Oct 09, 2008|
Despite the Urban Renewal Authority’s demolition projects, Wan Chai is still home to quite a few old architectural gems.
Start your tour at the tenement houses at 72-74 Stone Nullah Lane. The one that stands out is the much-talked-about “Blue House,” built in 1920 out of wood and bricks and complete with Western-style balconies. While you’re there, visit the Wan Chai Livelihood Museum then wander around on nearby Hing Wan Street, which has four buildings with Grade II historical value (numbers 2, 4, 6 and 8). Nearby 9 Kat On Street is a white building with a European façade and a pitch-black wooden staircase.
Next, head to Queen’s Road East and admire the now-vacant Wan Chai Market (2). A classic Bauhaus-style wet market, catch it before it’s facelift, when the the windows will be sealed). Continuing west, you’ll find three preserved tenement buildings at numbers 186, 188 and 190 with 19th century–style balconies that project to the edge of the road to form a covered sidewalk.
Across the street is Hung Shing Temple at 129-131 Queen’s Rd. East, which was built before 1847. Walking up the adjacent stairs on Ship Street leads you to number 55, Nam Koo Terrace an abandoned mansion and supposedly the city’s most haunted spot.
Too scared? Walk north on Ship Street to number 18, where a 70-year-old tenement building has been preserved and renovated into Yin Yang, 2866-0868, by restaurateur Margaret Xu Yuan.
Finish your tour by venturing further down to The Pawn at 66 Johnston Rd., 2866-3444, a British restaurant in a former pawn shop that was among a row of four tenement buildings (the first built in 1888). It has been beautifully preserved in a redevelopment project.
Wan Chai is a fine example of an old neighborhood maintaining traces of our culinary history—you just need to know where to look.
Start your food tour at 130 Johnston Road. Lung Moon, 2573-4066, is a 60-year-old yum cha place with golden dragons and phoenixes on the wall and one of the last two charcoal ovens for barbecued meat in town (the other’s at Yung Kee) and best of all, traditional dim sum for regular customers who arrive as early as 6am.
Walk down Stone Nullah Lane on Lung Moon’s immediate left, through the street market and up near the Blue House for some traditional cart noodles at Chicken Delight at number 66. Don’t be fooled by the name—this hole in the wall is also famous for its pork chop with rice.
Wash your food down with a Hong Kong–style “ice-less” chilled milk tea at Kam Fung at 41 Spring Garden Lane, 2572-0526. This cha chaan teng has been around for more than 50 years and is still one of the busiest.
Tucked away at 17 Burrows Street is Lucky Snack House, 2572-1843, which makes the best Hong Kong–style burger in town. Only $9, it comes with juicy beef, onion and melted cheddar on a fresh crunchy bun—it tastes like real food, if you know what we mean.
If burgers aren’t your bag, walk down to Hennessy Road and you’ll find Tung Fong Siu Kee Yuen at 241 Hennessy Rd., 2519-9148, a 90-year-old vegetarian restaurant.
Finally, there’s only one way to end a Wan Chai food tour—have your steak lit up in flames at one of the last remaining Hong Kong–style steak houses, Boston Restaurant at 3 Luard Rd., 2527-7646. Boston’s famous brochette flambé is why customers old and young keep coming back for more.
No trip to Wan Chai is complete without a drink at one—or all—of its classic bars.
Start the night with a Guinness at what’s surely the liveliest place in town to indulge in the popular Irish brew, Delaney’s at 18 Luard Rd., 2804-2880. If you’re not opposed to fighting your way through hordes of rugby lads, stop off at Devil’s Advocate at 48-50 Lockhart Rd., 2865-7271, for a jello shot or four.
Next up is Coyote’s down the road at 114-120 (2861-2221). Bring out the salt and limes. Who’s badass enough for tequila shots?
Once a favorite of colonial gweilos, these days the clientele at Joe Banana’s at 23 Luard Rd., 2529-1811, mostly hails from the bowels of naval vessels and Chungking Mansions. Order a Snakebite—part lager, part cider, it’s far more menacing than it sounds.
Typhoon at 37 Lockhart Rd., 2527-2077, is one of the few bars in town with a Jägermeister machine, specially designed to store the German digestif at an icy -15°C. Needless to say, it’s all about the Jägerbombs. Pace yourself now.
Assuming you haven’t lost your legs yet, sneak in a quick dance on the bar at Carnegie’s down at 53 Lockhart Rd., 2866-6289. The bar offers drink deals almost daily, with half off all cocktails after 9pm on Thursdays.
While there’s certainly no shortage in-house cover bands in the neighborhood, but few match the energy and excitement of the ones at Dusk Till Dawn 76-84 Jaffe Rd., 2528-4689, often dubbed the ultimate place for the barely conscious to dance off the alcohol.
Finally, if you’re looking for somewhere to tuck in for a few more during sunrise, head down to The Bridge at 93-107 Lockhart Rd., 2865-5586, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The bangers and mash, the chicken adobo, and of course, the juke box, are all awesome.