In the six short blocks between Nathan Road and Ferry Street, Public Square Street ties together all of the seedy, entertaining and historic elements that makes Yau Ma Tei so intriguing.
Temples of a different sort
You wouldn’t know it today, thanks to the West Kowloon land reclamation, but Yau Ma Tei began life as a waterfront fishing village. Tanka fishermen docked their boats along the sandy shoreline, which was later transformed into a typhoon shelter filled with floating restaurants run by “boat people” who lived on the water. With their livelihoods dependent on the ocean, villagers felt the need to honour Tin Hau, the goddess of seafarers, so a large and ornate temple was built here in 1876.
Across the street is another temple, this one culinary: Mido Café, one of the oldest operating cha chaan teng left in Hong Kong. While the food is classic Hong Kong-style Western—milk tea, bolo buns, macaroni soup—it’s the mid-century décor and gorgeous corner location that make this place worth a visit. Sit downstairs and watch neighbourhood old folks take their morning tea, or find a place upstairs and watch the street below from the vintage green-framed wraparound windows.
Play in the dark
The night market might have taken its name from Temple Street, but Public Square Street is where it got started. Yung Shu Tau, a leafy plaza in front of the temple whose name literally means “the head of banyan,” was for decades the bustling heart of Yau Ma Tei, and it was here that a night market first emerged at the beginning of the twentieth century. Today, the square bisects Temple Street, and in the evening it fills up with Cantonese opera performers, ethnic trinket vendors and stalls selling sex toys.
If that isn’t quite your thing, head a couple of blocks west, where the Broadway Cinematheque is tucked inside Prosperous Gardens, a particularly peaceful housing estate. With a regular screening schedule of international and independent films, and playing host to a number of different film festivals, the Cinematheque is a home away from home for many film enthusiasts. Kubrick, located inside the cinema complex, is a particularly good book, music and video store, with a café and live music events to boot.
How to get there
Take the MTR’s Tsuen Wan or Kwun Tong lines to Yau Ma Tei station. Leave via Exit C and walk south for two blocks along Nathan Road. ‘
Tags: Exploring the City, Hong Kong, Kowloon, Streetwise