Up until the early 1990s, Kennedy Town 堅尼地城 was a largely blue-collar neighbourhood that housed wholesale vegetable and poultry markets, slaughterhouses, and factories producing cooking oil. Few people would venture to Kennedy Town as it was relatively inaccessible compared to other parts of the island. Back then, the tram was the most common mode of transport connecting the Kennedy Town to the rest of the city.
Today, Kennedy Town is the final stop on the century-old tram line as well as the western terminus of the Hong Kong Island metro line. The MTR station’s opening in 2014 brought a wave of high-rise residential developments, trendy cafes, and generic pseudo-European restaurants to the waterfront neighbourhood.
The gentrification of K-Town, as the area is now popularly known, came fast and furious as property developments drove up the rents and brought with them more affluent locals and expatriates. In recent years, the current has been relentless with new bars and eateries nudging out small business and old mom-and-pop shops as rents keep on rising and customers’ preferences change.
When AB and I first moved to Hong Kong, we made Kennedy Town home. It seemed ideal with its relaxing waterfront promenade. We liked that it was less crowded than other areas on the northern edge of Hong Kong Island and that it was a little rough and unpolished with its mix of old and new businesses.
We lived in Kennedy Town for just over a year until we decided to leave the city. Before we left Hong Kong, I spoke with the people who own and/or run some of the few remaining old-timer places in Kennedy Town: Sun Hing Restaurant 新興食家, a renowned dim sum joint in Hong Kong; Cheung Heung Tea Restaurant 祥香茶餐廳 is a traditional Hong Kong-style cafe, cha chaan teng; and the core business at Tung Hing Food Company 東興食品公司 is the production of fishballs.
Over the next days, I shall share, albeit rather belatedly, what I learned from them back in the summer of 2017.
I’ve not been back to Kennedy Town since we moved back to Hong Kong in 2018. I hope I’ll make a trip there later this year and that I would find some familiar faces.