With its new cafés and dessert shops, this otherwise obscure neighborhood of Hong Kong is finding its way onto the city’s foodie map
By Leisa Tyler
Photography by Leisa Tyler
Wedged between Jardine’s Lookout and the skyscrapers of Causeway Bay is tiny Tai Hang, a neighborhood of 1960s apartment buildings notable for its 19th-century Taoist temple, Lin Fa. With a sprinkling of dai pai dong noodle stalls and car-repair shops, the area has a gritty, residential charm that of late has attracted a new crop of cafés and dessert shops. Here’s where to head:
This branch of the Press Room group’s popular Classified café chain is credited for kick-starting Tai Hang’s emergence. Formerly a garage, the venue opened in late 2010 and features marble tables with country-kitchen chairs and floor-to-ceiling glass doors that fold open for alfresco eating. There’s a long list of organic wines, crispy, thin-crust pizzas, salads, burgers, and pastas. But the main draw is the 30-plus artisanal cheeses, all aged on-site (1–9 Lin Fa Kung St. West; 852/2857-3454).
Unar Coffee Company
The sky-high rents in central Hong Kong inspired twenty-something baristas Raymond Kwong and Wai Kwan to take their talents to Tai Hang. “This is one of the last neighborhoods on the island with a community feel, and where regular people like us can afford to open a business,” says Kwong. Blink, and you might miss their charcoal-hued coffee shop. A hole-in-the-wall with window shutters that open to reveal a small counter and kitchen, it’s a refuge when the weather is bad, but most patrons prefer to drink their aromatic, hazelnut-tinged coffees on curbside stools (4 Second Ln.; 852/2838-5231).
Carole Chan studied at Paris’s exclusive Lenôtre pastry school before opening this moss-green cubbyhole of a patisserie last year.She bakes to order most of the week, thanks to a respectable demand for her buttery pecan squares, decadent raspberry-and-chocolate mousse, and crispy vanilla mille-feuille. But if you drop by on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, when the shop is open to the public, you can snag ready-made treats to take away (8 Sun Chun St., Shop C; 852/ 2805-6622).
Xiao Tian Gu
Owned by Cantonese actress Jo Koo (known for her roles in Visible Secret 2 and the oddly named Public Toilet), Xiao Tian Gu dishes up a range of the film star’s favorite local desserts with a Japanese twist—think tofu pudding in red-bean sauce and a slightly bitter herbal jelly with coconut and fruit (10–11B School St.; 852/2882-6133).
Two blocks closer to Causeway Bay, Ammy Ho and her brothers have launched a franchise of Barcelona’s colorful rock-candy factory, Papa Bubble. An open kitchen sets the stage for the spectacle of two confectioners shaping hot, multihued rolls of sugar into lollipops and bite-size sweets (34 Tung Lo Wan Rd.; 852/2367-4807).
Originally appeared in the February/March 2012 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Tasting Tai Hang”)