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City Guide: Hong Kong’s Kowloon Neighborhood

Dumplings and wok-fried Wagyu at Lai Ching Heen.

Ben Weller

“The Dark Side” steps into the spotlight.

With its dense neon-lit streets, packed markets, and abundance of local restaurants, Kowloon has long been considered Hong Kong’s heart and soul. Often overshadowed by the more polished Hong Kong Island across Victoria Harbour, the “Dark Side,” as it’s affectionately nicknamed, is buzzing with new energy, thanks to a wellspring of recent arts and culture projects in the waterfront Tsim Sha Tsui and West Kowloon neighborhoods. In Tsim Sha Tsui, the renovated Hong Kong Museum of Art, sprawling new

Victoria Dockside art and design district, and reimagined Avenue of Stars are all a short walk apart. Meanwhile, a ten-minute drive west, the West Kowloon Cultural District – a massive arts development project that took over a decade to complete – is packed with prestigious venues, from the Xiqu Centre for Chinese theater to the M+ museum of visual culture and the Hong Kong Palace Museum.


At the Hong Kong Palace Museum, explore more than 900 cultural treasures on loan from Beijing’s Palace Museum, then keep the Forbidden City vibes going with lunch at Xia. The contemporary Chinese teahouse on the museum’s ground floor brings Qing Dynasty imperial cuisine into the modern age in dishes such as braised duck with lotus seed, Chinese lettuce and scallion meatballs, and sweet red-bean-filled rice rolls.

Among the imaginative exhibits and four dining options at the ultramodern M+ is Mosu Hong Kong, an outpost of chef Sung Anh’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Seoul. Its minimalist interiors complement a tasting menu that champions simplicity and seasonality, including sweet-corn tofu in ajo blanco (akin to an almond gazpacho), sea eel in jeonbyeong (a buckwheat crepe), and Hanwoo bresaola and vegetables.

Executive chef Lau Yiu Fai takes travelers on an authentic Cantonese culinary journey at Lai Ching Heen, a two-Michelin-starred address overlooking Victoria Harbour from inside the recently renovated Regent Hong Kong. Enlist the restaurant’s tea sommelier for pairings with everything from delicate midday dim sum dishes to the eight-course tasting menu for dinner.

Twilight on Victoria Harbour.

Ben Weller


For a front-row seat to sunset over Victoria Harbour, grab a table at Rest Coffee Gin in the West Kowloon Art Park. All about specialty coffee by day and craft cocktails by night, this low-key spot specializes in refreshing G&Ts (with more than 80 types of gin on offer), but travelers can’t go wrong with the impossibly smooth espresso martini either.

Hong Kongers love a good cocktail bar – and few compare with DarkSide at the Rosewood Hong Kong. Plush velvet and live jazz set the tone in this sultry sanctuary, where guests unwind over rare dark spirits (including a barrel-to-glass Pierre Ferrand Grande Champagne cognac), classic cocktails, or novel creations inspired by mah-jongg, one of Hong Kong’s most beloved pastimes.


Brimming with megamalls and thrifty market finds, Tsim Sha Tsui is an oasis for the fashion-obsessed, but K11 Musea, a nature- and art-inspired mall covered in 50,000 square feet of green walls, is the pinnacle. The Victoria Dockside space brings together dozens of contemporary artworks and installations with some 250 global brands, from Alexander McQueen to Le Labo, Off-White, and Asia’s largest MoMA Design Store.

Buying a bespoke suit is a quintessential Hong Kong sartorial experience – for one of the best, make an appointment at Ascot Chang, a 15-minute walk north of the West Kowloon Cultural District, where tailors have been crafting exquisite men’s clothing, including classic white poplins, casual jackets, and modern tuxes, since 1953.

The West Kowloon Cultural District.

Ben Weller


Built on the site of the early 1900s Holt’s Wharf dockyard, the 413-room Rosewood Hong Kong strikes a balance between local heritage and European panache. Rooms and suites feature harbor views, and the hotel is home to 11 globally inspired bars and restaurants, a leafy spa, and an extensive art collection starring works by the likes of Damien Hirst and Lynn Chadwick. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 hotel credit.

Fresh from a three-year transformation, the 497-room Regent Hong Kong reopened this year on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. Designed by Hong Kong-born Chi Wing Lo, the serene interiors welcome guests with castlelike doors and triple-height windows showcasing the harbor. Rooms (60 percent of which face the water) come with king-size beds and Japanese-style soaking tubs. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 dining credit.

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