There’s also a mini library so you can read as you wait.
Address: G/F, Wing Ying Mansion, 8 Soares Avenue Ho Man Tin Tel: Phone:2668 5008
Above the bustling streets of Mong Kok there is a refuge for all caffeine addicts, known to locals as Comma Cafe. This oasis really is a hidden treasure, located on the 21st floor of a rundown building that can only be described as a rabbit warren of obscure shops, eateries, and beauty salons. It takes some finding but don’t be perturbed. There’s a friendly and intimate vibe at Comma Café with a retro interior that sits somewhere between plain, old outdated and vintage chic. Comma Café serves great shakes and a random selection of Western favourites including spaghetti Bolognese.
Address: 21/F, Dundas Square, 43H Dundas Street Mong Kok Tel: 2780 6788
Full Cup Café
Upstairs Mong Kok is a phrase used to refer to the hive of activity that takes place above ground level in the most densely populated square mile on earth. Full Cup is a quirky café spanning 5 floors that attracts a young hipster crowd and is entered from the back alley of a sushi restaurant. Pop into the music room on the third floor for live bands, or head to the fourth floor for an alfresco dining experience on the Gaudi-inspired terrace. The fifth floor is the epitome of shabby chic and home to the Love Beautiful Girls Room, which is said to be inspired by the French film Amélie.
Address: 36 Dundas Street, Mong Kok Tel:2771 7775
Kam Wah Café
If you’re taking a day trip to Prince Edward to check out the famed Flower Market and Yuen Po Bird Market, you can pop into Kam Wah for a post-shop milk tea. At Kam Wah you can café-dwell like a Hong Konger and indulge in, what word on the street says is, the best Bo Lo Yau (or pineapple bun) in Hong Kong! The buns at Kam Wah are made fresh in-house, and are spongy and warm unlike those found in chain branches after undergoing mass transit. Being situated on the ground floor, Kam Wah Café is pleasantly easy to stumble on – quite a feat in Kowloon!
Address: 47 Bute Street, Prince Edward Tel:2392 6830
The Alchemist is a traveller café in this less well-travelled part of Kowloon. It’s quirky décor includes postcards and travel guides from around the world, as well as a mini travel library. The menu is an East meets West fusion, with an Asian interpretation of an English breakfast being a popular choice. The drinks list at The Alchemist is impressive, with every imaginable flavour of tea, along with juices, smoothies, and coffee. Local couch surfing meetings are held here too, and rumour has it you can even swap travel books for food discounts!
Address: Shop 1, G/F, Ka On Building, 27-29 Poplar Street, Prince Edward Tel: 2779 0559
TC2 Cafe and Workshop
Much like The Alchemist, TC2 Café and Workshop doubles up as a meeting space. Another hip hangout for the nomadic but creative type, the owners of TC2 are journalists who encourage punters to embrace the space as a melting pot of inspiration and imagination. Again serving up a synthesis of local and Western cuisine, TC2 allows you to indulge in whatever your taste buds desire. Just a heads up, this place gets pretty busy so be prepared to wait or book ahead.
Address: 23 Cedar Street, Mong Kok Tel:2388 9772
No coffee at Mido Café I’m afraid, however you can get an insight into how the locals do ‘café culture’. With a range of traditional Hong Kongese drinks and Cha Chaan Teng-style food (including an abundance of Chinese tea) you are transported back to another era. Much remains the same of Mido cafe from when it was born into the Kowloon Café scene over half a century ago. It may not be the best choice to relax and plug in your electrical devices to catch up on work, but it’s an ideal setting to soak up some of the rare historical ambience of this city. Why not bring your camera along too and capture a little piece of 1950s Hong Kong?
Address: 63 Temple Street, Yau Ma Tei Tel: 2384 6402
An international dessert, coffee and teashop, Ocio can be found within a couple of minutes of Yau Ma Tei MTR station and Mong Kok’s Ladies Market. If you needed any evidence of its popularity, Ocio has two venues only a street apart.
This place boasts a more formal restaurant vibe and its dishes are heartier to match. Although Ocio has an extensive dessert menu including waffles, crepes, and brownies to name but a few, it’s not just for the sweet-toothed foodies. Find yourself overwhelmed and baffled by all the breakfast options – who even knew there was such distinction between an American, an English, and a European breakfast?
Address: Shop 5, G/F, Tsui Yuen Mansion, 2-20 Kwong Wa Street,Mong Kok Tel: 2385 0028
Kubrick is just the thing for any lit-lover with a penchant for chic café culture. A tranquil haven nestled in between Temple Street Night Market and Yau Ma Tei Jade Market; the place feels serene, arty, and quite out of place in its surroundings. The walls are decked out with monthly exhibitions from local artists, so you never get the same view twice. I’d recommend Kubrick more as a hangout for coffee and a catch-up on emails, rather than for the food. An ode to Stanley Kubrick, this place is a café-come-bookshop. Its neighbouring cinema, Broadway Cinematheque, is also worth a visit, screening art house films from around the world.
Address: Shop H2, Properous Garden, 3 Public Square, Yau Ma Tei Tel: 2384 8929
Part-time foodie and full-time sybarite, Hannah, is a British writer and blogger with a penchant for all things she can’t afford. She calls ‘the darkside’ home and as a coffee lover, shares her favourite spots for that perfect cup. Check out Han’s blog, English Exile.