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Your neighbourhood guide to Mong Kok

By Annette Chan 26 July 2021

Header image courtesy of @eeelijahryan (via Instagram)

When we think of Hong Kong’s most iconic districts, Mong Kok is right up there with Central, Causeway Bay, and Tsim Sha Tsui. With its pedestrian-friendly streets lined with market stalls, snack shops, and stores selling everything under the sun, Mong Kok is a shopper’s paradise on par with Myeongdong in Seoul and Harajuku in Tokyo.

While Mong Kok can be something of a sensory overload—a far cry from the peaceful flower market and bird garden in neighbouring Prince Edward—it’s almost always worth braving the crowds. Whether it’s a delicious snack, the perfect smudge-proof mascara, or the exact vintage toy you were on the hunt for, there’s always something to be discovered in Mong Kok—read on for our favourite things to do, see, and eat around Hong Kong’s “busy corner.”

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Things to see & do

Photo: Jack Hong (via Shutterstock)

Check out a piece of Hong Kong history

Perched on a junction on the border of Mong Kok, this 90-year-old shophouse is a prime example of a pre-war ke lau (騎樓; tenement building) that incorporates both Western and Chinese design elements. Featuring a curved façade, granite columns, decorative urn-shaped balustrades, and deep verandas, Lui Seng Chun cuts an imposing figure in Mong Kok’s architectural landscape.

The four-storey building was used as a shophouse by the Lui family, who operated a traditional Chinese medicine clinic on the ground floor and occupied the upstairs quarters. In the early 2000s, the Lui family donated the building to the government, and it was later converted into a clinic for Hong Kong Baptist University’s School of Chinese Medicine. While guided tours are normally available to the public, they have been temporarily suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lui Seng Chun, 119 Lai Chi Kok Road, Prince Edward

Photo: @claylabhk (via Instagram)

Throw some clay

If you’ve taken a couple of pottery classes and feel like developing your own style, consider Clay Lab. An offshoot of the popular Tung Yao Ceramic Studio in Sheung Wan, this 24-hour self-service pottery studio offers budding ceramists an affordable and convenient place to practice their technique. Not only is the studio fully equipped and able to handle up to five ceramists at a time, but it’s also got full floor-to-ceiling windows providing peaceful city views.

Clay Lab, Room A, 6/F, Waterloo Plaza, 53 Waterloo Road, Mong Kok

Photo: @bonus_deflamingo (via Instagram)

Get your game face on

Relive (or just live) your teen years at Game Zone, one of Hong Kong’s best-known games arcades. Hidden in the bowels of one of Mong Kok’s many malls, this is an old-school arcade where you’ll find a treasure trove of games in a cloud of cigarette smoke. Take your pick from rhythm games like Taiko no Tatsujin and Wacca or classics like Mario Kart, as well as dance games such as Danz Base and Dance Evolution Arcade.

Game Zone, B/F, Mong Kok New Town Mall, 65 Argyle Street, Mong Kok

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Photo: Cat Jungle-貓島 (via Facebook)

Make some furry friends

Cat cafés are generally a bit hit-or-miss—some are more like cafés with a shop cat, while others are a little cramped for the feline populations they house. Lay your concerns to rest at Cat Jungle, a spacious and clean cat café with a giant outdoor terrace (for human guests only, of course!) and a well-behaved crew of adorable kitties. And best of all, many of the cats are available for adoption—which we’re sure is welcome news for anyone who has formed bonds with cat café moggies in the past.

Cat Jungle, Unit 1002, 10/F, Good Hope Building, 5 Sai Yeung Choi Street South, Mong Kok | (+852) 9664 6361

Where to shop

Photo: John Leong (via Unsplash)

Street markets

While Mong Kok has plenty of malls, the most popular shopping attractions here are the huge, sprawling street markets. The most famous one by far is Ladies’ Market, which occupies the southern half of Tung Choi Street. Despite its name, the market doesn’t exclusively stock products for female customers—the wide range of items available include Hong Kong-themed souvenirs, knock-off bags and shoes, novelty toys and gadgets, and much more.

Continue your retail adventure by wandering off to the nearby Sneaker Street (a.k.a. Fa Yuen Street) for a thoroughly hypebeast-worthy shopping expedition, or to the Goldfish Street (the northern section of Tung Choi Street) to check out the massive selection of aquarium-related goods and aquatic pets for sale.

Photo: @kylauf (via Shutterstock)

618 Shanghai Street

One of our favourite places to discover local brands and pick up quirky or handmade items is 618 Shanghai Street, a revitalised shopping centre similar to PMQ, Tai Kwun, or The Mills. Though the complex itself is new, the façade was painstakingly preserved from Hong Kong’s longest row of tong lau shophouses. Inside, you’ll find a well-curated selection of local independent shops—many of which stock “Made in Hong Kong” products like Camel flasks and Twemco flip clocks—and a surprisingly good choice of Southeast Asian eats.

Click here to read our full guide to 618 Shanghai Street.

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Photo: Zoo Records (via Facebook)

Zoo Records

This petite CD and record store is a veritable treasure trove for vinyl fans with a taste for alternative music, with everything from indie darlings like Japanese Breakfast, Lucy Dacus, and The Shins to classics like David Bowie, Nirvana, and Primal Scream. You’ll also find a good selection of old-school and modern Asian artists, from every Chinese parent’s favourite singer, Teresa Teng, to Hong Kong noise-rockers The Yours. Even trendy coloured vinyl records—like the neon green version of Garbage’s latest, No Gods No Masters—are priced reasonably, providing a welcome change of pace from Hong Kong’s typically steep mark-up for imported limited-edition goods.

Zoo Records, Shop 325, 3/F, President Commercial Centre, 608 Nathan Road, Mong Kok | (+852) 2309 2911

Photo Credit: Showa (Facebook)

Showa

Film photography buffs and newbies alike will be well-catered to at Showa. As you might expect from a film camera store named after the Japanese era when analogue photography began to take off, Showa’s stock is largely sourced from Japan, with cameras and film from flagship brands like Nikon, Minolta, and Canon.

Showa, 3/F, 66 Sai Yeung Choi Street South, Mong Kok

Photo: @store9yea (via Instagram)

Trendy local malls

Mong Kok has no shortage of local malls teeming with cosmetics stores, odd speciality shops, and boutiques. Argyle Centre is a favourite among bargain-hunting teens, which is similar to Island Beverly and Laforet in Causeway Bay in its representation of local “cube stores” offering the latest threads from Korea and Japan.

Once you’re done browsing Argyle Centre’s 14 floors of shops, you can take the footbridge to get to T.O.P. (This is Our Place). With fast-fashion brands like Chuu and WeGo Tokyo nestled alongside cheap and cheerful accessories stores and Hong Kong’s only Popeyes Chicken, this shopping centre is definitely geared towards a more youthful, K-pop-loving crowd.

For Asian and Western beauty products, there’s no beating Langham Place. You’ll find a multitude of makeup and skincare offerings here, ranging from Korean road-shop brands like Etude House and Innisfree, but Langham Place’s wide range covers more upscale outlets like Nars, Dermalogica, and Caudalie, as well.

Argyle Centre, 688 Nathan Road, Mong Kok

T.O.P., 700 Nathan Road, Mong Kok

Langham Place, 8 Argyle Street, Mong Kok

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Comic and toy shops

It’s not just makeup and skincare, however—Mong Kok also caters to the nerd that is inside (most of) us, with specific shopping centres and streets specialising in comic books, anime, and toys. Refresh your media library at Sino Centre, where you can find all manner of comics and anime, models, toys, video games, and all the related merch, consoles, and gadgetry. For hobby toy collectors, CTMA Centre is up there with In’s Point in Yau Ma Tei as a geek haven, with figurines and models as far as the eye can see.

Sino Centre, 582–592 Nathan Road, Mong Kok

CTMA Centre, 1N Sai Yeung Choi Street South, Mong Kok

Where to eat & drink

Photo: Atteatude (via Facebook)

Atteatude

Yau Tsim Mong is full of hidden upstairs cafés doing their best to reinvent latte art or the dirty, but sometimes all you want is a calming cup of tea—and when you do, you should go to Atteatude. This hidden tea shop is not only a lovely teahouse, but also an educational space where you can learn how to brew the perfect cup of artisanal cha. Instead of paying by the cup or teapot, you pay by the hour, with supplementary charges for special variants.

Atteatude, Room H, 1/F, Mong Kok Building, 97 Mong Kok Road, Mong Kok | (+852) 6275 7702

Ladies Street Sik Faan Co.

Dine like you’re in an old-school dai pai dong at Ladies Street Sik Faan Co., a sprawling Mong Kok eatery serving up elevated DPD classics—think thick-cut prawn toast with black truffle ($28 per piece), crispy roast squab ($98), black pepper pork knuckles ($148), and “wind sand” Bombay duck fish ($88). In the same vein as Lau Haa Hot Pot in Causeway Bay, Ladies Street Sik Faan Co. is a single restaurant done up to look like a retro cooked food market (beer bowls and all!), complete with metal shutters and Chinese signage to simulate the presence of other businesses.

Ladies Street Sik Faan Co., Shop B, 1/F, Witty Commercial Building, 1A-1L Tung Choi Street, Mong Kok

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Photo: @cafehachiko (via Instagram)

Hachiko

Can’t decide between afternoon tea and happy hour drinks? Do both at Hachiko, a Japanese-inspired café and bar, which swaps the yoshoku (洋食, Japanese-style Western cuisine) plates of mentaiko spaghetti ($118) and Neapolitan pasta ($88) for potent glasses of sake and whisky come nightfall. With its moody, dramatic interiors and city views, Hachiko is also a feast for the eyes—especially if you order the red bean or hojicha tiramisu ($58), which come layered prettily in Mount Fuji-shaped glasses for added effect.

Hachiko, 8/F, Ladder Dundas, 575 Nathan Road, Mong Kok

Photo: @petitfeilee (via Instagram)

Moonkok

Just a stone’s throw away from the Ladies’ Market is this hidden gem of a taproom-slash-gastropub. Opened by the team behind craft brewery Moonzen, Moonkok is decorated in a more-is-more style that’s in keeping with the brewery’s Chinese mythology theme. Besides the wide-ranging beers from Moonzen and other craft breweries, you’ll find a concise menu of baos and tacos, which make for great finger food while you pay tribute to Chinese deities by imbibing Moonzen’s Kitchen God porter and Thunder God pale ale.

Moonkok, 88 Shantung Street, Mong Kok | (+852) 2911 4662

Photo: @moannaxdessire (via Instagram)

Be Humble

Dreaming of the colourful bazaars of Istanbul? Satisfy your wanderlust at Be Humble, a hyper-photogenic café and shisha bar inspired by bohemian design and Middle Eastern culture. While the décor is the main draw for a lot of customers, their shisha menu is no slouch, with over 40 flavours from famous brands, as well as the option to change the water base to juice, milk, or alcohol. Just remember to book ahead, as it is very popular with the Instagram crowd.

Be Humble, 18/F, Mongkok Metro, 594–596 Nathan Road, Mong Kok | (+852) 5348 1417

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Photo: @skeatravelife (via Instagram)

Ming Court

For an unforgettable meal of refined Cantonese food, there is nowhere better in Mong Kok than Ming Court. Tucked away on the sixth floor of the upmarket Cordis hotel, this Michelin-starred Chinese eatery is famed for its delicate dim sum and perfectly executed Cantonese classics. Try the famously hard-to-perfect river shrimps with scrambled egg whites ($228 per person) or the visually stunning deep-fried crab shell stuffed with crabmeat ($218). Can’t choose? Indulge in the Michelin degustation menu ($1,288), which includes eight courses and a glass of champagne.

Ming Court, 6/F, Cordis, 555 Shanghai Street Cordis, Mong Kok | (+852) 3552 3300

Photo: @fattie_foodhub (via Instagram)

Mu Taiwan Noodle (阿木台灣麵)

For a filling and affordable meal of authentic Taiwanese fare, Mu Taiwan Noodle always hits the spot. Their red-braised beef noodle soup ($65) is a crowd-pleaser, with generous portions of unusually thick slices of meat and a rich soup base that’s worth every slurp—but you also have the option of tomato or numbingly spicy soup base too, if that’s more your speed.

Mu Taiwan Noodle, 8 Kwong Wa Street, Mong Kok | (+852) 2311 9922

Photo: @fty.lynette (via Instagram)

Lamlamli Bakery

Satisfy your craving for mille-crepe cakes at Lamlamli, which specialises in the delicate layered cakes. The cake shop, which started off as an Instagram bakery, has found success in its brick and mortar location, where you can take your pick from over 12 different flavours, from lava chocolate ($35) and Earl Grey ($35) to pistachio ($38) and strawberry cheese ($38).

Lamlamli Bakery, Shop 697, 3/F, Winner Mansion, 691–697 Nathan Road, Mong Kok

Photo: @morokok_hk (via Instagram)

Morokok

For a fusion Thai meal that looks as good as it tastes, head to Morokok at Gala Place. This endlessly photogenic restaurant and shisha bar is a favourite with the Instagram crowd for its beautiful themed installations, with seasonal displays featuring snow-capped Christmas trees or bountiful cherry blossoms decorating its expansive outdoor terrace at any given point. Some of their most popular dishes include the lobster pad Thai ($298), Thai green curry risotto with soft shell crab ($168), and mango with butterfly pea and pandan sticky rice ($88).

Morokok, Shop 801, 8/F, Gala Place, 56 Dundas Street, Mong Kok | (+852) 2363 1882

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Annette Chan

Senior editor

Annette is an editor and copywriter with a lifetime of experience in hunting out the most interesting, odd, and delightful things about her beloved home city. Having written extensively about everything from food and culture to fashion, music, and hospitality, she considers her speciality to be Hong Kong itself. In her free time, you can find Annette trying out new dumpling recipes or playing Big Two at her favourite local bars with a cocktail in hand.

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