BACK TO the future
Sheung Wan boasts a delightful mix of old and new, where contemporary residences sit next to low-rise tenements and trendy restaurants intermingle with traditional stores.
As the spot where British troops first landed in 1841, Sheung Wan has a rich history and lays claims to time-honoured structures, such as Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road. Built between 1847 and 1862, the temple doubled as a venue for arbitration among the Chinese in the early days of the colonial era.
Thanks to the opening of a host of eateries and serviced apartments, the district has transformed into a hospitality hub, and is further evolving with galleries sprouting in the area. Along with changes in the urban landscape is the crossover of lifestyles, as foreigners and artists live and work alongside elderly traders selling spices and antiques.
Below Hollywood Road are Wing Lok Street, Bonham Strand and Bonham Strand East and West, which have been the gathering place of traders from across the mainland since the mid-1800s. This part of Sheung Wan is characterised by the distinctive aroma of Chinese medicine and dried food. Further west, Sai Ying Pun and Kennedy Town are undergoing sweeping changes. The opening of the MTR West Island Line, scheduled for 2014, has given a boost to residential development in Western district and attracted young couples and expatriates. Parts of the area remain in a time warp, with the sound of mahjong tiles clicking away, a typical pastime among elderly residents and workers at Chinese grocery stores.
From ink to drink
Gough Street, north of SoHo where many printing houses used to be, has seen an influx of hip eateries and quirky shops in the past few years.
Foodies fan base
The 90-plus-year-old Kau Kee Restaurant, known for its beef brisket noodles in clear soup, is without doubt the landmark of the area. But newcomers, such as French restaurant Lot 10, fancy dessert place Ms B's Cakery and ramen shop Shugetsu, have also built a fan base among the locals.
Gough Street houses lifestyle stores, such as Homeless which sells cutting-edge furniture and home accessories, and cafe-cum-boutique Sidewalk.
Another area worth exploring is Tai Ping Shan Street and its nearby alleys that have become the new home to an eclectic range of shops. These include Knockbox Coffee Company, Homei Cafe, designer product store Konzepp and gallery Sin Sin Fine Art.