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Your neighbourhood guide to Hong Kong’s Eastern District

By Catharina Cheung 24 September 2020

Header images courtesy of @evannovostro and @leungchopan (via Shutterstock)

As much as people claim to enjoy Hong Kong Island, they tend to only mean Central and the following areas stretching westwards to Kennedy Town. In comparison, Hong Kong’s Eastern District is largely overlooked despite physically occupying about a third of the space on the island. 

In terms of government designations, the Eastern District comprises Fortress Hill, North Point, Braemar Hill, Quarry Bay, Taikoo Shing, Sai Wan Ho, Shau Kei Wan, Heng Fa Chuen, Chai Wan, and Siu Sai Wan. By this definition, the total area has the second-highest population among Hong Kong’s 18 districts, while its residents have the third-highest median household income.

But because of how well-known the areas from Fortress Hill to Taikoo Shing already are, we have decided to focus instead on the lesser-covered neighbourhoods of Sai Wan Ho, Shau Kei Wan, Heng Fa Chuen, Chai Wan, and Siu Sai Wan instead. Read on for your guide on things to do, see, and eat in Hong Kong’s Eastern District!

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A brief history

This district—like much of Hong Kong’s waterfront areas—used to be made up of fishing villages, quarries, and dockyards. There is archaeological evidence that villages and small settlements have been around the area since the Song dynasty. Nowadays, the Eastern District is mainly a residential neighbourhood, with public housing estates and Home Ownership Scheme residences making up the majority once past the large-scale private housing estates of Taikoo Shing and Kornhill.

The entire district used to be linked by a single traffic artery, King’s Road, which, of course, was massively congested. This was much alleviated when the MTR Island line expanded eastwards and the Island Eastern Corridor was constructed in the 1980s. The iconic Hong Kong island tram also runs as far as Shau Kei Wan.

Where to eat & drink

Photo: @aj.timetoeat (via Instagram)

Malacca Cuisine

Fans of Malaysian food should not miss this restaurant as they serve up homey comforting Southeast Asian flavours for good prices. Where else would you be able to get a nice portion of laksa noodles for $42? We also like their white pepper Bak Kut Teh with rice in chicken oil ($56)—those who don’t like the strong herbal variety will enjoy this version much more.

Malacca Cuisine, Shop G24, Tai On Building, 57–87 Sau Kei Wan Road, Sai Wan Ho | (+852) 2789 8339

Photo: @fortune.foodie (via Instagram)

Hatoba Japanese Restaurant

Setting up shop in a section of the Sai Wan Ho wharf itself, Hatoba is a quiet restaurant which gives diners unparalleled views of the water from its floor-to-ceiling windows. The focus here is on skewers (which of course go down great with sake), and we’d recommend choices such as the sliced pork belly wrapped with asparagus ($38), Kyoto beancurd ($34), and the A4 wagyu beef ($148). They also have larger dishes such as snow crab meat udon with kamameshi ($118) or, for even more of a Japanese street-side stall experience, oden ($118).

Hatoba Japanese Restaurant, Sai Wan Ho Ferry Pier, Tai Hong Street, Lei King Wan, Sai Wan Ho | (+852) 2493 5333

Keep scrolling for the rest of the guide 👇

Photo: @marcosora (via Instagram)

Wah Kee Store

A gritty little local eatery with seating that spills out into a side alley, Wah Kee only has fewer than five dishes on their menu but, oh boy, do they do them well. Their crowning glory is the cheesy curry omurice ($43), which is essentially rice wrapped in an omelette that comes smothered in a Japanese-style curry sauce—perfect for those who can’t handle their spice, as it’s really more sweet than spicy!

Wah Kee Store, Shop 3B, 48 Shau Kei Wan Road, Sai Wan Ho | (+852) 2569 9251

Photo: @zeppelinhotdog (via Instagram)

Zeppelin Hot Dog Shop

Sometimes all you really need to tide you over during the day is a quick bite to grab and go. No need to stoop to getting microwaved fish balls from 7-11 if you decide to hit up Zeppelin Hot Dog! The German pickled cabbage dog ($38) is our top pick mainly because we can’t get enough of sauerkraut, but there’s always their best-selling chilli dog with cheese ($42).

Zeppelin Hot Dog Shop, Shop A55A, Tai On Building, 57–87 Shau Kei Wan Road, Sai Wan Ho | (+852) 9852 2901

Photo: @cullnpistolhk (via Instagram)

Cull ’N Pistol Hong Kong

Named after lobsters which have one or both claws missing, Cull ’N Pistol takes inspiration from New England’s seafood traditions, aiming to bring East Coast American vibes to their dishes. Its unpretentious seafood classics are the perfect food to have sitting by the Sai Wan Ho waterfront. You can’t really go wrong with ordering dishes like the Alaska king crab legs ($399), lobster bouillabaisse ($98), spaghetti creamy saffron mussel & spinach ($168), or the fish of the day ($268).

Cull ’N Pistol Hong Kong, Shop GA1–3, Site A, 55 Tai Hong Street, Lei King Wan | (+852) 2513 0199

Keep scrolling for the rest of the guide 👇

Things to see & do

Photo: @whatakillj0y (via Instagram)

Hong Kong Film Archive

Founded in 1993 and a part of the International Federation of Film Archives since 1996, the Hong Kong Film Archive collects, preserves, and sometimes screens Hong Kong films. TVB presented them with 1,000 film titles ranging from the 1930s to the 90s for permanent preservation; these include the earliest Chinese film in TVB’s library, Little Heroine (1939), and the earliest Hong Kong film in their library, Female Spy (1947).

The archive has its own 125-seat cinema, where archive holdings are screened at a much cheaper admission price than commercial cinemas. Considering Hong Kong was once the third-largest motion picture industry in the world, this is a slice of history well worth visiting for film buffs!

Hong Kong Film Archive, 50 Lei King Road, Sai Wan Ho | (+852) 2311 5229

Photo: @ttlllife (via Instagram)

Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence

This museum is fittingly housed in an old coastal defence fort which overlooks the Lei Yue Mun channel, built by the British forces in 1887 to defend the sea passage into Victoria Harbour. A permanent exhibition called “600 Years of Coastal Defence” is on display in the museum, showcasing the defences of Hong Kong’s coastline starting from the Ming dynasty, going through the First and Second Opium wars, the Battle of Hong Kong, through to the situation today. Do note that the museum is currently closed for revamps, but keep an eye out for when it will be open for visits again.

Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence, 175 Tung Hei Road, Shau Kei Wan | (+852) 2569 1500

Tam Kung Temple

As legend has it, Tam Kung was a native of Guangdong who displayed supernatural powers as a child—the ability to determine the weather being one of them—and was deemed a god by the tender age of 12, worshipped by local residents. Among the few temples in Hong Kong dedicated to Tam Kung, the Shau Kei Wan one is the oldest and largest, built circa 1905 AD. It is said that the large stone in front of the building that has been around for roughly a decade is Tam Kung’s magical seal.

Tam Kung Temple, Tam Kung Temple Road, Shau Kei Wan | (+852) 2519 9133

Keep scrolling for the rest of the guide 👇

By Catharina Cheung 17 September 2020
Photo: @blackteaj (via Instagram)

Tin Hau Temple

Located nearby the aforementioned Tam Kung Temple, this Tin Hau Temple was built before 1872—one of the many scattered across the territories as fisherfolk would frequently worship the goddess of the sea for safe passage on the waters. This is a traditionally Chinese, two-hall structure with delicate wall paintings, wood carvings, and pottery decorations. Both these temples are included along the Eastern District Tourist Trail (Shau Kei Wan Section), which starts at the Shau Kei Wan Tram Terminus and runs along Shau Kei Wan Main Street East and the waterfront, before ending at the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence.

Tin Hau Temple, 53 Shau Kei Wan Main Street East, Shau Kei Wan | (+852) 2519 9133

Photo: Hong Kong Jockey Club

Lei Yue Mun Public Riding School

Equestrian and horse racing fans might be interested to know that the quiet neighbourhood Heng Fa Chuen and Chai Wan is home to a riding school. The 4,000-square-metre complex is set on a hillside, surrounded by greenery, and is a peaceful respite from the city. Operated by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the school offers an extensive range of horse riding lessons and equine-related leisure activities, all conducted under the guidance of British Horse Society-qualified instructors.

Lei Yue Mun Public Riding School, Lei Yue Mun Park, 75 Chai Wan Road, Chai Wan | (+852) 2568 9776

Photo: @vivifafalalala (via Instagram)

Law Uk Folk Museum

Located only five minutes away from Chai Wan Station, Law Uk is an old settlement named after a Hakka family with the Law surname. Built in the time of the Emperor Qianlong, this kind of eighteenth-century village house is rarely found on Hong Kong Island and is a declared historical building. The museum has been furnished with village furniture, utensils, and farming implements to recreate the ambience of how the original inhabitants would have lived.

Law Uk Folk Museum, 14 Kut Shing Street, Chai Wan | (+852) 2896 7006

Keep scrolling for the rest of the guide 👇

Photo: @youthsquare (via Instagram)

Youth Square

This non-profit facility was set up with civic education in mind, to become a venue where the youth of Hong Kong can develop their full potential. There are a wide range of facilities housed within its modern glass building, including a theatre, studio spaces, a hostel, and retail spaces. Youth Square also conducts events under the themes of music and dance, arts and culture, and community engagement.

Youth Square, 238 Chai Wan Road, Chai Wan | (+852) 3721 8888

Photo: @commonwealthwargraves (via Instagram)

Sai Wan War Cemetery

It may sound a bit morbid to visit a cemetery, but this well-appointed complex is a tidy and tranquil environment that is the final resting place of many soldiers who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars. Incidentally, the nearby Lei Yue Mun was also where the Japanese troops crossed the harbour on the night of 18 December 1941, and landed on Hong Kong Island. The cemetery contains the graves and memorial plaques of Commonwealth servicemen, British Indian Army, Allied soldiers such as Canadian and Dutch men, as well as prisoners of war.

Sai Wan War Cemetery, Cape Collinson Road, Chai Wan

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Catharina Cheung

Senior editor

Catharina has recently returned to her hometown of Hong Kong after spending her formative years in Singapore and the UK. She enjoys scouring the city for under-the-radar things to do, see, and eat, and is committed to finding the perfect foundation that will withstand Hong Kong’s heat. She is also an aspiring polyglot, a firm advocate for feminist and LGBTQIA+ issues, and a huge lover of animals. You can find her belting out show-tunes in karaoke, or in bookstores adding new tomes to her ever-growing collection.