Escape The Expat Bubble – Kwun Tong
In years past, you wouldn’t have been blamed if the words “industrial district” didn’t exactly conjure up excitement. These days, things are different – the industrial area of Kwun Tong is going through a revolution. Once dominated by the manufacturing industry, Kwun Tong’s sprawling factory buildings are being put to good use by creative minds (and a few clever property developers). A day out in the neighbourhood is full of surprises – hipster cafes, top-notch art, live indie music and indoor skiing are just a few of the things you’ll find hidden in industrial spaces. Want to see the real Hong Kong, with cool stories of your journey to tell friends back home? Check out these Kwun Tong gems.
Eat & Drink
Once the best-kept secret in Kwun Tong, Syut is now filled with hipsters, foodies and music lovers. Founded by indie post-rock band Tfvsjs (try pronouncing that three times fast), Syut is a restaurant and recording studio all in one, tucked into a nondescript factory building. On the menu are constantly changing Italian-inspired dishes with a Nordic presentation, created by one of the band members – who also happens to be a chef. Try the signature carbonara pasta served with a 64-degree-cooked egg.
Shop B, 10/F, Gee Luen Factory Building, 316-318 Kwun Tong Road, (852) 2415 4999
Think you couldn’t find a place serving fresh seafood in an area like Kwun Tong? Think again. Japanese restaurant Kokon2 offers exactly that. You’ll find fresh, wholesome sushi and sashimi platters, bowls of piping hot ramen and other Japanese signatures on the menu. It’s got the industrial chic thing down pat with exposed ceilings and dim lighting, with funky-coloured furniture to boot.
Room B, 1/F, 484, Kwun Tong Industrial Centre Phase 4, Kwun Tong Road, (852) 3188 8015
Can’t decide what to eat? Uber-chic Forte restaurant and bar offers a truly international spread – think western favourites like tossed penne with baby artichokes and mushroom soup with cheese and truffle cream; perennial Chinese classic, Hainan chicken rice; alongside Japanese cuisine. There are semi-buffet lunches and dinners and weekend brunches on offer, and wines per glass start at just $60. Even if you didn’t come for a full-blown meal, it wouldn’t hurt to sit back and enjoy a tipple or two at this stylish joint, complete with a contemporary decor and ambient lighting.
2/F, L’hotel Elan, 38 Chong Yip Street, (852) 3968 8222
See & Do
Kwun Tong Promenade
The Kwun Tong skyline consists of rows and rows of factory buildings juxtaposed against newly built glitzy high-rises, and just across the harbour, you’ll see great views of Hong Kong Island East. The Kwun Tong Promenade provides a great spot to drink in the views.
Hidden Agenda and Musician Area
Kwun Tong is home to two indie music venues: the epicentre of the Hong Kong underground music scene, Hidden Agenda, as well as Musician Area, which opened in its current location in 2013. Hidden Agenda frequently plays host to local and international bands in the heavy metal, post-rock, techno and experimental noise genres; basically, it’s a hardcore indie music fan’s heaven. It’s run into red tape with the government a number of times and still stands strong, and if you haven’t paid it a visit yet, now’s the time to check it out. Similarly, Musician Area organises shows featuring indie bands, with a particular focus on promoting the local underground music scene. Both venues post regular updates on their Facebook pages on upcoming gigs.
Hidden Agenda, Winful Industrial Building, 15-17 Tai Yip Street, (852) 9170 6073
Musician Area, 8/F, Morlite Building, 40 Hung To Road, (852) 9654 1238
Osage Gallery has a longstanding presence in Kwun Tong and is widely known as one of the biggest driving forces of the contemporary art in the region. Alongside regular exhibitions, Osage also organises projects that spotlight local issues. Unlike galleries in the city, Osage is located in – you guessed it – an industrial building, boasting ample space. Whether you’re a casual art observer or diehard art lover, make Osage part of your Kwun Tong itinerary.
4/F, Union Hing Yip Factory Building, 20 Hing Yip Street, (852) 2793 4817
Indoor sports centre Play goes above and beyond your usual tennis and squash – here you can try out everything from skiing and snowboarding to softball and F1 racing. The 10,000-square-foot space is equipped with two dry ski slopes as well as baseball facilities that take up a whole floor, among other exciting set-ups that would make for a great day out.
1/F-2/F, Kras Asia Industrial Building, 79 Hung To Road, (852) 2797 9323 / (852) 2342 9830
If you’re a self-confessed shopaholic but don’t have Apm on your itinerary, you should hang your head in shame. The shopping mall is open until 2am. Yes, you read that right. Apm (am and pm – get it?) has everything from high street fashion stores to small local boutiques, as well as a cinema and a food court. If you’re a night owl with specific shops or restaurants in mind, do call ahead – some outlets close at midnight, some close at 2am while some are open 24 hours. Although the question is: do you really need to shop until 2am? The mall is conveniently linked to the Kwun Tong MTR station.
418 Kwun Tong Road, (852) 2267 0500
Camel Paint Building
Camel Paint Building is home to factory outlets offering unbeatable prices on men’s and women’s apparel and beauty products. Spend some time to navigate the industrial building and its surrounding streets, where you might occasionally find yourself getting lost. But hey, for bargains on brands like lifestyle brand Initial, Converse and Nike, it’ll surely be worth it.
62 Hoi Yuen Road
Andrea Lo is a freelance journalist and translator based in Hong Kong. After cutting her teeth in the industry as a staff writer at a lifestyle magazine, she embraced the freelance life in 2015 and hasn’t looked back. She spends her time exploring the best of Hong Kong’s dining and nightlife scene, trialling new fitness trends, and travelling to exotic locales – all in the name of “research”.