Linking a number of tourist attractions like Tai Kwun, PMQ and Man Mo Temple, Hollywood Road is always popular for tourists in Hong Kong. While tourists come for the historical attractions, many locals, on the other hand, come to Hollywood Road for food and drinks. South of Hollywood Road, the narrow Staunton Street (士丹頓街) was once home to wet market vendors, trading offices, family-run stores and small Buddhist convents (庵堂). In fact, Staunton Street was once nicknamed the Street of Buddhist Nuns (師姑街). After the Central – Mid Levels Escalators opened to the public in 1993 and brought an influx of pedestrians from the business district downhill, Staunton Street and the adjacent Elgin Street(伊利近街) have quietly undergone a dramatic transformation. Expatriates started to move into the area. Old shops and Buddhist convents were gradually replaced by bars, pubs, restaurants, comedy clubs, cafes, and wine shops. In 1996, Thomas Goetz, a restaurant owner from Elgin Street, came up with the acronym “SoHo” (蘇豪) for this new entertainment and dining area of Central, referring to the location “South of Hollywood Road”. From then on, the Staunton Street that I used to go as a child to get fresh grocery and pay ritualistic respect to my grandfather at a small Buddhist convent has silently disappeared. Today, SoHo would remain sleepy most of the day, and then bursts into life after sunset. The yell of market vendors and pungent incense smoke have been replaced by causal giggles and laughter, and the smell of beer.
Further away from the Central – Mid Levels Escalators and less than 150m northwest of the buzzing SoHo, Gough Street (歌賦街), Kau U Fong (九如坊) and Aberdeen Street (鴨巴甸街) offer a much more laid-back and tranquil ambience. Once home to family run shops and small printing presses, these sleepy back streets have become a hipper cousin of the nearby SoHo. Known as NoHo for “North of Hollywood Road”, this area is particular attractive to locals who come for the foodie scene: Chinese cuisine, dai pai dong dishes, beef brisket noodles, Japanese ramen, sushi, Western fine dining, unadon, Vietnamese pho, hand-drip cafes, bubble tea, chocolate, etc. Despite its abundance of dining options, the shops here remain small and peaceful. Compared to its noisier neighbour, NoHo is much more low key, as if deliberately staying away from the public limelight. Here visitors would enjoy a sense of discovery and intimacy that is hard to find anywhere else in Central.
Day 10 (5/6).
Gotsubo Oyster Bar (五坪) has been a highly popular street food vendor for quite some time. Gotsubo was well known for its tiny shop space (10 sq.m). Recently, Gotsubo has moved to a slightly larger shop in Susukino (薄野), a vibrant entertainment district which many consider as one of the three most famous red light districts in Japan. Not only does Gotsubo famous for its tight space, it is also well known for its grilled Akkeshi (厚岸) oysters. East of Kushiro in Eastern Hokkaido, Akkeshi has been famous for oysters for a long time. The Ainu word Akkeshi literally means “oyster place.” Raised in Lake Akkeshi and Akkeshi Port, Akkeshi oyster is the only Japanese oyster available all year round.
On our way to Susukino, we once again passed by Nijo Market (二条市場), Sapporo’s major seafood market that has been around for over a hundred years.
Across the street from Nijo Market (二条市場), We walked along Sosei River in Soseikawa Park (創成川公園).
At 6pm, we arrived at Gotsubo Oyster Bar (五坪).
Akkeshi oysters were selling for 150 yen.
Perhaps the cat was also waiting for its snack time.
The new Gotsubo Oyster Bar is larger than its old location.
Grilled clams were absolutely delicious.
Next came the large clams.
Finally, the Akkeshi oysters, how lovely.
The entertainment district Susukino (薄野) is always busy.
Susukino did remind us the vibrant scenes of Tokyo.
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HOKKAIDO ROAD TRIP, Hokkaido (北海道)
Day 2 – Utoro
Day 2.1 SHIRETOKO FIVE LAKES (知床五湖)
Day 2.2 UTORO FISHERMAN’S WIVES CO-OPERATIVE DINER (ウトロ漁協婦人部食堂)
Day 2.3 FUREPE FALLS (フレペの滝)
Day 6 – On the road from Lake Akan to Furano
Day 6.1 FISHERMEN BELOW MISTY OAKAN (雄阿寒岳), Lake Akan (阿寒湖)
Day 6.2 TREATS OF OBIHIRO (帯広), Tokachi (十勝)
Day 6.3 ARRIVING IN FURANO (富良野)
Day 7 Furano & Biei
Day 7.1 LAVENDER BUDS, Nakafurano (中富良野)
Day 7.2 FARM TOMITA (ファーム富田), Nakafurano (中富良野)
Day 7.3 BI.BLE, Biei (美瑛)
Day 7.4 PATCHWORK ROAD & PANORAMA ROAD, Biei (美瑛)
Day 7.5 NINGLE TERRACE (ニングルテラス)
Day 8 – from Furano to Otaru
Day 8.1 CHURCH ON THE WATER (水の教会), Hoshino Resorts Tomamu (星野リゾート トマム)
Day 8.2 HILL OF THE BUDDHA (頭大仏), Makomanai Takino Cemetery (真駒内滝野霊園)
Day 8.3 SEAFOOD, CANAL, & HISTORY, Otaru (小樽)
Day 8.4 RAINY NIGHT IN OTARU, Otaru (小樽)
Day 10 – Sapporo
10.1 OKKAIDO SHRINE (北海道神宮 )
10.2 MORIHICO COFFEE (森彦珈琲本店)
10.3 KITAKARO SAPPORO HONKAN (北菓楼札幌本館)
10.4 SATURDAYS CHOCOLATE
10.5 GOTSUBO OYSTER BAR(五坪)
10.6 MOUNT MOIWA (藻岩山) & RAMEN HARUKA (ラーメン悠)
Day 11 – Sapporo
11.1 FORMER HOKKAIDO GOVERNMENT OFFICE (北海道庁旧本庁舎)
11.2 RED STAR & GENGKIS KHAN, Sapporo Beer Museum (サッポロビール株式会社)
After a long morning of temple visits, we spent the remaining of the day hopping here and there to satisfy our appetite and check out shops and buildings in Downtown Kyoto. After coming out from Ginkakuji, we decided to go for a late lunch nearby at Kani Douraku Kitashirakawa (かに道楽 北白川), an outlet of the seafood restaurant chain specialized in Japanese crab.
Kani Douraku Kitashirakawa (かに道楽 北白川) was at the upper level of a building. The big display window of crab dishes on the street level ensured that we had found the right place.
Unlike the main Kani Douraku (かに道楽) shop in Downtown Kyoto or Osaka where there is a large and catchy crab model on their store signage, Kani Douraku Kitashirakawa (かに道楽 北白川) was much low profile on their shopfront.
Each of us ordered a set meal with several courses of crab dishes. This is crab sashimi.
We both like the grilled crab.
We also ordered kegani (hairy crab from Hokkaido).
The table setting was Japanese in style, with views to a small Japanese garden.
It was already late afternoon when we were done with our full course crab meal. We spent some time walking in the downtown area to check our a few design shops and modern architecture. The first one we checked out was Tadao Ando’s Kyoto Design House, a piece of modern architecture housing a shop specialized in local crafts and design merchandises.
After an hour or two wandering leisurely in the downtown checking shops and covered retail streets, we found ourselves passing by another Ando’s design, the Time’s Building. Built in 1984, the project offers interestingly intimate commercial spaces in an urban setting. Right by the tree-lined canal along Kiyamachi Dori (木屋町通), the building made reference to a boat floating in water.
At dinner time, we went to explore the atmospheric Pontocho, one of the most popular nightlife alley in Kyoto. Just steps away from Kamo River, the narrow alley was flanked both sides with small timber houses that were primarily restaurants, bars and chaya (tea houses).
Pontocho was narrow and busy, and full of dining options.
We ended up choosing a sake bar to end our day.
The sake bar obviously offered lots of options for sake. We decided to get the small cup so we can try a few more options of sake (Japanese rice wine).
The sake bar was specialized in sake made in the local area.
The two young staff were friendly despite we could only communicate with simple English/ Japanese words.
There were over thirty different kinds of sake available. The chart on the wall indicated the four main variations of taste for the sake: sweet, pure, dry, bitter.
One of the sake we tried was Koto sen nen (Thousand year old capital).
Sake and Japanese pickles.
Small squids in wine sauce was super delicious.
Oden mix (関東煮) with five ingredients offered good snacks to go with the sake.
When we left we passed by the busy Pontocho Kaburenjo Theatre. Audience were coming out of the theatre that was famous for shows of traditional Kamogawa Odori dance.
Too bad we didn’t have time to check out one of their shows at Pontocho Kaburenjo Theatre.
Our posts on 2016 Kyoto and Nara:
OUR FIRST KYOTO STORY, Japan
DAY 1: ARRIVAL AT HIGASHIYAMA (東山), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: RYOANJI TEMPLE (龍安寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: NINNAJI TEMPLE (仁和寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: KINKAKUJI TEMPLE (金閣寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: KITANO TENMANGU SHRINE (北野天満宮), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: NIGHT AT KIYOMIZU-DERA (清水寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: MORNING STROLL IN SOUTHERN HIGASHIYAMA (東山), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: KIYOMIZU DERA (清水寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: KIYOMIZU DERA to KENNINJI, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: ○△□ and Chouontei Garden and Ceiling of Twin Dragons, KENNINJI TEMPLE (建仁寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: SFERA BUILDING (スフェラ・ビル), SHIRKAWA GION (祇園白川), KAMO RIVER (鴨川) & DOWNTOWN, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: YAKITORI HITOMI (炭焼創彩鳥家 人見), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: MORNING IN NORTHERN HIGASHIYAMA (北東山), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: NANZENJI (南禅寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: PHILOSOPHER’S PATH (哲学の道), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: HONENIN (法然院), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: GINKAKUJI (銀閣寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: CRAB AND SAKE, Kyoto, Japan
DAY 4: HORYUJI (法隆寺), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: TODAIJI TEMPLE (東大寺), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: KASUGA TAISHA (春日大社), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: KOFUKUJI (興福寺), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: NAKAGAWA MASASHICHI SHOTEN (中川政七商店 遊中川), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: RAMEN & CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 5: FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE (伏見稲荷大社) Part 1, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 5: FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE (伏見稲荷大社) Part 2, Kyoto, Japan
DAY 5: FAREWELL KYOTO, Kyoto, Japan