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Originally published by Beverly Ngai. Last updated by Jianne Soriano.
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 poached egg Japanese beef don ($79) and black garlic oil pork soup ramen ($89), their dessert menu is the real MVP at Uchi. From an extensive repertoire of homemade sweets and baked goods, the lauded charcoal black sesame chiffon cake ($50) and hazelnut oak crumble soufflé ($68) 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 whipped cream.
Omotesando Koffee, locations across Hong Kong Island and Kowloon
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 and caffeine addicts with its unique range of in-house blends, coffee cocktails, and photo-worthy Japanese 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 decadent chocolate bon bon drink ($75), yuzu pecan tart ($58), chicken katsu sando toast ($68), promising a delicious escape from the city 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. The 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 and honey toast ($45) and red bean and 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 and 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
This restaurant moonlights as a bar and shisha lounge at night. Its name is derived from the famous ski and mountaineering area in Hakuba, Nagano Prefecture, in Japan. It’s no surprise then that the interiors look reminiscent of a mountain lodge, complete with wooden fixtures. Meanwhile, its alfresco space will remind you of a camping area—only this one is smacked in the middle of a bustling neighbourhood.
The menu consists of homemade croffles for those with a sweet tooth while the bento board ($118) is perfect for those in need of a hearty meal. The à la carte menu also consists of various snacks to nibble on, like black truffle fries ($78), yuzu honey chicken wings ($88), and beef sando ($118).
The Alp @ Lounge Hakuba, Shop 302, 3/F, Tower 353, 535 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay | (+852) 2111 1707
In Hong Kong, we love our space because there’s so little of it. If you’re one to prefer a bigger space to work or chill, & Green Café is the place to be. This spacious Japanese-style café in Hung Hom is a hidden gem in itself. In addition to hosting regular events such as tea workshops and tastings, the café offers great WiFi with plenty of power sockets, and great coffee and tea.
The all-day breakfast ($86) is always an easy choice and is complete with mashed potato, salad, smoked salmon, sausage, eggs, and you can add extra food items of your choice. We also recommend the soba set ($108), which has eel, egg, soba, and a drink of your choice. For dessert, have a bite of the soufflé cheesecake ($55) or the Basque burnt cheesecake ($55).
& Green Café, Shop 1B, G/F, Harbour Place, 8 Oi King Street, Hung Hom | (+852) 2735 8789
Ukiyo is the newest addition to K11 Musea’s F&B offerings. The name means “floating world” in Japanese and is all about promoting the philosophy of living in the moment. The Japanese-style café hopes that its diners will savour the art of slow living. With its cosy and homey vibe, you could totally spend hours on end here.
Snack on its handcrafted meals, consisting of homemade pasta, vegan plates, and keto desserts. Must-tries include homemade penne with sous-vide chicken breast in wild mushroom black truffle cream sauce ($168), mentaiko crab cake ($98), and 24-hour sous-vide Japanese char siu Wagyu burger with ginger pork sauce ($148).
Ukiyo, Shop 610, 6/F, K11 Musea, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Located in Sai Ying Pun, Nichijou is a Japanese-style café run by a mother-daughter duo. Expect homely vibes in this pet-friendly café complete with hearty Japanese lunch offerings. Its name means “every day” in Japanese. There is plenty of options to choose from on the menu, whether you crave soup, salad, or rice as well as a selection of drinks.
You can’t go wrong with the beef sukiyaki donburi with onsen egg ($128) or the chicken kaarage udon with shoyu soup ($128). We also love the grilled mackerel with cold udon ($138) for something that feels refreshing on your taste buds. When it comes to the drinks, the honeycomb latte (starting from $42) is a must, as well as the Earl Grey chocolate ($48).
Nichijou, Shop H, G/F, Block 2, Hoi Sing Building, 128 Second Street, Sai Ying Pun | (+852) 95458 832
Keep your eyes peeled for Relieve Coffee in Sheung Wan! Located just outside of the MTR Station’s A2 exit, this quaint Japanese café hopes to relieve your hunger and thirst. Decorated with vintage trinkets and posters, it feels like you’re in a scene straight out of an anime. The Instagrammable lunch and dessert options are just too cute to eat!
Definitely have a go at the slow-cooked sirloin steak with sukiyaki sauce ($198) if you’re hungry. The sweet potato croquette ($68) is a great appetiser and snack, while the hojicha mochi chiffon mountain ($68) helps bring all the food down.
Relieve Coffee, Shop G01, G/F, Ovest, 77 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan
Nestled in an unassuming backstreet in Tai Hang, Yotsuba is a quaint Japanese-style coffee shop that’s perfect for those looking to take their furry friends along. An ideal place to hang out on a weekend or to enjoy some quiet working time, Yotsuba Café serves up some light snacks for you to munch on. Those on a keto diet will give heart eyes to the keto menu, while vegetarians can go for their own options. For sweets, we recommend the Nutella banana waffle ($68) or the fresh fruit waffle ($78). The cafe is only open from 9 am to 6 pm every day, except Monday.
Yotsuba Cafe, G/F, 19 Ormsby Street, Tai Hang | (+852) 2808 2868