As a growing destination for fun, alfresco dining, craft beer night or a more refined gourmet evening with spectacular views, Tsim Sha Tsui East has been a well-kept secret among Kowloon residents for some time.
Barely a five-minute walk from the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR (keep underground and head for exit P), the area seems to have developed at a snail's pace, but is finally about to come of age. With an imaginative collection of eateries, an awe-inspiring view of Hong Kong Island's neon skyline, and a lot of trendy buzz, TST East is ripe for exploration.
Shop G6/UG16, Tsim Sha Tsui Centre, 66 Mody Road, TST East, 2316 2666
Casual and rustic, Brotzeit is a two-storey restaurant serving authentic Bavarian cuisine with panoramic harbour views. You can choose to have a quiet meal in the air conditioned upstairs area or sit downstairs to drink in the atmosphere - along with the German beer and people-watching. Pull a wooden bench up to the chunky tables and tuck into spicy goulash, bratwurst - naturally served with mash and sauerkraut - veal escalope or the famous pork knuckle, or go for a sharing platter to help the beer or wine go down. Save space for the apfelstrudel.
2 Eastside Tavern
Shop 29, G/F, Empire Centre, 68 Mody Road, TST East, 2367 8770
Facing Mody Road, watching the world go by from Eastside Tavern brings its own entertainment. Inside it's a sports bar-meets-pub, with a general manager who is passionate about craft beers and ciders - he loves the Spaceman IPA from Italy and organic Yellowhammer from the Scottish Black Isle Brewery. It's open for breakfast, with set lunches on weekdays and happy hours (from 3pm to 9pm on weekdays and noon to 9pm on weekends). Evening drinks can be paired with sports on the TV screens and plates of comfort food. The EST burger on soft sourdough, full or half-racks of ribs, and the meat feast pizza are recommended.
3 Namo Avant Thai
Shop G2, Empire Centre, 68 Mody Road, TST East, 2739 1133
You won't be shovelling in a humble fish cake or chicken green curry at Namo Avant Thai. A fusion of fine-dining ingredients and Thai spices results in dishes such as fish mousse cake with salmon caviar, red prawn tom yum topped with coconut foam, and moule marinieres of bouchot mussels in a chilli-galangal coconut broth, among others. It's Thai cuisine reinvented by bold chefs Alejandro Sanchez, previously Michelin-starred, and Wijannarongk Kunchit, who has worked alongside Vietnam's Bobby Chinn. The restaurant is a tranquil place for indoor dining with an open kitchen view, Thai-inspired cocktails at the bar and alfresco dining on the terrace, happily far from the din of competing bands further down the strip.
Empire Centre, 68 Mody Road, TST East, 2730 8027
Vying with Namo for the best fine-dining spot on the strip, Spasso's new home is a spacious, stylish inside-outside eatery with a menu that has condensed its previous Harbour City à la carte selections. From the lunch semi-buffet to the Aperitif Moment from 5.30pm to 8.30pm with complimentary snacks, or the new one-page à la carte menu, chef Michele Senigaglia focuses on seasonal ingredients while specially recommending the deliciously rich-sounding crispy suckling pig Sardinian-style and Italian sea bream fillet with seafood and herbs. Pasta dishes can be ordered gluten-free, and the Sunday brunch includes breakfast, seafood, a carvery and mains with free-flow Veuve Cliquot, Prosecco or wine.
5 AKU Teppanyaki
Shop G73-77/G80-85, Tsim Sha Tsui Centre, 66 Mody Road, TST East, 2739 2028
For an entertaining group dining experience, book one of AKU's teppanyaki cooking stations, order your food, then sit back to admire the show. There's fresh sashimi, seafood tempura and a delicious steamed egg with foie gras and caviar, but to watch your personal chef in action, order the BBQ platter, wagyu steak or cod. Fast and furious, slow and patient, the chef sears and sautés, flips and flambés in front of you. Don't miss out on the sake, choosing your tiny cup from a tray of typical Japanese pottery.
Shop 28, G/F, Tsim Sha Tsui Centre, 66 Mody Road, TST East, 2724 0707
LaVilla mixes a fine-dining atmosphere inside with tables set against a back-lit wine wall, while the casual high tables and chairs outside take advantage of the harbour view. There's a set lunch Monday to Friday, a weekend semi-buffet with tables of salads and desserts paired with mains off the menu, and a live band during the evening on weekends. Some of the mostly French-themed dishes strike a jarring note - for example, the roasted smoked-chicken appetiser is served with a fruit salad and mayonnaise dressing - but the more conventional dishes, such as the signature cold seafood platter, angel hair pasta with Iberico ham in black truffle sauce, and rib-eye, get good reviews, while the ginger soufflé neatly marries East and West.
7 Lee Fa Yuen
Empire Centre, Tsim Sha Tsui East, 2367 5674
Lee Fa Yuen has long been one of Hong Kong's favourite Korean restaurant chains. Its branch on Mody Road gets mixed reviews but is usually busy - booking ahead is recommended. The Korean BBQ is what most diners are after - beef spare ribs, lamb and tiger shrimp, all marinated in soy sauce - and, of course, beef bulgogi. Hot pots are just as popular, with seafood or black cod casserole in a hot and spicy broth. Save space for the pancake with green onion and seafood and the bibimbap stone rice.