Most of us still think of Caine Road as the unofficial border between Central and Mid-Levels, a serviceable street that gets us from A to B, with not much to see. That may have been the case at one time but no more. Now bookended by Phoenix Property’s Gramercy and Swire’s Argenta — to say nothing of Swire’s forthcoming 50-storey, 197-unit Alassio at 100 Caine — the stretch of road between Arbuthnot across to the junction at Hospital Road has reinvented itself as a chic micro-neighbourhood with much more than property agencies, vets and kindergartens.
Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Garden
A stroll through the underappreciated HKZBG at the far end of Caine Road takes visitors past enclosures housing nearly 400 bird, mammal and reptile species, including Bornean orangutans, gibbons, lemurs, flamingos, cranes tortoises and marmosets and through 900 plant species.
Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences
Whether you’re a Chinese medicine or stalwart Western lab work proponent, a stop in the Museum of Medical Sciences, just down the stairs off Caine Road, is worth it just to see the 1906 Bacteriological Institute building, never mind getting an education in Hong Kong’s rich history in fighting infectious disease and research.
10 Chancery Lane Gallery
A prominent presence on the local art scene since 2001, this independent gallery showcases established and emerging artists from across the globe and here in Hong Kong.
Meat lovers rejoice. Pacific Gourmet’s menu of premium imported beef, chicken, lamb, pork and fish — and some of the city’s best game (kangaroo!) and homemade sausages — is complemented by a small but potent range of deli, grocery and beverage items; don’t miss the Boscastle Aussie Beef Party Pie 12-pack. If you have a grill, you need Pacific Gourmet.
Maison Eric Kayser
Not all baguettes are created equal and if you’re looking for a chewy, crusty, tasty bread for that wine and cheese party you’re throwing it doesn’t get better than Paris-based boulanger Eric Kayser, serving in Hong Kong for the past few years. As an added bonus, the bakery/café serves light snacks and lunches, and takeaway treats like croissants, tarts, macarons, madeleines, éclairs and beyond. Bring your sweet tooth.
Il Bel Paese
Before Kayser there was the “Italian Deli” on Caine Road, one of the oldest gourmets on the block and still a favourite. Since 2001, Il Bel Paese has been sating Hong Kong’s gorgonzola, pecorino, fine olive oil, vinegar, artisanal pasta and Italian wine needs. Drop in for a caffe and Panini, pick up groceries and get a handle on la dolce vita.
Spice Box Organics
If your body is too much of a temple for rich meats, buttery croissants and creamy cheeses, it’s Spice Box Organics to the rescue. Specialising in spices, legumes, preserves and most items you’d find in a grocery store, SBO also features a modest café with daily specials for dine-in or takeaway.
Olympia Graeco Egyptian Coffee
The unassuming Olympia is a haven for desperate coffee drinkers searching for some good beans closer than Macau. Roasting its single origin beans on site, Olympia stocks creative coffees like Brazil Yellow Bourbon and Ethiopia Yingacheffe. Check out Olympia’s Facebook page for what’s new, what’s coming and what you might want to order; beans ship weekly but indeed sell out. You’ll never drink Starbucks again.
Slick and modern, this pet-friendly — there’s a hitching post outside for dog leashes — café roasts its own coffee beans on site and serves up light snacks, sweets and great breakfasts (try the croissants). Cool without being too hipster, Filters Lane focuses on stellar drip coffee, and is everything a three-times-a-day dog walker could ask for.
Rosie Jean’s Café
Cosy, unpretentious and kid-friendly — there’s a terrace to play on and toys to play with — Rosie Jean’s may not self-roast but it does serve café favourites like salads, sandwiches and luscious red velvet cake. But the real draw, aside from the comfortable small-town environment and child-ready space, is the all day breakfast — a rare and beautiful thing.
Head down the steps further from the Museum and take a turn towards Sheung Wan and you’ll find 3rd Space, a funky, casual café serving dishes using ingredients sourced from small, independent suppliers daily. The café is available for private kitchen events with custom menus, and it’s no wonder: 3rd Space’s tucked away yard café ambience absolutely can’t be beat.
It boasts a traditional fish and chip experience but Hooked is decidedly unconventional — in a good way. With sets starting at $40 (for students) and sides like mushy peas and Paua (abalone) fritters to go with standard New Zealand fish, chips, seafood and pies, Hooked gives F&C lovers what they crave while jazzing up the menu just enough. It’s worth the standing.
Calling itself a gastro bar and social house, The Saint, off Caine on Elgin, sits in a familiar location (it was McSorley’s) but this is an entirely new type of pub. Serving modern British fare, Hong Kong brews on tap and roughly two dozen gin-based libations — made with Hendrick’s, Boudier Saffraon and Monkey 47 among others — the footy and cricket on the screens go down smoothly.
Next to 3rd Space this elegant, understated Japanese tapas bar awaits. Innovative yet traditional, Japanese yet international, Tabi Bito is a refreshing change of pace on the city’s crowded Japanese dining landscape.