Exploring Hong Kong Part 6 – Wan Chai markets and shops
Wan Chai is best known for bars and entertainment. It beats out the pulse of the city and all its vices.
Well, that was partially true in the early days of the British colonization here. My friends and I embarked on a self-guided walking tour from Lonely Planet to explore everything behind all that glitters (or neonizes).
We started out at the Wan Chai Street Market, which is pretty much outside the MTR stop. The market was full of useful and interesting items along with tasty snacks, and I recommend it as a better market than just the Ladies Market. You have the element of tourist trinkets with a much more chill atmosphere, even on a weekend day, and the things for sale had more variety and originality, I felt. Of particular note are the reusable shopping bags that you can roll up and tuck into a tiny purse for $20 HKD – great for all that lugging around of stuff one tends to do here. Also, the street snacks were my favorite part, and there were bulk nuts, dried fruits, the ultra-delicious sesame/peanut/toffee snacks, and little puffy cookies with a dot of colored meringue on top. Mind the dried squid or sardines unless you are really in the mood for a salty, fishy on-the-go snack.
Our second main stop was the Wan Chai Market, which is a remarkably clean and well-kept vegetable, fruit, and meat market. We have been in some truly scary street markets on my travels in Asia, and all of us were impressed by the faint scent of bleach and the lack of rotting veg/overripe fruit/day old fish smell. There was some fishy and meaty smell, of course, but not the usual, overpowering, make-you-want-to-run-out-gagging smell. In some ways, one might say it was too neat and clean for a “real” market. There were all sorts of beefy bits and piggy parts on offer, should you be wanting to make dinner from scratch.
On and near Spring Garden Lane (more about this notorious street in another post!) are two small shops worth mentioning because they are fantastic. One is Mr. Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe (also with a location on Lyndhurst Terrace). We were walking down the lane when the sugary deliciousness of the window display caught our eye. Guy Fawkes’ face peered out at us, along with a variety of Halloween candy. One look inside confirmed that we must go in. Different flavors of fudge (mmm…apple crumble!), gummy candy, candy bars (including an Eton Mess-themed bar), and hard candies. It was like Willy Wonka in there – and I can confirm that all of the candy I got was fantastic.
Lastly, for a quick, filling snack, follow your nose to Queen’s Road East and find the small pie shop of TaiTai PiePies. The British meat pies are hand-sized but perfectly warmed to perfection to satisfy a rumbly belly. I had the Guiness, beef, and Stilton pie, and it was delicious. My friends had the chicken and bacon pie, and that too was quite savory and tasty. If you’re wanting a fruit pie, they have a small selection of those as well – and they deliver!