In Hong Kong, it is rare to wake up, walk one block and enjoy the view over Victoria Harbour, then go for a cup of barista-made coffee before hopping onto the MTR for a 10-minute ride into Central for work.
This is because much of Hong Kong Island has undergone major developments, making the small community ambience a distant memory. Kennedy Town, or “Kennedy Sing” as an expat might say attempting the Cantonese pronunciation, is a unique neighborhood on Hong Kong Island which has had its share of gentrification in the years leading to the arrival of the MTR. Although, Kennedy Town has succeeded in maintaining its sense of being a place where neighbors meet every evening to walk their dogs or as regulars in the local pubs.
Calling Kennedy Town home
The highest buildings in Kennedy Town are residential buildings filled with families. If a family was aware of the cozy comfort of K-town living a few years before the MTR opened, they might have gotten a good deal on an apartment in The Merton. This residential apartment complex is right on the harbor’s perimeter, and it sits across from a row of popular restaurants. The tram line begins in front of its main building, so it’s perfect for getting a window seat on busy tram days.
Nearby The Merton, which was built in 2005, are Manhattan Heights, which opened first in 2000, and The Cadogan, which opened later in 2014, just ahead of the MTR. For families opting for more space than seaside balconies, The Belcher’s apartments rest along the edge of Kennedy Town and Sai Wan. This complex has larger apartments and closer access to the great cheap eats in Shek Tong Shui. A modern day young professional may choose to avoid the chaos of family life in these residences, so they might instead choose the very stylish Eight South Lane.
The Kennedy Town scene
Hong Kong foodies love Kennedy Town because it is bursting with great cuisine on every block. Yuan is Here is a Taiwanese restaurant serving authentic classics like minced pork on rice, grilled pork steamed and sweet plum fried sweet potato. Similar to the neighborhood, the inside of this eatery is low-key and unpretentious, even though long queues await outside its doors.
Another popular spot is Alvy’s, which pairs local craft beer with fresh stone-baked pizza. Alongside the craft beer, the pizza also takes up some local flavors – for example, try their char siu pizza. Alvy’s is a very cozy locale with a New York pizzeria vibe.
The godfather of Kennedy Town dining is Catch, a restaurant with the sea at its back and the best neighborhood feel inside. Offering Australian cuisine in a casual dining atmosphere, Catch is a favorite for catch-ups, date nights and a laid-back brunch. The menu takes some inspiration from Melbourne with dishes such as Brekkie Baps, smoothie bowls and soft shell crab burgers.
Having a pint of beer in a neighborhood bar makes one feel at home, and there are many quality bars in Kennedy Town for making friends. Australia’s Little Creatures has somehow found a waterfront space so huge that they can fit a complete craft brewery indoors. Little Creatures has long tables for family-style seating and sharing plates. Sometimes they even host live music which sets the scene, especially for after-work drinks in the ‘hood.
Uber hip, To Be Frank is a bar with edgy flare and friendly prices for craft cocktails and good wine. The staff are warm and remember all the regular’s names. Plus, if you really enjoy a cocktail and it becomes your favorite, then you can buy it pre-prepared to take home.
Teetotalers can check out Wheat and Wood for board games all day and night. It wouldn’t be Hong Kong without one fancy cocktail establishment in the area. That establishment is The Wilshire. We all know games like Monopoly and Risk require the comfortable and relaxed furniture which make up the décor of the space. For a wilder night, try a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity with some friends. The eco-aware will find like minded souls in Slowood, a zero-waste grocery with organic wares, environmentally safe kitchenware and a refill station loaded with rice, salt and spices that can be scooped out into bottles instead of using plastic packaging.
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