Sitting in the shadow of glittery Lee Gardens, the 40-year-old Danish Bakery and its peculiar and equally renowned snacks, defies trends and property prices from its perch at the corner of Leighton and Caroline Hill Roads. Just as defiant is blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Haven Street. It’s most notable address may be Soundwill Holdings upscale, 190-unit Park Haven residences, but the enclave has become a, erm, haven for designers and foodies that are as trendy as they are unique.
Crow’s Nest Barber Shop
Gentlemen living in the area with any dignity really should indulge in some old-school pampering at Crows Nest, a classic barber offering haircuts, shaves and beard grooming. The retro tiled floors, barber chairs and impeccable instruments that look like something from the 1950s are about refined preening, and the barber shares space with ultra-trendy Edwin Watch, a favourite on the tattoo scene.
Even without an address Via Tokyo is easy to find: it’s the dessert shop with patrons spilling out onto the sidewalk. Dishing up every manner of Genmaicha dessert you can imagine — ice cream, cakes, biscuits — the tiny corner shop is packed to the rafters almost every night, proof that it’s the hottest of dessert spots.
Ladies & Gentlemen
“The beauty of cocktail,” is emblazoned on the bottom of this slick, modern bar’s signage, offering funky snacks and desserts (like smoky fries with truffle dip). Vaguely Italian, L&G is essentially a fancy pub, but its bespoke drinks and creative mixes make it an adventure for the stylish, regular clientele.
Every neighbourhood needs a welcoming yakitori bar, and the year-old Bilibala fits the bill. Owned and operated by a hype-free young woman, the intimate watering hole is perfect for a 5pm brew washed down with an Angus baby beef rib, Fujizakura pork belly or Hiroshima oyster skewer as just a handful of dozens. Bonus: the bar dog (totally the boss) who will gaze at you from his seat outside.
“A yawn is a silent scream for coffee,” is among the witticisms scrawled across the faux-chalkboard walls at this low-key, unpretentious coffee house. Along with good strong cappuccino, ristretto, flat whites and free WiFi, Yawn serves up quick lunches (pastas, risotto) and arguably one-of-a-kind bo-lo croissants. Bye-bye bau.
Tiny, welcoming and just as packed as many of Haven’s outlets, MYOC — Make Your Own Coffee — isn’t lacking actual service, but it is trying to present coffee in a clever way. Equally popular for its dessert (this is Hong Kong; the pancake ice cream sandwiches rule) the coffee menu is comprehensive and has something for every taste, from classic espresso to blasphemous sweet monstrosities (Golden Bird Cage).
The latest Japanese trend to sweep the SAR is the kakigori — shaved ice with syrup — house, and Shari Shari is easily the leader. Bright, bubbly and inviting (there are student discount hours), diners can also sample Hokkaido cheese soufflé among the various alternatives to snow cones.
One of many indie designers that have abandoned more expensive neighbourhoods and headed to what has become hipster central, Wagamamaplayground keeps arty hours, but Kee Chung’s boutique dedicated to local designers is worth the trip. Appointments are welcome too.
Featuring imports from Japan (Elektrokatze, Boom Bottle, MrFat) as well as the shop’s signature Hong Kong Numb label, this boutique is everything Causeway Bay is not. Beautifully hand-made clothing using high-quality materials also leave room for housewares, accessories and novelties. The waxed canvas bag is a standout.
The name says it all. Designer Rex Ko’s cheeky, retro-Americana Luddite brand is complemented by actual vintage items in a store that has a surplus warehouse vibe, but sells buttery bomber and biker jackets, boots, funky regional work gear and much more. Come in and get lost.
Bringing traditional craftsmanship back to men’s tailoring (albeit from what feels like a hidden alley) the youthful proprietors of Hola Classic update bespoke suits for the hipster crowd without breaking the bank. Hola also carries footwear and accessories and wouldn’t be out of place on Saville Row.
The stylish concrete façade and heavy wooden door hints at the elegant Japanese fare served at this relaxed and sophisticated eatery. Non-intrusive ambient music complements the impeccable, personalised service — there’s no menu — of some of Hong Kong’s best sushi, sashimi and other favourites. Just take the chef’s advice.
This rambling, ramshackle mostly al fresco Thai outlet jettisons the trappings of typical Thai restaurants in favour of unpretentious, generous classic dishes. Trendy types and business professionals alike linger over long lunches outside.
You can never really go wrong with Latin flavours and 33 Café’s small but varied selection of arepas — corn-based flatbread sandwiches — soups, salads and mains from across Latin America stands out for being a different and welcome addition to the neighbourhood. Also? There could be dulce de leche/arequipe.
Three Dice Kitchen
It may not be for everyone but there’s no denying molecular gastronomy is hip. Caterer Three Dice offers a reasonable tasting menu of its avant-garde cuisine as well as and creative yoghurts to go. It’s tiny, but its dedication to being “accessible and affordable” is a great way to sample the latest in dining.