Where the hippest city-goers hang out

Paris, Latin Quarter © Alamy
The Latin Quarter: full of Parisian charm

Chris Carter explores three rising districts in Sydney, Paris and Hong Kong.

“Nowhere is currently cooler than Chippo,” says Jonathan Bastable in Condé Nast Traveller. Chippendale, to give the neighbourhood its full name, is becoming the most talked-about district of Sydney. The White Rabbit Gallery, with its works by Chinese artists, is the first place you should visit after ticking off the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. It’s here that at “around midday, creatives emerge blinking from their design agencies, and college kids drift south from the university campus to grab lunch at Spice Alley… [serving] chatterbox chicken, okonomiyaki pork, and a ‘Big Buddha combo’ of plump Cantonese dumplings.”

Chippendale used to be entirely given over to the production and consumption of beer. And while some people are eating, others are contemplating the slow turning of a big civic artwork – a steel hoop atop a metal pole, recalling the erstwhile mashing of beer mulch in the now defunct brewery’s vats. This is “a post-millennial city planner’s dream come true”.

Rebellious Paris

“Sepia-tinted photographs of a Latin Quarter paralysed by protest are now half a century old,” says Melissa Twigg in The Independent. May 1968 has forever recast the tree-lined boulevards of Paris’s fifth arrondissement as the embodiment of France’s rebellious spirit. Yet this Left Bank locale, with its vertigo-inducing mixing of historical buildings and student cafés filled with shaggy haired teenagers flirting, is perplexingly glossed over by most guide books. That’s despite there being ultra-trendy restaurants, gardens so pretty they’ll clog your phone with photos, and underground jazz bars open till dawn.

Take the Caveau de la Huchette, for example. This mythic jazz bar, housed in a 16th-century building that lies mere steps from the river Seine, has been attracting music lovers since 1949.
“Buy a carafe of red wine, listen to the sultry jazz music and revel in the sheer Parisianness of it all.”

Resurgent Hong Kong

“Sham Shui Po has long been a working-class district of Hong Kong,” says Adam White in The Guardian. It hides an intriguing press of markets, shops, stalls, eateries – and, inevitably, a touch of hipster resurgence. It is the centre of the city’s fabric trade. The streets are lined with shops selling bolts of every kind of cloth under the sun; Alri Star Leather Factory keeps the district’s heritage alive with a trendy touch. You can buy leathers of all kinds here, and also the punches, cutters and burnishers you’ll need to go from hide to homemade artisanal goods should you be so inclined.

When chef Mak Kwai Pui came to this part of town from the Hong Kong Four Seasons, he decided it was time for a change from fine-dining Cantonese fare. In 2009, he opened Tim Ho Wan, a humble 20-seater, serving everyday dim sum – or maybe not so everyday. Awarded a Michelin star a year later, it is widely touted as the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant. That means the queues are long, but the wait is worth it for the Mak’s special baked char siu bao pork buns.