When it comes to eating out and eating well, Hong Kong is a veritable smorgasbord of sublime tastes and tastebud-tantalising styles. From its Chinese-influenced dim sum scene to fresh-off-the-boat seafood and some of Asia’s finest fusion dining, there’s no shortage of impressive places to eat in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong dining runs the gamut from streetside hawker stalls to upscale Michelin-starred restaurants and everything in between. Some Hong Kong residents eat out every night of the week, so enjoying a sumptuous meal is often as simple as stepping outside and taking a seat at the closest eatery on hand.
Hong Kong Must Eats!
If one food symbolises Hong Kong, it is surely the dim sum ubiquitous throughout the city. These bite-sized steamed dumplings and rice noodle rolls are a core component of traditional Cantonese cuisine and as such, heading out to “drink tea” – or yum cha – is one of the most authentic Hong Kong dining experiences around. Popular dim sum fillings include shrimp, pork, vegetables and tofu.
The flat-bottomed boats which trawl the waterways of Victoria Harbour are known as sampan and these traditional fishing vessels have spawned a unique style of cooking. Stir-fried crab is a classic of sampan cooking, with the succulent flesh of freshly-caught crab infused with ginger, garlic and chilli to create a heady mix of flavours in a delicious one-wok dining experience.
With so many Hong Kong residents choosing to dine out on a regular basis, it’s no surprise that simple take-away dishes are popular with the city’s busy inhabitants. An enduring favourite is the barbecued pork – or cha siu – found in every self-respecting take-out shop. The seasoned boneless pork roasted over an open fire and served with succulent white rice is a local favourite and one of Hong Kong's most iconic dishes.
Though it’s served in a dizzying array of variations, congee is consistently regarded as one of Hong Kong’s most beloved dishes. This gruel-like rice porridge is often eaten as an accompaniment to savoury Chinese doughnuts and steamed rice pastry, and the best versions of it sometimes take several hours to cook.
While long leisurely lunches are common in most cultures, the brisk nature of Hong Kong society dictates a more fast-paced approach to lunchtime dining. That makes wonton noodles an obvious favourite for the lunchtime office crowd, with these dumpling-topped thin noodles boasting a diverse range of flavours and textures.
Dining Street Style
Hau Fook Street
On the surface, Hau Fook Street looks like any other nondescript Hong Kong thoroughfare. However, what sets this bustling boulevard apart is the broad range of cuisines on offer from all corners of Asia. From Cantonese delicacies like snake soup to authentic sushi crafted by expatriate Japanese chefs, Hau Fook Street may be one of Kowloon’s best-kept secrets – and also one of its tastiest.
A few blocks from the Tsim Sha Tsui foreshore lies the complex and occasionally chaotic Haiphong Road. Straddling the boundary of Kowloon Park, this convenient cross-street is also home to the wonderfully named Haiphong Road Temporary Cooked Food Hawker Bazaar. Don’t let the lack of English signage put you off, this traditional hawker’s bizarre is famous for its food – particularly the succulent beef balls and noodles ladled out by artisan hawker chefs.
Much of Hong Kong’s hawker food culture has disappeared, but the few dai pai dong still in existence attract a steady clientele of regulars. The city’s best known is perhaps Sing Kee – the focal point of Stanley Street’s eclectic food scene and one which boasts innumerable cheap and cheerful street food options.
Yiu Tung Street
Home to another of Hong Kong’s dwindling number of dai pai dong, Yiu Tung Street’s age-old outdoor So Kee is a favourite for locals looking for a Hong Kong-style caffeine fix. This traditional stall specialises in yuenyeung – the unique coffee and tea fusion popular in these parts – as well as the beloved staple of dai pai dong everywhere, pork ramen with egg.
Temple Street may be synonymous with its raucous Night Market, but away from the bustling stalls, this busy thoroughfare is a great place to indulge in some genuine Hong Kong street food. In fact, Temple Street is one of the most popular places to go for claypot rice, and the Hing Kee restaurant is packed daily with hordes of hungry diners eager to consume this homely comfort food.
Don’t Forget To Try
Hot Pot Cooking
Known as daa bin lou in Cantonese, this communal-style form of cooking is perfect for a cold winter day. In its most common form, a steaming-hot pot of boiling broth is placed in the centre of a gas-heated table, allowing those huddled around to cook a variety of meats and vegetables in convivial company – and warm wintry bones whilst doing so.
Crispy Fried Chicken
A late-night favourite across the city, this southern Cantonese classic is the perfect hassle-free cuisine. Light and airy pieces of chicken are fried to produce a delicious crunchy skin and served with pepper salt and prawn crackers, making this an ideal accompaniment to a few rounds of beers in one of Hong Kong’s countless waterfront bars and pubs.
Old Lady Cake
Call it what you will – sweetheart cake, wife cake or the colloquial Old Lady Cake – what this traditional Cantonese pastry always has in common is a flaky, thin crust which more often than not covers a candied watermelon filling. The filling is seasoned with five spice, sesame and almond paste before baking, to create one of Hong Kong’s most recognisable dessert dishes.
Hong Kong Milk Tea
As the name suggests, the Hong Kong-inspired milk tea found in every self-respecting café and teahouse throughout the city is a thoroughly local concoction. This typically sweet beverage is a mixture of traditional black tea and generous lashings of condensed or evaporated milk, generally strained through a sackcloth bag to give the tea its famously smooth texture.
A throwback to a bygone era still exists – in name, at least – in many of the cheap low-end and mid-priced eateries around town, which long ago replaced the hawkers who once roamed the streets selling cheap noodles from portable carts. Indeed, some restaurants are cashing in on the nostalgia associated with this cheap dish, which is served with a wide variety of toppings including fish balls, beef, pork and green vegetables.
Our Top 5 Restaurant Picks
Hong Kong is home to more than 60 Michelin-starred restaurants, so the toughest task is often simply to pick the right one for you. Japanese import Tenku RyuGin boasts a distinctive advantage, perched spectacularly on the 101st floor of the dizzying ICC Tower. Boasting some of the most exotic Japanese food this side of Tokyo, Tenku RyuGin combines a sophisticated ambience with spectacular views, in what is one of Hong Kong's most refined fine dining experiences.
Tim Ho Wan
Not so much a restaurant as a small chain of outlets, one bite of Tim Ho Wan’s dim sum is all it takes to explain why this hole-in-the-wall emporium is spreading throughout Hong Kong. One of the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants around, Tim Ho Wan attracts enthusiastic crowds of dim sum enthusiasts, all eager to sample the delicious morsels of dumpling goodness in decidedly casual surrounds.
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at The Landmark
Joël Robuchon is perhaps the world’s foremost French chef and restaurateur, so it’s no surprise that his signature L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at The Landmark is one of Hong Kong’s most popular restaurants. Dishing up delectable servings of modern French cuisine in the iconic Landmark building, this quintessentially fine-dining experience never fails to delight.
Amber at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental
Combining fresh Hong Kong ingredients with typically Gallic flair, the French-inspired menu at Amber at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental consistently earns rave reviews. Not only is Amber home to some of the finest Parisian-style dining outside Europe, it’s also an fabulously upscale affair highlighted by the magnificent 4,000-rod hanging chandelier which floats ethereally over diners' heads.
A Chinese favourite famous for its succulent roast goose, Yung Kee has for decades served up some of Hong Kong’s most beloved local cuisine. Its signature roast goose is famous throughout Hong Kong and beyond, although Yung Kee’s selection runs the gamut from wild geese to fresh fish and succulent seafood dishes.