Dog, cat and manga cafes: 5 of Hong Kong's quirkiest upstairs eateries
With rents soaring in Hong Kong, many cafes are moving upstairs.We visit a few with quirky themes that are about more than just food and drink
If you're a fan of cats, or dogs, of board games or comics, or you've got a thing for cute food arrangements, there's a place for you beyond the high-rent monotony of street-level chains.
Nine cats roam freely in this treasure tucked away in an old building in Causeway Bay. The cafe started out selling cat-themed products, says one of the owners Cat Li Yuet-yu. The idea of having real cats in the shop started when another owner brought her cats to work in order to spend more time with them.
Most of the cats at Cat Store are adopted strays. You may find one sleeping peacefully next to you as you sip on your drink, or you can grab a pet toy and amuse one of the kittens while you wait for your food to come.
Customers can enjoy the warm and fuzzy atmosphere in this cafe overlooking Lee Theatre Plaza, leave their comments or drawings in notebooks on each table, and learn about the nine cats via cute cartoons on the menu.
Flat D-E, 3/F Po Ming Building, Fu Ming Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2710 9953. Open: Sunday-Thursday, 12pm-11pm, Friday-Saturday, 12pm-12am
This must be the only cafe in the city boasting a collection of more than 5,000 comic books. The 1,500 sq ft space originally housed a comic book store, and when it closed down six years ago and left most of them behind, Ease Cafe's owner decided to keep the impressive collection of manga.
Current owner Nolan Ng Nai-kung has background in the food industry and confesses that he isn't an avid manga fan himself. Still, with collections ranging from the popular One Piece, to the long-running Captain Tsubasa and classics such as Doraemon, there's plenty to keep enthusiasts occupied.
It has ceiling-high bookshelves and comfortable sofas as well a large platform in one corner where you can slip off your shoes and lounge on cushions. While reading or playing board games, you can dig into some pasta or a full-day breakfast and enjoy a bird's-eye view of Mong Kok.
Unit 2508-09, 25/F Golden Era Plaza, 39 Sai Yee Street, Mong Kok, tel: 2780 3362. Open: Monday-Sunday, 12pm-1am
A regular hangout for Japanese culture aficionados since 2004, J-Point Cafe is experiencing a revival since its recent move to step up its plating game. Inspired by fancy bento box lunches Japanese mothers are known for creating for their children, owner Eddie Chan Yat-fong and his team hope their homey dishes can take guests back to their childhood and enhance the joy of dining.
Get your cameras ready before the meal is served. While the lacklustre interior is hardly photo-worthy, it is redeemed by the outrageously cute food arrangement. Think sweet curry rice reimagined as a sleeping teddy bear, tucked in a blanket of omelette with a polar bear cub (potato salad) and a brown bear (beef croquette). The "curly hair of a girl" turns out to be stir-fried instant noodles, adorned by a pink bow made from strips of ham.
Chan is eager to roll out more designs. Even if you turn up hungry you may be reluctant to poke your fork into the food, so take a sip of the slow-simmered vegetable soup that comes with each dish as you ponder the dilemma.
Room 404, 4/F Prosper Commercial Building, 9 Yin Chong Street, Mong Kok, tel: 2374 2375. Open: Monday-Friday, 3pm-1am, Saturday-Sunday, 2pm-1am
It is hard to get bored at Jolly Thinkers. Even if you try your hand at one board game per day, it would take you more than a year to be able to finish all of them. Started by several educators including Joyce Lam Yuen-han and John Guest in 2006, the board game cafe has expanded to include two outlets — one in Prince Edward and a newer, bigger branch in Wan Chai.
Although the essence of the cafes is to nurture a fun English- and life skills-learning environment for youngsters, Jolly Thinkers has attracted a loyal following from all walks of life. There are staples such as Monopoly and Scrabble, but also a large collection of lesser-known finds. Meanwhile, fuel up with their long list of drinks, mayonnaise-smothered baked potato skins or egg toast.
11/F Bayfield Building, 99 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2527 2882. Open: Monday, 12noon-7pm, Tuesday-Saturday, noon-11.30pm
It can get a bit noisy — and smelly — at OnDogDog Cafe in Ho Man Tin. But regulars don't seem to mind at all. As the five energetic dogs roaming freely around the 1,000 sq ft space are not only incredibly lovable, but have been known to break into song when the mood strikes.
The four-year-old cafe and the pack — three huskies, one akita and one shiba — are owned by Brian Tse Ming-cheung and mostly taken care of by his girlfriend Candy Chung Cheuk-ling. The observant customers soon realise it's actually a rescued ginger cat who rules the place. Guests can mingle and play with the friendly dogs, but are reminded not to feed them.
Pets are welcome here, too, and a variety of attractive, safe and nutritious snacks can be made for hungry animal companions.
1/F, 3 Soares Avenue, Ho Man Tin, tel: 9045 2766. Open: 1pm-10.30pm