Time Travel with Starbucks Bing Sutt

By Christina Kim - July 10, 2015

I am a fan of Starbucks; or well, a couple of cafes in general.
I am your regular chill-it-up, hanging out all day in a cosy corner kind of girl, though not perfectly complemented by the fact that I am not a coffee drinker and that's the whole irony of the picture.
Still, there is no rule that you can't go to a cafe or a coffee place when you're not a coffee drinker - it may be an unspoken one and come off as a little odd, but hey, I am all for non-conformance.

My trip to Hong Kong this round was somehow more relaxing due to the rather impromptu decision we made to just pack and go for a short break. Therefore there was not really a lot of planning involved.
Yes, I am serious (my brother snorts and laughed out loud when he heard that, obviously not one of my best qualities not to plan and go with the flow, but I really really did it. I can't say I will swear to that for religious reasons, but I don't lie and I will put my hand on the Bible if you want me to)

We walked around the streets a lot, just to take in the local side of Hong Kong rather than the usual touristy stuffs with occasional stops for drinks and well, just to give the poor legs a break (his, especially).

There was this one Starbucks that I was kind of obsessed to find; for some reason this Starbucks is special to me, not just because of its unique not-your-usual-Starbucks environment, but also because of the personal sentiments it held, dear to my heart.

We walked all the way until we reached Central; yes, we did that (and Central photos will be coming up soon).
Duddell Street; that's where this awesome Starbucks is located (it's awesome to me, at least).

Starbucks on Duddell Street


What's the awesome factor about this Starbucks, compared to the many other outlets they have worldwide, anyway?



It may appear as though there is nothing interesting and is just your usual interior when you step into this Starbucks and go to the counter to order your drink, but as you stand at the counter and take a look to your right (right as you are standing at the counter facing the barista), you will see the difference.

Right at the back of this outlet is a replica of an old-fashioned cafe from the 1950s-60s era; a typical layout of a retro Hong Kong cafe which is more popularly known as the Bing Sutt culture in their local terms.
Bing Sutt (冰室) translates directly to mean "ice room" (probably converted from such) and is the trend of the traditional coffee houses back in the heydays in Hong Kong.
Bing Sutt is not exactly the Cha Chaan Teng, though they are closely related for the Cha Chaan Teng took after the trendy hype started from the Bing Sutt and evolved to its own identity thereafter.
As such, the Bing Sutt was supposedly the predecessor followed by the Cha Chaan Teng in succession.

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The Bing Sutt is typically characterized by its distinctive rotating ceiling fan, tiled floors, old furniture from the 50s-60s and the cups and serving ware in general.
Most of the food served were of Western style; a fact attesting to the heavy influence of the West back then during the days of the colonization and the process of assimilation into the local culture.
Despite the Western food served, the prices were maintained at a low and affordable range to attract their local neighborhood customers who are the regular patrons.

The depiction of the blend between the local Hong Kong Oriental culture with the West is cleverly portrayed in this very Starbucks where there are these two sections dedicated to the attribute.

Starbucks Duddell Street is all about modernization meets memory lane and is the world's very first Starbucks to incorporate this very concept.

They have introduced the contemporary way of serving coffee along with the homage to the history and heritage of Hong Kong's coffee tradition.

To add to that, they have also successfully created that time slide transition effect in the very outlet, and may I say, frozen time as well.
Walking back and forth between the front and rear section makes me feel as though I was time traveling, literally.


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There is no other better location to place this Starbucks outlet which just fits in perfectly with the well renowned staircase on Duddell Street, which I am sure many would have recognized from the Hong Kong retro dramas and movies (or those revolving around the theme).
The cinematic effect of the staircase lined with the old-fashion gas lamp posts is just the perfect background for this wonderful Starbucks.


It wasn't easy to get a spot to just take a good shot, and I just decided I will just take it all in as part of the picture to show you how famous this place is (and how hard it is to even weasel into position, after beating some vicious stares and capturing my shots in record time)


I was not born in the 50s or even 60s, but seems like I didn't have to, to experience that glory of that era.
I did not even need a time machine, though I did do lots of walking to get to this place.

Starbucks Duddell Street truly brought me back to the old days to revisit the memorable era, and it is as though time had stopped and well-preserved in there.


Location of Starbucks Bing Sutt on Duddell Street:
(Website here

Do drop me a note if you need help getting to this place, I'd be more than happy to help you out :-)

Note: It is pretty crowded especially in the retro section of the Starbucks, so I would recommend to go early or just hawk around, patiently (and politely) if you insist on your seat and pray hard that someone would leave just at the time :-)
Good Luck!

**As for the sentimental reason behind this Starbucks to me, well, I had my pre-wedding photos shot on location at this very outlet (yeay, lucky me!) , framed and with me locked inside forever ;-)

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