A stone’s throw from the old Kai Tak airport, Kowloon City was once restricted to low - density zoning and became a bustling centre of activity and affordable place to live (the thundering sound of aircraft kept pricesdown).
Near to the more prestigious Kowloon Tong area, Kowloon City attracted an interesting mix of people from different backgrounds, and came to be known as the place to get a quick authentic bite to eat before hopping on a plane.
Fast-forward 20 years and the airport has moved to Lantau, and in its lieu is a new ocean cruise terminal, opened in 2013.
The future of this suburb is yet to be decided, but one thing for certain is that the food scene hasn’t changed much.
While the area is often called Little Thailand, the district actually offers an eclectic mix of cuisines, ranging from Chiu Chow to Middle Eastern. Whether you want some authentic pad Thai, Chinese halal cuisine or just a creative dessert, this destination showcases the diversity of Hong Kong.
As well as many restaurants boasting authentic Thai food in Kowloon City, one of the most popular destinations is the sweet soup spot Chiu Chow Hop Shing Dessert.
Chiu Chow-style cooking is famous for mixing and matching as you choose from a list of ingredients, everything from fruit to beans. Hot sweet soup is also great for digestion, and Hop Shing is known for using top ingredients such as lotus seeds and red bean, which are both tasty and, according to Chinese medicine, beneficial for health.
Try the coconut with snow fungus soup, which clears up phlegm and coughs, while the cold green bean and jelly with lotus seed is low in cholesterol.
Hop Shing is one of the oldest authentic Chiu Chow restaurants in Kowloon City, and the spectrum of light and fragrant choices on the menu keeps customers coming back for more.
9 Lung Kong Rd, Kowloon City, 2383 3026.
It’s been over 20 years since the Kowloon Walled City was demolished. Infamous for being densely populated, ungoverned and full of mind-boggling architecture, the area has come to represent the enduring spirit of the Hong Kong people. This unusual development came about as a result of the Second Convention of Peking (1898), which ceded the New Territoriesto Britain.
One of the terms of the contract was that the British would agree to let the small, walled area remain under Chinese rule. However, by the following year the outpost had already been semi-abandoned by Chinese soldiers and then the Japanese army destroyed the outer walls during WWII.
By the mid-1950s, as Hong Kong’s population boomed from the thousands of refugees escaping the 1949 Chinese Revolution, the walled city’s population also boomed, becoming a notorious district known for criminality while a lack of certainty over which governing body had jurisdiction endured. Romanticised by movies such as Bloodsport starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, or Jacky Chan’s Crime Story, you can still see relics of the old yamen and cannons from the original site.
Yet now, there is only a park where this lawless metropolis once stood.
If you’re thinking about Thai food in Hong Kong then you’re thinking about Kowloon City.
Not only are there plenty of restaurants to choose from, it’s also the home to many Thai immigrants, so much so that a mini water festival is held on South Wall Road during Songkran (Thai New Year). Bustling with activity on any given weekend, South Wall Road is the place to shop for all sorts of Thai ingredients, and Ruamjai Thai Grocery is by far the most famous. Even though the signage is only in Thai and Chinese, you won’t miss the old-school storefront with producespillingout onto the sidewalk. Here you will find classics such as mango sticky rice and coconut candy, but what really gets the heart pumping are the different types of fish, vegetablesand other ingredients which you may not even recognise unless you’re up to speed on Thai culture. Thisstore alsostocks hard-to-find Thaiproductssuch as herbs, sauces and spices including a very convenient instant pad Thai sauce in a jar. For a simple evening meal, the inexpensive pre-bagged curries are not to be missed.
Just pour on top of rice or noodles and enjoy.
21 South Wall Rd, Kowloon City, 2716 4808.
Sitting in the middle of the jungle of nondescript buildings that is Kowloon City, the artisanal European storefront of the original Patisserie Tony Wong stands out and catches the eye of passersby. With over thirty years of cake-making experience, pastry chef Tony Wong has created a line of delectable desserts that give hotel chefs a run for their money.
The cakes at Patisserie Tony Wong are designed with an Asian audience in mind, and usually are more fragrant and less sweet than European-style ones.
The signature Rose Cake, which is even shaped like a giant rose, is a clear customer favourite. Apart from being Instagram-worthy, underneath the gigantic chocolate petals you’ll find a delectable mess of mousse, making this cake equal parts stunning and delicious.
Tony Wong’s desserts have such a loyal fanbase he has opened other ventures in the area, including Smile Yogurt for delightful froyo parfaits, and Sweet Boutique de Tony Wong, a French bakery dedicated to cookies and chocolate.
G/F, 65 Fuk Lo Tsun Rd, Kowloon City, 2382 6639; patisserietonywong.com