Header photo courtesy of @will_tm (via Instagram)
Originally published by Amanda Sheppard. Last updated by Annette Chan.
Just west of the banks and sky-high shopping malls of Central, you’ll find the hipster haven of Sheung Wan. Once a sleepy area filled with hoi mei (海味; dried seafood) shops and antique dealers, Sheung Wan has experienced a renaissance over the last decade or so, with countless restaurants, cafés, and boutiques popping up across the district. The rapid gentrification of Sheung Wan, combined with its historical and cultural landmarks, has made for a unique combination of old and new; third-wave cafés now rub shoulders with traditional Chinese medicine shops, and you can go from flashy LGBTQ nightclubs to ancient temples in a mere matter of steps.
Given the sheer concentration of incredible things to do, see, eat, and drink in Sheung Wan—and our familiarity with the district that Localiiz calls home—it would be a fool’s errand to try and jot down absolutely everything worth checking out. Still, we’ve done our best to give an overview of the most iconic highlights Sheung Wan has to offer, as well as some under-the-radar gems and cool new finds.
Hollywood Road might be full of art and antiquities, but one of the most beautiful sights—or rather, sites—there is Man Mo Temple. This green-roofed temple is one of many dedicated to the god of literature (Man Tai) and the god of martial arts (Mo Tai), but bears the distinction of being one of the oldest and largest of its kind. Come along during exam season and you’ll find students making offerings to Man Tai in the hopes of securing academic success. Of course, with its canopy of smoky incense coils and rows of lanterns, it’s also extremely popular with photographers year-round.
Man Mo Temple, 124–126 Hollywood Road, Central | (+852) 2540 0350
Is it a tourist trap? Sure. But if you have a moment to spare and happen to find yourself around Bonham Strand or Wing Lok Street, it is worth having a quick look at the Western Market, even if it is just to marvel at the red-bricked façade. This well-preserved Edwardian structure was built in 1906 as an extension to the wet market of the same name, but is now more of a low-key shopping centre. There’s a cluster of fabric sellers on the mezzanine floor if you fancy stocking up for a home sewing project, or you can also pop into Honeymoon Dessert on the ground floor for a warming bowl of Cantonese dessert soup. During better (read: less apocalyptic) times, the sprawling Cantonese restaurant on the second floor occasionally plays host to Got Balls, a raucous boozy bingo night that always sells out without fail.
Western Market, 323 Des Voeux Road West, Sheung Wan
Also colloquially known as “Antique Street”, Hollywood Road was once home to the city’s highest concentration of art galleries and antique shops. Though Hong Kong’s art galleries are considerably more spread out these days—a very good thing, if you ask us—there are still plenty of treasures to be discovered along Hollywood Road.
Those who are appreciative of Chinese antiquities must pay a visit to Liang Yi Museum, where $200 will get you a guided tour of the private museum’s extensive collection of Ming and Qing Dynasty furniture. For something a little more modern, we like the bright and stylish Gallery HZ, where you’ll find work from Hong Kong-based artists like Peter Yuill and Aries Wu as well as emerging and established regional artists. Head into Blue Lotus to pore over evocative photographs exploring Hong Kong culture and identity, or take in Over the Influence’s bold and playful collection of contemporary urban art.
Prefer your street art—well, on the street? You’ll find plenty of interesting murals and graffiti up and down Hollywood Road, from popular pieces like the Bruce Lee mural on Tank Lane to quirky faces from local street artist Lousy. During business hours most days, you can also find Grand So, a local artist who works in traditional Chinese inks, selling and painting his work on the pavement at 94 Hollywood Road.
This narrow alleyway just under Hollywood Road is officially called Upper Lascar Row, but it’s more commonly known as Cat Street. The open-air stalls that line the alley peddle everything from vintage girlie magazines to Chinoiserie knickknacks and an oddly wide range of Mao memorabilia, while you can hunt for ornate vases and handcrafted teapots from the stores behind them.
There are plenty of delicious finds around Cat Street—pop into industrial-chic Blue Supreme for craft beer and modern American grub, or Man Mo Dim Sum for fusion dim sum; throw back a couple of oysters at Raw Bar No. 8 and sip a flat white out of antique porcelain from Halfway Coffee. Want something a little more permanent to remember your visit by? Pick up a kitschy souvenir among the bric-a-brac at Select 18, peruse the intricate lion-head door knockers at Chiu Kee Metal Works, or purchase whole and fragrant spices from Yuan Heng Spice Company.
With any district, it’s always worth checking out the local cooked food market to discover cheap and cheerful eats. Luckily for foodies—but unluckily for the navigationally-challenged—there are actually two cooked food centres within spitting distance of each other in Sheung Wan.
Mosey on up to the Sheung Wan Cooked Food Centre for a classic Hong Kong-style breakfast from Shui Kee or plate of fried rice from Dong Kee. For an unusual dai pai dong experience, head around the corner to Queen Street to try the signature roast suckling pig ($198) from the famous ABC Kitchen. If you’re not in the mood for Western food, the neighbouring stall Chautari is one of our favourite spots for a hearty, flavourful curry.
Sheung Wan Cooked Food Centre, 2/F, Sheung Wan Municipal Services Building And Civic Centre, 345 Queen's Road Central, Sheung Wan
Queen Street Cooked Food Market, 1 Queen Street, Sheung Wan
Sheung Wan has no shortage of cool cafés, but that’s a whole other post for another day—in the meantime, here’s one of our favourite spots for light lunches, sweets, and caffeinated drinks. This little light-filled space on Jervois Street is hugely popular with the office lunch crowd, and it’s not uncommon to see patrons perched in their deep bay windows sipping coffee and nibbling on mochi-stuffed hojicha rolls ($68). If you don’t mind missing out on savouries, come at off-peak hours to try their famous cakes; the Earl Grey chiffon cake ($68) is particularly popular, and the Hokkaido soufflé cheesecake ($68) is nice and creamy without being too stodgy.
Kaffeine, 108 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan | (+852) 2639 5100
Despite its diminutive size—we reckon fewer than 10 people can actually sit inside—this newly opened Japanese restaurant and takeaway has quietly become a favourite with local office workers for its refined lunch boxes. Get one of the sushi or sashimi boxes (starting from $70) for the freshest desk lunch of your life, or grab a sukiyaki beef or unagi rice box (starting from $88) for something more filling. If you’re lucky, you might be able to grab the coveted outdoor table—or just pat one of the rotating cast of photogenic dogs posing for their owners’ Instagram feeds.
Taku, 36 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan | (+852) 5104 7178
Inventive tapas, expertly-executed classics, and stylish surrounds are all part of the rich tapestry that makes this one of the best contemporary Spanish restaurants in Hong Kong. Nibble on signatures like the red prawn hot dog ($120) and Galician-style octopus ($130) before filling up on the black paella (starts from $100) or Gandian cuttlefish fideuà (a pan-fried noodle dish similar to paella; starts from $85).
Pica Pica, Shop G-H, G/F, Kai Tak Commercial Building, 317–321 Des Voeux Road Central, Sheung Wan | (+852) 2811 9880
Tucked away at the end of Hollywood Road—opposite the picturesque Hollywood Road Garden—is Trattoria Queen Hollywood, a severely underrated eatery that effortlessly combines Japanese and Italian flavours. While this isn’t the most wallet-friendly establishment, the focus on fresh, top-of-the-line seafood is certainly appreciated. Given that it revolves around fresh catches, the menu is always changing—but the spaghetti vongole ($168) made with sake bianco is a consistent winner.
Trattoria Queen Hollywood, 258 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan | (+852) 2559 6077
Nearly 10 years after its original Bridges Street location opened its doors, the big bad ‘bird is still going strong. Now at a much larger space on Wing Lok Street, this ultra-hip yakitori spot is one of the restaurants that we always recommend to visitors—and since they’re finally open for lunch and taking reservations, it’s never been easier to actually ensure that you’ll get a table. All-time favourites include the meatball, oyster, and inner thigh skewers (starting from $45), but you can’t miss the kanpachi tartare ($180), sweetcorn tempura ($110), and furikake-sprinkled rice cakes ($110).
Yardbird, G/F, 154-158 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan | (+852) 2547 9273
This lively Mexican restaurant and bar is a favourite in the neighbourhood, and it’s not hard to see why—the menu boasts well-executed classics like tacos al pastor ($85) as well as authentic Mexican flavours like nopales salad ($120) and more playful items like soft shell crab tacos ($50). Come by at lunchtime for the incredibly filling set meals, or drop by after work to enjoy a margarita or agua fresca on the terrace.
Te Quiero Mucho, G/F, The Sheung Wan, 286 Queen’s Road Central, Sheung Wan | (+852) 3423 3290
On a ladder street between Hollywood Road and Gough Street, an unassuming concrete façade conceals Hong Kong’s best—and certainly most extensive—collection of agave spirits. Seeing as Coa is named after the tool used to harvest agave, it seems only fitting that the menu (or “Agave Bible”) features some 30-odd pages dedicated to mezcal and tequila. Try La Paloma de Oaxaca ($120) for a taste of the Mexican classic done right, or tamarind-spiked Coconut Milk Punch ($120) for something creamy-yet-tart. For a smoky, bittersweet take on one of the all-time greats, finish your night with the Caffeinated Negroni ($120).
Coa, Shop A, LG/F, Wah Shin House, 6–10 Shin Hing Street, Sheung Wan | (+852) 2813 5787