The Ultimate WOM Guide to Sai Ying Pun
16 May 2019
Sai Ying Pun is an expatty neighbourhood known as the latest up-and-coming treasure trove for restaurants looking for a more urban-chic alternative. We’ve rounded up our favourite spots to eat and drink in our ultimate WOM Guide neighbourhood guides.
Where to eat:
Blacksalt is a charmingly tiny restaurant sorted away in a romantic little corner of Sai Ying Pun. Decked out with fairy lights, it has just a few seats in which half of them are al-fresco. Serving up contemporary Indian fare, the place is run by Chef Taran Chadha and his wife Sheela, who can often be seen behind the counter cooking up a storm (when they’re not at their second venture, Salt & Barrel). While half the menu is vegetarian, gloriously so, it’s their perfectly spiced thick-cut bacon, house chicken sausages and beer naans served during their brunch hours that have us coming back. The restaurant is nearly always booked, so remember to book ahead! May 16th Update: Blacksalt have moved a little further towards HKU, in Shek Tong Tsui into a bigger location.
Second Street Comfort Food
Second Street Comfort Food is true to its name: comfort food from old-school Italian-American favourites to Dutch wall snacks, the restaurant delivers in quality and price. For its generous portions and incredible flavour, it's quite affordable, and true to its comforting name. Highlights include the all-beef meatballs, the bitterballen and the penne a la vodka. While they don’t imply it explicitly, we have to say they’ve got some strong al-fresco game going on, making this place pretty dog-friendly.
Slide through the spiderwebby front doors and you’ll be faced with a whole wall of creepy Junji Ito-inspired murals and a stylish open kitchen. The guys behind modern izakaya OKRA are food (and sake) otakus: ask them about their weekly specials as they’ve always got a new experiment up their sleeve. From dry-aging tuna and smoking up exotic fruits to fermenting all kinds of legumes, the dishes served here certainly has the soul well suited to the SYP neighbourhood. Highlights include the Chicken Fried Hamachi and the McBelly Roasted Pork Aammich. Take note that OKRA has got a no-reservations policy.Krua Walaiphan
One of our favourite Thai joints, Krua Walaiphan has hands down one of the best Pad-see-iw (that’s fried noodles in English) in town. A family-style restaurant serving up wholesome and authentic Thai fare, the restaurant focuses on quality over quantity and making everything from scratch. Their housemade shrimp cakes and their range of zesty house sauces are great examples of this. The signature salt-crusted whole barramundi is stock full of lemongrass, skewered right in the middle of the fish, with flavours seeping through.
No Milkshake No Life (NMNL)
The milkshakes here are no joke. None of that artificial fragrance stuff, the banana milkshakes here are mixed with real pieces of banana and the oreo milkshakes put the McFlurry to shame. While the Crazy! Cheers! Cheese! Sandwich seems to be the most popular choice, it’s the Fish and chips we always come back for. The chips are quite meh, but the fish is impossibly tender and their house tartar is to die for. Get your cameras ready: NMNL is perched under one of the most picturesque highways in Hong Kong, and has one of the most insta-friendly interiors in town. Household items from rulers and camera reflectors to industrial items like a whole firehose and heavy tools are nailed onto the wall Gabriele Galimberti-style—its all pretty surreal.Quartermaster
This no-nonsense diner sources their meat from their own butcher’s shop next door. Known for their transparency and meat quality, simply ask the people there where the meat is from and they’ll tell you, in detail. The classic cheeseburger comes with 100% grass-fed beef and raclette cheese, but for something extra special, go for the off-menu blue cheeseburger with cashel blue cheese, bacon jam and rocket.
Where to drink:
KAUM at Potato Head
The word ‘kaum’ refers to ‘clan’ or ‘tribe’ in Indonesian, and true to its name, KAUM at Potato Head is less of a bar but more like a cultural, arts and design collective, which focuses on delivering the charms of Indonesia in the most stylish way possible. If we were to put a label on this, calling it a “super trendy hangout spot” would be on point. While it does serve up some incredible Indonesian fare and a bomb brunch, it’s the nighttime customers that fully embraces the KAUM charm. Our favourite cocktails include the Minyak that comes with blackstrap rum, falernum & lime, served over crushed ice with a float of Mr Black coffee amaro, as well as the Tepache Swizzle that comes with yellow chartreuse, mezcal, banana, tepache & lemon served over crushed ice.
Ping Pong Gintoneria
Based in a former ping pong ball factory on a Sai Ying Pun sidestreet, Ping Pong Gintoneria is the ultimate G&T specialist. There are a handful of red and white wines, but you’re really here for the gin cocktails, of which there is a vast selection. Notable cocktails include the Master’s London with Fever-tree Indian tonic, orange zest and juniper berries, as well as the Rosemary-infused gin with Fever-tree mediterranian tonic and cucumber peel. The entrance is a small red door, a natural speakeasy of sorts, while the bar itself is located underground, big and spacious.