An obscure corner of Hong Kong Island is finding its way onto the city’s foodie map.
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).