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Uniquely HK

Feature Story

Old Shops! Fond Memories!

We visit some of Hong Kong’s old shops and eateries that define the vibrant, melting pot culture that the city developed in the 1950s and 60s.
 
Locals and visitors alike are fascinated by Hong Kong’s unique heritage – the mix of East and West imbued with a colonial legacy that’s never far below the surface. One way this history still resonates is in the myriad shops and eateries that keep up old traditions. Alas, the city’s constant development and ever-escalating retail rents mean that these old establishments are something of an endangered species, as buildings are either torn down for redevelopment, or skyrocketing rents – especially in gentrifying old neighbourhoods – drive these much-loved echoes of the past to near-extinction. 
 
Hong Kong people are rediscovering their love of the city’s history and heritage, and seeking to preserve old stores and shops that are a living part of the city’s rich culture. They represent a link to the past, the formative years of the city before it became a glittering financial hub, and a glimpse of a way of life 50, 60 years ago or even earlier. So take a trip down memory lane and visit these establishments to experience Hong Kong’s vanishing past, and take back with you some indelible impressions of old Hong Kong!
 
Shops
 
Chu Wing Kee (1960s)
 
The well-known store on Possession Street in Sheung Wan stocks an array of nostalgia-inducing goods that you won’t find anywhere else – the ultimate one-stop flea market! 
 
G/F, 26 Possession Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
 
Sun Sang Toys (Circa 1970)
 
A retro toy store that will bring back childhood memories and more – look out for that favourite plaything from when you were a kid.
 
2 Water Street, Western District, Hong Kong
 
Lee Wo Weights & Balances (1930s)
 
The shop has been around for over 80 years, selling a fine collection of old Chinese weighing scales and abacuses used by shop merchants before calculators and cash registers eliminated their utility. Some of the instruments such as Chinese steelyard balances are a thing of crafting beauty for its quality workmanship. If you want to bring home an usual but certainly rare souvenir, Lee Wo is definitely worth a visit.
 
Stall next to 235 Shanghai Street, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon
 
Kam Po Stamps (1940s)
 
Sculpted stamps and seals. This store, now under third-generation ownership, still makes office and personal seals by hand – a perfect souvenir to take home.
 
116 Johnston Rd, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
 
Mee Wah Qipao (1930s)
 
Chinese ladies’ garments. This famous shop has been making ornate Chinese dresses – “Cheung Sam” or “Qi Bao” – for over three generations, all handmade and with care – the perfect present for yourself or a loved one.
 
G/F, 76 Queens Road West, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
 
Wing Lung Embroidery (Circa 1960)
 
Chinese wedding dresses. This shop makes handmade traditional Chinese wedding dresses, some of which can be masterpieces of decorated embroidery. The store has over 300 pieces of wedding dresses, all lovingly handcrafted. Visit and be impressed by the workmanship involved.
 
G/F, 409 Shanghai Street, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon
 
Sammy’s Photo Studio (1940s)
 
Missed the good ol’ days when you exposed camera film in a darkroom to develop the photos? Sammy’s still does it the oldfashioned way. The studio shoots still portraits in film and you can also get a first-hand lesson in photo-making.
 
2/F, 17 Pak Hoi Street, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon
 
Oi Kwan Barber Shop (Circa 1962)
 
This old-style barbershop with just three stalls offers the authentic Cantonese barbershop experience, including a good wet shave. It’s recently had a second wind and even opened a branch nearby.
 
20 Spring Garden Lane, Wanchai, Hong Kong
 
Woo Ping Optical Shop (Circa 1974)
 
The owner Mrs Tang is a veritable treasure trove of information related to the ever-changing face of eyewear, including a unique collection of fashion glasses and spectacles over the decades.
 
278 King's Rd, Fortress Hill, Hong Kong
 
Food
 
Mido Café (1950s)
 
This old-style Hong Kong Cha Chaan Teng is popular with visitors. It serves old style milk tea; its signature dishes include pork chop baked rice. The original décor alone is worth the visit.
 
63 Temple Street, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon
 
She Wong Lam (Circa 1900)
 
Snake soup, Arguably the oldest and best-known snake soup eatery in the city, She Wang Lam, which has been run by the Lam family for generations, still serves old-style snake soup that claims a range of medicinal benefits.
 
G/F, 13 Hillier Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
 
Kung Lee (1950s)
 
Sugar cane juice. Now under its fourth generation of ownership, this iconic shop has been serving freshly made cane juice, old-style jelly and other herbal teas for over 60 years – the perfect relief on a hot and humid summer’s day.
 
60 Hollywood Road, Central Hong Kong
 
Lin Heung Tea House (1980s)
 
This venerable tea house,with its roots tracing back to Guangzhou from the 1880s, still serves dim sum from dawn – the traditional way with little old ladies pushing dim sum carts around. You’ll have to chase them to get what you want – the old-style spittoons are gone though.
 
162 Wellington Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
 
Ho To Tai Noodle Shop (Circa 1950)
 
Cantonese noodles. This famous noodle shop in the New Territories, also managed by the grandchildren of the founder, garnered a Michelin award for its freshly made Cantonese egg and shrimp noodles. Foodies from all over come to Yuen Long to get a hearty bowl of soup noodles.
 
67, Fau Tsoi Street, Yuen Long, New Territories

 

 

 

(Edited on 1 Sep 2017)

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