Yau Ma Tei, formerly known as Waterloo (named after Waterloo Road), is a part of the Yau Tsim Mong (Yau Ma Tei, Tsim Sha Tsui, and Mong Kong) District in the south of the Kowloon Peninsula. Here, there are a wide variety of things to do. This list contains something for every visitor, old and new, in Hong Kong. A perfect quick afternoon getaway, Yau Ma Tei is a place where the old and new Hong Kong are juxtaposed within close proximity.
The Yau Ma Tei Theatre was once the largest theater in Kowloon and the only remaining pre-World War II theater in the Kowloon Peninsula. It opened in 1930 and is now a Grade II historic building. Buildings in Hong Kong that are classified as Grade II are ‘of special merit, efforts should be made to selectively preserve.’ It is currently a venue for Cantonese Opera, and monthly programs are advertised on the theater’s event calendar. Visit here to get a slice of traditional local culture.
Built in 1913, the market is a historically valuable site and has been classified as a Grade II historic building since 2009. Like the Yau Ma Tei Theatre, the market’s outer walls and signposts are from the pre-World War II era. There is a wide variety of fresh seasonal fruits and freshly squeezed fruit juice at the market for selection. For example, top quality watermelons, strawberries, avocados and different varieties of dragon fruit, tomatoes and cherries are readily available at reasonable prices. It is a fun experience to walk around the market to see all the fruits sold, a worthy trip for fruit lovers looking for a bargain. It is also of interest to note the different fruit stands whose names always end in ‘欄’ (pronounced ‘laan,’ meaning wholesale market in Chinese). For those interested in gaining insight into everyday living in Hong Kong or local history and architecture, this is the place to go.
The Broadway Cinematheque is a cinema that will satisfy film lovers from everywhere with tastes and interests across the spectrum. This is a cinema that shows both newly released commercial and art house films. It recently showed a selection of films from Le French May Cinema Program (titled Dream of another World – Utopias) and the official selection at the Cannes Film Festival, such as Tale of Tales (French: Le conte des contes), starring Vincent Cassel (from the Academy Award-nominated film Black Swan, 2010) and Salma Hayek (Academy Award nominee, 2002). Opposite the kiosk of the Cinematique, there is a DVD store that sells DVDs of films from different genres and continents and different movie flyers.
Kubrick is a coffee shop and bookstore with a good selection of coffee and books on display. After a good movie, you might consider getting something to drink and sit down (with or without a book) at one of the tables to collect your thoughts and enjoy the artsy vibe. Even if coffee is not your thing, Kubrick is still a good place to relax and treasure hunt for good books.
Built in 1922, this has also been classified as a Grade II historic building since 2009. The main building of this police station is in Neo-classical Edwardian Freestyle architecture with a traditional portico entrance. Unfortunately, this station was closed on May 22, 2016 (except for the reporting center, which is still open to the public for inquiries and crime reporting). Despite this, visitors can always pass by and observe its architecture (especially the corridor at the building’s exterior). Trivia: The interior of the Yau Ma Tei Police Station is the location of a scene from the 2001 film Rush Hour 2, starring Chris Tucker and Hong Kong’s own, Jackie Chan.
This is one of the many, but famous, Tin Hau temples in Hong Kong. Temple Street, the location of the famous night market in Hong Kong, is named after this temple. If you choose, you can burn incense, pray and pay respect to the God, Tin Hau, which is a protector figure to local fishermen at sea. It is a good place to understand local spiritual life and have your palm read and fortunes told by masters. This temple was erected in the 1860s, and it was originally facing the Yau Ma Tei waterfront, but now it is about three kilometers from the shore as a result of land reclamation. This has been listed as a Grade I historic building since June 2010. Grade I buildings are defined as ‘buildings of outstanding merit, which every effort should be made to preserve if possible.’ This temple is surrounded by the Temple Street Night Market, which you can visit afterward.
Situated diagonally across from the Tin Hau Temple on Shanghai Street is the famous dessert chain store, Hui Lau Shan, which has served local desserts in Hong Kong since the 1960s. It is well known for its tong sui (dessert soup) and fresh mango desserts. The Mango Mochi is a dessert well worth choosing, with coconut shavings, along with the Trio set, which is fresh mango with purple sticky rice and coconut juice as dressing. The mango is a little sour, which provides a good balance to counter the sweet sticky rice. Alternatively, you could also order the pan-fried turnip cake and durian mochi with coconut shavings, two desserts for which Hui Lau Shan is famous.
The Mido Cafe is opposite of the Tin Hau Temple. This café opened in 1950, and fortunately, its décor has remained constant throughout the years, complete with mosaic-tiled floors and walls, giving it a very old-school feel producing an atmosphere reminiscent of Hong Kong during the 1950s. They offer salty lemon 7up, condensed milk and butter toast and more. Be careful when crushing the lemons for the salty lemon 7up, since they’re actually marinated in salt water and could cover up the flavor of the drink if too strong. The drink’s salty and zesty flavor goes well with anything sweet, so the condensed milk and butter toast would make for a tasty pairing. The condensed milk and butter is served on freshly toasted bread, perfectly warm and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The toast has just the right amount of butter to condensed milk ratio. Of course, there are other typical Cha Chaan Teng options available, too, if that’s not your thing.
This flea market is full of quirky, Hong Kong-esque souvenirs (such as Hong Kong street signs) to take home. The actual market on Temple Street is in the Yau Ma Tei and Jordan sections of Temple Street. The flea market starts in the late afternoon every day and continues throughout the evening. It is also a good place to find good deals on ‘designer’ handbags, sunglasses, clothes, decorations, VCDs, toys and electronic gadgets. Be prepared to bargain in order to strike a good deal. And don’t forget to hunt in the shops hidden behind the stalls.
The night market is famous for its snacks and roadside food stalls serving a wide variety of local street delicacies. If you get tired from all the walking and haggling on Temple Street, you might consider one of the exotic eateries in the area, such as the Manakamana Restaurant, which serves Nepalese and Indian food. Although the restaurant is small, it is still good for a foodie outing with close friends because the menu offers a wide variety of recipes, and everyone can share a bit of everything. Dishes include a delicious vegetarian biryani, a Nepalese Thai set and the special gorkhali bhanchaset which includes Nepalese delicacies such as the gundruk soup, a choice of curry, a Nepalese salad/pickle, and dessert.