Cover The Mount Fuji-inspired pudding at Nggy& in Sai Ying Pun (Photo: Nggy&)

Can’t travel but missing a taste of Tokyo? Check out our list of the most convincing coffee shops and cafes in the city

Cafe hopping is the new religion in Hong Kong these days, with new openings offering plenty to explore and revere every weekend. As the trend for coffee shops and cafes continue to evolve, we’re seeing a shift in aesthetic from the rugged industrial vibe that was de rigueur earlier in the year to a more calming, zen look that seems to take inspiration from the teahouses of Kyoto. Whether it’s the quaint tatami seating, moody kissaten vibes or legit fluffy roll cakes they offer, these are our favourite Japanese-style cafes to visit when we’re dreaming of the real deal.

See also: All the New Cafes and Brunch Spots to Visit in November 2021

1. Between Coffee, Central and Wan Chai

Starting off with their flagship in Tai Kwun, JIA Group’s Japanese-inspired cafe Between has since expanded to Wan Chai and with a pop-up in Pacific Place. Since the beginning, the brand has become known for their pillowy soft sandos, wafu pastas and own-blend coffees.

Between Coffee, 2/F, JC Contemporary, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong

2. Bone Studio, Mid-Levels

Offering coffee from roasters in Japan, this tiny cafe with just a few seats doubles also as a small shop. Inside, the cafe is beautifully minimalist with a few key plants and rustic wooden furniture. The menu consists of artfully crafted meals and sweet treats, like the infinitely Instagrammable green tea pudding, or marshmallow croissant waffles with scoops of ice cream fashioned to look like cartoon kittens.

Bone Studio, Shop 2B, 38 Bonham Road, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong

3. Cafe Life, Sheung Wan

If you love Japanese seasonal fruit desserts, Cafe Life should be high on your radar if not already. Established by patissier Tetsuya Matsuoka, the brand is synonymous with beautiful cakes and pastries that wouldn’t look out of place in a high-end Ginza boutique.

Cafe Life, Shop B & C, G/F,Tower II Tem Centre, 251 Queen’s Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

4. Chew Chew, Tai Kok Tsui

Opened by the team behind West Kowloon's Rest Coffee Gin and North Point's Brew Coffee Note, Chew Chew is a stylish, wabi-sabi restaurant and cafe that specialises in set meals and desserts sourced from independent purveyors around the city. The most coveted seats are the raised platform tatami tables, so you may try your luck when booking online. 

Chew Chew, Konwall Court, 143 Lai Chi Kok Road, Tai Kok Tsui, Hong Kong

5. Coffee Analog, Prince Edward

This dual-function cafe-slash-whisky bar gives off some sophisticated kissaten vibes, without the perpetual haze of smoke. They serve their coffee in delicate chinaware, reminiscent of the legendary Satei Hato in Shibuya, along with fluffy chiffon cakes (listed mainly as “mystery cake” on the menu). Come 5pm, the space is given over to whisky appreciation—another strong suit of the Japanese.

Coffee Analog, 169 Sai Yeung Choi Street North, Prince Edward, Hong Kong

See also: The Best Cafes and Bakeries for Vegan Desserts in Hong Kong

6. Cotton Lane, Happy Valley

This Japanese-French brunch cafe in Happy Valley offers a creative mix of comfort food, such as carbonara udon with onsen egg, shrimp tempura with soba and umeboshi plum sauce, and a “tiramatcha”, a green tea take on the classic Italian dessert.

Cotton Lane, 14 Min Fat Street, Happy Valley, Hong Kong

7. Fonji Cafe, Sham Shui Po

Named after maple leaves, this striking cafe has an air of romance about it thanks to its vintage film posters, record player and 70s style furniture. On the menu, updated Japanese comfort food rules with the likes of mentaiko and crab pasta or soy milk dan dan udon noodles, and the cake selection is second to none. Try their fluffy cream and seasonal fruit cakes, caneles, and the signature maple syrup latte. 

Fonji Cafe, 5 Maple Street, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong

8. Good Good Grocery, Sai Ying Pun

A tiny Sai Ying Pun cafe with a huge following, Good Good Grocery has made a name for itself thanks to its small but concise menu of seasonal lunch sets, cakes and pastries with a homely character. Much of the food is vegetarian and vegan friendly, too. Tip: head across the street to the sunshine yellow store of the same name where they sell a great selection of Japanese pantry staples and home products.

Good Good Grocery, Shop A, Tung Cheung Building, 1 Second Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong

9. Hana, Ma On Shan

Hana reminds us of the family-run bakery cafes that you might find in a sleepier city like Nagoya, with a humble wooden sign and cabinet displaying their delicious wares in the window. Here, you’ll find delights such as freshly-baked hojicha madeleines and hearty loaves of bread; it’s also a popular spot for wafu pasta and scones.

Hana, 18 On Luk Street, Ma On Shan, Hong Kong

10. Kachimushi, Sai Kung and Yuen Long

Head here for this cafes signature Dutch baby pancakes, served fresh and hot in the pan it's cooked in. The minimalist spaces in both locations are popular with the weekend crowds, and the Sai Kung cafe in particular is a known Instagram spot with its outdoor tiny terrace featuring tatami seats and a cherry blossom tree. 

Kachimushi, 35 See Cheung Street, Sai Kung, Hong Kong and 77 Wing Lung Wai, Kam Tin, Yuen Long, Hong Kong

11. Nggy &, Sai Ying Pun

This two-storey cafe in Sai Ying Pun has nailed the retro chic look, with vintage furniture and a record player in the right spots, and a warm atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re the protagonist in a Murakami novel. The menu offers a good balance of sweet and savoury—Nggy actually started out as a jam brand before branching out into a fully fledged cafe—and some of the most frequently ordered items include their ‘cloud egg’ oyako-don and Mount Fuji-esque pudding.

Nggy &, Shop A, 6-8 Second Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong

12. Nichijou, Sai Ying Pun

A pet-friendly cafe on Second Street, Nichijou is run by a mother-daughter duo and offers homely Japanese lunch sets and lovely roll cakes flavoured with teas. Highlights include their soba with grilled mackerel, omelette curry rice and houjicha-flavoured roll cake.

Nichijou, Shop H, G/F, Block 2, Hoi Sing Building, 128 Second Street, Sai Ying Pun, Western District

See also: The Best Dog-Friendly Restaurants and Cafes in Hong Kong

13. Omotesando Koffee & Koffee Mameya

This enduring classic, which began in a quiet street off the eponymous avenue in Tokyo, is now a global brand and still a space to enjoy Japanese-style coffees made with precision. The Koffee Mameya spin-off in K11 Musea is a key spot for coffee nerds, where a hidden brew bar is where aficionados can enjoy the zen of watching their coffee prepared meticulously in front of them.

Omotesando Koffee, various branches
Koffee Mameya, B217, B2, K11 Musea, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

14. One-Tenth, Lai Chi Kok

Perfectly sculpted rolls cakes filled with fresh cream and fruit, and delightfully rotund madeleines dominate the menu at this small, calm cafe housed in an industrial building in Lai Chi Kok. Little details such as the noren at the entrance and the tatami seating on the polished wood floor give hints of Japan in the middle of Hong Kong.

One-Tenth,  Flat 510, 5/F, Premier Centre, 20 Cheung Shun Street, Lai Chi Kok, Hong Kong

15. Kaffee Jen, Tuen Mun

The zen-inspired decor makes this a bit of a gem in Tuen Mun, offering local denizens the opportunity to immerse themselves in Japanese coffee culture—at the entrance, an old-school projector showcases photos from owner Karen and Joe’s travels around the country. Kaffee Jen specialises in the darker roasts and sumiyaki-style brews typical of Japanese cafes, and the small space also offers cosy tatami-style seating.

Kaffee Jen, No 4 Kin Fat Lane, Tuen Mun, New Territories, Hong Kong

16. Shibui, Kowloon City

Everything about Shibui reminds us of the quaint little granny-run coffee shops that time forgot in rural Japan, where dark wood paneling, bentwood chairs, lace curtains and scallop-edged crockery combine for an air of real nostalgia. The name in Japanese refers to a sense of simple and subtle beauty, and the menu is also designed to hark back to a simpler era, featuring comfort classics such as hamburger steak, coffee jelly with ice cream and the house signature pudding (topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry, no less).

Shibui, 22 Hau Wong Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong

17. Tadaima, Yuen Long

Named for the cheerful Japanese phrase that means "I'm home!", Tadaima is a lovely new spot in Yuen Long celebrating sake, Japanese cuisine and coffee. The space offers all-day breakfast and weekend brunches, with comforting items such as pizza toast and honey toast. 

Tadaima, G/F, Yick Lee Building, 26 Kin Tak Street, Yuen Long, Hong Kong

18. Torio Kissabu, Kwun Tong

Styled after the retro kissatens of Japan, Torio creates a world of escapism with its dedication to design—note the lace half-curtains and tulip shaped lampshades, cosy leather booths and that iconic creme caramel topped with whipped cream and a fluorescent red cherry. Torio’s known for their curry rice and generous portions of pancakes.

Torio Kissabu, Block A, Mai Hing Industrial Building, 1/F, Flat 4, Hing Yip Street, Kwun Tong, Hong Kong

See also: Where to Find the Best Pancakes in Hong Kong

19. Tsuzuku, Causeway Bay

Taking over the space formerly occupied by Elixir, Tsuzuku is an equally fashion-forward cafe that specialises in light meals and beautiful lattes. Try out their bamboo charcoal toast sandwich with soft shell crab, picked radish and fish roe, or cheesecake banana bread. 

Tsuzuku, G/F, 33 Haven Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

20. Uchi, Tseung Kwan O, Tai Wai and Wu Kwai Sha

Started in 2012, Uchi has since expanded to four locations in the New Territories and continues to spark joy with their consistent offerings that include Japanese-style sets and cute seasonal cakes. A bright and airy aesthetic transports you to the kind of cafe you might stumble across in Roppongi Hills.

Uchi, various locations

21. Yama Coffee, Yau Ma Tei

If you’re missing your Mountain Kiosk fix from Niseko, perhaps Yama Coffee will help alleviate some of that longing. Inspired by the snow-topped mountains of Japan (indeed, the name Yama literally means “mountain”), this Yau Ma Tei cafe was designed to evoke a coffee hut you might stumble into for respite after a few runs. A bench outside is made with a snowboard, while inside there are seats inspired by gondolas for that cheesy photo opp. The owners also try to source Japanese roasted coffee, such as a Mount Yotei blend from Sprout Niseko in Hokkaido.

Yama Coffee, 15 Pitt Street, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong

22. Yau Cafe, Sai Ying Pun

A social enterprise in Sai Ying Pun combining cafe and massage by the Hong Kong Blind Union, Yau (which means ‘rest’ in Cantonese) is designed to relax you. The calming interiors with light wood and tatami seating invites you to rest and unwind over tea, coffee and cake as well as massage.

Yau Cafe, Shop 1, Artisan House, Sai Yuen Lane, Sai Ying Pun, Sai Wan, Hong Kong

23. Yukkuri, Kowloon City

“Yukkuri” means ‘to slow down’ in Japanese, and this Kowloon City antique store and cafe encapsulates the philosophy in spades. A calming venue resplendent in distressed wood, guests can come here to explore the vintage knickknacks (the team describe the venue as a dougu-ya, or curio shop) before settling down to treats such as red bean toast, cream-filled brioche and iced matcha lattes.

424 Prince Edward Road West, Kowloon City, Hong Kong

24. Zapjok, Sham Shui Po

Offering coffee, cakes and bento sets, this laid back cafe with connections to a boutique pottery studio is consistently fully booked—yes, many cafes these days require a reservation in advance. Zapjok is known for their attention to detail, and many a diner have come away raving about their delicate tarts, airy choux buns and comforting rice and noodle bowl sets. 

Zapjok, G/F, 66 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong

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