Sheung Wan has been Hong Kong’s hipster neighbourhood for years. Although neighbourhoods like Sham Shui Po and Sai Ying Pun are slowly garnering their own cool reputations too, Sheung Wan remains the place to be. There’s a treasure trove of trendy boutique shops, numerous neat cafés, amazing bars and some of the city’s best restaurants. Grab a coffee to go and follow our guide to all the best things to do in Sheung Wan.
The best things to do in Sheung Wan
Located in Sheung Wan, The Cat Street Gallery regularly rotates a range of contemporary and modern art as well as offering educational exhibitions and showcases. Starting out as a platform to provide Australian artists a stronger presence in Hong Kong – including names like Emma Hack and Andrew Taylor – the gallery now displays the best modern art from around the world.
The dried seafood market refers to a cluster of stores along a section of Des Voeux Road West. Dried seafood is a popular and common ingredient in Chinese cuisine and you’ll find an overwhelming assortment of dried fish, sea cucumber and abalone at this stretch of the street. On a sunny day, the street is lined with bamboo baskets full of dried seafood and other exotic fare out to dry, all giving off a pungent aroma. Pop along to the market and try making dishes like a real local.
Established in 1996, the Museum of Medical Science is housed in a revamped three-storey historic building that preserves and showcases materials of historical interest relating to the development of the medicine in Hong Kong. Think rat dissection models, rudimentary spinal braces and old medical instruments.
Rummage through this little vintage shop for an eclectic collection of quirky home decor items and funky antique pieces. Change up your wardrobe with timeless outfits, brighten your walls with cool vintage movie posters or simply discover new products made by local artists, designers and up-and-comers. InBetween has been at risk of closure lately, so come by and support this independent shop while you can!
Ko Shing Street, otherwise known as Medicine Street, is the heart of the wholesale herbal medicine trade in Hong Kong. Satisfy all your Chinese herbal and medicinal needs on this street. Dispensary employees are happy to help with any questions regarding concoctions and ingredients. Happy hunting!
Located on Hollywood Road, close to the many nearby antique stores that dot Hollywood and Cat streets, Man Mo Temple is a mid-19th century Grade I historic building and a declared national monument. A place of worship dedicated primarily to Man Cheong (god of literature) and Mo Tai (god of war) – a pair frequently worshipped by young students taking Imperial China’s civil service exams – the atmosphere created by the heavy clouds of incense is a world away from the bustle of the city racing past outside.
Over The Influence is an intimate gallery in Sheung Wan dedicated to showcasing international contemporary art. The gallery has a strong focus on art that is radical and influential, whether through its form or message. A diverse range of contemporary art has been displayed here including Jerkface and Nobuyoshi Araki, with mediums ranging from street art and paintings to sculptures. Head over and discover your next favourite artist.
Jervois rainbow steps
Make your friends Instagram-envy with a selfie at the famous rainbow painted steps on Jervois Street. Located close to FLM and Zoo, two notable gay bars in Hong Kong, the steps were painted in support of LGBTI pride.
Yoga studios are so last year. Meditation is the latest wellness trend trying to combat Hongkongers’ high stress lifestyle. Opened in 2016, Samadhi Training Centre for the Soul is a serene space that teaches about meditation, offers teachings on the science of consciousness and invites patrons to think about the age-old question: what is the purpose of life? Find enlightenment or simply de-stress at this laid-back hub.
Sin Sin Man is a designer and personality with a great love for art – and it’s this enthusiasm that personifies her Sai Street gallery, which she launched in 2003. Inspired by Indonesian culture and its way of fusing art with daily life, this gallery focuses on the works of innovative artists from the archipelago nation, as well as ‘spiritual and inspiring’ pieces by other contemporary international talents.
The best restaurants in Sheung Wan
Bringing New York-style Italian panache to Sheung Wan, 208 Duecento Otto is split over two floors where downstairs is a relaxed bar and casual dining area ideal for knocking back a few glasses of wine and the upstairs is the restaurant proper with a more intimate feel. Serving up brilliant Western fare, you can’t go wrong with their steaks and chewy-crusted, topping-laden pizzas.
Chachawan is a street chic Thai restaurant serving up a selection of unique food from the country’s Isaan region. Packed with plenty 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 well 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. With a plethora of vegan-friendly choices such as the lemon chia seed pancakes, it makes for the perfect vegan brunch spot.
The lines outside this shop don’t lie. Kau Kee is synonymous with a bowl of that local classic, braised beef flank noodles soup. Have it with beef broth or with curry stock. Don’t expect polite service and don’t expect to come away with a clean shirt. Orders are super wallet-friendly, though, and cost around $30.
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.
With its misleading exterior of a local philatelic store, Mrs Pound is, in fact, a hipster joint offering a new spin on Asian food. You’ll find dishes like rendang poutine subs, Laksa bibimbap and Sichuan dry rub steaks. Be surpirsed not just by the store front but by its innovative interpretations of Asian cuisine too.
The lone Sri Lankan restaurant 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 hopper (steamed rice noodle buns), parota (pan-fried traditional Sri Lankan roti) and their signature kottu, a Sri Lankan street food favourite.
One of the last vestiges of old Hong Kong, cooked food centres are where the freshest ingredients come straight from the wet markets and a comfy dining experience is not the priority. Both the Sheung Wan Cooked Food Centre and Queen Street Cooked Food Centre offer a wide range of dishes from different cultures, whether it’s Vietnamese, Indian or Italian (check out ABC Kitchen) you’re after. All dishes are friendly on the wallet.
The best bars and cafés in Sheung Wan
This hole-in-the-wall coffee spot offers patrons its speciality Melbourne-style coffee made from coffee beans delivered straight from Melbourne’s Market Lane Coffee. You can order anything from a cappuccino to their signature 21-hour cold brew or sample the great selection of teas including Prana chai and matcha with soy milk. Grab a fresh pastry if you’re in a rush or sit down for a full breakfast – just be prepared to wait. The small café only seats around 10-15 people.
Adjacent to Hollywood Road and boasting floor-to-ceiling windows, this fusion gastropub serves up steaks and eccentric pan-Asian cuisine, as well as a great selection of craft beers. From Hong Kong’s very own Black Kite Brewery and Gweilo to Australia's hoppy ale Harvest from Bridge Road Brewers and award-winning beer Moonzen, these ice-cold bevvies are the perfect tonic to beat the heat.
The perfect place to chill and enjoy brunch on a weekend. The Cupping Room, which first opened in 2011, is popular among locals for its smooth coffee and well-cooked eggs benedict. Get your fill of fresh salmon and avocado sandwiches if you’re looking for a healthier meal or fuel up with their creamy pasta.
Hidden behind a wall on On Wo Lane, the deceptively spacious Ginger expands over two floors. Exposed concrete walls and wooden furniture dominate the ground level while upstairs is decked out with leather armchairs. Helmed by whisky critic Tony Leung, service comes with a splash of knowledge, a dash of enthusiasm and a generous pour of a love for whisky. The menu isn’t fixed and is constantly rotating based on what’s in stock.
One of the few gay bars in Hong Kong, FLM is a popular two-story nightclub in Sheung Wan that plays great disco music and offers a quieter environment upstairs if you’re looking a more intimate chat. Bring your friends for a great night out and who knows, maybe you'll meet the one or a new best friend.
Trusty neighbourhood whisky bar Malt is found by way of an alley behind Hollywood Road behind a simple brass door adorned with an ‘M’. The leatherbound menu is something of a whisky encyclopedia, complete with maps of whisky regions and notes on each whisky’s characteristics. Malt’s Smoky Old Fashioned blends whisky, Angostura orange and chocolate bitters smoked with Applewood smoke, while the Highland Dress is a sweeter concoction of Highland whisky, crème de pêche, lemon juice and peach nectar, a fruity libation and a solid choice for those less inclined to tackle the harder stuff.
Tucked in a corner at the end of Tai Ping Shan Street is a somewhat unique café that serves more than just coffee. Teakha hosts regular music performances outside their shop, markets selling artisan products, movie screenings and even calligraphy classes, making it a favourite hangout spot for neighborhood locals. Tea, of course, is the signature beverage. Organic and sourced from within Asia, relax with a fresh brew and homemade cakes.
Inspired by Japanese pubs, or izakaya, Three Monkeys is Japanese restaurant and bar that specialises in yakitori — grilled chicken, pork, beef, vegetables, you name it— and Japanese homestyle cuisine. Enjoy fresh cocktails and Japanese craft ale after work or sit down for an evening of sake, whiskey and shoju.
Why 50 welcomes patrons with cool graffiti artwork at the entrance and a great selection of brews including their specialty espresso, which uses 50 beans to create a shot, hence the name. Aside from tea and coffee (featuring flavours like lavender), this rustic café does quality meals that are a spin on the classic breakfast food, such as the char siu and egg toast, and pulled pork and cheese sandwich.
Offering champagne mixes for $68 on Wednesday nights for those in sexy tank tops, this sleek, dark and seductive LGBT bar is clearly one for the boys. Other great promotions in this relaxed environment include buy-one-get-one-free martini on Monday night, Thursday champagne night and happy hour deals every evening. Don’t forget their great selection of cocktails and other “zignature” drinks.