200, 24-25 Queen's Rd E & Lee Tung St, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
+852 2601 3323
The Japanese certainly have a way with style, and it’s no surprise that the famous, Tokyo-born Omotesando Koffee has been labelled by many as one of the best coffee houses around.
What started as a tiny pop-up store in the Omotesando neighbourhood ended up operating for five years, with people lining up from near and far to enjoy the premium coffee. When Omotesando was forced to close at the end of 2015 due to the ageing of the shop, fans went into meltdown.
Luckily, Omotesando was reincarnated not long after, with its first international outpost in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district. Founder, Eiichi Kunimoto, personally oversaw the opening and two of the original baristas relocated to the Hong Kong shop. Situated halfway down Wan Chai’s bustling pedestrian street, Lee Tung Avenue, Omotesando Koffee is a haven of tranquillity that lets shoppers take a break, enjoy a caffeine fix and do a spot of people watching through the floor-to-ceiling glass facade.
While the commercial build is far removed from the traditional Japanese-style home of the original, the interiors evoke the same minimalist Zen, with a dominant palette of concrete, metal and wood. A sense of peace pervades the store, despite the steady stream of customers from morning to night. Anchoring the layout is the signature wooden counter built into a wire-frame cube. This, according to Eiichi, has always been the main point of the shop. A single cube holding a single barista serving a single customer at any single time.
As you step up to the cube, the ordering process moves like clockwork. The barista takes your order, asks you if you would like sugar, whether you take milk with your coffee and so on. The attention from the lab-coated baristas is tangible, each singularly focused on creating the perfect cup of coffee. Meanwhile, every step happens right before your eyes, from the grinding to the dripping of the espresso and the gentle pouring of the steamed milk.
As is the way with Japanese culture, even something as prosaic as making a cup of coffee is turned into an art form, with each cup meant to tell its own unique story. Of course, for those less-esoteric types who are just here for a solid caffeine fix, rest assured the high quality of the coffee is measurable, fuelled by top-quality and freshly roasted beans and dual state-of-the-art La Marzocco Strada espresso machines, turning out precision in every cup.
Once your order is fulfilled, head up to the loft space where you can enjoy your coffee with one of Omotesando’s signature kashi (cube-shaped baked custards). Here patrons sit huddled in groups of two or three on the wooden swivel chairs, eager to partake in the ritual that’s made Omotesando an institution around the world. Removed from the street buzz, you can almost imagine you’re back in the residential suburbs of Tokyo, sipping on your single cup of coffee in honour of the cherished interaction between barista and customer.