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Mido Cafe on Hong Kong’s Temple Street suddenly announced its closure in an ambiguous note. Photo: Sam Tsang

Dismay at closure of one of Hong Kong’s oldest traditional cafes, Mido Cafe, announced in an ambiguous note – but is it permanent?

  • The cha chaan teng on Yau Ma Tei’s Temple Street became a popular local haunt after opening in 1950, but a note posted outside hints at its permanent closure
  • Many shared their grief on social media at the loss of a ‘Hong Kong icon’, known for its striking interior and architecture

Mido Cafe, one of Hong Kong’s oldest traditional cha chaan teng – cafes that serve Chinese-Western fusion food – has announced its closure in an ambiguous message posted outside its premises.

The farewell note is written mostly in Chinese, and includes a photo of a shop cat perched on one of Mido Cafe’s iconic Formica tables.

The brief message struck a poignant note with its opening: “Life has its share of decades, and without knowing, 72 years have passed since Mido Cafe began here.

“So let’s give it some time now to get some rest, a moment to take a breath. Please remember that after today, there will still be another day, and many decades to follow after.”

Mido Cafe announced the closure with a cryptic note. Photo: Sam Tsang
The note then humorously quotes lyrics from the 2021 runaway hit Hai Gum Sin La (See You Later) by local group MC Soho and Kidney: “All right now, see you later, bye bye. So long farewell adieu ciao sayonara adios.”

The message finishes with, “If fate allows, we will meet again …”

An image from a 2012 Post Magazine fashion shoot at Mido Cafe. Photo: Baldovino Barani
The move seems to have come as a shock to many, who expressed their dismay on social media.

For Hong Kong photographer Justin Lim, the venue was a “stalwart of many photographic meets all the way back to the early 2000s”.

After moving back to Hong Kong during that period, Lim soon became a Mido regular, and paid his last visit in April.

“Good Night, Mido. After 72 years, it’s time for you to get some shut-eye,” he wrote in a caption on Instagram, under several moody film shots of the venue.

“In those days [during the 2000s], they didn’t actually allow photos, so getting a few snapshots inside was almost illicit,” he shares. “It had a kind of strange ‘Wong Kar-wai lite’ feel to it, with the glow from the giant neon sign and the seats that banked along the curved facade.”

Lim believes there’s a reason the cafe resonated with so many people. “Mido was unapologetic about its place in the world,” he says. “It had an old-world charm that was sometimes brusque, [and] the food was sometimes a little less than refined – but somehow it embodied the Hong Kong spirit.”

Mido Cafe in 2009. It occupied the ground floor of a curved corner building – an architectural style associated with the 1950s and ’60s. Photo: Ricky Chung
Food writer Janice Leung Hayes, who has written about Mido Cafe in the past, agrees that while the food had not been up to scratch in recent years, “It’s still sad to lose a piece of history”.

“I feel that within my lifetime at least, Mido has not been about the food,” she says. “Rather, it’s the iconic ’50s interiors and architecture people come for – those curved corner windows, the hard, straight-backed banquette seats, the mosaic walls and floors. It’ll forever be a Yau Ma Tei, if not a Hong Kong, icon.”

Mido Cafe opened in 1950 on Temple Street in the working-class Kowloon neighbourhood of Yau Ma Tei, and is a veritable time capsule representing the aesthetic of the decade.

Inside were blue tiled floors, coloured glass panels, mint-green tables and wooden dining booths, all within a curved corner building – an architectural style that was popularised in Hong Kong in the 1950s and ’60s.
Mido Cafe in 2013. Photo: Jonathan Wong

The cafe’s menu offered a line-up of Hong Kong diner favourites, including the signature baked pork chop with fried rice, iced red bean drink and cups of strong milk tea.

This beloved cha chaan teng has quietly served legions of regulars, but it made the news in 2013 when a gang of thugs trashed tables and chairs inside in an apparently unprovoked attack. No restaurant staff were harmed during the incident.

Calls to the restaurant remained unanswered on Tuesday morning.