While the industrial area is still largely unheard of, Chai Wan’s similarities to Kwun Tong means that it has the potential to become a foodie’s haven. Currently, it remains unnoticed by the masses, but a quick stroll through the neighbourhood actually reveals a lot of hidden gems. One such gem is Springtime, a western upper-floor café nestled inside an industrial building located a short, two-minute walk from the MTR station.
If you’re imagining an expat-filled western eatery like those in Central and Sheung Wan, you won’t find that in Springtime. That isn’t to say it doesn’t serve good food, though. Chai Wan is a neighbourhood of full local Hong Kongers, so naturally Springtime’s clientele is different. The most important difference is the cheaper price of the food. Expect lunch sets from HKD$40 to $80 including a drink and even a warm bowl of soup. If that doesn’t bring you to visit the Eastern District of Hong Kong, then I don’t know what will.
Springtime opens Tuesdays to Sundays, which makes it a breath of fresh air from the eateries typically closed at the end of the week. I visited on a weekend to find an unexpectedly filled restaurant even at two in the afternoon. The types of customers were diverse, ranging from whole families to young adults on dates to groups of middle school friends. And boy, was it noisy thanks to the number of people!
Noise aside, though, I was pleasantly surprised by the well thought out interior of Springtime. It wasn’t something to expect inside a warehouse restaurant where I suspect a large portion of weekday customers are construction workers. The café boasts a Japanese-inspired master theme and is decked with delicate ornaments throughout. Lots of greenery, lots of neutral colours. The result is a beautiful natural look that sits gently with the eyes – sort of ironic given the noise level.
Springtime’s lunch menu offers multiple main dishes. Passing up the curry rice and pasta sets, I chose a lighter option labelled as Smoked Salmon, Dill Cream Cheese, Lettuce, Onion, Bun. I expected it to be a sandwich – y’know, smoked salmon and all – but when the food arrived, the smoked salmon slice was literally served inside a burger bun. Well, they did say “bun”, so a smoked salmon burger it was. While the taste of the food was nothing extraordinary, the meal came with a generous side of fries, a drink and even cute little cup of soup.
I’m more of an all-day breakfast kind of girl than a dumpling kind of girl (read: I prefer western cuisine to eastern cuisine), so if I were stuck in Chai Wan, I’d definitely return to Springtime, even if the dishes aren’t “authentically western”. Plus – such a cute setting, can’t beat that.
Apart from various chain restaurants inside the neighbourhood’s malls, local Hong Kong cha chan tengs make up the majority of this area’s food scene. Springtime is a great choice for locals who want something homemade that isn’t fish ball noodles.
When I do revisit, I’m going to make sure I go on a day when it’s less crowded so I can take better pictures of the interior decor without a bunch of people in my frame. Wish me luck! I’ll need it given the popularity of this little café.
Flat D, 3/F, Kut Shing Building, 8 Kut Shing Street, Chai Wan, Hong Kong
+852 5408 0366
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