Header image courtesy of @dianadinosaur (Instagram)
Nestled between Sai Ying Pun and Kennedy Town is the charming collegiate neighbourhood of Shek Tong Tsui. Before becoming home to the prestigious University of Hong Kong, Shek Tong Tsui was named after the local granite quarry and was also a flourishing red-light district until the end of World War Two. Nowadays, this unassuming district is home to creative cafés, hip restaurants, traditional shops and eateries that have withstood the test of gentrification, and more. Join us in exploring Shek Tong Tsui with our handy neighbourhood guide!
Instagram Pier needs no introduction. Officially the West District Public Cargo Depot, it’s become a popular photography spot for locals and tourists alike. Just a scroll through the location tag on Instagram will reveal thousands of photos taken here, from selfies to wedding photos. Instagram Pier is also a popular running route and hangout spot, and you can also cut through the Central and Western District Promenade to get to Central and Kennedy Town via a series of green spaces and playgrounds.
Instagram Pier, Junction of Hill Road at Connaught Road West, Shek Tong Tsui
The University of Hong Kong’s University Museum and Art Gallery was formerly known as the Fung Ping Shan Museum of Chinese Art and Archaeology. Located near the East Gate of the University, the University Museum’s collection has expanded to nearly two thousand items of Chinese antiquities including ceramics, bronzes, and wood carvings thanks to the support of donors and artists. Entrance is free and a visit to the Museum makes for a quiet and peaceful way to immerse yourself in history and culture.
University Museum and Art Gallery, 90 Bonham Road, University of Hong Kong, Pok Fu Lam | (+852) 2241 5500
St Anthony’s Church has been around since 1864 when the priests of Milan Mission Seminary on Bonham Road established a small chapel at the site. The stunning beige church with green tiles has been meticulously restored through its many expansions and operation changes and continues to serve the local Catholic community. It’s now a Grade II historic building.
St Anthony’s Church, 69A Pokfulam Road, Pok Fu Lam | (+852) 2546 6221
If you’ve ever been on a party tram, you’ve been to Whitty Street Tram Depot. Whitty Street Tram Depot is the main depot for tram operations and is not normally open to the public. It’s used as a base of repairs for the traditional teakwood trams, as well as the building of the modern (sometimes air-conditioned) trams we see today. Get to a vantage point somewhere and you’ll be able to see into the high walls that protect the pieces of Hong Kong Island’s transportation history.
Whitty Street Tram Depot, Connaught Road West, Shek Tong Tsui
When former Aussie bankers Candy and Simon took over ARF Café (then known as Artisan Garden Café) in 2006, they had no experience in running a café or any sort of eatery. But since their takeover, ARF has blossomed into both a popular coffee spot and gallery highlighting local artists. The wall of vintage mint condition Fire King mugs usually draws first-timers in as they glance upon it from outside, and before they know it, they’ve spent a whole afternoon here sipping on fine brews in rare mugs.
ARF Café, 23 Po Tuck Street, Shek Tong Tsui | (+852) 2548 3261
After the success of their Sheung Wan location, Brew Bros opened up their second location on Hill Road. Run by Japanese barista Hikaru Ono, Brew Bros imports their beans straight from Melbourne’s beloved Market Lane Coffee every week, as a tribute to his time working in the renowned coffee scene there. Brew Bros combines the clean minimalism of Japan and the cafe culture of Australia seamlessly and serves up strong coffees and healthy simple brunch dishes. Our favourite spot is by the large window, where you can people-watch and sunbathe.
Brew Bros, 1 Po Tuck Street, Shek Tong Tsui | (+852) 2803 2323
Plantation by Teakha on the café hub of Po Tuck Street takes the original Tai Ping Shan tea café to the next level with their tea blending, brewing, and tasting workshops. Founder Nana Chan hails from Taiwan, and Plantation’s tea bar honours her childhood with main tea selections from the island as well as some pickings from China and India. You can either partake in a tasting session of the small plantation teas or simply order a pot to unwind with on your own. They are currently only open from Thursdays to Saturdays.
Plantation by Teakha, 18 Po Tuck Street, Shek Tong Tsui | (+852) 3482 2660
Artisan Room is often filled with people both inside and outside the beautifully designed space, lounging in the comfortable alfresco couches surrounded by greenery and enjoying some excellent coffee and pastries. Its array of professional coffee brewing equipment will assure you that they know how to make a good cup of coffee, and we love the handpainted mural in tribute to Shek Tong Tsui’s history.
Artisan Room, 8 South Lane, Shek Tong Tsui | (+852) 2656 3198
You’d have no idea that the fabulous cakes at Lifetastic were gluten-free if you weren’t told. The founders were inspired by their travels to Australia and returned to Hong Kong to produce these stunning almond-based layer cakes in their local workshop. Lifetastic’s Hill Road cafe not only serves up their famous Strawberry and Watermelon Layer Cake (amongst others) but also pasta and avocado dishes. There’s almost always a line outside waiting to get a taste of these (arguably) healthier sweet slices.
Lifetastic, Shop B, G/F, 31–37 Hill Road, Shek Tong Tsui | (+852) 2420 8851
We agree with the name of this cafe wholeheartedly—milkshakes are the bomb! No Milkshake No Life offers a menu full of indulgent milkshakes (some are even boozy… treat yourself, right?) and downright sinful comfort food like bacon sarnies and cheesy fries. Try their signature Bacon Milkshake with Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce (sorry, vegetarians) and you’ll understand why this place is permanently full of good vibes.
No Milkshake No Life, G/F, 31–37 Hill Road, Shek Tong Tsui
Cobo House was co-founded by Janice Wong, a two-time winner of Asia’s Best Pastry Chef title from 2am:dessertbar in Singapore. Every dish here, both sweet and savoury, is a work of art. The savoury menu offerings are a creative fusion of Korean and Italian cuisine, while the dessert menu rivals that of the original Singaporean dessert bar with edible art like the Pop Mountain, a tower of caramel popcorn built on corn ice cream and corn dressing dusted with Himalayan pink salt.
Cobo House, 8 South Lane, Shek Tong Tsui | (+852) 2656 3088
Hotel Jen’s Café Malacca is one of the few places in Hong Kong that serve up truly authentic Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine (not just laksa!), and is a bit of a hidden gem. The menu is filled with elevated takes on traditional Malay comfort foods and street dishes like gado gado, nasi lemak, and kaya toast. It was named a Bib Gourmand restaurant in the 2014 and 2015 editions of the Hong Kong Michelin Guide, and standards continue to be high.
Café Malacca, 2/F, Hotel Jen, 508 Queen’s Road West, Shek Tong Tsui | (+852) 2213 6613
Another Bib Gourmand hidden gem in the area is Café Hunan, a Hunanese restaurant helmed by a Hunanese chef who honed his skills at his mother’s restaurant. Ingredients like the all-important chillies and smoked pork are sourced directly from Hunan, and the dishes like the Yin Yang Fish Head and the Braised Pork Elbow are made with complex traditional techniques that guarantee deep rich flavours and authenticity.
Café Hunan, 420-424 Queen’s Road West, Shek Tong Tsui | (+852) 2803 7177
Saam Hui Yaat is an absolutely no-frills, hole-in-the-wall dim sum joint that’s been around for decades, and while the service and environment are nothing to write home about, the dim sum is probably some of the best in the city. The dim sum is handmade fresh daily at 3 am, and Saam Hui Yaat opens at 5.30 am. The early bird catches the worm, as this restaurant gets busier throughout the day until they close shortly after lunch. No worries if you don’t speak or read Cantonese; the staff are well versed in the good old “point-and-nod” ordering system.
Saam Hui Yaat, 11 Pok Fu Lam Road, Shek Tong Tsui | (+852) 2547 3917
Part café and part lifestyle shop, Ethos’ minimalist space welcomes collaborations from brands far and wide (with an emphasis on local and Asian designers), resulting in products on display that are both aesthetically pleasing and functional. The 3,000 square feet space is a one-stop-shop for apparel, furniture, home goods, and more, and you’re bound to find something unique from their carefully curated collection. Students and locals also love to study and work at the clean and airy café beside the lifestyle concept store: their cold brew teas and coffees, and classic brunch dishes make for fuel to keep the juices flowing.
Ethos, 93–99 Hill Road, Shek Tong Tsui | (+852) 5403 0543
Every corner of Juju Flowers is carefully stacked with beautiful blooms and strong plants. They’ve been adorning homes and banquet halls with their speciality bouquets, hampers and decorations since the 1990s, and also hosts floral art classes and workshops. If you’re trying to be more environmentally conscious while shopping for a new houseplant or floral display, Juju also offers plastic-free packaging.
Juju Flowers, Shop 2–3, Jadeview Court, 38 Hill Road, Shek Tong Tsui | (+852) 2521 9911
Right beside HKU Station exit B1 is the bustling Shek Tong Tsui Market, a traditional wet market serving local residents and offering unbeatable prices. The market itself is like others in Hong Kong but locals say it’s much cleaner than most with lots of variety. If you’re planning on cooking up a Thai feast, there’s a stall on the upper floors of the market closer to the cooked food centre that carries all sorts of herbs and spices you’ll need for authenticity.
Shek Tong Tsui Market, 470 Queen’s Road West, Shek Tong Tsui
HKU’s architecture, art, and design students highly recommend Yan Ngai Art Shop for all your arts and crafts needs. This longstanding arts supplies shop is neat and organised and the staff are always amiable, ready to help you find anything from staples like paper and paint to speciality items like spray paint and modelling foam.
Yan Ngai Art Shop, 41 Pok Fu Lam Road, Sai Ying Pun | (+852) 6283 2680
Locals flock to Lung Wah Food Products, a quaint shop that looks like it’s been around forever, but really only opened in the 2000s. Lung Wah offers a wide range of food products for both wholesale and retail and locals can often be found lining up for goods like Aussie chooks, Chinese sausages, and Spanish pork.
Lung Wah Food Products, 18 South Lane, Shek Tong Tsui | (+852) 2573 9963