Anyone up for some local and cheap food?
Right beside noisy Mong Kok is a quiet area called Ho Man Tin, which is primarily residential and also home to the largest public housing estate in the Kowloon City district. The central part of Ho Man Tin lies between Argyle Street and Waterloo Road; whereas the Ho Man Tin MTR station is technically not located in Ho Man Tin, but in an area called Lo Lung Hang. The central part of Ho Man Tin, ironically, is actually closer to the Mong Kok East or Mong Kok MTR Station, and is actually a good 20-minute walk from the Ho Man Tin MTR station. So, make sure you look up your location prior to your travels!
The Ho Man Tin area is very residential and is not frequented by tourists at all, unlike the very close neighbouring area of Mong Kok. Therefore, a lot of stores here will not have English proficiency or English menus, so it may be worthwhile to take a friend that can speak Cantonese with you during your explorations of this area (or be prepared to gesticulate and point!).
What to Eat:
Top Blade Steak Lab
This relatively new restaurant is gaining a lot of hype for its very reasonably priced flat iron steaks. Priced between $150 and $188, the steaks even come with bottom-less fries. Yes, you read that right! Similar to La Vache!, but at an even cheaper price point, our steaks were perfectly cooked (and not overcooked, which is usually the downfall for most steak houses). The restaurant is small, so try to avoid rush hour, or be prepared to queue. The quality was decent for the price we paid, and yes, we would come back again.
Find it at G/F, Wing Ying Mansion, 4A Soares Avenue, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/topbladesteaklab
德國熱狗Hot Dog Link
As mentioned before in our Guide to Whampoa, Hongkees like their hot dogs, but with slight variations. Hot Dog Link is a beloved little hole-in-the-wall that serves up Hong Kong style hot dogs to the locals. It is famous for its bolognese hot dog and potato/hash wedges.
Find it at Shop C, No. 67D Waterloo Road, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/Hot-Dog-Link
Black Sugar Coffee & Lifestyle
A coffee shop with personality. Black Sugar has great décor and ambience, with its mascot’s face (a cute Shiba Inu) adorning the decorations. Only full cream is offered in the lattes and cappuccinos, as they believe skim milk ruins a cup of coffee. Talk about insistence and personality, huh? After a long deliberation between ingesting extra calories for the full cream latte or not, we decided to try the Americano instead. We thought the coffee was on the slightly more acidic side, but still had a smooth finish to it. It’s the perfect little place to take a quick break and do some people watching.
Find it at G/F, 8 Peace Avenue, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/blacksugarcoffeehk
天馬快餐 (No English name on storefront)
This is one of the hidden gems in Ho Man Tin. It’s firmly nestled in the middle of the Oi Man Plaza so it can be a bit confusing trying to find it. We love little fast food joints like this. The best seller is the hamburger, but we decided to be different and tried the fish burger, which was excellent. The fish filet was fried upon order, our bun was toasted, and our fries came crispy and piping hot – absolutely amazing. The patron next to us was eating beef stir fried with rice noodles and it looked delish as well.
Find it Shop G6C, G/F, Oi Man Plaza, 60 Chung Hau Street, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong
I don’t know what it is about Japanese bento lunch sets, but we love them and can’t get enough of them! We would recommend this place for its lunch sets, which are amazing value for money. Usually, you will get your main with a soup, rice, a chawanmushi (steamed egg), along with a salad, all for around $60. Amazing, right?
Find it at Shop A, 6-8 Liberty Avenue, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong
明利油器粥品 (No English sign on storefront)
If you’ve never dined under a mushroom pavilion, then you have definitely got to give it a try in Ho Man Tin. In the past, it was a very common sight to see a mushroom pavilion nearby to a public housing estate. They would have pointed roofs (like a mushroom!), and cooked food stalls would reside underneath, providing cheap eats to the local residents.
Under this mushroom pavilion is a congee place, and it’s an oldie but a goodie. We recommend the sampan congee (various bits of seafood with congee) with the fried noodles and a fried Chinese donut. Use the scissors found at the side of the table and cut up the fried Chinese donut into bite sized pieces. Dunk it quickly into the congee and consume!
Tip: Fried Chinese donuts are long pieces of fried dough thatare savoury. The other fried Chinese donuts that can be found are oval shaped, and are called an “ox tongue” donut that is sweet.
Find it at Cooked Food Market, Oi Man Estate, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong
丸茶手作 (No English name on store front)
You can never go wrong with a small and independently owned shop – this one being a bubble teashop. We tried the lychee green tea and the milk tea with pearls and we preferred the latter. The tea was fragrant and nice, not at all overbearing, and the pearls had just the right amount of bounce and chew to them.
Find it at Shop 1B, G/F, 12 Victory Avenue, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong
甜品工房 The Dessert Kitchen
Probably one of the only dessert places around Oi Man Estate, we tried the waffle with brownie pieces and vanilla ice cream, as well as the lava cake. The lava cake was unfortunately overcooked, but we really enjoyed the waffle, which was made fresh to order, and the brownie bits were a good complement to it.
Find it at Shop G37C, Oi Man Plaza, 60 Chung Hau Street, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong, www.dessertkitchen.com.hk
超羣麵包西餅 Maria’s Bakery
We’re going to reveal a shocking revelation here. We actually prefer the egg tarts at Maria’s Bakery than the ones at Tai Cheong’s. Crazy, right? Maria’s Bakery has more than one location in Hong Kong, but why not get an egg tart whilst you’re in Ho Man Tin? If you’re looking to save a few bucks, join the long queue of locals trying to get their hands on some discounted buns an hour before closing.
Find it at Shop G04, G/F, Oi Man Plaza, 60 Chung Hau Street, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/Marias.Bakery
陳記自家製豆腐花美食店(No English sign on storefront)
We like to come here for the tofu pudding and soy milk. We like the black bean tofu pudding (which is served hot) and then we like to spoon heaps of sugar on it as well. If you like things less sweet, you can also customise the level of sweetness for your soy milk.
Find it at 5A, Soares Avenue, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/chankeebeancurd
愛民茶餐廳 Oi Man Tea Restaurant
The absolute best things about a local neighbourhood are the cha chaan tengs! The number one thing to get here is the pineapple buns (so tasty) and a cup of milk tea to wash it down. How’s that for the perfect Hong Kong styled afternoon tea?
Find it at Shop 7-8, G/F, Chiu Man House, Oi Man Estate, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong
華園餃子館 (No English sign on storefront)
The must try here is the dumpling special. Called the “13 yao”, which is a special hand/set in mah-jong (Chinese dominoes game), you will get 14 dumplings in total, and each one will be a different flavour, with one repeat. It’s always great fun to grab a menu and some of your friends so that you can try to decipher which of the different dumplings you’re eating. You’ll soon realise that you’ll always have one friend that has weaker taste buds than the rest of the group…
Tip: If you’re adventurous, try the marinated jellyfish with cucumber, which is a common and popular snack or starter dish.
Find it at Shop 14, Victory Avenue, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong
This place is the highlight of Ho Man Tin for us! This little unassuming restaurant serves Burmese food. We recommend going when it has its afternoon tea specials, as you’ll get to try the signature fish soup noodle, with either a Burmese coffee or milk tea for just $45. The signature fish soup noodle was absolutely divine! The cooks add a bit of lemon juice and spice to the broth so it’s very tasty yet full of fish flavour, and the soup is so thick that it eats like a stew.
In addition to fishcakes, you also get bean crackers and other crispy bits as toppings, and everything together makes for a really scrumptious bowl of noodles. There is extra lemon juice and chilli peppers on the table as well if you’re a serious spice lover. This store was an absolute gem and a must try if you’re in the Ho Man Tin area.
Find it at G/F, Victory Avenue, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong
新奇香冰室 (New Kei Heung Café)
Formerly known as, Kei Heung Café, the restaurant has switched hands and is now called New Kei Heung Café. The good news is that the quality continues to be the same, and the dish to order is the beef and tomato spaghetti. We recommend that you also add in the sunny side up for an extra $7. This is a local favourite dish, and the tomato sauce is usually quite sweet, tart and ketchup-esque, with the pasta usually two-minutes past al dente – just the way we like it.
日日鮮豆漿美食店 (No English name on storefront)
Selling the common snacks that you see around Hong Kong, this is a great little kiosk for a quick bite to eat if you’re in the area. We really liked the hua diao (Chinese wine) chicken wings, though foreigners may find the texture a bit too gelatinous for their liking. It’s all about the dark meat in Hong Kong, so we love our drumsticks! The soy sauce drumsticks here are pretty yummy.
Find it at Stall no. W37, Oi Man Estate Market, Oi Man Estate, 60 Chung Hau Street, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong
We first stumbled across this bakery via our noses – we literally smelt it before we saw it. With fresh baked goods baking in the back throughout the day, this bakery is the real deal. We particularly liked that they made miniature versions of a lot of the breads, cakes and cookies, so you can buy a little bit of everything to sample.
Find it at Fu Tao Building, 98 Argyle St, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong
鳴門魚湯麵亭Naruto Ramen Shop
A very popular lunch place for workers and students alike, people love the fish soup udon in a stone pot here. We recommend that you go for the udon and not the ramen here, even though the store name says ramen shop. Whilst tasty, the restaurant does tend to be heavy handed with salt, so be prepared to buy a drink afterwards (perhaps a bubble tea?).
Find it at G/F, 4 Victory Avenue, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong
What to Drink:
Sip Sip Bar
We’re going to be honest and say it is slim pickin’s when it comes to bars in Ho Man Tin. It may be in your best interest to walk a few more blocks down to Mong Kok for a bigger variety of nightlife. But if you are in dire need of a drink in Ho Man Tin, the Metropark Hotel Kowloon does have the Sip Sip Bar inside, which is open until 1am.
Find it Metropark Hotel Kowloon, 75 Waterloo Road, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong, www.hongkonghotel.metroparkhotelkowloon.com
What to Do:
Jocky Club Life Journey Centre
Here, you’ll be able to partake in a 60-minute interactive experience for participants to re-think what is meant by “young” and “old”, when all of us are going through the same journey of life. The mission of the centre is to “enlighten, encourage and engage”, and through the interactive experience, aims to inspire participants to treasure the time and care for the people around them, to develop a positive perception towards ageing and to respect the elderly. For booking, visit its Facebook page for more details.
Find it at F42, 1/F, Oi Man Shopping Centre, Oi Man Estate, 60 Chung Hau Street, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/pg/LJC.hk
Challenge Ho Man Tin MTR’s Exit A3
When the Ho Man Tin MTR station first opened, lots of local media outlets were most amused by exit A3. If you decide to take the stairs from exit A3, be warned as it has 562 steps – said to be the equivalent to climbing up 25 floors – and takes around 20 minutes on average to complete. Have an extra 20 minutes on hand and want a good challenge? We’ll wait for you outside of Ho Man Tin’s exit A3.
Find it at Ho Man Tin MTR station, Exit A3, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Housing Authority Exhibition Centre
Did you know that Oi Man Estate is the largest public housing estate in the Kowloon City District? In addition, Oi Man Estate’s construction marked a vast improvement in the standards of public housing estates in Hong Kong, so much so, that both Margaret Thatcher and Queen Elizabeth II visited, in 1977 and 1975, respectively.
With that being said, it probably makes sense that the public housing headquarters are located in Ho Man Tin and so is the museum. The Hong Kong Housing Authority Exhibition Centre is a showcase of public housing development in Hong Kong, as well as their work and achievements over the years. In this exhibit, you’ll be able to see the timeline and history of Hong Kong’s public housing over the years. The centre is free of charge, and guided group tours are available upon booking.
Find it at 4/F, Block 3, Housing Authority Headquarters. 80 Fat Kwong Street, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong, www.housingauthority.gov.hk
Insta-famous photo at Oi Man Estate
Public housing estates are great places to take photos and Oi Man Estate is no exception. Oi Man Estate’s courtyard is the location to take one of Hong Kong’s most Insta-famous photos. Just look up. Remember to bring a tripod to help with getting the most exposure possible for your photo.
Find it at Oi Man Estate, No. 12 Hill, Kowloon City District, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Where to Shop:
犬奴(No English name on store front)
Around the vicinity of this pet-grooming store is a plethora of other pet groomers, pet supply stores, and vets. If you’re looking to do your one stop shop on your precious fur baby, then this might be the area for you. This store has some super cute dog beds that caught our attention, but they also have day care, spa and pet grooming services available.
Find it at 106 Argyle Street, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/dddogdog
A specialty store that sells ulva pork that has been raised in Hong Kong. Perfect for those that love to experiment in the kitchen and especially of interest to those looking to make a good ramen broth. Newly reopened in March of this year, the meats look amazingly fresh and there is a good variety of cuts.
Find it at 8 Liberty Avenue, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/ulvapig
Specialising in Umeshu, a type of Japanese plum wine liqueur that is made by steeping ume fruits in alcohol and sugar, this store is so new that it hasn’t even made it onto Google View or the Internet yet. Delivery is available when you buy over a certain amount, and sample tastings are available in store. A neat little find!
Find it at Shop B1, G/F, Sunland Court, 6-8 Liberty Avenue, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/littlecellarhk
雅博茶坊(No English name on storefront)
A Chinese tea specialty store that also has numerous different tea workshops and tastings available for both adults and children. Unfortunately, no English courses are available and very little English is spoken here, but it is a great little place if you’re into tea and just want to come in for a browse.
Find it at 73C Argyle Street, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong
If you’re interested in trying other local delights but with the comforts of an English speaking guide, then come join Virginia’s Off the Eaten Path Food Tour that leads you through Whampoa devouring all her favourite local eats, all whilst learning about the local restaurants, their stories and the neighbourhood.
Featured image courtesy of wikimedia. All further images courtesy of Virginia Chan.