[dropcap size=small]N[/dropcap]ot too long ago, the areas of Sai Ying Pun and Kennedy Town in the Western District were sleepy residential outposts, local in character, populated by cha chan tengs, sundry shops and traditional herbal apothecaries – a universe apart from the expat-centric areas of Central and Sheung Wan in Central District, with their boisterous bars, chic restaurants and contemporary art galleries.

But saunter along the main arteries of both districts these days, and you will find everything from homestyle Italian trattorias and underground gin palaces to Japanese-Mexican eateries and modern gastropubs interspersed with local mom-and-pop businesses.

Many of these changes were precipitated by the opening of the West Island Line, an extension of Hong Kong’s Island Line MTR, in late 2014. Now, Kennedy Town is affectionately known as K-Town, and, alongside Sai Ying Pun, is rapidly becoming a foodie destination for those in the know.

Across town, glitz meets grit in Mongkok, a densely populated, working-class neighbourhood famous for its street eats and night markets. There, in the newly refurbished (and rebranded) Cordis – the former Langham Place Hotel – expat executives mingle with style-conscious travellers in Alibi, a chic social venue, or The Backyard, an upscale outdoor bar (surprisingly rare in Hong Kong). Our advice? Get in now before the masses discover these gems.