Header image courtesy of @conyjapjapjap (via Instagram)
With new cafés popping up around the city at an exponential rate, there is no denying the fact that Hongkongers are a café-obsessed bunch; anchor that with our love of Japanese food culture, and a success story is bound to happen. Having recently emerged as a formidable player in the local café scene, Japanese-style cafés entice with their minimalist aesthetics, nourishing fare, and wholehearted dedication to preparation and presentation. If you are itching for a slice of caffeine-fueled zen to transport you to the Land of the Rising Sun, check out our top picks!
A trailblazer in Hong Kong’s booming white-on-white minimalist café scene, Uchi first announced itself as a cosy 20-seater eatery nearly a decade ago. Now having spawned three other offshoots across the New Territories and Kowloon, our fondness for this clean-cut Japanese-style café has grown all the more, if the long weekend queues are any judge. For a thoroughly Japanese experience, we would recommend heading to the Wu Kai Sha or Tseung Kwan O branch, where you’ll be welcomed into an airy Muji-esque setting with raised tatami seating!
While they have a savoury menu covering light lunches and snacks, such as beef don with onsen egg ($108) and miso pork with yam salad & cold ramen ($105), their dessert menu is the real MVP at Uchi. From an extensive repertoire of homemade sweets and baked goods, the lauded shiratama hojicha chiffon ($69) and hazelnut oak crumble soufflé ($72) never fail to impress.
From Tokyo to Hong Kong, Omotesando Koffee has stuck to its ethos of Japanese artisanship and using premium ingredients. This winning formula has produced legions of passionate fans who throng the sleek, wood-panelled coffee joint for their cocoa-dusted iced cappuccino ($57) and famous egg sando ($58), which looks deceptively simple, but surprises with its uber-silky custard-like centre elevated with a zing of wasabi.
Equally a good place to get your sugar fix, those with a serious sweet tooth should not skip on their cuboid canelés, known as kashi ($18), or decadent French toast ($85), featuring custard-soaked Danish toast and caramelised banana on the side with a dollop of whipped cream.
Having first debuted in the iconic heritage compound of Tai Kwun to much fanfare, the stylishly appointed Japanese-style coffee bar recently sprouted a new location in Wan Chai, delighting yet more Instagram vultures with and caffeine addicts with its unique range of in-house blends, coffee cocktails, and photo-worthy sandos!
Catering to all tastebuds, the menu touches on everything from the health-minded turmeric latte with vegan milk (starting from $48) and fruit granola yoghurt bowl ($68) to the decidedly decadent chocolate bon bon drink ($75), yuzu pecan tart ($58), chicken katsu sando toast ($68)—promising a delicious escape from the city buzz no matter what you are craving.
Pulling double duty as a design studio and a pet-friendly café, Bone Studio embodies the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi to a hyper-sophisticated level, boasting kawaii 3D ice cream art and homey wooden shelves lined with design and coffee products from independent brands.
Bask in the zen, artsy space as you mull over a quirky menu of coffee, light bites, and Japanese desserts. Their marshmallow croissant waffle ($50) and coffee jelly dessert ($55) are perennial Instagram favourites, thanks to the scoop of vanilla ice cream on top that’s decorated like a cute animal, but don’t overlook the understated yet toothsome apple & honey toast ($45) and red bean & butter toast ($45), either!
Bone Studio, Shop 2B, 38 Bonham Road, Mid-Levels
For a hefty slice of vintage Japanese culture, look no further than Yukkuri, a beautiful lifestyle boutique-slash-café founded by four millennials with a passion for Japanese antiques. Replete with handcrafted ceramics, old books, and antique furniture, the nostalgia-oozing ambience makes it easy for visitors to leave the modern world behind for a few hours and linger awhile in a time capsule of the past.
Yukkuri’s menu is crafted with simplicity and elegance in mind, offering mostly light toast, pastries, and drinks, but rest assured that every item is made with exacting care. Opt for their signature Yukkuri bread set ($60)—which comes with three slices of sourdough, a cream brioche bun, and two different spreads—and wash it all down with a refreshing iced genmaicha matcha latte ($60)!
Yukkuri, 424 Prince Edward Road West, Kowloon City
The impeccable combination of Zapjok’s tatami mats, exquisite handcrafted wooden tableware, and friendly resident kittens makes you feel like you’ve entered into a cosy Japanese home. After perusing the carefully curated selection of lifestyle products, plop down on a cushy mat and unwind with freshly made coffee, cakes, and bentos—and don’t forget to take a moment to appreciate the handmade ceramic dishes and cups that they are served on!
Their signature bento set comes in a wide range of customisable toppings, such as the crowd-pleasing tamagoyaki, pork stew with apple & onion, and pumpkin hash brown, while desserts include the likes of matcha roll cake ($58) and caramel egg pudding ($45). As seats are limited and the place fills up quickly, it’s best to make a reservation!
Zapjok, G/F, 66 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Sham Shui Po
Hipster vibes meet school classroom at this quiet Japanese-style café in Tai Kok Tsui. Although rather small in size, Café Wander uses its space well, incorporating a projection screen displaying poetry and a cosy nook with books available on loan—the result is a laid-back yet inspiring environment conducive to slowing down and letting minds wander where they may.
Besides special coffee drinks, and an array of comforting Japanese set meals and udon bowls, they are also known for churning out some of the tastiest Japanese-style desserts in town. Cakes are always on rotation, but if you happen to catch hojicha cake roll ($48) or yuzu cheesecake ($48) on the menu, don’t hesitate to order!
Café Wander (浮生), G/F, 8 Anchor Street, Tai Kok Tsui | (+852) 5445 6004