Hidden Hong Kong: Explore Sham Shui Po, Kwun Tong and the Dragon’s Back! Part 1

Hidden Hong Kong: Explore Sham Shui Po, Kwun Tong and the Dragon’s Back! Part 1

Hong Kong is home to many hidden treasures, and they can be found even in popular areas like Central. On this short 3D2N trip, I was to discover not just vibrant neighbourhoods, but also new shopping haunts and museums.

Upon disembarking at the airport, the media group I was travelling with were quickly whisked away into a mini bus to take us to our first stop, the famed Tim Ho Wan’s OG shop in Sham Shui Po. The 45-minute long ride from the airport to town has always appealed to me for its incredibly scenic views, which takes you across massive bridges, through mountainous terrains and looming housing estates, and finally into the heart of the city.

Image credit: WiNG

I’ve dined at Tim Ho Wan Singapore’s branches a couple of times, and the quality at its original Sham Shui Po location was equally good, if not better. Halfway through our lunch, founding chef Mak Kwai Pui dropped in to say hello to the diners; it’s not a daily affair that you get to rub shoulders with a Michelin-starred chef!

Tummies filled, we went on to explore Sham Shui Po, a working-class neighbourhood in Kowloon. Despite arriving in the mid afternoon, the streets were already teeming with people, which lent the place an even more authentic vibe despite being near touristy areas like Mong Kok.

One of the oldest concrete inhabitants in Sham Shui Po is Mei Hou House, Hong Kong’s oldest housing complex built in 1954. Today, it serves as a hostel and also houses the Heritage of Mei Ho House museum which offers an immersive insight into the area’s housing history. It was definitely eye-opening to see how similar Mei Ho House’s history is to Singapore’s Bukit Ho Swee’s – both were built to house the residents affected by a fire, and they were also each country’s earliest housing estates.

Mei Ho House

Image: Tony Tani

You know you’re in a truly local area of Hong Kong when you get to meet snakes up close and personal in both live and soup form. Shia Wong Hip is no circus sideshow – it has been serving up slithery delicacies since 1965, and their signature soups are believed to have warming properties, making it a popular option in winter. You are encouraged to play with the food here; the lady boss has no qualms handing you one of its live snakes to take a selfie with!

Moving on from Shia Wong Hip, we were off to taste a less exciting but no less well-loved staple – tofu! Kung Wo Dou Bun Chong’s tofu pudding, or dou hua, is denser than its Singaporean counterpart, as is their soya bean milk, both which has a rich soybean flavour. No wonder it’s featured in the Michelin Guide!

Kung Wo Dou Bun Chong

There was plenty more to explore and buy in Sham Shui Po, but alas, time was not on our side. I hastily grabbed a couple of mobile phone accessories at one of the many electronic stores lining its streets (Sham Shui Po is dubbed the “Akiharaba of Hong Kong”) but made a mental note to return. I recommend setting aside at least half a day to fully explore this underrated neighbourhood.

We started the evening basking in the glow from Hong Kong Island’s illuminated skyline with cocktails and canapes at HEXA, a new-ish dining establishment in Harbour City mall, which is in Tsim Sha Tsui. Its location is prime real estate indeed; at its patio, the only thing between you and the harbour is a just a strip of lawn, so imagine the million-dollar views.


Image credit: HEXA

For dinner, we proceeded to another restaurant in Harbour City. Fu Rong is in the same wing of the mall as HEXA, so it also offers the same panoramic views. The contemporary Sichuan restaurant was in a class of its own – imagine the familiar punchy flavours of mala cuisine but presented in a modern way (no sloppy mess here). Think elegant zoodles (zucchini noodles) dressed in a piquant bean sauce, and bon bon chicken topped with a delicate sugar concoction that Heston Blumental would be proud of.

It has been a long day, but I was already looking forward to what the next two days would bring.

Big thanks to Hong Kong Tourism Board for making this trip happen!

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Fiona Chen
Fiona Chen

Fiona is a beach person who can't swim and a mountain lover afraid of heights.


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