It’s hard to find places that are untouched and authentic in Hong Kong. The city is packed with ritzy new buildings, brand name stores and swarms of people – and that’s why our latest secret find in Soho is sure to be a hit with you all!
Common Ground is a small café/shop hidden away on a quiet street in Central and is the idea of two sets of siblings: twins Caleb and Josh (known together as “Twins Kitchen”), foodie celebs on the local scene, and brothers Laz and Sean from Protest Design, a cool lifestyle brand of accessories. This space was set up as a platform for the community to come together and connect – so whether you have a love for food, music or jewellery, you will no doubt find some kind of common ground here!
The neighbourhood vibe here is absolutely charming – it’s strangely peaceful despite being just a few steps away from ever-busy Soho. Shing Wong Street is a small side street made up of stone steps, so you won’t find any noise or exhaust fumes from cars around here! The twins were drawn to this quiet location (it used to be Protest Design’s workshop) thanks to its old-school character and wanted to preserve the friendly community spirit felt here – creating a café with a personal touch.
Once you step into Common Ground, you will literally just kick back and relax. We loved the mellow green walls, cute little knick-knacks and casual tables and chairs – made from scrap wood found from around the neighbourhood and nearby construction sites!
If you want any tips on food around town, feel free to strike up a conversation with the twins – they are incredibly friendly and are definitely the sweetest and most sincere set of twins we’ve met ever! As Twins Kitchen, you might have seen them cooking up a storm on their Youtube show, catering at events, doing demos at Island East Market and popping up at one-off private kitchens around town, but they’re incredibly down-to-earth and happy to just chill out and chat with customers (when they’re not cooking, of course!). They’re self taught cooks who are always keen to learn (recently going to classes to learn how to make char siu bao!) and are absolutely passionate about food – our favourite moment was when mid-chat, Caleb produced what we thought was a tube of hand cream from his pocket… but it turned out to a tube of spicy Korean sauce! These guys definitely love their food!
The food at Common Ground is described as the twins’ version of comfort food, casual Western food with an Asian twist! The first dish that came out was Comfort Ground’s most famous item, their scrambled eggs; it sounds simple but don’t be fooled! I often find scrambled eggs quite rubbery and gummy – but the eggs at Common Ground, having been cooked in a double boiler, were incredibly soft and fluffy and perfectly seasoned. Paired with freshly made bread (sourced from the bakery of one of the twins’ friends), this is just the thing to jumpstart your day!
Next, we had some Portobello mushrooms on toast, Caleb’s favourite snack at Common Ground – and we can most definitely see why! It’s a wonderful marriage of sweet caramelized onions with chopped Portobello mushrooms and a dash of cream… so simple yet so tasty. The Twins Salad was a healthy mix of fresh greens and cherry tomatoes, with the reduced balsamic vinegar drizzled on top giving an amazing sweet and tangy punch to the dish.
For those California girls out there, if you’ve been missing your In-N-Out burgers, Common Ground’s menu includes the twins’ take on the beef burger, a tribute to their In-N-Out post-exam splurges back in their college days. So if you’ve got that burger craving, stop by and let us know what you think! The rest of the food menu is currently on the small side, but the guys do plan to add a few more dishes (especially cakes and desserts) over time.
As for drinks, we tried Common Ground’s salted hot chocolate – a smooth and perfectly balanced chocolate drink that will satisfy any chocolate lover! Even though chocolate is a no-brainer, the lemongrass water turned out to be my favourite. There’s just something rustic and refreshing about lemongrass, and served cold, it is just about the greatest thing on a hot summer’s day!
Ladies, don’t just indulge in the food – be sure to take a peek at the lovely accessories displayed in the café too. We loved the range of quirky items on display; the UUendy Lau “Animal in the Zuu” leather bracelets are one of a kind, and you won’t be able to resist trying on the Komono sunglasses all lined up on the walls. So in addition to filling your tummies, you may well end up filling your wardrobe here too!
If you’re looking for a cosy neighbourhood café that will charm your socks off, Common Ground is set to become your fave local hangout. It’s such a lovely place to while away a day and everyone is so warm and welcoming; it’s not a huge space so if it’s the weekend, come early to snag a table and chill out with the twins before it gets too busy! And if you do miss out on a table, there’s nothing stopping you lounging around the benches or stairs with your friends and doggies on a sunny weekend afternoon.
So come live the quiet life – at least for a few hours anyway! – at Common Ground… it might just become your new favourite café too!
Common Ground, 19 Shing Wong Street (across the road from Oolaa), Central, Hong Kong; open 12-8pm