Header photo: 1966 Baking Alliance’s signature egg tarts
First, some history…
Now boasting the tag line “A Playground for All”, Hong Kong’s Central Market first opened as a food market in 1842, just south of its present location, with today’s locale established in the 1950s. The current four-storey building was erected in 1939, housing 255 market stalls. Throughout the remainder of the 20th century, many renovations were carried out on Central Market – lifts, escalators and public toilets were added, and it was linked to the Central–Mid-Levels escalator system – but all that came to an end in March 2003, when the market ceased operation.
Following public outcry, it was announced in 2009 that Central Market would be handed over to the Urban Renewal Authority for conservation and revitalisation, and that’s where it remained for over a decade. Today, following four years of construction, rehabilitation and preservation topping HK$500 million, Central Market reopened on Monday, 23 August. Along with Tai Kwun and PMQ, the reopening of Central Market is the final puzzle piece in Central’s “heritage triangle”.
Operated in partnership with Chinachem Group, the 80-year-old Grade III historic building has been utterly transformed, offering 122,000 square feet and three floors of dining, shopping, entertainment and educational space. Thirteen of the original market stalls have been maintained for their unique character, while the 100-seat atrium is a vibrant new feature, where performances and larger-scale events will be held.
Where to eat and drink
Exploring Central Market’s F&B offerings might seem overwhelming at first, so we recommend checking out the online shop directory, arranged by floor. We also have our own recommendations based on the market’s three floors. Let’s start at the top!
1966 Baking Alliance
1966 is a new concept by Maria’s Bakery, founded 55 years ago, which was then famous for being the first local bakery to incorporate Western-style breads and pastries onto their menu. The bakery features both preservative-free classic HK treats – think egg tart, coconut tart and chicken pie – as well as modern flavours and pastry innovations. We like the pineapple bun “sandwiches”, IG-worthy rainbow Swiss roll and unique M.A.D. (muffin as doughnut) creations, but it’s the awesome beef curry and scrambled egg sarnie – on the fluffiest milk bread ever – that has truly stolen our heart.
Shop 246B, 2/F, 2371 6350
This shop is dedicated to Hong Kong’s national beverage of “stocking” milk tea (the filter resembles a woman’s silk stocking). If one cup of the creamy, smooth HK-style milk tea isn’t enough, Caring Tea also stocks one-litre bottles, and there are options for no sugar, less sugar, extra-strong tea and with classic condensed milk. You can find another branch of Caring Tea in Kwun Tong.
Shop 248, 2/F, 9759 2748
With another branch at K11 Art Mall in TST, HAND3AG (we need to find out the story behind the name) is a home-grown HK sandwich shop offering creative teppanyaki sandwiches. We’re fans of the signature Continental Iron House – a whopper of a sarnie that includes Provençal meatballs in ratatouille, macaroni, local hydroponic crystal lettuce, fried egg and a mozzarella, Cheddar and Parmesan “lava” cheese mix. They also offer pasta and salad options that are just as quirky.
Shop 242C, 6275 8839
Hang Heong Un
Another dessert shop with a lot of history (more than 70 years!), Macau-based Hang Heong Un serves up healthy, Cantonese-style desserts. The most popular item is the almond and walnut sweet soup, which also includes the not-so-secret ingredient of coconut juice, and zongzi, or sticky rice dumplings.
Shop 246C, 2/F
Come to this stylish Mammy Pancake branch when you’re craving egg waffles in a wide selection of both sweet and savoury flavours. Egg waffles (gai dan zai) are an iconic HK street food, with the Mammy brand boasting Michelin recognition.
Shop 242B, 2/F
On Lee Dai Pai Dong
Old-school dai pai dong On Lee in Shau Kei Wan now has this new offshoot, where we recommend ordering the dry soy sauce flat noodles, which can be customised to your liking with toppings such as beef brisket and homemade fish balls and cakes.
Shop 246D, 2/F
Decked out like a retro convenience store, featuring old-fashioned ice coolers and a metal sliding gate, Yu Kee offers a taste of the past in the form of nostalgic snacks, sweets and drinks.
Shop 247, 2/F, 9141 8067
Desribed as a “neo-café’, I-O-N opens earlier than the rest of these spots, from 7:30 on weekdays and 9am at the weekend. The all-day-dining, 3,000-square-foot open space has three distinct areas: a 360-degree tea, coffee and cocktail bar, a bistro kitchen whipping up East-meets-West dishes and a four-sided pastry station.
Shop 124 & 125, 1/F, 9141 5863
Nina Hospitality’s Nina Patisserie spotlights two of the bakery’s most popular pastries – palmiers and the napoleon whole cake – in flavours that change with the seasons. The exclusive gift boxes, designed to resemble the Central Market building, are highly covetable.
Shop 112, 1/F, 9141 3019
CITTÁ’s simple, seasonal Italian dishes, focusing specifically on the coastal region of Genoa, are heavy on pasta and seafood. Sometimes, a big bowl of pasta is all we need to get us through the day!
Shop G18, G/F, 9140 6167
Fruitalks is a next-level juice bar. There’s the usual colourful, freshly squeezed juices, but the brand also offers cold-brew tea blends and fruit sodas.
Shop G16, G/F, 9140 8219
Celebrating the core Chinese values of unity and togetherness, mahjong-inspired LottaJoy showcases homestyle Chinese dishes, from drunken small plates, to stir-fries, to roast meats.
Shop G11, G/F, 9140 4694
Craft beer specialist Mak’s has nine taps in total here hooked up to a variety of fresh brews from the Tsuen Wan brewery, many made with local ingredients such a sugar cane and dried longan, as well as the brand’s first beer cocktails. Open from 11:30am.
Shop G13, G/F, 9141 2974
Perfume Trees Gin
Award-winning home-grown gin brand Perfume Trees, whose intoxicating (literally) aroma comes from gardenias sourced in New Territories, will shake up some exclusive gin cocktails here, with the quirky names and ingredients inspired by former market stalls – Butcher Wing, Fruit Vendor Fei, Fishmonger Shing, to name a few. Open from 11:30am.
Shop G15A, G/F, 9140 8391
We might not be travelling to Singapore anytime soon, but Pulau gives us a taste of the signature flavours of the island city state – Hainanese chicken rice, laksa, kaya toast and more delights from the Lion City. There’s another branch of Pulau that’s opened recently at Lok Fu too.
Shop G19, G/F
Wako Sake Central
Multi-concept Wako Sake Central features two F&B experiences. There’s Wako Sake Sushi & Tap, which is set up like a traditional sushi bar with sake-pairing experience, and then there’s Wako Sake Izakaya, specialising in cooked Japanese dishes the likes of udon and yakitori. Open from 12pm.
A wine bar with a difference, Winelog has been opened in partnership with the Hong Kong Wine Judges Association, and it presents award-winning Old and New World wine labels, available by the glass and bottle, in an elegant space seating 15. Wine flights and custom wine tastings are further draws. Opens at 11:30am.
Shop G14, G/F, 9140 8356
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