A rather perilous question for this website to pose, our love for SoHo is never in question, but, when taking a gentle stroll over to the north side of Hollywood Road, one can’t help but appreciate how fresh it all feels.
Sleepy café’s with a distinctly European flair, such as the beautifully bright and airy Lot 10 (34 Gough Street, 2155 9210), rub shoulders with local outdoor eateries on streets otherwise littered with one-off fashion emporiums. Indeed, Dressarazzi, (G/F 11E Aberdeen Street, 2581 4985) a dizzying little clothing outlet can be found further down Gough Street providing vibrant locally designed clothing for trendy shoppers.
There’s a lack of polish to the place and a tremendous sense of inconsistency, but the atmosphere is intoxicating, more than enough to whisk you away from Hong Kong for an enchanting afternoon – particularly if you have a penchant for French ambiance and service from a warm smiling retiree, look no further than Gingko House (44 Gough Street, 2545 1200), also located on Gough Street.
So what does this have to do with becoming the new SoHo?
Putting geographic technicalities aside and instead addressing the atmosphere found within, it’s clear that NoHo has something decidedly cool occurring- Homeless (29 Gough Street, 2581 1880) at the Sheung Wan end of Gough Street exudes an effortless cool with its chic furnishings, ultra-stylish décor and assorted gadgetry. The atmosphere is eclectic and not entirely dissimilar to that of SoHo, suggesting that there’s much more than the polarity of Hollywood Road linking these two destinations. They’re both diverse, both thrive on foot-traffic seeking something a little less mainstream and both provide a bevy of activities aside from wining and dining.
As restaurateurs clamber for space amidst SoHo’s bustling streets, one can be guilty of viewing SoHo’s inflation with a slightly jaded eye. With an escalator quite literally thrusting unsuspecting tourists and residents alike upon the doorstep of every venue SoHo’s Friday night frenzy is, at times, not entirely unlike that of Lan Kwai Fong.
What if the escalator’s peak-ward ascent had followed a different route altogether, might we be experiencing a SoHo whose nightlife more accurately reflects its daytime patronage? Quaint little bistros and bars who’s own charming idiosyncrasies spill out onto the streets instead of the heaving masses that can currently be spotted in Staunton Street. Adorable, but would that be a good thing? Certainly not.
The truth of the matter is that SoHo is riding high at the peak of its game and owes much of this to the escalator. Providing fun, merriment and dizzying variety of locations acquire them; the SoHo we see today is a response above all else to we the people that populate it.
Whilst it will never boast the accessibility or the grandeur of SoHo, NoHo’s caricatured little backstreets and artistic ambiance will remain upheld. The perfect reflection of the NoHo scene is Gage Street’s newest addition, ‘Recycled,’ (50 Gage Street, 2181 6865) which turns unwanted materials such as Caprisun cartons and used wicker into striking fashion accessories.
If Lan Kwai Fong represents pop music, and SoHo an Indie band that has captured the hearts of the entire world, NoHo looks to remain an unsigned gem, bursting with talent but left to practice in its basement a few clicks north of its own tipping point.
Our only task is to ensure that we venture into its basement on occasion for a sampling of unrefined, imperfect perfection.