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Your neighbourhood guide to Tai Wai

By Beverly Ngai 20 October 2020

Header image courtesy of Stripped Pixel (via Shutterstock)

Lying beneath the feet of the Lion Rock, Tai Wai is a laid-back enclave in the southwestern end of the Sha Tin Valley. Conveniently connected courtesy of two MTR lines, it’s one of many residential neighbourhoods that countless families call home and busy commuters travel past daily, but few go out of their way to explore. No doubt, Tai Wai is revered among epicureans for its abundance of bargain bites hidden in alleyways and quaint residential villages, but otherwise, this small town has been largely overlooked as a rather unexciting area in the New Territories.

Wonder no longer about what gems are hidden in Tai Wai—we’re here to show you that there’s more to this sleepy neighbourhood than what meets the eye. From cosy cafés and historic buildings to cycling trails, this community boasts a unique personality and it certainly deserves to be on your radar. Follow our neighbourhood guide as we take you through all the best gems in Tai Wai worthy of a visit!

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Things to see & do

Photo credit: @hk_snapshop (via Instagram)

Tai Wai Village

Want to soak in a bit of local heritage? Tai Wai is a wonderful place to experience Hong Kong’s unique walled village heritage. In fact, the very name of the neighbourhood derives from the largest and oldest walled village in the Sha Tin area—Tai Wai Village, which dates back over 400 years ago and was established in the Ming dynasty. At present, the original towers and walls are no longer, but the village still oozes historic charm with plenty of old-timey buildings and structures standing strong.

The main entrance gate, which is listed as a Grade II historic building, still has the village's original Chinese name (積存圍; Zik1 Cyun4 Wai4) written on the lintel spanning the narrow entry. Stepping through the brick-built structure will feel like stepping into a time machine and evoke feelings of wonder and nostalgia for the past. On the other side, you will be met with rows of squat, densely built houses separated by narrow passageways, and the old Hau Wong Temple, the combination of which creates an atmosphere that transports you back to an ancient era.

Che Kung Temple

Situated smack in-between Tai Wai and Che Kung Temple MTR stations, this Taoist temple is not only visually striking, with its bright red walls and Japanese-style architecture, but it’s also one of the most visited temples in the city. Every year on the second and third day of the Lunar New Year, thousands of people from all corners of the city flock here to worship the great Southern Song dynasty military commander Che Kung, who is heralded as the god of protection for escorting Song dynasty’s last emperor to the New Territories amidst the Mongolian invasion.

Inside the Che Kung Temple, you will find a spacious courtyard, along with a majestic main hall housing a giant gold statue of the revered general, flanked by a bell and drum tower on either side. Apart from praying and offering incense, worshippers also come to the temple to the spin the copper windmill for good luck. You can even visit the courtyard of the temple with Google Street View!

Che Kung Temple, 7 Che Kung Miu Road, Tai Wai | (+852) 2603 4049

Photo credit: @linkreithk (via Instagram)

Hin Keng Shopping Centre

With the ongoing construction of the Sha Tin-Central link and the mega shopping mall atop the Tai Wai Station, this neighbourhood has become the centre of major developmental projects in recent years, and nearby shopping facilities have really upped their game accordingly. Just take a stroll through the recently revamped Hin Keng Shopping Centre and you will see what we mean. Although the complex is not particularly large, it boasts a comfortable, clean space in which you can purchase all the essentials at reasonable prices. We particularly love the renovated wet market, which features over 60 stalls selling both fresh produce and dry goods, as well as a food street made up of 11 speciality eateries that range from bubble tea to Chinese vegetarian delights. Talk about a one-stop shopping and dining destination!

Hin Keng Shopping Centre, 69 Che Kung Miu Road, Tai Wai | (+852) 3977 4668

Keep scrolling for the rest of the guide 👇

Photo credit: @thomas14lau (via Instagram)

Cycle to Tai Mei Tuk

Long-time residents of Tai Wai would remember the cycling park that once laid beside the MTR station. While we had to say goodbye to the park in 2001 to make room for the Ma On Shan line, the famous 22-kilometre cycling route that runs from Tai Wai to Tai Mei Tuk continues to attract cycling fanatics and families seeking for a fun weekend outing. Just a stone’s throw away from the station are multiple bicycle rental shops, where you can begin your biking journey. Enjoy the leisurely ride along the scenic coastline of Tolo Harbour through Tai Po Waterfront Park and all the way to Tai Mei Tuk, where the picturesque Plover Cove Reservoir awaits.

Photo credit: @gordon_km_tam

Amah Rock Hike

If you’re not up for a full-blown, four-hour trek up the Lion Rock, a shorter but equally Insta-worthy excursion within the same country park is the Amah Rock hike. The poignant story of the rock resembling a woman carrying her baby goes that the wife of a fisherman who died at sea climbed up the mountain with her son every day to look out for her husband’s return. Sparing the faithful wife’s futile efforts, the goddess of the sea turned her into the 15-metre tall stone, now known as the Amah Rock, so that she could be reunited with her deceased husband.

Starting from the entrance at the Lion Park Country Park, the entire trail is six kilometres long and will only take you around two hours to complete—so there’s no excuse not to include this hike on your itinerary! Along the way, you may encounter some friendly monkeys that roam freely in the park, and once you get to the hill summit, you will be rewarded with stunning views overlooking the Sha Tin District.

Where to eat & drink

Photo credit: @hianna_c (via Instagram)

Foodies Market

There’s no question about Tai Wai’s reputed status as a foodie haven. Where else can you find almost every cuisine under the sun for a price that won’t sting your wallet? Make the most of this neighbourhood’s gastronomic delights at the food hall located just one minute away from Tai Wai Station. Nab a seat in this stylish, industrial-chic dining spot and savour on a glorious array of delicacies from across the globe. From Sichuan spicy rice noodles to Taiwanese fried chicken to Korean bibimbap, you are absolutely spoilt for choice. We for one are partial to the attractive lunch sets at Yat Ying, where sashimi rice bowls ($58) are served alongside a crab roe salad, tamagoyaki, and genmaicha.

Foodies Market, 45–47 Tsuen Nam Road, Tai Wai

Keep scrolling for the rest of the guide 👇

Photo credit: @anjibelly (via Instagram)

Wah Fai Siu Sik (華輝小食)

A foodie’s trip to Tai Wai is not complete without a stop to this legendary local eatery. It’s known far and wide for its made-to-order hand-shredded chicken with steamed rice noodle rolls ($35), which pairs silky rice noodle rolls drenched in an addictive sesame sauce with tender and flavourful hand-shredded chicken, and crunchy sesame seeds to finish it all off. Amplify the dish with a spicy kick for a truly tongue-tantalising experience. You can customise the spice level to cater to your palate, so don’t be afraid to dabble in a bit of heat!

Wah Fai Siu Sik (華輝小食), G/F, 4D Chik Sau Lane, Chik Fuk Street, Tai Wai

Dear Coffee & Bakery

What this café lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in aesthetic comfort and delicious baked goods. With the irresistible combination of quirky vintage-style décor and enticing smells of freshly baked pastries to lure customers in, it’s no wonder that there is always a crowd outside this charming neighbourhood café. Rolling out an ever-changing menu of creative bakes like matcha taro bagel ($45), peanut butter mochi bagel ($40), and mango cream cheese and coconut soft bread ($40), this is a spot you can patron over and over again and never get bored. Enjoy your pastry with a cup of coffee for a perfect start to your day—and yes, you will indeed need to go earlier in the day for the full selection of their highly coveted buns and bagels!

Dear Coffee & Bakery, Shop 22, G/F, Holford Garden, 2–8 Chik Wan Street, Tai Wai | (+852) 2682 0093

Photo credit: @11.yuen (via Instagram)

Grill'er

If you like your steak juicy, succulent, and served on a sizzling on stone, then Grill'er is the place for you. Tucked away down an unassuming street, this Japanese BBQ steakhouse has to offer some of the best-valued steak experiences around. Don’t judge quality by the price tag—the Australian rib-eye steak ($78) will surprise you with its exceptional flavour and wonderfully tender bite. To go with it, you can take your pick from a wide selection of sauces, including black pepper sauce, garlic sauce, Thousand Island, mustard, and more! And like the hospitable local spot that they are, Grill'er makes sure that none of their diners leaves feeling hungry, providing unlimited refills of the rice, soup, and salad to accompany the hunk of beefy goodness!

Grill'er, Shop B, G/F, Chik Sin House, 77–83A Chik Shun Street, Tai Wai

Keep scrolling for the rest of the guide 👇

Photo credit: @xixuphongkong (via Instagram)

Xi Xup

A beautiful full-wall mural, rattan chairs, and chic black tile tables make up this cosy Vietnamese restaurant on Chik Chuen Street. Just as hip and modern as the décor is the menu, where you can find a wide array of unique Saigonese street food, such as stir-fried corn kernels with dried baby shrimp ($58) and grilled beef in betel leaves ($78), in addition to well-executed Vietnamese classics like beef phở ($98) and bánh mì ($78). The Vietnamese pizza ($88) is a must-order, packing loads of cheese, mince meats, aromatic herbs, and scallions onto a crispy fried rice paper, while the coconut iced coffee ($48) is a delightfully refreshing jolt for the taste buds.

Xi Xup, G/F, King Sing House, 70–72 Chik Chuen Street, Tai Wai | (+852) 93892269

Platform

Hidden from the main road in a quaint nook surrounded by overhanging trees, this cosy café is easy to miss, but once you’ve found it, you are in on one of Tai Wai’s best secrets. Matching clean wooden furnishing with kitsch homely décor, customers head to this inviting spot for a break from the city bustle—and high-quality coffee and food. From elevated brunch classics like French omelette with brioche ($92) to one-of-a-kind desserts like red wine poached pear with homemade matcha cake and ice cream ($78), their menu will impress even veteran café-hoppers. On the shelves you can also find a selection of coffee beans, brewing accessories, and adorably packaged baked goods available for purchase.

Platform, G/F, 254 Tin Sam Village, Tai Wai | (+852) 3583 2818

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Beverly Ngai

Junior editor

A wanderer, chronic overthinker, and baking enthusiast, Beverly spent much of her childhood in the United States before moving to Hong Kong at age 11 and making the sparkling city her home. In her natural habitat, she can be found baking up a storm in her kitchen, journalling at a café, or scrolling through OpenRice deciding on her next meal.

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