Neighbourhood Guide: What To Eat, Drink And Do In Wong Tai Sin
There are a lot of sides to Hong Kong. The bustling side is characterised by high-rise buildings, which are what most people would conjure up when thinking of Hong Kong––so much so that it earned a nickname as a concrete jungle––but there's also the quiet side, backed up by the outlying islands, tall mountains and lush greenery. But where else can you find the best of both worlds?
Enter Wong Tai Sin, a quaint neighbourhood in the middle of the city but also provides a sense of calm and peace where you can just pause and relax. Wong Tai Sin is Hong Kong's only landlocked district and it's home to a mix of unique temples, tranquil gardens and restaurants that are quintessentially Hong Kong. Vibrant yet calm, Wong Tai Sin is often overlooked as only a place for worshippers to visit, no doubt because of the popular Wong Tai Sin Temple.
But beyond this famed temple is a neighbourhood that blends city life with calmness and serenity. If Wong Tai Sin isn't on your radar, it should be as this place is just waiting to be explored. Here, we break down where you can eat and what you can do in Wong Tai Sin.
What to Eat & Drink
Sun Tai Chung
Sun Tai Chung specialises in Shanghainese hairy crabs so it's a given that you should try at least one of the hairy crabs here. This restaurant offers an annual all-you-can-ear hairy crab feast and is frequented by crab and seafood lovers. But if you want some red meat to go along with your hairy crab, their lamb stew and skewers are also loved by its diners.
Sun Tai Chung, G/F, 46 Fei Fung Street, Wong Tai Sin, Hong Kong, +852 2419 1208
Chi Lin Vegetarian
While it's technically located in Diamond Hill, Chi Lin Vegetarian is just a stone throw's away from Wong Tai Sin, where you can take a break both from the hustle and bustle of city life––and from meat. The restaurant is located inside the beautiful Nan Lian Garden and once you step inside, you'll feel like you've been transported back in time.
Thanks to its far-off location from the downtown area, it's a place to enjoy a secluded dining experience––the perfect place to take a breather, admire the serene garden view and relish the delicious vegetarian dishes.
Chi Lin Vegetarian, G/F–2/F, Long Men Lou, Nan Lian Garden, 60 Fung Tak Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong
See also: Tatler's Ultimate Guide To Vegetarian And Vegan Dining In Hong Kong
Cafe 2.0 is often packed with diners thanks to its range of Hong Kong style and western dishes. While there's a decent amount of main dishes like steaks, chef special, set lunches and snacks, the highlight here is definitely the egg puff.
You can either choose to get it as a takeout where you can choose your toppings from a scoop of ice cream, cotton candy, chocolate bar or all of them. For those dining in, you can have it as a mix of fresh fruit and ice cream or the more savoury choice of wild mushrooms and black truffle sauce.
Cafe 2.0, Shop G1–2, G/F, Lion Rise Mall, 8 Muk Lun Street, Wong Tai Sin, Hong Kong, +852 2111 2568
See also: The Best Cafes And Coffee Shops In Causeway Bay
Kam Kee Cafe
Kam Kee Cafe boasts a history dating back to over half a century when it began as a food stall in Shau Kei Wan. This Hong Kong-style cafe is loved by many thanks to the sense of nostalgia you feel here, from the truly Hong Kong decorations it uses or the cha cha teng classics it serves. Kam Kee Cafe feels like a living relic of Hong Kong's past.
If you're just looking for some light snacks, they serve some local favourites such as French toast and pork chop bun. On the heavier side, the flat rice noodles is always a classic choice or the char kway teow. Don't forget to get milk tea with that.
Kam Kee Cafe, Shop G9, G/F, Temple Mall South, 103 Ching Tak Street, Wong Tai Sin, Hong Kong
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Shanghai Teng 1930
Take a trip down memory lane at Shanghai Teng 1930, a restaurant inspired by the colourful golden age of Shanghai. The design and interiors of the restaurant draw the attention to its customers, which have been recreated to echo that period in Shanghai.
The decor includes oil lamps and antique sewing machines that adorn the bookshelves, murals and even a rickshaw that sits by the entrance. Enjoy the retro vibe alongside food that range from casseroles and classic dim sum to cold dishes. Given its expansive menu, you'll definitely be spoiled for choice here.
Shanghai Teng 1930, Shop LG08, LG/F, Temple Mall North, 136 Lung Cheung Road, Wong Tai Sin, Hong Kong, +852 2350 2028
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Wing Lai Yuen Sze Chuen Noodles Restaurant
In Hong Kong, a lot of shops and restaurants come and go but Wing Lai Yuen has stood the test of time. This family-run noodle restaurant started in a squatter housing estate and while its has moved from its original location, it still stayed true to its roots serving classic Sichuan dishes.
Drawing in a patron of hungry diners, Wing Lai Yuen's signature dishes include the silky steamed chicken in chilli oil and mapo tofu but given its speciality as a noodle restaurant, the dan dan noodles cannot be missed. If you can't handle that much spice, you can always ask for a less spicy version.
Wing Lai Yuen, 15–17 Fung Tak Road, Wong Tai Sin, Hong Kong, +852 2726 3818, winglaiyuen.com.hk
See also: The Best Places To Enjoy Sichuan Food In Hong Kong
Wong Tai Sin definitely has a lot of traditional Chinese dishes to offer but if you're looking for something else, Japanese food is a fan-favourite in Hong Kong. Waki Shokudo seals all your Japanese food cravings from rice bowl dishes of sashimi, beef or eel to all-time favourite sushi.
Those who want a greener option can also opt for their salad bowls. The desserts are a must order as well. Their soft serve matcha ice cream is the perfect sweet to have after a fulfilling meal.
Waki Shokudo, Shop G12A, G/F, Temple Mall South, 103 Ching Tak Street, Wong Tai Sin, Hong Kong, +852 2641 8829
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Those who can't get enough of Cantonese food should head over to Jade Garden. Opened in 1971, Jade Garden was a pioneer when it comes to Cantonese dishes, being one of the few "upstairs" Chinese restaurants during its time.
It also set a benchmark for modern Cantonese fare mixing Chinese cuisine with "western services". The flagship store in Tsim Sha Tsui definitely draws more diners but those looking for a less crowded choice should opt for the Wong Tai Sin branch, offering the same traditional and Cantonese dishes complete with beautiful interiors.
Jade Gaden, Shop G12, G/F, Temple Mall North, 136 Lung Cheung Road, Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 2325 6188
For a laidback atmosphere, Olive Era welcomes its diners to a comfortable and cosy environment. Taking pride in its simplicity, Olive Era takes a no-fuss approach yet innovative style, serving food that marries highly quality ingredients with minimalistic garnishing.
Serving an array of western dishes from their own version of all-day breakfast, classic burger to pasta and steak. They also have a vegetarian menu which includes a plant-based burger, spaghetti and risotto. We also recommend their deluxe high tea set which is only available on the weekends and public holidays.
Olive Era, Shop 1–2, G/F, Lion Rise Mall, 8 Muk Lun Street, Wong Tai Sin, Hong Kong, +852 2111 2568, olivegroup.com.hk
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House of Ho Yuen Noodle Cuisine
Another addition to Wong Tai Sin's packed list of restaurants serving Cantonese cuisine is House of Ho Yeun. From its humble beginnings as a family-owned food stall at the foot of Lion Rock, Ho Yuen grew to become a well-established family-style restaurant in Hong Kong and Canada.
The restaurant wants to share local Hong Kong family-style delicacies from the heart and filled with the Lion Rock Spirit by cooking homemade recipes and serving them with love. Some of the blockbuster dishes here include their homemade noodles, hand-wrapped fresh shrimp wontons, beef brisket and pork knuckle. Diners also can't get enough of their fresh-basked pineapple buns.
House of Ho Yuen Noodle Cuisine, Shop 21, G/F, Lions Rise Mall, 8 Muk Lun Street, Wong Tai Sin, Hong Kong, +852 2323 1883, ho-yuen.com
See also: 5 Family-Owned Chinese Restaurants In Hong Kong
Song Cha Xie Tea House
While Wong Tai Sin doesn't offer a lot of choices for drinking, Song Cha Xie alone makes up for it by offering great Chinese tea complete with graceful wooden corridors and photogenic garden views. This tea house is located inside Nan Lian Garden, just in front of Chi Lin Nunnery.
Also known as Pine Teahouse, the designs are inspired by Tang dynasty-era architecture complete with a quaint tea Pavillion that overlooks the zen rock garden and a man-made lake. You can choose from a wide selection of tea, from rock oolong that's brewed from the Wuyi Mountains or aged Pu'er tea. If you don't want to just sip tea, dim sum and other sweet and savoury snacks are also available.
Song Cha Xie Tea House, Nan Lian Garden, 60 Fung Tak Road, Hong Kong, +852 3658 9366
See also: The Best Places For Tea In Hong Kong, 2020 Edition
What to do
Wong Tai Sin Temple
Wong Tai Sin Temple is probably one of the most important temples in Hong Kong, drawing huge crowds every year. Many devouts flock here for its reputation as the luckiest temple in Hong Kong. This temple is dedicated to its namesake deity, the god of healing. Being one of the places in Hong Kong to learn about the city's local heritage and culture, Wong Tai Sin Temple is also regarded as an icon of Hong Kong, in great contrast to the usual image of skyscrapers that define the city. A feast for the eyes thanks to its bright red pillars and bronze zodiac status, the temple is also decorated with jade-coloured roofs complete with intricate details and dragon adornments.
For those seeking to know their fortune, head over to the adjacent Fortune-Telling and Oblation Arcade to have your fortune read by one of the fortune-tellers. You can choose from either palm or face readings. With the advancement of technology, fortune telling is perhaps only relied on by the older generation but given its significance as an ancient art, it's also a tradition that's slowly fading out especially as Hong Kong continues to modernise as a financial metropolis.
Wong Tai Sin Temple, 2 Chuk Yuen Road, Chuk Un, Wong Tai Sin, Hong Kong
See also: 8 Most Beautiful Temples To Visit In Hong Kong
Nan Lian Garden
While technically located in neighbouring Diamond Hill, the famous Nan Lian Garden is still only a station away from Wong Tai Sin and well-worth the time to visit. This gorgeous garden and temple complex is the perfect place to visit for a break from the busy city life. It sticks out like a sore thumb amid the long highways and tall residential buildings but that's exactly its charm: a place of zen in the city.
Nan Lian Garden is based on the Tang Dynasty's Jiangshouju Garden in China's Shanxi Province. The garden flaunts traditional Chinese landscape and aesthetics, right down from its winding paths that whisk you away to lush greenery, koi-rish ponds, fascinating ornamental rocks and even a beautiful waterfall. Walk along the striking red bridge that's reminiscent of the Shinkyo Bridge in Nikko, Japan.
Fung Tak Road, Diamond Hill, Hong Kong
Chi Lin Nunnery
Chi Lin Nunnery is connected to Nan Lian Garden and was a former villa before opening to the public in 2000. Beyond a place of worship for Buddhists, Chi Lin Nunnery is also a school, library, dentist and residence for the elderly.
The lotus pond garden and Hall of Celestial Kings are the two main sights here, with the latter housing a giant golden statue of Buddha guarded by four deities at each corner of the hall. The lotus pond, on the other hand, provides a serene atmosphere as you stroll along the garden grounds, feeling like you've stepped out of a historical Korean drama.
Fung Tak Road, Diamond Hill, Hong Kong
Fung Tak Park
Fung Tak Park is nestled between Wong Tai Sin and Diamond Hill and while it's not a well-known park, it actually offers something unique to its visitors. The recreational facilities in the park feature selected episodes from the Chinese novel, A Journey to the West, also known as one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature and is one of the most popular literary work in East Asia.
The park is divided into five parts, each with a specific theme related to the classic novel. Follow in the footsteps of the Monkey King and wander through the waterfall and cave which makes for a great photo spot.
Fung Tak Park, 42 Fung Tak Road, Wong Tai Sin, Hong Kong
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Lion Rock is situated between Kowloon Tong and Tai Wai but the most popular starting point is from Wong Tai Sin. Lion Rock has been a symbol of Hong Kong's tenacious spirit. The term, "Lion Rock Spirit" also emerged during the 1970s originating from the theme song of a 1970s TV series, Below The Lion Rock and refers to the "can-do" attitude of the Hong Kong people as well as symbolising the core values that the people passed down through generations.
Standing at 495 metres high, getting on the top of Lion Rock will reward you with a spectacular 360-degree view of Kowloon, Victoria Harbour, parts of Hong Kong Island and even parts of New Territories. This iconic peak is distinguished by its shape which resembles a lion sitting with its head facing west where it also earned its name.
Chuk Yuen Road, Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon
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