When the other half wins a return flight to Hong Kong it would be a bit of a waste if they went on their own, wouldn’t it? Much better with a bit of company, hence my long-long weekend in HK recently.
First of all, for the 4 or 5 times I’ve been to Honkers I’ve struggled to cope with the humidity. I can’t stand it. This time it was around 16°C every day, making for a much more comfortable time trapsing the streets in the cool rather than dripping in sweat and panting like a fool. Second of all I had no idea Hong Kong was beginning to embrace the idea of really good coffee made by individuals that know their way around an espresso machine or syphon. Gone are the days of enduring that stuff in cha chaan teng (tea food halls), although I do have a soft spot for the “instant” milk coffee they dish up at these brightly-lit eating houses. Milk from a tetra pak? Nice.
The handful of days we spent in HK was literally fueled by some great food and, of course, a serious amount of caffeine. Anyone that follows my tweets or instagrams would undoubtedly have noticed an influx of coffee driven messages while I was there. Apologies. I seriously was off my tits on the java. Good java, mind you. So good that it warrants a post of its own, much like my NY coffee compilation.
The Rabbithole is much like the Alice in Wonderland metaphor. Take the stairs up into the old building by the Mid-Level escalators, past the Thai day spa, through the sliding glass door and into a coffee-filled fantasy. The set-up feels clinical, like a laboratory. Stools and a small bench sit surrounded by espresso machines, glass syphons, grinders and coffee-making accoutrement. You choose how you want your coffee and the very knowledgeable staff will meticulously make it for you. Seating inside is very limited and the small terrace out the back is a good spot for a private escape.
This place can be found in the basement of Mong Kok’s Gala Place shopping centre. Just take the stairs down from the street, head past the Japanese restaurant and in the left corner is 18 Grams. The original one is in Causeway Bay, see below, and there’s also one in Tsim Sha Tsui. The Mong Kok digs are larger and offer much more seating and even hot breakfast rather than just cakes. Aparently the eggs benedict is a must have. Aussies and Kiwi’s can have their familiar flat whites (28) and macchiato (25) lovers will find it perfectly short and backed with some real grunt. Definitely worth a stop in if you’re in the area.
Already riding high on two coffees, we stumbled upon this rustic little cafe-cum-fashion shop tucked in amongst the plethora of electronic stores of Tsim Sha Tsui. Initial is like stepping into a room where Martha Stewart got a little crafty; or maybe a lady of leisure that lives in Sydney’s Avalon or Mosman neighbourhoods. I didn’t quite make it to the unique bits of fashion out the back as I was only interested in the coffee.
They don’t offer the best range of coffees for addicts like myself so I settled on the designed cappuccino (42) which comes in an oversized cup. Todays design was a stemless apple or an ample backside. Perhaps a double shot was in order as the strength was geared more towards the lightweight coffee drinker. Other beverages appear as frou frou as the fashion and the Western-style food sounds nice enough on paper. Check the website and you’ll know what I mean.
Hotel ICON was a contender when it came to choosing where to sleep on this visit. Somehow we ended up at Langham Hotel in TST. In ICON’s foyer is Green, a cafe I just had to visit purely to see one of the worlds largest vertical gardens. The entire room drips in designer style and the only let down was the macchiato (52) I recieved. Bless the girl that made it for me. And bless her for putting a fluffy white cloud on top of it for me. It’s the most expensive Illy coffee I’ve ever had, exchanging back to $8 Australian. The strong latte (52) was pretty decent and much better value with milk rather than a cloud. Go for the view and chilled music, if anything.
The coffee scene seems to be stronger on the island where, I’m guessing, most of the expats are. Here you’ll find Fuel Espresso, a little coffee empire that calls Wellington NZ home. Kiwi coffee in Honkers. You’ve gotta love that. Tucked away in a corner in the bowels of The Landmark is this buzzing little caf that churns them out for the expats and buzzing locals. The seating feels a little gloomy and sterile but the macchiato (28) and flat white (40) we sampled were perfectly made. There’s another outlet somewhere in IFC Mall.
Here’s an all-rounder where you can slouch back to soft jazzy beats and share the communal bench downstairs or the one upstairs in the showroom. A variety of beans are available to take home or they even ship them internationally to various countries.
Western style breakfast is on offer plus sandwiches, salads, pasta and killer sweets by Gérard Dubois of La Rose Noire Bakery like the supremely rich chocolate with ganache orange compote and towering bitter chocolate brownie cake. If I was a local I’d be loitering around this place fairly often. The coffee is lovingly made and you can even buy espresso machines, grinders and Japanese syphons.
Causeway Bay seems to be harbouring a few very decent coffee hot-spots in its tangle of congested streets. Opposite the mammoth Times Square complex is this place, Cafe Corridor. From the street it literally is a doorway that leads into a narrow corridor and cosy cafe at the rear. A handful of small tables sit in the front cosy room, artworks on the walls, and the door opens into a courtyard coloured up with a large rural sunset mural.
The macchiato (24) is perfectly short and packs a wallop. Additionally you can choose from syphon, French press or filter coffee or just settle on a juice or smoothie to have with the all-day breakfast or small cake from the cabinet.
A few blocks from Corridor is this very cosy little corner cafe. The small breakfast menu covers things like eggs benedict and a full Aussie breakfast (think – eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato, baked beans, mushrooms & toast) or a simple bread basket with jam (42). The coffee is just as good as we had at the Mong Kok digs. My only recommendation would be to get in early as the 10 or so seats get nabbed really fast.