Could Wanchai have a beach?

Imagine this – a wonderful article from an urban landscape planning firm– about the development of Wanchai waterfront area to potentially include a green tower and a beach.

“Green tower” left, beach with clean water by 10design

It wouldn’t be a very large beach, probably less than 100 meters length but having a beach with clean water in one of the busiest harbours in the world would be a marvellous sight to see.

This is what it looks like through my lens with some super imposition. The beach and building would be taking the Fenwick Pier site in front of the HKAPA.

The architect’s office is directly behind the proposed site. Perhaps they are sick of looking at the massive construction site and trying hard to envisage a “park” which isn’t a token concrete pavement with some spindly trees alongside.

View of waterfront, Central to Wanchai

Of course it’ll never get built. It’ll be too expensive to maintain those filters, run over budget and infuriate the local cartel of property developers.

Map of Wanchai waterfront

But a beach in Wanchai? That’s just such an awesome idea. Zouk out would finally have a proper location to throw their beach foam party. Families would be able to have play dates in Central. Lovers could congregate and picnic under the stars after a romantic ride on the star ferry. Convention goers would have a proper place for R&R…

Wanchai pros and cons

Drinking venues, Night clubs & Performing Arts ✅

Cool coffee shops & restaurants ✅

Convention Center ✅

MTR station ✅

Trams ✅

Bus stops to all parts of HK ✅

Hardware & Stationery shops ✅

Supermarkets & Street markets ✅

Historic conserved sites ✅

Beach ❌

Clean Air ❌

Low noise & light pollution ❌

Peace & Quiet 🔊⁉️

Where to buy cars in Wanchai

I walked by this shop a few days ago. What got my attention was that I noticed only men going in and men coming out. Young men, that is.

How strange I thought.. I wondered what the shop was selling. Aha. They were selling collectible model rally cars of all sorts. 

Every car was carefully boxed for display and presumably a scale model. Given the price point, these cars are not toys to be thrown around.

They had a vintage Mercedes X wing on display, as well as a Batmobile.

F1 cars of all makes and sizes.

And so many  that it fills up the walls right up to the ceilings.

They have another branch

And where do you find this shop? Along Wan Chai road near Heard Street. Nothing striking about their signage so you have to look out for it.  Or get it delivered to you via their online shop.

Preserve the Curve: Wan Chai Architecture

In Hong Kong, the grubbiest residential buildings stand insolently next to flashy skyscrapers, mirrors reflecting sunlight and steel glinting like unsheathed swords against the sky.
Buildings weren’t always designed to maximise square footage by being square. Neither did they incorporate angles which could “cut” their neighbours feng shui. The rounded corners are a style snapshot in time 1960’s or before, incorporating the best design for feng shui… especially in Wan Chai where roads and intersections can go off at crazy angles.

A few old and modern buildings retain the curves,   let’s take a look at the ones in Wan Chai.

Here are buildings that have incorporated the curve into the design.

1. Queens road east & Anton Street

Nice pink curve


2. Church on intersection of Johnston Road, Hennessy and Arsenal Street 

Church with rounded corner

3. Johnston Road  and Fleming Road 

Tai Yau Plaza, nicely curved

4. Newly renovated Takan Lodge, Johnston Road

Takan Lodge, nice curve

5. Curved building on Hennessy, Stewart Road intersection

Large pink curved building

6. On Wan Chai road, near Wan Chai outdoor market

Curved Building near Wanchai market


7. Almost circular building, Johnston- Fleming Road intersection

8. The building on Johnston Road and Wan chai Road & Hopewell Center

Of course the only completely round building in Wanchai is Hopewell Center.

Then there are the buildings that “cheat” and incorporate a rounded ledge.

Curved ledge, Tai Wong East Street
Curved ledge for the Jenga building
Curved ledge, near Wanchai mtr
Curved ledge, Johnston Road and Tai Wo Street
Curved ledge, Lockhart Road
Curved ledge, Lockhart Road


Curved Ledge, Lockhart road and Tonnochy Road


Curved ledge, corner of Fenwick & Hennessy, Wanchai
Curved ledge, corner of Fenwick & Hennessy

Try spotting these buildings on your next walk around Wanchai.

You can read a little more on the fate of a curved Pawn Shop. It’s already been torn down.

There’s also the haunted house of Wanchai which is curved. However it’s not accessible to the public as Hopewell is constructing its new hotel and convention center, so you can read about it here.

The building in this photo no longer exists.

A very famous curved building, Old Wanchai market.

Cong Sao Star Chinese Dessert (Wan Chai branch)

I really thought I’d blogged about this dessert place before… so when HP told me he had a cold and was looking for something ginger-soupy, I wanted to refer him to my blog. But, no I hadn’t! That was an article I wrote for another blog in reference to the Cong Sao Dessert branch in Sharp Street, Causeway Bay.

How could I have missed this important little gem?!

Chinese dessert shops are commonly found in Causeway Bay. They are littered all over (also in Times Square, CitySuper food court) with a particular concentration near the bus stops on Canal Street East and on Sharp Street. The desserts usually consist of either shaved ice (cold) with all possible combinations of fruit, jelly, beans, nuts or soya. Hot desserts tend to be creamy or gingery soup bases with a variety of ingredients like ginkgo nuts or snow fungus. 

I have a soft spot for chinese hot desserts, my mother used to make them at home. We would have Cheng tng (light soup) which was hot, sweet and constituted of dried longans, sago pearls, white fungus and fresh ginkgo nuts. This is hard to find here but at least Cong Sao Desserts has some soupy stuff that I’ll resort to when the craving hits. 

Ok back to the mission. Wan Chai.

Cong Sao Desserts is on Tai Wong Street East, just a few steps away form the Pawn. 

Cong Sao Dessert Wan Chai
It takes up the ground floor shoplot of the Wen Ding restaurant, a standalone building that has benefitted from a gazetted public seating space on one side and an easement for loading to J residences.

Situated on ground floor of Wen Ding restaurant

It’s surprisingly spacious… well I suppose the tables are quite small and they’ve maximised the space with stools, but the point is that it’s designed for the maximum number of people to do a quick dessert “in and out”.

On the pavement, a standee advertises their happy hour promotion. Essentially you get 10% off if you come off peak hours between Monday to Friday between 1-6pm. Good to know.

Here’s their menu, you can plan what you’d like to have in advance.

Hot dessert items
Cold dessert items
More cold dessert items

HP, for a fluesy friendly dessert, I would recommend the ones below ticked in green.

Rat despatch 

**Visually disturbing images in this entry **

One can only imagine the life that goes on in the back alleys and sewers of any major city. Even the supermarket’s storage areas are popular with cockroaches and get distributed throughout the city daily in the vans that send card board boxes to homes. I’m sure that’s how the cockroaches got into my home. It has taken a lot of effort to eradicate them… and yet we never know when we’ll see those feelers waving at us on the kitchen counter top again.

Hustle bustle of Stone Nullah Lane, Wanchai market

The Wan Chai outdoor market was just beginning to get going at around 8.30am, just as I was returning from an errand. Walking down Stone Nullah Lane, it was all the usual hustle bustle of early shoppers and shopkeepers setting up stalls for the day.

Just as I walked by the fresh fish shop, some litter lying at the side of the street caught my eye. 

In a similar fashion to the quick rewind in movies, I walked backwards for a closer look.

There were dead rats stuck in glue traps, dumped in a polystyrene box alongside oranges waiting for the trash collectors or pest control perhaps.

Hmm. Those glue traps really are effective. Where can you get some if you find yourself in a situation where you need to rid your house of rats?

Buy your pest control products in Wan chai market

This is the stall to head to. It’s roughly opposite the Thai vegetable and herb shop on Cross Street. He’s got something for the usual suspects. Termites, ants, cockroaches and rats.

The end of the coffee shop “Coffee Shop”

It really is tough for the stand alone entrepreneur these days. Without a large group of restaurants and economies of scale from design, concept to cost control on the F&B items, most don’t stand a chance. Couple that with the rental extortion and it’ll deter you from ever owning your own retail outlet.

A small coffee shop opened up on Queens Road East last year taking the place previously occupied by a bakery. Named “Coffee Shop“, it was not an exciting addition. The signage was simple and within, a large wall mural reminiscent of the Keith Haring style paintings of a naked man seemingly running among exploding stars. The coffee machine looked high end and expensive, the staff behind the counter looked a bit bored. The space between the counter and the door felt a bit empty.

There were no tables or seating areas provided. I suppose the owners subscribed to the concept of grab and go, hoping that clients would pop in for a drink in one hand and a croissant in the other to scurry to their workplace. I walked past this little coffee shop many times and never saw anyone in it.

Coffee shop closes down

Is it a surprise that it’s shut down? I guess it’s more amazing that they lasted as long as they did.

Here’s their apology note to suppliers and clients alike.

Coffee shop closure apology

Let’s see what replaces it and when.

The Launch of Kee Wah Bakery Flagship Store in Wan Chai, Lee Tung Avenue

On the penultimate day of Chinese New Year celebrations, Kee Wah Bakery decided to hold its official launch.

I happened to walk in the day before and saw them fixing up the models and generally sprucing up the shop.

The launch party in the store caused a huge pedestrian jam on the sidewalk. 

Welcome! Welcome!

And I swiftly realised that it was because the staff were out on the pavement and there were a few celebrities within the shop, hence massive crowding by its windows for everyone trying to catch a glimpse.

When I asked the girls outside who the celebrity was, they answered “which one? There are several…” ok, I’ll admit my celebrity knowledge is pretty thin. But I did recognise this guys stature, he’s in a lot of ads.

This Kee Wah flagship store in Wanchai is quite nicely designed. It’s reminiscent of the original store they had in Kowloon. The owners commissioned a model layout of the exterior and interior of the original shop. Nice touch.

With the little lights on, it isn’t difficult to imagine what it used to look like.

Wonderful detailing, right down to the minibus.

The interiors are just as spectacular. No details were spared, right down to the individual cakes and bottled sweets.

The store managed to incorporate a small real time bakery for freshly baked goods. I’m not sure if that’s permanent or just to impress the visitors for the first couple of weeks.

The store has all the treats in every possible combination. They have the traditional wife cakes in single and multiple packages, the more modern recipes, the cutesy stuff and the special box gift sets. They also have the Taiwanese style pineapple tarts. 

There are two feature walls, one with a black and white tonal mural of a Hong Kong stairway (reminds me of Pottinger Street), the other with black and white photographs on their operating history.

What I appreciated about this store, is how they factored in disabled access. There’s a nice ramp on one side of the shop. Perfect for mommies with strollers.

You can see that business is brisk. It was launched with total professionalism and timing to coincide with Chinese New Year, a time of gifting and when loved ones would be visiting from other parts of the world.

Business is brisk
Loading area out back with replenishments

It’s worth a visit if you’re in the neighbourhood. The store is right across from Hopewell Center.
Kee Wah Flagship, the old and the new. Still retains the same look, down to the lightbulbs hanging above the shop

Restaurants closed that never opened 

There are two shop lots which have been empty for the last 3 years, underwent renovation a year ago but never opened. 

One is situated on the corner of Queens Road East and Stone Nullah Lane, which sports some sort of chicken emblem. Presumably something to do with chickens. Maybe the owners thought it auspicious to launch a chicken themed shop in the year of the rooster. Not.

It was full of busy contractors mid-way through last year and underwent significant renovation. There were red notes posted on the shutters indicating that the owners were selecting a date for launch but no actual announcement of the date. The shutters have remained firmly down with no one going in or out.

The other shop lot is located on the corner of Queens Road East and McGregor Street.

In this case, the restaurant was all ready for launch. Named Soul Food Veggies with big signs proclaiming “we are how we eat” it was an interesting concept that failed before it truly started. There were a few meetings and discussions that took place, some photo shoots and what appeared to be a launch event….. then everything went quiet. The lights went off, the table settings cleared and a sign appeared saying that the shop was once again undergoing renovation. 

The signboards have begun rusting and the furniture inside has been replaced with storage boxes.

The kitchen and display area appears to be in complete disarray.

It’s really too bad because it looked like the staff had undergone some training and the kitchen was already in place. The concept of a nice vegetarian restaurant in the vicinity of OVO and Isoya would provide a classy and exciting addition to vegetarian choices in the neighbourhood of Wan Chai

So why did these two places fail to launch? 

Without speaking to anyone who owns these businesses, I can’t say if it’s partner strife or funding issues, or permit issues, perhaps all three. If you believe in chinese feng shui though, you’ll probably attribute much of the inevitability to this.  I’m no feng shui expert but take a look.

Chinese business people generally aren’t into sharp corners for spaces. Sharp edges reflect “cutting” or “wedge” in relationships or business. It’s a big no-no. This shoplot has a sharp wedge right above its entranceway, quite inauspicious.

Check out the next one.

Again, another angled wedge above the shop lot. Take a look at it from the front.

Here you can see that there are three angles above this shop, giving it a jagged overhead appearance.

Not everyone believes in feng shui but many Cantonese people do when selecting a place of business. 

I wonder if the two restaurants are associated somehow and the same owner went bust? All speculation here.

Watch repair and battery replacement in Wan Chai

If you haven’t switched over to wearing an apple iwatch and enjoy wearing a quartz watch, it must be annoying when the mechanism stops ticking. Uurgh. What time is it? You could continually check your phone as I do, but it does require taking the phone out and getting distracted by everything on the screen rather than a mere flick of the wrist.

My friend NDS was in Hong Kong visiting just after the new year and was asking where she could get her watch battery changed. Yes, she could get it done in London but it would cost her multiples more and she wasn’t sure why the battery died frequently.. she suspected that she wasn’t getting fresh batteries put in.

Well here in Wan Chai, you can watch the “Sifu” fix your watch and insert new batteries. He works with simple tools and a basic desk. None of that fancy screens and taking the watch to the back room where they tinker out of sight. And you get it back on the spot, as long as you care to wait.

At lunchtime there was a steady queue of people waiting to get their watches sorted. It must be the Chinese New Year rush where everyone wants to start the year off with fresh batteries and a functioning watch. A bit of spring cleaning drags everything out of the closet for a tune up.

Find the Sifu at a little corner in the Technology Digital shop. It’s across the road from the A3 Johnston Road exit.

If this guy can’t sort your watch out, look for this watch battery Sifu in the Wan Chai market instead.