Exit B2 from HKU MTR will bring you onto Hill Road, overshadowed by the striking elevated road. You might be surprised to find shrines, fortune tellers and a temple nestling underneath the flyover, and every year in late summer the locals gather here to observe the Hungry Ghost Festival. After you’ve had a look around, stop for a bite at one of these great little places.
If you’ve been in Hong Kong for a little while, you’ve likely been to or heard of Brew Bros in Sheung Wan. This popular Australian cafe has expanded and added a location in Shek Tong Tsui. It’s likely you’ve seen photos on Instagram of people sitting in the pale blue cafe’s large window, enjoying a cup of freshly poured coffee and a good read. Head here for an Instagram-worthy brunch of avocado toast and an authentic flat white (the beans are sourced from “Market Lane Coffee” in Melbourne).
Where: 553 Hill Road
Contact: 2803 2323
This lifestyle platform – in the form of an event space, boutique shop, and cafe – is a minimalist all-day dining space for those in the area. Ethos serves up brunch classics like steak and eggs, but also has other options, like the braised oxtail pasta, if you’re swinging by for dinner. If you’re looking to skip the food and stick to drinks, Ethos also has a good selection of coffee, tea, and a handful of boozy options. The cafe is full of natural light thanks to its floor-to-ceiling front windows, making it a popular brunch spot.
Location: 93 Hill Road
Contact: 2833 2127
Don’t let the name fool you – there’s more than just milkshakes at No Milkshake No Life. Basically a hipster’s dream, this funky shop serves up a range of food (a variety of grilled cheese, Japanese curry rice, fries, and burgers), but the obvious star of the show is their milkshakes. NMNL offers classic milkshakes like peanut butter chocolate or oreo, but also has a selection of alcoholic milkshakes like almond caramel and Bailey’s, Guinness mint oreo, or – if you’re feeling rather adventurous – red wine.
Location: Shop A, Graceful Court, 31-37 Hill Road
Contact: 6471 3339
This Australian-style cafe is best known for their watermelon strawberry cake (similar to the incredibly popular ones from Black Star Pastry in Sydney). As with any cafe, Lifetastic has plenty of options for coffee and tea, and a decent brunch menu. Want to go later in the evening? Lifetastic serves mains and a variety of house-made desserts. The cafe is welcoming, vibrant, and is full of natural light (gotta love floor-to-ceiling windows!).
Location: Shop B, 31 Hill Road
Contact: 5243 9851
If fusion dim sum is your thing, pop into Zhen Restaurant for a meal that just might be too cute to eat. Get your cameras ready because this restaurant serves animal themed dim sum. Think piggy BBQ pork buns, panda custard buns, goldfish dumplings, fried taro ducklings, and much more. If you prefer something other than dim sum, Zhen Restaurant also has a range of Chinese options. Their signature dish is the lobster bisque, with lobster dumplings served in a full-flavored bisque sauce.
Location: Shop C, Ground Floor, Nam Cheong Building, 48 Hill Road
Contact: 2811 2568
Po Tuk Street
Just off Hill Street you’ll find Po Tuk Street. In a city not known for its’ laid back vibe, Po Tuk Street is the exception and is an ideal spot to unwind with a relaxing lunch or a few beers after a long day.
A little further along Po Tuk Street you’ll find Artisan Garden Cafe. This small cafe is open from 8am through to 8pm and serves fantastic coffee and a selection of casual breakfast and lunch dishes, think waffles, eggs, pancakes and burgers. The retro-style decor is warm and welcoming and there’s a small terrace out back. Service was a little slow when we visited but that’s okay, this is a tranquil place to hang out and watch the world go by. Definitely worth a try for a laid back brunch.
Location: 23 Po Tuck Street
Contact: 2548 3261
While most might assume this is a Chinese restaurant based on its name (Ga Gi Nang means “one of us” in Teochew, a Chinese dialect), this bar/restaurant offers an interesting mix of Mexican-American food and drinks. From burritos and quesadillas, to beer battered fish and BBQ spare ribs, Ga Gi Nang’s menu is akin to your typical pub fare. The decor is no-fuss and minimal, and the restaurant itself is quite small, but the friendly staff make this worth a visit for a few beers or cocktails after a long day.
NOTE: Ga Gi Nang are only able to serve drinks – no food – right now. Watch this space for updates!
Location: 15 Po Tuk Street
Contact: 3565 6641
South Lane has a couple of the slightly fancier options in the area, take exit B2 from HKU station if you want to try them for yourself.
Those who are familiar with pastry chef Janice Wong (winner of Asia’s Best Restaurants Pastry Chef two years in a row in 2013 and 2014) will have likely heard of Cobo House by 2am:desserbar. What makes Cobo House unique is that it’s the first restaurant to serve Janice Wong’s savoury dishes alongside her desserts. Dishes are a modern fusion of French, Italian, and/or American all on one plate, and are truly a work of edible art. The restaurant was designed by the founder of the K11 Art Foundation, Adrian Cheng, and all decor inside the restaurant has been sourced and collected by Adrian himself. This is one of the pricier restaurants in the district, with main courses in the region of $300.
Location: 8 South Lane
Contact: 2656 3088
Next to Cobo House is where you’ll find Artisan Room. A quaint cafe with a bit of outdoor seating, Artisan Room uses Italian COSTADORO coffee, a brand established in 1890, in all their espresso-based drinks. Pair your coffee with one of their sweet or savory pastries for a quick breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up. The decor is modern and sleek, with a communal dining area on the main floor and more indoor seating upstairs. Don’t leave without admiring the Gothicism cold brew slow-drip machine (the only one in Hong Kong!) – evidence of how serious Artisan Room takes their coffee.
Location: 8/12 South Lane
Contact: 2656 3198
Queens Road West
Head out of HKU station at Exit B2 and you’ll hit bustling Queens Road West with its’ mix of mom & pop shops, butchers, green grocers (the local wet market is here too) and cha chaan tengs.
Bringing authentic flavors from Singapore and Malaysia, Cafe Malacca is sure to quench your cravings. Heading here for a simple yet satisfying meal is a no-brainer, as they serve one of the best bowls of laksa we’ve had in Hong Kong. The restaurant decor is simple, the space is large, and the staff are very welcoming.
Where: Hotel Jen, 508 Queen’s Road West
Contact: 2213 6613
Traditionally the Chiu Chow people have made this area their home and they love roast goose! If you want to try it, then look no further than Po Kee. This small cha chaan teng is popular among locals and is well known for their signature dishes of roast goose, duck, and bbq pork. Like any typical cha chaan teng, the decor is minimal and you’ll likely be seated at a table with other diners, but the reasonably priced and delicious dishes make it worth the tight squeeze. As a heads up, we didn’t see any English menus, so it’s best to come with a Cantonese speaker or to know exactly what you want.
Location: Shop P, G/F, 425 Queen’s Road West
The Westwood Shopping Mall
Exit C2 from HKU MTR brings you to the Westwood Shopping Mall, a slightly more down-to-earth shopping experience than your typically designer-centric Central malls. And while we’re not usually big fans of shopping mall dining, we had to include this place because we’re reliably informed it serves some of the best dim sum in Hong Kong.
The dining area is quite large and has plenty of banquet-style tables. The dim sum is served the old school way via trolleys and is quite popular with locals, so you’re best to go at off-peak hours to avoid long queues. Heads up: Victoria Harbour only has a limited English dim sum menu and it’s always busy, so come early!
Location: Shop 243, 2/F, The Westwood, 8 Belcher’s Street
Contact: 2836 3282
De Voeux Road West
Exit B1 from HKU MTR brings you to Whitty Street, and from there it’s a short walk to explore De Voeux Road West.
Named after Chef Nate Green’s grandmother, Rhoda serves up hearty and homey sharing dishes with a story behind them. The food at Rhoda is mainly cooked over charcoal, wood, and fire, and all ingredients are ethically sourced. A lot of thought and passion go into each dish that comes out of the kitchen, and the marinades, sauces, and preserves are made in-house. The menu changes daily, so you’ll always discover a few new dishes when you return. Rhoda has also recently begun a weekend brunch service that includes Nate’s twist on a few classics, eggs benedict with Hereford striploin and beer bread, anyone?!
Where: 345 Des Voeux Road West
Contact: 2177 5050
It’s clear that Shek Tong Tsui has become much more popular within the last year, as more and more cafes and restaurants open up. Classified is jumping on board and has opened up shop right beside Rhoda. Expect this restaurant chain’s usual fare: from eggs benedict and granola bowls at brunch to burgers and salads at dinner. This location also has a few tables outdoors, a good amount of seating indoors, and high ceilings that are often a rarity in Hong Kong.
Location: Shop 1B, G/F, Upton Tower, 345 Des Voeux Road West
Contact: 2882 3454
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this guide and will have fun trying out our recommendations, tell us what you think – email [email protected] or comment below.
thisgirlabroad is a Canadian expat who found herself packing her life up in the Great White North to move to a city filled with skyscrapers, dim sum, and 7-Eleven’s. She’s been living, loving, and eating her way through Hong Kong for the past four years without any plans to slow down. Between working full time, managing her blog, and freelance writing, you’ll likely find her with a strong cup of coffee in one hand and a jar of crunchy peanut butter in the other.