Alkaline hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), consisting of Volmer and Heyrovsky/Tafel steps, requires extra energy for water dissociation, leading to more sluggish kinetics than acidic HER. Despite the advances in electrocatalysts, how to combine active sites to synergistically promote both steps and understand the underlying mechanism remain largely unexplored. Here, Density Functional Theory (DFT) calculations predict that NiO accelerates the Volmer step while metallic Ni facilitates the Heyrovsky/Tafel step. A facile strategy is thus developed to control Ni/NiO heterosurfaces in uniform and well-dispersed Ni-based nanocrystals, targeting both reaction steps synergistically. By systematically modulating the surface composition, we find that steering the elementary steps through tuning the Ni/NiO ratio can significantly enhance alkaline HER activity, and Ni/NiO nanocrystals with a Ni/NiO ratio of 23.7% deliver the best activity, outperforming other state-of-the-art analogues. The results suggest that integrating bicomponent active sites for elementary steps is effective for promoting alkaline HER, but they have to be balanced.