GBA Lifestyle News
City Living Section
By Susie Riza | August 24th, 2016

If fresh air and lots of open space are what you’re looking for, take a trip down to Tai Po in the New Territories. Hong Kong’s happy little secret, Tai Po is a hotspot of interesting activities and delicious meals for those in the know. Located about 50 minutes from Central by MTR , it’s become a popular weekend destination with plenty of activities and fun to be had. Home to endless dining options, over 40 bars and pubs, some of the city’s finest markets, beautiful greenery and clean water, the district holds onto a slice of old Hong Kong and makes a great destination for a relaxing weekend getaway or a laid-back night out.

More from our neighborhood guide series. 

Newcomer: Beer & Fish

Located next to the old Tin Hau temple is new kid on the block, Beer & Fish. You might have seen its flagship restaurant located in the heart of Soho but the Tai Po eatery is more spacious, bright and has an open front that makes it the perfect destination for people watching, whilst the incense wafting over from the temple makes this a truly calming country experience. With fresh fish, over twenty draft beer options and excellent service, Beer & Fish is a cozy space to spend an evening with friends and family.

Shop 13, G/F, Mee Lee Building, 30 Kau Hui Chik Street, Tai Po, 2664-2211.

Old-timer: Kwan Kee Beef Brisket Specialist | 群記清湯腩

Kwan Kee Beef Brisket Specialist. Photo: Ashley Riza
Kwan Kee Beef Brisket Specialist. Photo: Ashley Riza
Kwan Kee Beef Brisket Specialist , behind the scenes. Photo: Ashley Riza
Kwan Kee Beef Brisket Specialist, behind the scenes. Photo: Ashley Riza

Tai Po’s famous cha chaan teng, Kwan Kee, has made its mark on the dining scene for decades and is always teeming with people looking for their fix of classic Cantonese favorites. Signature dishes include char siu rice, beef brisket noodles, beef ho fun and juicy wonton dumplings. The beef brisket noodles are a must-try with hearty beef stock, mouth-wateringly tender slow-cooked beef and the perfect mix of herbs and spices. Guests should definitely opt for classic beverages such as milk tea and cold Horlicks for an extra sweet treat. This hole-in-the-wall stays open until they sell out of noodles, which can be as early as 7 or 8pm.

G/F, 26 Dai Ming Lane, Tai Po Market, Tai Po, 2638-3071.

Do This

Take a day trip to Tai Mei Tuk village

Tai Mei Tuk. Photo: Michelle Sparling
Tai Mei Tuk. Photo: Michelle Sparling

Move over Cheung Chau! Sayonara Sai Kung! Tai Mei Tuk is the gateway to some of Hong Kong’s finest and most beautiful scenery, offering a great way to spend an enjoyable day out — whether it be fishing, hiking or bike riding. Perhaps Tai Po’s biggest claim to fame, this quiet hillside village has become renowned for cycling, with an entire street dedicated to affordable bike rental shops. The cycling path can be followed all the way from Tai Po to Sha Tin, with weekenders flocking to the village hoping to get a glimpse of the sunset over Plover Cove Dam. The village is home to many restaurants that boast large outdoor terraces and top-class international fare, and can be easily accessed by the 20C minibus from Tai Po Market station bus depot.

Explore Tai Po Market

Tai Po Market fresh produce. Photo - Susie Riza
Tai Po Market fresh produce. Photo – Susie Riza
Tai Po Market entrance. Photo: Susie Riza
Tai Po Market entrance. Photo: Susie Riza

Take out-of-towners to Tai Po Market to experience a real taste of old Hong Kong. Tai Po Market has been a farmers’ trading post for generations, with fish and meat sold on the ground floor, vegetables and fruit on the first floor and traditional restaurants on the second floor serving fresh produce sourced from the floors below. The wet market is a real sight to be seen with a colorful array of fruits, vegetables, dried seafood and fresh soybean milk.

Tai Po Market fresh fruit. Photo: Susie Riza
Tai Po Market fresh fruit. Photo: Susie Riza

Tai Po Market Complex, 8 Heung Sze Wui Street, Tai Po.

Trek the scenic route

Plover Cove trail. Photo: Michelle Sparling
Plover Cove trail. Photo: Michelle Sparling

The Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls are a sight to behold and a relatively easy trek for those who are looking for a light bramble. Try the Plover Cove hike from Wu Kau Tang to Tai Mei Tuk to work up a sexy summer sweat — the views are totally worth it. Tai Po hikes take you through small villages and bamboo groves, allowing for great Instagram photo opportunities to rack up those likes.

Helpful guides: hikehongkong

Wakeboarding on the dark side

Close to Tai Po Market, The Wakeboard School provides courses for all levels of wakeboard riders, with a special focus on building core fundamentals for their students. The Tai Mei Tuk Water Sports Centre is also nearby; set between beautiful green hills and blue seas with BBQ pits conveniently close, it’s truly picturesque.

Plover Cove Dam. Photo: Michelle Sparling
Plover Cove Dam. Photo: Michelle Sparling

The Wakeboard School – G/F, 7 Yue On Street, Sam Mun Chai, Tai Po, 8202-3669.
The Tai Mei Tuk Water Sports Centre — Main Dam, Plover Cove Reservoir, Tai Mei Tuk, Tai Po, 2665-3591.

Visit Tai Po Man Mo Temple

Located near the middle of Tai Po Market street, the double-hall Man Mo Temple is dedicated to the gods of literature and war. From the late 19th century, this ancient temple was the center of worship for the inhabitants of the Tai Po area. Pay the temple a visit for a taste of otherworldly charm and an incense and coil-scented experience.

42 Yan Hing Street, Tai Po.

Eat Here

Yat Lok Barbecue Restaurant

This one-Michelin-starred family-run restaurant serves glossy roast goose in abundance, with a remarkable amount of crispy skin and succulent fat. The char siu is so soft, it melts in your mouth. This is all at extraordinarily affordable prices. This eatery is hugely popular, having been featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations show in 2007; expect long queues and very friendly service.

G/F, Block A, Po Wah Building, 5 Tai Ming Lane, Tai Po, 2656-4732.

Lam Kee Dim Sum (林記點心)

Located in Tai Po Market cooked food center, Lam Kee offers some of the cheapest dim sum in town, served in traditional bamboo baskets. Standouts include har gow, siu mai, black bean chicken feet, custard buns and char siu bao. With an upbeat atmosphere and low prices, you can’t go wrong.

Shop 8-9, 2/F, Tai Po Complex, 8 Heung Sze Wui Street, Tai Po.

Lung Chun | 龍津美食

龍津美食. Photo: Ashley Riza
龍津美食. Photo: Ashley Riza
Fish and Beef Balls. Photo: Susie Riza
Fish and Beef Balls. Photo: Susie Riza

Drawing in huge crowds is Lung Chun, a Hong Kong-style snack shop located on bustling Tai Ming Lane. Serving up local snacks, this street food vendor stands firm as a Tai Po favorite for good reason, and is famous for its fish balls, siu mai and Hong Kong-style egg waffles filled with just the right amount of sugar, condensed milk and peanut butter. With its old-school neon sign and crowds of people, this traditional snack shop can’t be missed.

Street Food Galore. Photo: Ashley Riza
Street Food Galore. Photo: Ashley Riza

14 Tai Ming Lane, Tai Po.

Chung Shing Thai Restaurant

Chung Shing Thai Restaurant Fried Fish. Photo: Irene Pyne
Chung Shing Thai Restaurant Fried Fish. Photo: Irene Pyne

Tai Mei Tuk village is peppered with Thai restaurants, but Chung Shing Thai Restaurant is by far the most popular. Standout dishes include traditional tom yum goong soup, spicy crab curry, deep-fried crispy fish and grilled tender pork neck served with chili sauce. Bookings are advised as queues can be long, and portions are large so definitely opt to share family-style.

G/F, 69 Tai Mei Tuk Village, Ting Kok Road, Tai Po, 2664-5218.

Shalimar Indian Restaurant

A fixture of the old town’s main street, Kwong Fuk Road, family-run Shalimar has been hot on the Tai Po scene for decades. Popular with British soldiers in years gone by, Shalimar produces fantastic dishes from the tandoor, including seekh kebab, fish tikka and kadai paneer. If spice is your thing, feel free to ask for more heat as the dishes tend to be milder than Kowloon curries.

G/F, 127 Kwong Fuk Road, Tai Po, 2653-7790.

Drink Here

King’s Belly

King's Belly in Tai Po. Photo: Susie Riza
King’s Belly in Tai Po. Photo: Susie Riza

Located down a back alley from Tai Po’s main road, King’s Belly is a traditional pub serving English grub with a choice of indoor or outdoor seating. Guinness, Stella, Hoegaarden and Boddingtons beers are available on tap, with a wide range of classic cocktails on the menu too. Get your fix of quintessential British dishes like beer-battered fish and chips and bangers and mash while enjoying live sports displayed on large-screen TVs. Traditional board games are peppered around the sleek wooden bar too.

Shop C, Mei Fung Building, 6 Wan Tau Kok Lane, Tai Po, 2663-3550. 

Around the block…

Hong Kong Science Park 

Located on the cusp of Tai Po and Sha Tin district is the Hong Kong Science Park, an ideal place for a fun-filled family day out, with activities for kids and adults alike. Book in advance to take the technology tour, a 100-percent hands-on experience with interactive games, bouncy ball rides and a simulated hang-gliding adventure. A proven hit with little ones is the opportunity for boundless scooter fun all over the park, both indoors and outdoors. The abundance of greenery makes the area great for picnics, although there are a number of great restaurants nearby too.

Pak Shek Kok, Sha Tin, 2629-1818.

Directions: Get off at Tai Po Market station on the East Rail line.