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Food Street zone proposed for Tin Hau
17 May 2008
South China Morning Post

Part of Tin Hau will be revitalised as a Food Street offering local delicacies and international cuisine if a group of district councillors have their way.

Eastern councillor Jennifer Chow Kit-bing said yesterday the idea had been floated in response to feedback from several businesses which wanted to band together to develop the commercial appeal of the area.

The idea also calls for part of Electric Road and side streets to be spruced up with new signs, fences, lighting and greenery.

Other businesses in the district welcomed the idea but worried the upgrade might cause a rise in rents.

Ms Chow, who represents Victoria Park, along with nine others including Choy So-yuk and Frankie Lo Wing-kwan, told Eastern District Council yesterday they would submit a paper to the council's facility management committee as soon as possible.

She said the plan was for a pilot scheme to be established in Electric Road between Tin Hau MTR station and Tsing Fung Street, including side streets such as Lau Li Street and Ngan Mok Street. The second phase would extend from Tsing Fung Street to City Garden.

A bilingual map would be set up at the MTR station to guide visitors.

Ms Chow said the pedestrian-only Food Street in Causeway Bay would be used as an example but because Tin Hau was a busy district, there were no suggestions the road should be blocked or a pedestrian zone made.

She said the government and most district councillors backed the idea, and a Food Street committee would be set up to assist the Tourism Board in promoting the area.

Ms Chow said the plan would highlight local favourites but would also offer international fare.

Kwan Wan-fung, manager of The Best Food, a restaurant that sells local favourites like woon jai chi (shark fin in a small bowl) and pork feet in vinegar and ginger, welcomed the idea, though he believed rents would rise.

"I agree with the plan. It'll stimulate more businesses in the district and attract more people to come," he said, noting that most diners were now concentrated in neighbouring Causeway Bay.

Mr Kwan said he hoped more foreign tourists could be attracted to the area to help promote local tourism.

Betty Sze Na-heng, who runs a bird's nest dessert shop, was also positive about the idea but echoed concerns about higher rents. She doubted western tourists would be attracted to shops like hers as bird's nest was not what they liked.

"But maybe it will attract more Asian or mainland tourists."

Alfred Wong Kwok-wah, operator of the Sister Wah Noodle Shop, said he worried the rent would go up if the area was revamped.

"It's already expensive now, who can guarantee the rent?" he said, adding "there are a lot of competitors here too."

But they will likely feel the pinch regardless of the councillors' scheme. Property agents expect rents might rise about 50 per cent as leases fall due for renewal during the year. In fact, rents had already risen in the past few months as home prices increased, they said.

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