Best Places To Eat In Hong Kong - Recommended By A Local

By Ted Yuen An engineer and outdoor-loving family-man who has lived in Hong Kong for all of his almost 40 years, between trips to the US.

|Edited by Jessica Wright

Hong Kong is a living, breathing superorganism; always in flux, always vibrantly alive. Nowhere is Hong Kong’s dynamic play of culture and history more apparent than in the vivacious food scene, where threads of tradition tie a plethora of favorites together, with each individual family and restaurant adding their own spin on things. To experience this positively cincilating food scene and find where to eat in Hong Kong with any measure of efficiency in a city of this size, it only seems logical that a helping hand would be welcome. I’ve put together the ultimate Hong Kong food guide for exactly that reason; to help visitors find the most delicious delicacies and best places to eat in Hong Kong. If you want to experience an authentic food scene be sure to hit the streets and go where the locals go!

To start off, you might need a few etiquette pointers. First, prepare yourself for a quick and efficient meal; in a city with this many inhabitants you can be sure that popular local spots have a quick table turnover, and it’s not unlikely you’ll end up sharing a table with strangers! Order several dishes to share with your companions (but of course, no need to share with strangers at your table, they won’t expect this) and be a good friend by topping up your buddy’s tea or beer. Alternatively, be ready to tap your finger lightly on the table in thanks when your drink is refilled!

Dim Sum at Tim Ho Wan

When it comes to the question of what to eat in Hong Kong the first thing that springs to mind is dim sum; the quintessential Hong Kong specialty. Served in little bamboo baskets with two to three servings, it is ideal for sharing and the variety in which these delicate little dumplings come is staggering; from the wide range of fillings to the sheer variation in presentation and dumpling casing – from translucent rice pastry to fluffy steamed buns and everything in between – you could spend a lifetime sampling these tasty treats in the city and merely scratch the surface. My personal favourite is dim sum with shrimp, added to yummy fatty pork and perfectly spiced before being wrapping expertly in a thin yellow sheet and steamed. Translating to “touch the heart” it’s not hard to imagine why dim sum is such a favourite; nothing is more perfect for sharing with a table of friends than these pretty packages of tradition. To experience the best dim sum the city has to offer (a must-do when visiting the city!) head to one of the best places to eat in Hong Kong for the cheapest Michelin Star meal you are likely to find. Tim Ho Wan is one of the best restaurants in Hong Kong and serves nothing but excellence under the watchful eye of multiple Michelin star winner Mak Pui Gor.

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Wonton noodles at Mak’s Noodle

The staple of Southeastern China, this delicious brothy delight is common in Hong Kong and can be a thrilling experience if you know where to get it! Typically shrimp, pork and vegetable wrapped in a neat package of thing and springy wonton egg-noodle dough, these little dumpling-like parcels are cooked al dente before being perched atop a steaming hot flavour-filled umami broth. A sprinkle of chopped chives completes the dish which when served should be devoured noodle first to keep your wonton from going soggy. When on the hunt for where to eat in Hong Kong, particularly where to eat wonton noodles, head to Mak’s Noodle – arguably the most renowned noodle shop in the city. With a legendary reputation that runs deep in wonton history leading back generations, the lore states that this spot is run by direct descendants of the ‘wonton master’ who brought the dish from Guangzhou to Hong Kong. While there are many branches of the legendary Mak chain (all run by descendants) the original is Mak’s Noodle at Central and is the only branch in which the wonton father Mak Woon-chi’s son worked in.

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Spring Deer for Peking duck

Another city staple, peking duck is the crown jewel of Hong Kong cuisine, particularly those versions that keep you coming back for more! As some of the best food in Hong Kong, this dish – when done right – is a foodie dream; smothered in honey and sherry and air cured for hours before being slow roasted to produce a crispy salty-sweet amber skin. The juicy and tender strips of duck-meat and crunchy skin are stripped and rolled into soft, fluffy crepes alongside scallions and cucumber, before being drizzled generously with Hoisin sauce. To get a version of this dish that promises to impress, head to Spring Deer where the duck is sliced at your table and presented in lusciously thick slices, with a generous helping of crispy cucumber, spring onion and a generous heap of pancakes. Be sure to book a spot weeks in advance to get into this hotspot as seats go quickly!

Clay pot rice in Kwan Kee

If you are the type of person that is ready to fight to the death over the delicious crust of rice that sometimes forms at the bottom of the pot, then this dish is right up your alley because it just so happens that a good rice crust comes as part of the package with a dish of clay pot rice! The ideal winter-warmer comfort food is a tasty meal of fragrant rice cooked in a clay pot over charcoal and combined with mushrooms and chicken, pork or Chinese sausage, before being splashed in sauce. This hearty treat, perfect for warming your up from inside in the cold winter months, is best found at Kwan Kee. Kwan Kee’s signature beef and egg clay pot, topped with Chinese sausage, is no doubt one of the best version of clay pot I’ve been able to find. This specialty is widely sought-after, so think ahead and book a table well in advance, and be prepared to wait a little while for your freshly-made meal.

Pineapple bun at Kam Wah Cafe

If you harbor a secret passion for baked goods then this must-eat Hong Kong specialty is for you! A fluffy interior in the casing of a crispy crust the pineapple bun offers a perfect balance of sweetness. Surprisingly, this popular pastry contains zero pineapple – the name comes from the golden yellow, crackly appearance of the bun that gives it the appearance of a pineapple. Far from the zesty sweet and sour flavor you have come to expect from a pineapple, this bun has a far more moderate taste; just the right amount of sweetness, with a hit of creamy richness added by the slice of butter melting in the warm center. For a freshly baked rendition of this treat, so popular that you can expect it hot out of the oven with a crispy golden crust, head to Kam Wah Cafe and Bakery where the bustling cafe and winding queue are a testament to the yumminess of the wares. Add a cup of milk tea and you have yourself a truly heartwarming treat.

Try Local Hakka cuisine at Chuen Cheung Kui

Whether you’re visiting the city for a few hours, days or weeks you simply have to experience a meal at a local Hakka; without a doubt the epitome of Hong Kong must eat places and a sure bet for Hong Kong traditional food. Hakka – directly translated to “guest families” – are innate to Chinese culinary culture, as much an integral part of daily life as anything else you are likely to come across. Born out of need, local Hakka culture might have started as poor-man cuisine but today these dishes are rich and hearty, and thoroughly delicious! In Yuen Long of the New Territories you will come across many Hakka villages that offer the opportunity to sample this unique cuisine of which rice, pork, tofu, and soy sauce are staples, with rice wine, ginger, garlic, and salt to add a punch of flavor! When visiting a Hakka do yourself a flavor and try the beef meatball soup or fried pork with fermented tofu. One of the best places to eat in Hong Kong on a budget, Chuen Cheung Kui offers Michelin quality Hakka cuisine at a bargain price! The family-run affair has been up and running since the 1960s – decades of patrons lining up for the Hakkanese fare and in particular the must-eat salt-baked chicken and braised pork belly with dried mustard greens.

Curry Fish Balls at any food-stall

An example of some of the best street food in Hong Hong (and trust me, there is rather a lot of this to choose from!), these iconic golden balls of deep fried minced fish, marinated in a spicy curry broth and skewered are a street food favorite! The variation is in the curry sauce, with each stall harboring their own secret recipe. Look for balls that are springy in texture and bite-size for a convenient takeaway meal, either served as a skewer or in a bowl of sauce. This dish is so prolific out and about that you can get a fairly decent rendition from your corner 7-Eleven, though of course there is a decidedly more festive feel to buying them directly from a street stall. You can find this tasty snack just about anywhere in the city but some of the top variations of it can be found in Mong Mok on Soy Street or Sai Yeung Choi Street South as well as in Mong Kong on Dundas Street.

Beef brisket noodles at Kau Kee Restaurant

Is there anything more hearty than a perfectly cooked, tender beef brisket? Well, with the addition of some slurp-worthy noodles and a side of flavoursome broth there just might be! In Hong Kong this version of beef brisket is commonplace, stewed in Chinese herbs and spices until tender and added to a generous helping of noodles. A curried version of the dish is equally popular and makes for a deliciously spicy variation. For the more adventurous foodies, a side of bite-sized tendon nuggets or a serving of tripe would not go amiss! 90 years of serving the dish stand as a testament to the quality you can expect at Kau Kee Restaurant, the best place to find the two variations; brisket in clear soup with your choice of noodles, or brisket and tendon curry. WHile both are exceedingly yummy, the curry is hard to beat!

Fresh Seafood at Chuen Kee Seafood Restaurant

Whenever you find yourself near the sea, you can hope to expect some particularly fresh and tasty seafood and nowhere does that rule hold more true than in Hong Kong – a former fishing village. Freshness and flavour are vitally important to Hong Kongers, and with seafood making up a large chunk of the city’s cuisine you can be sure that your meal will be as fresh and tasty as it gets! Whether you opt for steamed fish, heaped with spring onions and a sprinkle of soy sauce and served with a side of black bean sauce, or prefer to try the mud crabs with the smoky tang of wok hei, these and many more seafood delights can be found in the numerous fishing villages that abound. For some truly legendary seafood head to yet another affordable Michelin-Star-toting spot; Chuen Kee Seafood Restaurant. Here you can expect giant tanks and displays housing a wide array of (temporarily) alive fish, shellfish and mollusks caught by local fishermen. Choose your dinner straight from the tank and prepare yourself for an ocean-fresh feast!

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