iShop Cat Street

Traditional trinkets for the curio curious

Cats & lascars

This street is named after ‘lascars’, the common name for sailors who lived here waiting for a berth on one of the ships doing the popular opium and tea runs between Calcutta and Hong Kong. Lascar Row had quite a number of boarding houses where these sailors, typically Bengali or Malay, lived between contracts. Local Chinese even referred to the street as ‘Mo Lo Kai’, meaning Indian Street.

Boarding houses, brothels and people buying and selling anything they could get their hands on; apparently it was not uncommon to find your stolen goods in the Lascar Street market stalls. In Cantonese slang, thieves are called rats, and the dealers who purchase goods from the rats are cats. That is why the street is more popularly known as ‘Cat Street’.

Traditional trinkets for the curio curious

Mao memorabilia, Chinese coins, Shanghainese soap advertising posters, Bruce Lee posters, kitschy chinoiserie… Don’t expect real antiques here, you can find those on Hollywood Road, but it’s fun to browse around. Don’t forget to bargain!

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