Words: Katy Wong
A vibrant corner of Kowloon, Mong Kok is known for its frenetic pace – and with 130,000 people per square kilometre, it is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. During the day, the district is a shopper’s paradise, with everything from cramped micro-malls to indie boutiques, bustling outdoor markets and luxury chains. As evening approaches, flashing neon signs transform Mong Kok into a nightlife hotspot, with countless bars just steps away from the fish ball stalls. Here is a shortlist of our top spots.
Maruju Aburi Farm
Its farm-to-table supply chain concept is what makes recently opened Maruju Aburi Farm stand out in Hong Kong’s competitive Japanese restaurant scene. By sourcing its buttery, marbled cuts of wagyu straight from trusted farms in Japan and Australia, the wood-panelled restaurant cuts out the middle man and passes on the cost savings to customers. Must-try cuts include the ultra-premium M9+ Australian wagyu from a grass-fed cow that was raised for at least four years, instead of the typical two.
Photo: Hiroki Ogawa
Mong Kok street markets
Mong Kok’s open-air markets are a distinct part of the district’s personality – there’s even one specialising in water-filled plastic pouches of goldfish. If you have the time and endurance, hunt for bargains at the Ladies’ Market on Tung Choi Street or new kicks on Fa Yuen Street (also known as Sneaker Street). But when it comes to finding the best street stalls and traditional eateries, you’ll need a fool-proof plan. Sign up for the 3.5-hour food tour with Eating Adventures. Tours take place in English, Mandarin or Chinese, and are limited to six people. You’ll get to sample roast goose, egg tarts and more from places hand-picked by the experts.
TAP – The Ale Project
This craft beer bar is the perfect place to unwind after trawling through Mong Kok’s busy markets. Cosy and casual, TAP is kitted out with simple wooden tables and a few high tops. It might be small but the draft list is mighty: there are roughly 20 international and local craft beers on tap. These rotate frequently, but you can count on proudly local Young Master ales being poured here, along with international brews like the De Dochter van de Korenaar Bien-Sûr, a spiced sour ale from Belgium.
Wall of Fame
Everyone knows about the old townhouse mural off Hollywood Road, but if you’re on the lookout for a more out-of-the-ordinary backdrop for the ’gram, make a beeline for the so-called Wall of Fame, located in the alleyway between Argyle Street and Bute Street. What also sets it apart is its ever-changing nature, as artists like Orlando Campbell and Parents Parents regularly pop by to overlay their art over the existing work. Come back a few weeks later, and you might see something else.
Full House Denim & Workshop
This homegrown brand gives the city’s tailoring tradition a contemporary twist. Specialising in tailor-made denim jackets, tees and jeans, the shop invites customers to be involved in the selection of every detail, from fabric and patterns to buttons, zippers and shades. In addition to tailoring services, the brand also hosts DIY workshops where you can decorate your own tote bag, jacket or jeans. If you’re only in Hong Kong for a short trip, do plan ahead – the shop typically needs longer than 48 hours to craft your dream piece.