Header photo courtesy of Sanga Park (via Shutterstock)
Bordered by Caine Road, Old Bailey Street, and Aberdeen Street, Soho is a small-yet-lively neighbourhood sandwiched between Central and Sheung Wan. As a buzzing food and entertainment hub where high-class restaurants and trendy bars comfortably coexist alongside market stalls and decades-old porcelain shops, Soho is a middle ground between its neighbours not just in geography, but personality.
While the area has been home to plenty of watering holes and weekday lunch spots since the introduction of the Mid-Levels escalator, Soho’s food and drink scene has seen a stratospheric rise in recent years, establishing it as a bona fide dining destination. From stylish eateries to rowdy streetside bars and libraries of rare and vintage books, Soho has tons to offer—follow our neighbourhood guide to Soho to discover a few of our favourites!
You might not think of fine china when you think of Soho, but there are a surprising number of ceramics shops. For traditional Chinese porcelain, check out Hing Cheung Fu Kee, a narrow shop on Staunton Street peddling everything from vases to teacups and chopstick rests. Tung Shan Porcelain Co. on the upper end of Peel Street offers a similar selection in a slightly larger space, though both shops are packed to the rafters with fragile goods, so we’d recommend that you take off any backpacks or thick jackets before popping in. You can also find Yuet Tung China Works’ products among other Hong Kong handicrafts at the charitable creative venue Crafts on Peel.
If your taste in ceramics is more whimsical, try Tung Yao Ceramics’ showroom and retail space on Aberdeen Street, which sells the work of ceramic artists from all over the world—right now, they’re selling adorable dumpling-shaped chopstick rests from a ceramist in Melbourne, the profits for which are funding food donations to the needy.
Hing Cheung Fu Kee, 17 Staunton Street, Central
Tung Shan Porcelain Co., 69–71 Peel Street, Central
Crafts on Peel, 11 Peel Street, Central | (+852) 2510 0637
Tung Yao Ceramics Showroom, 14 Aberdeen Street, Central | (+852) 5321 7707
There are plenty of ways to entertain yourself if you have a few hours on your hands in Soho, but PMQ has got to be up there as one of the best. The former Police Married Quarters is massive enough to warrant its own guide—in fact, we wrote one—but some highlights include Japanese lifestyle store and crafts workshop Waka Artisans, the HKTDC Design Gallery and retail space showcasing homegrown creative talents, eco-friendly homeware store Bamboa Home, and refined modern Japanese eatery Sake Central.
PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central | (+852) 2870 2335
Another surprisingly common sight in Soho? Uber-stylish barbers. Fellas in need of a shave or trim are spoiled for choice between Barock Barbershop on Aberdeen Street, Cut & Co on Staunton Street, and Sauce on Elgin Street. Each has its own distinct style, with Barock being vintage-inspired, while British import Cut & Co promises “bespoke modern grooming”. Sauce, the newest kid on the block, is something of a hybrid—while the main function of the space is a barbershop, it also pulls triple duty as an exhibition space and lifestyle store.
Barock Barbershop, 25 Aberdeen Street, Central | (+852) 9266 0233
Cut & Co, 27 Staunton Street, Central | (+852) 9600 9460
Sauce, 4 Elgin Street, Central | (+852) +852 2789 9891
The following is just a taste of the gastronomic delights to be found in Soho—we’d be here all day if we listed out every delicious thing in the area—but you can check out our guide to affordable Soho lunch spots if you’re hungry for more!
One of our favourite new openings in 2020 was La Camionetta (or “the truck” in Italian), a pint-sized pizzeria run by husband-and-wife team Benito and Giulia Proust. Pop in to grab a pie or two and snap a photo against the adorable Volkswagen camper van-inspired counter—we like La Calabrese ($148), a tomato-based pizza topped with spicy sausage and salami, while die-hard dairy lovers won’t want to miss La Cinque Formaggi ($168), an all-white pie that comes cloaked in five types of cheese. Drop by during La Cam’s long, long happy hour (11 am to 8 pm) to wash it all down with a $55 glass of Aperol or Campari Spritz. Cin cin!
La Camionetta, 12A Elgin Street, Central
Leave your expectations at the door when visiting this diminutive Peel Street restaurant—Le Moment is a curious beast, with a scruffy-yet-lovable DIY vibe that belies its strong selection of fine French cheeses and steakhouse-quality chops. It all makes sense when you meet Bob, the owner and face of Le Moment, who is as passionate about Pantera as he is about old vine wines. The dishes change depending on what’s fresh and available, but the dinner set menu ($298) includes three generously-portioned courses and, if you’re lucky, an impromptu jam session with the man himself.
Le Moment, 55 Peel Street, Central | (+852) 6238 9222
Experience modern Burmese flavours in stylish, sophisticated surrounds at this Aberdeen Street eatery. Signatures range from humble classics like the village-style egg curry bites ($95) and mohinga ($170), a rich spiced noodle soup considered to be the country’s national dish, to more opulent showstoppers like the turmeric-based lobster curry ($450). No meal is complete without the Burmese tea ice cream ($120)—which, with its accompanying banana crumble, is far more filling than the name suggests.
Club Rangoon, 33 Aberdeen Street, Central | (+852) 2503 3077
While Little Bao and Second Draft both have their places in our heart, this neon-lit neo-Cantonese restaurant is perhaps our favourite outing from homegrown celebrity chef May Chow. The food here walks a fine line between Cantonese culinary tradition and Chow’s playful modern style, and pulls it off beautifully—try the Sichuan peppercorn-spiced raw scallop “aguachile” ($168), sourdough egg waffle ($118), and seared skirt steak noodles ($198) for a taste of what we’re talking about.
Happy Paradise, UG/F, 52–56 Staunton Street, Central | (+852) 6794 8414
For an intimate meal of Italian fare with a contemporary Australian twist, look no further than 121BC. Formerly located on the rowdy bar-lined stretch of Peel Street, this neighbourhood restaurant and wine bar’s new cellar-like digs on Hollywood Road are perfect for a quiet dinner date or celebratory meal. Whet your appetite with the grilled quail ($185) and heirloom tomato salad before digging into one of the fresh homemade pastas—the crab tagliatelle with n’duja ($195) is a favourite—and a scoop of salted caramel gelato ($35).
121BC, LG/F, Hilltop Plaza (entrance on Graham Street), 49 Hollywood Road, Central | (+852) 2672 8255
At first glance, Hotal Colombo appears as if it could be a set piece from an unreleased Wes Anderson film—think Grand Budapest Hotel meets The Darjeeling Limited—but it is, in fact, a Black Sheep restaurant. The formidable restaurant group has no shortage of exceptional eateries dotted around Soho, but Hotal Colombo stands apart from the rest by virtue of being one of the only Sri Lankan restaurants in Hong Kong.
For a crash course in Sri Lankan classics, try the fiery, tangy devilled shrimps ($128), steamed idlis ($58) in lentil stew, and hopper with kiri hodi ($88), a crisp coconutty pancake served with turmeric and coconut gravy. Going all out? Order a round of mud crab ($688), which you can have cooked to your liking—coconut lime curry, chilli tamarind, or garlic butter.
Hotal Colombo, 31 Elgin Street, Central | (+852) 2488 8863
Can’t decide between lunch, afternoon tea, or an alcoholic bevvy? Do all three and more at this four-storey vintage cottage-inspired café, boutique, and shisha bar. The food here is decidedly Japanese-influenced, with lunch sets coming in the form of cloth-wrapped bento boxes (starting from $78) featuring hand-made rice balls. Come in the afternoon for a slice of cake (starting from $48) and a pot of rose tea ($82), have a poke around the homeware store, and lounge around on their sunny roof terrace.
Aberdeen15, 15 Aberdeen Street, Central | (+852) 6607 3493
Hidden in an alleyway off Bridges Street is this chic, pet-friendly café and sake bar. Though the name is inspired by the art of bespoke tailoring, there are no suits on offer here—but the influence is evident in the café’s clean design and sharply-dressed baristas. Besides coffee (single-origin or house blend) and sake, the café also offers a range of homemade cookies and pastries, like chunky peanut butter cookies ($20) and mini custard danishes ($30), which go great with an ice-cold espresso tonic (starting from $40).
Suit Coffee & Sake, Shop B, LG/F, 17 Wa In Fong Lane East, Central | (+852) 5560 0372
It’s impossible to talk about drinking in Soho and not mention Peel Street. Though this long, long street runs from Mid-Levels all the way down to Central, most of the bars that give Peel Street its rowdy, street-drinking reputation are concentrated just above and below Hollywood Road. Just below the intersection of Staunton and Peel, you’ll find 99 Bottles, an unpretentious craft beer bar and bottle shop known for its friendly—if a little cheeky—service and affordable prices.
Just a few paces away is izakaya Chi Chi Cham, legendary live music lounge Peel Fresco, and wildly popular restaurant and bar The Shady Acres, whose ragtag team of industry veterans are also behind the idiosyncratic Honky Tonks Tavern on Man Hing Lane. Past Hollywood Road (which is technically Noho territory, but who cares), you’ll also find crowds congregating outside wine bar Bella Lee, Pirata Group’s ever-popular The Pizza Project, and newly opened café-cum-shisha bar 14:41.
99 Bottles, 59A Peel Street, Central
Chi Chi Cham, 53 Peel Street, Central | (+852) 2386 9718
Peel Fresco, 49 Peel Street, Central | (+852) 2540 2046
The Shady Acres, 46 Peel Street, Central
Bella Lee, 37 Peel Street, Central | (+852) 6708 7068
The Pizza Project, 26 Peel Street, Central | (+852) 2311 1815
14:41, Cheung Hing House, 41 Peel Street, Central | (+852) 2390 0778
The brainchild of Chi Chi Cham and Galaxy Tattoo’s owners, this neon-drenched restaurant and bar is fiercely irreverent and wholly original. With walls bedecked in tattoo designs, a menu of fusion comfort food, and dirt-cheap drink deals, Holy Eats is a fun, if sacrilegious, spot to spend an evening. While most people come for the “holy hour” drinks ($35 house pours from 4 pm to 8 pm) or $30 “disciple of the month” specials, the cocktails are nothing to be sniffed at either—try the rum-based Loco for the Coco ($115) for a taste of tropical flavours or The Black Pope ($130) for the Holy Eats take on an espresso martini.
Holy Eats, 23 Elgin Street, Central | (+852) 2890 2892