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Hong Kong skyline with high-rise buildings looking over the harbour

Hong Kong foodie guide: where locals eat and drink

Published: May 30, 2018 at 12:45 pm
Travellers are advised to read the FCO travel advice at gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for the country they are travelling to

New York may be the city that never sleeps but Hong Kong is the city that never fasts. Whether you want egg tarts, roast goose or the biggest prawn dumplings available to humanity, you’ll find them around the clock in this Chinese gastropolis

Looking for the best places to eat in Hong Kong? Read our foodie guide to the city, including the best restaurants in Hong Kong.


With its iconic high-rise skyline, multicultural society, round-the-clock mentality and surprisingly leafy surroundings, Hong Kong rightly deserves its nickname ‘The Pearl of the Orient’. The real jewel of this former British colony, however, is its food.

Not only did Hong Kong's crossroads – or, rather, cross-seas – position on the southeast coast of China make the territory a compelling strategic domain, the wide range of peoples that settled here brought with them an array of cuisines. The largest numbers were of Cantonese, Szechuanese, Japanese (check out our best places to eat in Tokyo) and British people, but the influence of the Portuguese (read our guide to Lisbon here) can also be seen in the bakeries selling egg tarts (check out our easy recipe for Portuguese custard tarts), a local take on pasteis de nata.

On nearly every street corner in Hong Kong you’ll find vendors selling egg waffles, bubble tea, curried cuttlefish and fish balls. And from stinky tofu and dim sum (you’ll find some of the biggest prawn dumplings known to man here) to chicken’s feet and snake soup, you could eat a different dish every day for a year. There’s also a large number of fine-dining restaurants in Hong Kong kept busy by the traders, bankers and brokers of the city’s financial institutions.

Such wide culinary choice – and the fact that it’s possible to eat this kaleidoscope of foods at almost any time of day or night – means that people in Hong Kong tend to be food-obsessed.

This inclination is fuelled by one other major factor: with space at a premium, home kitchens are often tiny. The result is that dinner means big business for restaurants in Hong Kong. If you want to eat out, order a hotpot. The most popular dish for an everyday supper, it’s a soup base to which diners can add any meat and vegetables they choose, and cook them to their liking.

Plus, if you're looking for the best Chinese restaurants in London, we've rounded up the top best places to eat in Chinatown, here...

Best coffee and tea shops in Hong Kong

Noc Coffee

One of our favourite coffee companies in Hong Kong, each store (there are a few) has a striking modern design, and serves coffee is roasted in-house. Blends are made up of two or three origins, each roasted and rested in isolation for five days before being mixed. You can order everything from a cold-brew to a pour-over, chai latte or fresh matcha. Food options include dark malt flaxseed sourdough toast topped with caramelised apples, mascarpone and walnuts but it’s the drinks that pull in the crowds.


A glass with cold coffee and milk in
Credit: Edd Kimber

Best dim sum in Hong Kong

Tim Ho Wan

This unlikely-looking holder of a Michelin star is a simple canteen – and a great place to eat dim sum at a reasonable price. Try the baked bun with barbecued pork, the steamed fresh shrimp dumpling, the steamed pork dumpling with shrimp or the pan-fried turnip cake.


Tim Ho Wan steamed buns with a red bowl behind

Lin Heung Tea House

Dim sum is where your mind naturally goes when thinking about food in Hong Kong, and the two-storey Lin Heung Tea House is about as traditional as it gets. There are restaurants with better views and Michelin stars, but for our money this is a reliable dim sum stalwart. Cosy up with the locals (it’s a pretty loud place), grab a seat whenever one comes free and keep an eye out for the old-school trolley to choose your food (don’t miss the pork cheung fun and char siu bao).

162 Wellington Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

A man with stacks of bamboo steamers around him
Credit: Edd Kimber

Best dumplings in Hong Kong

Cheung Hing Kee Shanghai Pan-Fried Buns

This dumpling company was given a nod by the Michelin guide in 2016, and since then has expanded to multiple locations across Hong Kong. The crispy-bottomed dumplings – essentially soup-filled buns, fried in huge paella-style pans – come in either pork, black truffle or shrimp flavours. There’s no space to sit in (it’s a grab-and-go kind of place) so order a mixed box to take-away and eat them as soon as you leave the store (just be careful you don’t burn your tongue!). You can also pick up pork and vegetable wonton soup, and stirred noodles with scallion oil if you want to make more of a meal of it.

52 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central

A man holding a paper box putting dumplings into it
Credit: Edd Kimber

Northern Dumpling Yuan

You’ll find foods from all around the world in Hong Kong but don’t miss the regional Chinese cooking that’s also prominent there. Try some Northern Chinese dumplings for a late breakfast or lunch; you can sit and watch the cooks hand-seal each one while you joyfully devour others. Order the pork and chive, watercress and pork and cabbage, wood ear mushroom and Chinese chive dumplings.

Don’t forget the sides, though; the smacked cucumber with sesame and chilli, cold steamed aubergine with chilli bean sauce and pickled potato are all great.

259 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai

Plates of dumplings at Northern Dumpling Yuan
Plates of dumplings at Northern Dumpling Yuan

Best egg tarts in Hong Kong


Founded by a Swiss-French pastry chef who has lived in Hong Kong for more than 20 years, this bakery is classically French in its approach – although it does keep sugar levels low, to suit the local preference. The treat we keep going back for is the incredible custard tart. Not quite Portuguese, Hong Kongese or even Macanese in style, they’re a little bit of everything, with an extra spin all of their own. The pastry is made from a sourdough croissant base, and the custard somehow manages to taste similar to clotted cream. Get there early and buy two to avoid the inevitable disappointment when they sell out and you can’t grab another.


Three golden custard tarts with dark pastry casing
Credit: Edd Kimber

Tai Cheong Bakery

Tai Cheong’s egg tarts were a favourite with the territory’s ex-Governor, Chris Patten. And with reason. Deliciously smooth custard sits, burnished, in crisp shortcrust pastry.


Tai Cheong Bakery Egg Tarts with custard being poured out of a kettle
Deliciously smooth custard sits, burnished, in crisp shortcrust pastry

More great places to eat, drink and stay in Hong Kong

Oddies Foodies – best for soft-serve ice cream

Hong Kong’s citizens love soft serve – you’ve probably seen photos on Instagram of it piped inside an egg-shaped waffle. At Oddies Foodies in the Central district, gelato-style ice cream is made in-house and comes in inventive flavours such as rice pudding, ‘baked’ (cinnamon gelato, apple compote and chunks of butter cake) and ‘matcha mix’, a combination of sesame egg tartlet and green tea ice cream. You can try the ice cream on its own, or do as the Hong Kongers do and order it as a parfait with a made-to-order waffle.


A cone with ice cream in and a brown bubble waffle towering around the ice cream
Credit: Edd Kimber

Chilli Fagara – best for Sichuanese food

Founded, incongruously, by a restaurateur from Vancouver, this Soho restaurant brand (there are two branches – the original on Graham Street, a younger sibling on Old Bailey Street) focuses on fiery Sichuan food served in a traditional, warming atmosphere (think deep red walls and dark wooden furniture). The menu is divided into three sections according to heat level (‘ma’ for numbing, ‘la’ for spicy and ‘tang’ for neutral); our top pick is the home-style mapo tofu but it’s also worth trying the marinated jellyfish and pork rib hotpot here.


A bowl filled with tofu in a dark brown sauce
Credit: Edd Kimber

Hong Kong Foodie Tour – best food tour

Most tourists probably never leave Hong Kong Island, which is a shame. Getting the Star Ferry (as cheap as 29p a journey) is a must, not just for the view of the city you get on the way home, but for the incredible food. Join this specialist foodie tour company’s Sham Shui Po neighbourhood tour and you’ll be guided around a less touristy, more workaday Kowloon district. You’ll try plenty of local dishes along the way – from breakfast at a cha chaan teng to beancurd desserts, fresh soy milk and hand-made egg noodles – our favourites were the steamed rice rolls topped with a mix of hoisin, sesame and chilli sauces.


A white bowl filled with slices of white fish in a red sauce
Credit: Edd Kimber

EAST Hong Kong – best place to stay

From £110 per night, check availability at booking.com

Hong Kong has no shortage of luxury hotels, with the price tags to match. For a high-quality hotel experience that doesn’t blow your budget, head away from the main hotspots towards Quarry Bay. Not really a tourist district, but with excellent transport links, it’s a great base for a visit. EAST Hong Kong hotel, for example, is steps away from an MTR station and has stunning views overlooking the city’s famous harbour – you can also see Lion Rock Country Park in the background. Head to Sugar, its rooftop bar, to take it all in with a colourful cocktail in hand and music from the resident DJ. Bedrooms feel spacious and bright thanks to giant floor-to-ceiling windows, and some come with swinging tub chairs, Apple TVs and walk-in rain showers.


A bed with white linen next to floor to ceiling windows which look out over a city
Credit: Edd Kimber

Sing Kee – best for street food

Sit down on a plastic chair at this dai pai dong (no frills street food restaurant) and watch Mr Sing cook to order, on the street, using just two raging gas burners and a filing cabinet-come steamer with a constant pot of chicken stock on the go.

The family have been serving food to the people of Hong Kong for 60 years, workers sitting next to businessmen. Order the crab fried in oyster sauce, spring onions and ginger, clay pot aubergine and steamed pom frit (whole fish) in black bean sauce, with a big bottle of Tsing Tao beer to share.

9-10 Stanley Street

Sing Kee
Mr Sing cooking street food

Ser Wong Fun – best for local dishes

This ‘local local’ restaurant is where true Hong Kong people eat. The menu may not be in English but the friendly staff will help you get something warm and nourishing to eat. Failing that, take someone who speaks the language and order the house specialty – snake soup with wood ear mushrooms and kaffir lime leaf, or crispy snake balls. Cantonese people believe the body has two humours – hot and cold. Snake is a hot food, good to eat on a cold day.

For the less adventurous, try the sweet and sour pork, chicken in black bean cooked in rice wine and fried glutinous rice with sweet sausage.

30 Cochrane Street, Central

A table full of regional Hong Kong local food
A table full of regional Hong Kong local food

Tsat Hay Noodle and Congee House – best for breakfast

Breakfast in Hong Kong doesn’t get better than this – silky smooth rice cooked in light chicken stock, gently warmed by ginger and garlic. The classic version comes with century egg and salted pork (top it with chilli oil laced with crispy little garlic pieces) but make sure you try the fish congee, too. It’s unbelievably fragrant, with ginger and spring onions, soft unctuous fish and the crunch of peanuts.

Try our easy congee recipe with ginger and chilli oil

Jaffe Road, Wan Chai

Congee at Tsat Hay Noodle and Congee House served in a small white bowl
Congee at Tsat Hay Noodle and Congee House

Ho Ho – best for clay pot

As in so many cultures, the crispy rice from the bottom of the pot is the part everyone fights over. In clay pot cooking, however, every pot has a crispy bottom; cold, cooked rice is re-heated in individual clay pots on individual gas burners, then finished with a variety of toppings.

At this speciality clay pot restaurant in Hong Kong, order the salt fish clay pot (it’s similar to salted mackerel) and the aubergine and minced pork in yellow bean and oyster sauce. You’ll want some greens on the side, too, as these dishes tend to be meat or fish heavy – we opted for some ginger and spring onion gai lan and morning glory in fermented tofu sauce.

1 Ya Fuen street

Yan Wo Dou Bun Chong – best for tofu

One thing you learn quickly with Cantonese food is that texture is hugely important, especially the texture ‘wat’ or silky smooth. This tofu restaurant is a celebration of all things ‘wat’.

Start with the fish tofu balls (they have a soft, scrambled egg texture on the inside, but are crispy on the outside), best eaten with plenty of hoi sin and chilli sauce and washed down with soy milk (the coconut flavoured one is good).

For dessert try the steamed silken tofu with ginger sugar. I guarantee this is the silkiest thing you will ever eat. Each spoonful seems to evaporate after 20 seconds in the mouth, leaving lingering gingery sweetness.

55 Jardine’s Bazaar, Causeway bay

Ser Wong Fun restaurant sign
Ser Wong Fun restaurant

Australia Dairy Company – best for all-day breakfast

A local institution, this place serves affordable all-day breakfasts, Hong Kong style. Start with scrambled eggs and toast, try the ham macaroni if you dare, then finish with a bowl of steamed milk pudding, a kind of pale custard.

47 Parkes Street

Omelette at Australia Dairy Company
Start with scrambled eggs and toast, try the ham macaroni if you dare

Kau Kee – best for beef brisket broth

One of the best takes on beef brisket you’ll find anywhere, here it’s slow-cooked in a broth of spices and noodles and never fails to please, hence the long queues to devour this dish. Order the beef in a rich curry sauce, or the beef brisket noodles in broth.

21 Gough Street

Kau Kee beef brisket broth with chopsticks next to it
One of the best takes on beef brisket you’ll find anywhere, here it’s slow-cooked in a broth of spices and noodles

Yat Lok Roast Goose – best for duck

Another unlikely-looking holder of a Michelin star, Yat Lok Roast Goose is one of many homespun joints that aren’t particularly fancy but do what they do really well – in this case, duck. Delicate crispness is matched with the perfect ratio of meat to fat.

34-38 Stanley St

Yat Lok Roast Goose on a bed of rice
Delicate crispness is matched with the perfect ratio of meat to fat

Words by Edd Kimber, Adam Bush and Lisa Tse

Photographs by Edd Kimber, Adam Bush and A Chinese Street Food Odyssey book (£20, Pavilion)


For more information see discoverhongkong.com

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