Sheung Wan used to be the little sibling to rowdy and restaurant-rammed Central. Not anymore. The quieter streets of Sheung Wan are now home to some of Hong Kong's best restaurants as well as some amazing cafés and coffee shops. And every year it keeps getting better. From dim sum to Indian and Nepalese to Chinese-meets-French cuisine worthy of Michelin acclaim, Sheung Wan has it all. Here are the top picks in this booming ’hood.
RECOMMENDED: When you're done eating your way around Sheung Wan, wander over to the next stop on the MTR, Sai Ying Pun, and discover what makes this up-and-coming community one of the coolest in Hong Kong.
Sheung Wan’s best restaurants
Bringing New York-style Italian panache to Sheung Wan, 208 Duecento Otto is split over two floors. The downstairs is a relaxed bar and casual dining area ideal for knocking back a few glasses of wine and the upstairs is a restaurant with a more intimate feel. You can’t go wrong with any of the steaks or chewy-crusted, topping-laden pizzas on the menu.
Too lazy to cross the harbour and grab a curry in Tsim Sha Tsui? Located in the Queen Street Cooked Food Centre and specialising in Indian and Nepalese cuisine, Chautari is arguably the best and most reliable Indian restaurant on Hong Kong Island. Don't expect any bells and whistles, but do expect some incredible lassis and curries.
When Julien Royer announced his intentions to open his first venue outside of Singapore in Hong Kong, fresh off his flagship restaurant Odette being crowned Asia’s best in early 2019, he promised a more down-to-earth experience. Not just for diners – who in today’s fast-paced, focus-deficient world are demanding a less stuffy and formal brand of fine dining – but for himself as well. Louise was meant to be a tribute to his upbringing, a chance to champion heritage recipes born out of his nostalgia for family meals on the farm in Cantal, France. It’s all that and more. Dining at Louise does feel like dining at a family member’s house, if your family owned a plantation and this was French Indochina. The food is hearty and approachable, the wine list long and exceptional, and the design, devised by architect André Fu, at once subtropical, opulent and playful. Fu turned the Grade II historic building at PMQ previously occupied by Aberdeen Street Social into a fictional private home. The ground-floor bar and casual dining space, which serves drinks and light bites all day and night, is awash in jungle green, false bird-of-paradise carpet and paintings that depict vaguely familiar island scenery. The second-floor dining room, where you’ll sit down to lunch or dinner, features a warm colour scheme infused with splashes of goldenrod and bone white. Rattan plays a big role, too – in the seating, in the geometric patterns adorning the ceiling, in the wicker-like weave of the carpet.
An original concept restaurant on Queen’s Road West, Okra opened to major Instagram buzz, and it's kept up the momentum ever since. If you want a place that knows how to push the limits of Japanese cuisine, Okra’s your restaurant. Expect all parts of the animal – that means offal, folks – charcoal-grilled and served as small plates. Not to mention high-quality sashimi paired with natural, unpasteurised sakes.
Shiya Goshima's minimal restaurant serves you sake like you've never tasted it before. Goshi-san (as he’s affectionately known) is passionate, animated and talks about sake with a twinkle in his eye. For food, there’s an eight-course omakase menu, and that’s all. But don’t let the limited choices fool you. Everything here is masterfully prepared, each dish a perfect complement to the sake you're drinking with it.
The restaurant feels like a sleeker version of a hole-in-the-wall in Vietnam – all bare concrete, hand-painted signs, plastic stools and fold-out tables. And the food here makes you feel as though you've been transported to Ho Chi Minh City, too. From crispy, fully loaded banh mi to noodle soups brimming with flavour (try the bun bo Hue), Co Thanh hits all the right notes.
When Hong Kong’s yakitori masters moved from Bridges Street to Wing Lok Street, the crowds followed. And so should you. These smoky, tender, perfectly cooked chicken bits are sought-after, and with good reason. But don't stop at the skewers. Yardbird has a wealth of contemporary interpretations of izakaya staples to discover, from duck fried rice to asparagus with an onsen egg and nori. Just make sure you go early to get a table.
Retro Cantonese Something’s been brewing in Hong Kong over the last decade – a mood that became clearly evident around the time of China’s big 60th birthday bash in Tiananmen Square. A slowly growing willingness to embrace all things Chinese in Hong Kong has followed years of measuring ourselves against other cities in the Western world. National pride and Old World Hong Kong is what the Chairman restaurant is all about. The exterior is a homage to Hong Kong in the 1940s, with half-curtains, dynasty chandeliers, and a waiter with silver hair greeting guests on arrival. The split-level dining room, meanwhile, provides the option of either public or private dining. Well-edited, the menu is brief by the standards of Cantonese restaurants. A few items appear as both an appetiser and a main. The pan-fried minced pork cakes with salted fish ($68/$128) were nicely salted by the dried fish and flavourful by the pork fat, and made a great meal opener. A wonderful dish followed in the braised, layered beancurd with morel and Chinese mushroom ($118). The bean sheets had been stacked high like mahjong tiles, then cut into blocks, to give a meaty texture. This “meat” was drenched in brown sauce, which also coated the soft morels and rehydrated Chinese mushrooms. This will be a dish appreciated by both vegetarians and meat eaters. Next, we got our fingers dirty, gnawing the crispy, deep-mahogany mess of bones and sweet-sticky meat that were the braised spare ribs with preserved plums
What happens when one of Hong Kong’s most celebrated chefs partners up with its golden child of craft cocktails? You have VEA, of course. The brainchild of Vicky Cheng and Antonio Lai features only an eight-course tasting menu with the option of a drinks package to tack onto it. Which of course you should, considering who has come up with the drinks. As for the food, expect Chinese and French influences informing a style that is entirely Cheng's.
The lines outside this shop don’t lie. Kau Kee is synonymous with a bowl of that classic local dish: braised beef flank noodle soup. Have it with beef broth or curry stock. Don’t expect polite service, and don’t expect to come away with a clean shirt, either. Orders are wallet-friendly, though, an increasing rarity in this part of Hong Kong Island.
Blue Supreme is red hot, and the crowds you see here on any given night confirm as much. That's largely thanks to the laid-back atmosphere, jazz soundtrack and sense of space created by the high ceiling and indoor-outdoor seating. Or maybe it's the excellent food and beer. Not just any beer, either. Funky, wild, spontaneously fermented beers – from esoteric styles like Belgian lambics and farmhouse ales to more approachable brews, such as the India pale ale. If you’re not sure where to start, pick something off the menu of new American dishes and select the beer the staff recommends to pair with it. This is a dining and drinking experience entirely unique in Hong Kong.
Chachawan is a street-chic Thai restaurant serving up a selection of unique food from the country’s Isaan region. Packed with plenty of spice and incredibly flavourful, order your pick of chicken or fish and fried rice accompanied by a creative cocktail with a Thai twist. It’s like you’re not in Hong Kong anymore.
Swedish chef Björn Frantzén, whose restaurant in Stockholm earned two Michelin stars, injects a little Nordic flavour with an Asian twist into Sheung Wan’s foodie neighbourhood. Expect everything from the freshest and most delicious seafood dishes, like Norwegian salmon sashimi and Hokkaido scallops, to pan-fried guinea fowl at this sleek eatery. It’s not the cheapest of restaurants but it’s worth the moolah.
Sourcing unprocessed, organic and sustainable produce to create hearty, healthy meals bursting with flavour, Grassroots Pantry combines great food with a relaxed environment. With its very cool, fresh yet rustic design, the restaurant feels more like a revamped farmhouse than a typical Hong Kong establishment. And with a plethora of vegan-friendly choices such as the lemon chia seed pancakes, it makes for the perfect vegan brunch spot, too.
Run by the inestimable Vicky Lau (previously 'Asia's Best Female Chef', among many other accolades), Tate delivers Chinese cuisine prepared with French flair. But that only tells half the story. A graphic designer in a past life, Lau has incorporated strong visual elements not only into the immaculate, pastel-huded design of her restaurant, but also in the eight-course tasting menu she pairs with a curated wine or cocktail list. Tate has been one of the top tables in town since it opened, and it's still at the head of the class.
Once you’re done browsing through all the antiques and random knick-knacks on Cat Street, grab a bite and dig into some fusion dim sum at Man Mo Dim Sum. The contemporary art space slash restaurant adds a twist to traditional Cantonese cuisine serving dishes like the Burgerbun (a minced beef bao instead of the usual char siu bao), truffle brie dumplings and foie gras xiao long bao. You’re guaranteed to fall in love with dim sum all over again.
One of few Sri Lankan restaurants on Hong Kong Island, Serendib is a fairly low-key eatery offering a number of wallet-friendly choices. Take a seat and chow down on vegetable samosas, curry with string hoppers (steamed rice noodle buns), parota (pan-fried traditional Sri Lankan roti) and their signature kottu, a Sri Lankan street food favourite.