Lifestyle

North Point: A Point of Interest

 

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Much of Hong Kong Island’s popularity is attributed to the southside, but we feel the East side deserves some love too. The prevailing opinion is that nothing much happens there, but in fact during the 1950s, North Point was a magnet for migrants from China, so much so that by the end of the next decade, the area was known as ‘Little Shanghai’ and was listed in the Guinness World Records as the most densely populated place on Earth. Even today, there is still a large community of Hokkien (Fujianese) people descended from Chinese migrants living in North Point. After Cantonese, Min Nan, a branch of Chinese spoken widely in Taiwan and Fujian, is the most widely spoken language, and several Min Nan associations and churches are also based in North Point.

Leisure & Facilities

Supermarket options are rather limited in North Point, but this is combated by the abundance of wet markets for all your fish, meat and veg needs. Visit the one on Chun Yeung Street, around the corner from North Point tram terminus; the tram line runs right through the wet market and it’s quite a sight to see street vendors and little old ladies shuffling away, blissfully unbothered, when trams come down the tracks.


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North Point and Quarry Bay Promenade runs right along the seafront and is a great jogging route. There is also a ferry pier; the East berth services run to Kwun Tong, Mui Wo and Discovery Bay while the West to Hung Hom and Kowloon City.

Adjacent to the North Point Ferry Pier is the Java Road Municipal Services Building, which houses the local sports centre, with a dance room, children’s playroom, an American pool room, along with a cooked food centre and more.

Food & Beverage


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One can’t talk about food in North Point without mentioning Lee Keung Kee Egg Waffles. For the uninitiated, gai daan zai (literally ‘little eggs’) are fluffy sweet waffles resembling extra large sheets of bubble wrap, and is a true Hong Kong classic. This hole-in-the-wall joint has no visible signage; just look out for a wall on the corner of King’s Road and Kam Hong Street plastered with press clippings and celeb photos—there’ll also be an inevitable queue.


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Head round the corner to Cheung Fat cha chaan teng, which is famous for its Swiss sauce chicken. Compared to other Swiss sauce joints, Cheung Fat’s is spicier; not in the chilli and peppery sense, but that you can actually taste the star anise, cloves, and other spices. Also tucked away nearby is a little café called Relax & Refresh, which features a small garden terrace painted a pretty shade of duck egg blue. Their pasta specials are usually on point, as is the hojicha latte.

If you’re around North Point on a Tuesday, pop in to The Big Bite for their famed Wings Night; get a beer and you can order chicken wings in six levels of heat for HK$3 each! Alternatively, gather a group of friends and head to Tung Po in Java Road Food Centre. This is communal dining in a typical food court setting, but with beer served in bowls and an owner who goes around drinking and dancing with customers. As the night goes on, be prepared for raucous bouts of drunken singing to 80s and 90s hits. Tung Po doesn’t boast a spot of glamour, but you’re guaranteed a good time!

Culture & Heritage


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Arguably North Point’s most famous landmark is Sunbeam Theatre, an auditorium showcasing Cantonese opera. Sunbeam is the most prestigious among Hong Kong’s several remaining theatres, and you can be assured those performing at this venue are bound to be big names within opera circles. The Shanghainese in the 50s were heavily associated with leftist movements, and the businesses that Shanghainese immigrants supported, including the Sunbeam Theatre, are a remaining legacy of their influence. Its lease ended in February 2009 and, after much public debate, was extended by three years. In 2012, a mystery Mr Leung arranged to have Sunbeam’s landlord meet with opera playwright Li Kui-ming, resulting in a consensus regarding rent and allowing the building to stay a Cantonese opera theatre. It was later said that the mystery man was no other than Hong Kong’s third Chief Executive CY Leung.


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Wah Fung Chinese Goods Centre is another such leftist immigrant-supported business. When it opened in 1963, Wah Fung was Hong Kong’s largest department store. It’s well known for its location in part of Kiu Kwan Mansion, which allegedly served as a hideout for underground communists during the 1967 riots. Nowadays, pop in for everything from ginseng to tiny silk slippers to calligraphy brushes. It’s crowded, dusty and distinctly non-English, but nevertheless lots of fun to poke around in.

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