The glitz and glamour of Canton Road and the infamous Chungking Mansions represent the two extremes of Tsim Sha Tsui’s spectrum of lifestyle offerings—but neither paints an accurate picture of things to do in Hong Kong. Go on a whirlwind tour of the area’s best-kept secrets for a slice of real local life.
Sandwiched between Admiralty and Wan Chai are a few small alleys filled with dainty cafés and hip lifestyle boutiques. In 1890, Hong Kong’s first power station was built in the area and the surrounding streets were renamed ‘Sun’, ‘Moon’ and ‘Star’ to celebrate the installation of new streetlights. If you want to get something more special than the knick-knacks in Mongkok’s Ladies Market, go to Nlostnfound for vintage pieces of the colonial era, or Kapok for trendy souvenirs. You can spend as little as one hour quickly browsing the shops or as much as an entire afternoon escaping the busy streets of the commercial district.
Shanghai Street spans three subway stations and its Yau Ma Tei section is heaven for Hong Kong restaurateurs and home cooks. Stores housed in preserved Chinese shop-house buildings stock all sorts of kitchen utensils, as well as traditional Chinese cookware such as bamboo steamers. A short detour to Temple Street will take you to Mido Café, a cha chaan teng (or tea restaurant, loosely comparable to an American diner) serving authentic local fare since the 1950s. Bring your camera to capture the retro décor, which is reminiscent of old Hong Kong.
A foodies’ secret in touristy Tsim Sha Tsui, the ‘temporary’ market has been sitting in this makeshift structure for nearly 40 years. Residents of the neighborhood buy quality fresh produce here and it’s also the local workforce’s go-to lunch spot. Line up at Tak Fat Beef Ball for some of the best beef ball noodles in the city. Much like Singaporean laksa and Japanese ramen, noodles with beef or fish balls are an integral part of Hong Kong’s deep-rooted culinary heritage. With no air-con in the wet market, dining here in summer will be a sweaty affair but certainly one to remember.
Read the original story: Take a Whirlwind Tour of Hong Kong's Best-Kept Secrets by Jeanne Cheung, who is a regular contributor to Marriott Traveler