Hong Kong has always lacked the laid-back cafe culture of cities such as Melbourne and San Francisco. Things are changing, however, especially on the steep hills of Sheung Wan, around Tai Ping Shan Street and Po Hing Fong, dubbed "PoHo".
On weekends, young creative types spill out onto the staircase in front of Common Ground, using the steps as chairs and coffee tables. Everyone seems to have a brew and a plate of moist scrambled eggs on toast (HK$50), with a small salad. This is a daintier, lighter cousin of the greasy fry-up.
I prefer to grab one of its indie magazines and a decent cafe latte (HK$35) and sit inside. The purposely mismatched tables and chairs are at a height more conducive to eating, especially when it comes to scooping up caramelised mushrooms on Common Ground toast (HK$60) or enjoying the Twins salad (HK$50; named after the twins, Caleb and Josh Ng, who run the cafe), a simple mix of romaine, lollo rosso, cherry tomatoes and parmesan.
The space is shared with design studio Protest Design Company (also run by brothers, named Laz and Sean Lam), so you'll find locally created fashion accessories for a bit of retail therapy to go with brunch.
If Common Ground were closer to home, it would definitely be my local haunt. It would also make it easier to find out when it's closed for private events, which seems to happen often.
Janice Leung Hayes
Common Ground, 19 Shing Wong Street, Central, tel: 2818 8318. Open: 11am-8pm