Header image courtesy of @kawrou (via Shutterstock)
There’s an up-and-coming neighbourhood in the New Kowloon that is poised for great things, and we are here to scope out all the hidden gems before the secrets spill out! Yes, we’re talking about San Po Kong, the compact, kidney-shaped enclave bordered by Diamond Hill and Wong Tai Sing to the north and Kai Tak to the south.
Historically known as a largely industrial and residential district, with no designated MTR station, San Po Kong has perhaps been unfairly painted as dull and unexciting. In truth, this low-key neighbourhood has been quietly outgrowing its reputation in recent years. Catapulted by the development of the nearby Kai Tak, all manners of trendy eateries, creative studios, and diverse ventures have taken up residence in the area’s unassuming factory blocks, transforming them into much more than what their industrial façade belies. So carve out a day, grab a buddy, and let’s explore all the entertainment and gastronomic highlights of San Po Kong!
Who doesn’t love a good retail therapy session—especially when you can do it all under one roof? With an exterior that resembles a glass box, Mikiki is a trendy one-stop-shopping mecca geared towards the younger crowd.
Spread across the spacious three levels are nearly 100 stylish shops covering all your lifestyle and dining needs‚ with fashion labels like Bread n Butter and Lowrys Farm, lifestyle brands like Yata and Miniso, and a bevvy of cheap to mid-range restaurants like Das Bier, Towanda Sushi, and Heartful Veggie. Bonus: Pets are welcome to accompany you on your shopping spree as long as they kept in a stroller, carrier, or on a leash at all times, so bring your furry friends along!
Mikiki, 638 Prince Edward Road East, San Po Kong | (+852) 3980 9930
Despite its name, Bleak House Books is anything but bleak. Step inside this charming indie bookstore and you’ll find yourself enveloped in the unmistakable aroma of old vintage paperbacks and a warm, homely atmosphere that invites you to linger over the shop's wide selection of second-hand and brand-new English language books.
From literary classics to graphic novels, books of all genres can be found here, and all the titles are carefully hand-picked before they hit the shelves, so you’re always in for a quality read. In addition to selling books, Bleak House Books also prides itself on serving as a community space where like-minded bookworms can convene and share their love of reading.
Bleak House Books, Unit 2705, 9 Pat Tat Street, San Po Kong | (+852) 3705 0251
Looking to mix up your usual workout routine? Indoor rock climbing is a great way to build full-body strength and work your grit whilst providing loads of high-adrenaline fun! Home to eight climbing walls and over 100 high-quality climbing routes spanning the full spectrum of difficulty, Just Climb is one of the more popular climbing gyms in the city, catering to complete newbies and seasoned climbing machines alike.
You can learn all the basics of the sport with the beginner’s package ($398), which includes a 50-minute lesson and all-day climbing or skip the class and opt for the all-day pass ($278) if you’re a little more experienced. Monthly passes ($798) and various multi-visit punch passes are also available.
Just Climb, Room D, Prince Industry Building, 106 King Fuk Street, San Po Kong | (+852) 3561 7868
Very few pastimes elicit the same satisfaction as taking on a new crafts project and creating something beautiful with your own two hands; and at Make Centre, there are all types of fun workshops for you to tap into your creative side and let your imagination run wild, ranging from wood-carving and leather-crafting to laser-cutting and soap-making!
Whether you’re looking to spruce up your space with a new décor piece, surprise a loved one with a special handmade gift, or replace some old accessories, Make Centre can help you DIY just about anything. However, if your chosen project is a bit beyond your skill level, you can also leave the crafting to the experts and have your customised product created for you in three to five days!
Make Centre, Unit B, 4/F, Ka Wing Factory Building, 19–21 Ng Fong Street, San Po Kong | (+852) 23459282
With no major waterways in its vicinity, San Po Kong might not be the first place that springs to mind when one thinks of local fishing hotspots, but that's because you’re only thinking of casting your reels outdoors. Tucked away on the eighth floor of Maxgrand Plaza is a recreational indoor shrimp farm where anglers can catch jumbo Thai shrimp and crabs from large stool-lined pools and enjoy them freshly barbecued straight after! They offer multiple ways of grilling your crustaceans: slathered with butter, drizzled with lemon juice, or seasoned with salt and pepper!
Ha Cube, Unit D & E, 8/F, Maxgrand Plaza, 3 Tai Yau Street, San Po Kong | (+852) 3565 4233
Falling snugly between industrial-chic and homely comfort, this cute café definitely looks the part of a place where we’d “wanna eat.” Like its décor, the menu doesn’t commit to one single style, but rather draws culinary influences from all over the map, with popular Asian delicacies like Korean pork & kimchi cheesy fried rice ($92) and Taiwanese-style three-cup chicken & rice ($88), as well as Western favourites like pesto chicken penne ($88) and Margherita pizza ($72). Visit between 11.30 am and 3 pm to enjoy their fantastic range of affordable lunch sets which come with a drink and salad or soup.
Wanna Eat, 16 Choi Hung Road, San Po Kong | (+852) 9883 3678
Exactly what you’d expect from its name in Chinese, which means “cosy den,” WoZi Café’s calming teal interiors and endearingly cluttered space beckons weary pedestrians to take refuge from the buzz of daily life and sit down for a full meal—which of course should always include dessert, the café’s speciality.
The dessert menu runs even longer than the mains, with sections dedicated to souffle pancakes, waffles, mille-feuille, and even rare creations like “moffles”—a delightful mash-up of chewy mochi and waffles. Their signature caramel banana waffles ($88) and Japanese-style fluffy pancakes with classic butter Muscovado syrup ($88) are not to be missed; though, note that portions come hefty and hearty, so consider sharing with a friend!
WoZi Café, 36 Yan Oi Street, San Po Kong | (+852) 2796 0001
It takes a lot of willpower to resist the sweet calling of the freshly baked bread and pastries that rest on the shelves and tables at this lovely modern bakery. A local success story, LY Bakery first opened on the quiet Tai Yau Street in 2018 and quickly amassed a dedicated following of foodies scrambling for their unique bagel creations, buttery croissants, and oozing custard buns.
All their baked goods are made from the heart using quality butter instead of margarine or lard and eschew flour treatment agents. So it’s safe to say that anything you pick up here will be a good bet, but we’ve fallen mad hard for their black truffle cheese bagel ($20), triple cheese baguette ($10), and matcha French toast ($15).
LY Bakery, Shop E, Maxgrand Plaza, 3 Tai Yau Street, San Po Kong | (+852) 35202122
If steaming bowls of umami-laden ramen and thick-cut slices of sashimi appeals to you, then Donkairyuuou should be right up your alley. Located just opposite of Mikiki shopping centre, this hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant keeps the décor casual and understated, directing most of its attention to what matters most—the food.
You’ll know what we mean when you see for yourself the heaping platters of fresh fish, hot and cold rice donburi bowls, comforting noodles, and a wide selection of Japanese appetisers like skewers and fried dumplings. Despite being sold at astoundingly cheap prices, all of their dishes are solidly executed, and have proven to please even those with a ravenous appetite.
Donkairyuuou (丼海龍王), 67 King Fuk Street, San Po Kong | (+852) 31885249
Soybeans might hold the reigning title of “king” here, but the steamed sticky rice rolls sure give the versatile legume a run for its money—and luckily, you don’t have to choose one or the other because the two signatures are practically a match made in heaven.
Pair a glass of cold soy milk ($7) with the joint’s famous savoury sticky rice ($16), which comprises Chinese cruller (油條; jau4 tiu5), preserved vegetables, and pork floss wrapped in glutinous rice, and you have yourself a full Shanghainese breakfast! If breakfast food isn’t what you crave, then they also have an extensive selection of rice, noodles, and dumpling dishes, as well as numerous Shanghainese street snacks, to tuck into!
Soybeans King, Unit 9, B/F, New Tech Plaza, 34 Tai Yau Street, San Po Kong | (+852) 3188 4920
Fans of clean lines and minimalism will want to add this one to their café-hopping list: Until Coffee takes austere aesthetics to the next level, rivalling even the most modest of Hong Kong coffee shops with their spotlessly white interiors (looks like % Arabica has its work cut out for them). Standing out like a stark, brilliant beacon amongst the weathered industrial buildings of San Po Kong, Until Coffee prides itself on an unadorned and simplistic approach to its appearance, shifting the focus instead to its rich, bold coffees and flavourful dessert cakes.
Add a splash of colour to your visit with an iced matcha latte ($48) and the signature house white ($65), a creative concoction that the team calls their “non-alcoholic version of sauvignon blanc.” If the unsullied surroundings encourage your mind to wander, you could always wonder about how much is spent on cleaning fees...
Until Coffee, 1 Sheung Hei Street, San Po Kong | (+852) 6015 5409