Your insider’s guide to Hong Kong

Hidden Talents

     

Gritty Wong Chuk Hang district is a hotbed of creativity and cool, you just have to know where to look

Words: Kee Foong
Photos: Monika Kulon

Grimy buildings, swathes of flyovers, graffitied streets and an absence of life on the ground – it can be hard to believe that Wong Chuk Hang is an epicentre of art, design, retail and creativity. But as exorbitant rents continue to force independent businesses out of Central and its surrounds, this industrial district on Hong Kong Island’s south side, with its lower rents and empty warehouses, is fast gentrifying. The opening of the Island South MTR line two years ago made the trip from Central a cinch, accelerating development in the process. Many of the most interesting places are, however, hidden away or subject to erratic opening hours, often by appointment, so read on, before setting out.

    
    

ART
Wong Chuk Hang hosts the most significant cluster of contemporary art galleries outside of Central district, often showcasing more progressive works of art. The heaviest hitter is De Sarthe, housed in a shiny new-build glass tower, with an extensive roster of artists spanning impressionist, modern, post-war and contemporary, and whose works sell in the millions.

Rossi & Rossi has a particularly strong stable of artists from the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and other parts of Asia, including the likes of Rashid Araeen, Abbas Kiarostami and Hongkonger Nicole Wong. Boasting 7,000 square feet of exhibition space, Blindspot Gallery champions Hong Kong and Chinese photographers and multi-media artists, including Chen Wei, Ren Hang and Angela Su.

Also worth a look are Pékin Fine Arts, which represents a heap of Chinese artists, and Gallery Exit in neighbouring Aberdeen. For a more comprehensive listing of galleries, see the South Island Cultural District website (sicd.com.hk).

  
Quiet streets outside (top); creative spaces inside at Blindspot (above right), and Mirth (above left)

RETAIL
There is a treasure trove of fashion, furniture and homeware to be found in Wong Chuk Hang. Part gallery and part boutique, Sin Sin Atelier is a must for lovers of style, with its gorgeous collection of womenswear, accessories, textiles and Indonesian art. Visits are by appointment, so be sure to call ahead.

Better known as an online marketplace for pre-owned (often mint condition) designer fashion, Hula has a showroom that can be visited by appointment, giving you first pick of new arrivals. A portion of profits is donated to charity. You will also need to make an appointment to visit Edit, a long-time Hong Kong fashion insider’s favourite, carrying sleek, minimal and modern womenswear.

  
  
Beauty within at Sin Sin Atelier (top left & bottom right); and Ellermann (top right & bottom left)

What started as a passion project by brothers Guillaume and Ben Barras custom building motorcycles has turned into a Angry Lane, a high-end biker apparel business, specialising in leather jackets. Sales are online, but the showroom is open to the public on Saturdays or by appointment. For bikers of the pedalling kind, head to hipster MCBC (Modern Classic Bicycle Company), which sells premium bicycles and related accoutrements. Rentals are available for visitors who wish to explore Hong Kong on two wheels.

Adding colour and whimsy to the neighbourhood is Mirth, stuffed with all manner of items for home. Think lamps, cushions, table and kitchenware, vases, stationery, toys and much more. At the other end of the spectrum, Manks stocks sober yet stylish Scandinavian design from the likes of Hans Wegner and Arne Jacobsen, as well as a range of early-20th century and mid-century antiques. And if you need to send beautiful blooms to someone special, pop into Ellermann to select the perfect floral creation.



  
Man’s best friend at Angry Lane – dog or bike? (above) Gritty Wong Chuk Hang is one of Hong Kong’s coolest neighbourhoods (below)

DRINK & DINE
Dining options remain limited in Wong Chuk Hang, though the landmark One Island South building hosts a cluster of eateries. Mum is a vegetarian eatery that occasionally doubles up as a yoga studio, while Golden Monkey serves mostly Vietnamese cuisine in a food court-like setting. For a truly local dining experience, stroll to the open-air Nam Long Shan Cooked Food Centre, where a heap of hawker-style stalls whip up Chinese and Thai dishes at bargain prices. Bring your own tissues, this is a no-frills affair.

The area’s best caffeine hit can be found at Sensory Zero, a hip concept café that also runs coffee roasting workshops. Giving it a run for its money is Africa Coffee & Tea, which as the name suggests, sources its beans from Africa.

If you’re in need of something stiffer, two local breweries are based here: Black Kite Brewery, which runs weekly tasting tours; and Young Master Ales, one of Hong Kong’s best known craft beer makers, which on top of its weekly tours, also sells retail, so you can quench your thirst on-site.

  

Cleansing ale at Young Master Ales (above), or caffeine buzz at Sensory Zero (below)

WHERE TO START

ART

De Sarthe Gallery
20/F, Global Trade Square
21 Wong Chuk Hang Road
desarthe.com

Blindspot Gallery
15/F, Po Chai Industrial Building
28 Wong Chuk Hang Road
blindspotgallery.com

Rossi & Rossi
3C, Yally Industrial Building
6 Yip Fat Street
rossirossi.com

Pékin Fine Arts
16/F, Union Industrial Building
48 Wong Chuk Hang Road
pekinfinearts.com

Gallery Exit
3/F, 25 Hing Wo Street
Tin Wan
galleryexit.com

RETAIL

Sin Sin Atelier
Call +852 2521 0308 for appointment
sinsinatelier.com

The Hula
Call +852 2544 1511 for appointment
thehula.com

Edit
Message +852 6505 2503 for appointment
edit-thebrand.com

Angry Lane
Message +852 6200 5535 for appointment
angrylane.com

MCBC
One Island South
2 Heung Yip Road
modernclassic.bike

Ellermann
15/F, Kwai Bo Building
40 Wong Chuk Hang Road
ellermanndesign.com

Mirth
3/F, Yally Industrial Building
6 Yip Fat Street
mirthhome.com

Manks
14/F, Cheung Tak Industrial Building
30 Wong Chuk Hang Road
manks.com

DRINK & DINE

Mum
One Island South
2 Heung Yip Road
mum-hk.com

Golden Monkey
One Island South
2 Heung Yip Road
goldenmonkeyhk.business.site

Africa Coffee and Tea
15/F, 41 Heung Yip Road
africacoffeeandtea.com

Sensory Zero
One Island South
2 Heung Yip Road
sensoryartisan.com

Nam Long Shan Cooked Food Centre
1 Nam Long Shan Road

Young Master Ales
Sungib Industrial Centre
53 Wong Chuk Hang Road
youngmasterales.com

Black Kite Brewery
11B Derrick Industrial Building
49 Wong Chuk Hang Road
blackkite.hk

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