The cultural dining experience in Hong Kong is multifaceted – from the iconic dai pai dong to a rooftop bar and garden, from the traditional yum cha (dim sum) experience to a British indulgence of afternoon tea – Hong Kong has all the different types of places to eat. Although it is one of the most expensive cities in the World to live in, many Hong Kong restaurants offer economical and budget friendly dining options that provide good values. Below is a list of some of my recommendations.
A Taste of Dai Pai Dong
Tung Po is among some of the most interesting places to eat in Hong Kong where you can enjoy a cultural dining experience that is unique to the city. Gone are the once iconic dai pai dongs (food stalls usually located in alleys or pier fronts). Nowadays, Tung Po, located in the Java Road Market in North Point, is as close as you can get to experience the local flavors of the bygone dai pai dong.
After being featured by Anthony Bourdain and other celebrities, this place is now packed with tourists around the World who want to rub elbows with the locals.
The golden shrimps are one of this restaurant’s specialties. They are coated with salted egg yolk and deep fried. The shrimps are fresh and delicious.
The fried chicken dish, interestingly called wind and sand chicken, is coated with a layer of crispy garlic that somehow resembles sand blown by the wind. This is the restaurant’s other well-known favorite.
The clay pot dish is really unique and special: Pieces of freshly carved fish filets are stir-fried table-side in a sizzling clay pot with lots of garlic, green onion, and spices.
The other clay pot is filled with a rich fish broth in which vegetables are blanched quickly. The veggies are cooked just right and the broth is now a tasty vegetable soup which you spoon into your bowl and enjoy with the veggies.
Famous for Their Eight-Flavors XLB
Paradise Dynasty is located in the iconic Lee Theatre Plaza in Causeway Bay. This Hong Kong restaurant is most famous for their XLB – the acronym for xiao long bao, the Chinese (Mandarin) pronunciation of the popular soup dumplings.
They are called soup dumplings because if made properly, the inside of the dumplings should be filled with soup. Be careful when you eat them, the content can be very hot!
Some of you who are familiar with XLB may be thinking about Din Tai Fung (aka DTF) while in Hong Kong. But let me assure you that Paradise Dynasty is a notch above.
Their signature dish, which you really should order, is the 8-flavor XLB, where every XLB has a unique flavor.
From the picture above, the XLB in the center is the original flavor. From the green one on top and going clockwise, we have:
Ginseng, foie gras, black truffle, cheese, crab meat, garlic, sesame chili.
Discounted happy hours menus are available on weekdays.
Australian Steakhouse with a Spectacular View
Hong Kong is not only just one of the best places to eat Chinese food, but it also has some of the World’s best steakhouses.
Most of the steakhouses in Hong Kong are familiar American name brands, such as Ruth Chris, Wolfgang, Morton, just to name a few. But I am going to recommend a place with a funny name that you’ve probably never heard of (assuming that you are not an Australian.)
Wooloomooloo is an Australian steakhouse with locations in Wanchai and Tsim Tsa Tsui East. I like the Wanchai location more, where the rooftop terrace view is spectacular. You can have drinks there before or after dinner and enjoy the nightly light show – the Symphony of Lights – which starts nightly at 8pm.
They are best known for their steaks grilled in ultra-high temperatures. I also recommend trying their Australian wagyu carpaccio and beef Wellington.
Hong Kong Banquet Style Restaurant
With a family-oriented atmosphere, reasonable prices, and great food, Ming Garden has been a favorite neighborhood family restaurant in Hong Kong for a long time.
Goose is a family dinner staple in most of China. I am teaming up with local foodies Tammy, Terry, and Crystal and we order a whole goose which has been roasted to perfection.
The bird is meaty, and the meat is moist, tender, and flavorful. If you have eaten goose before, you’ll recognize the rich and unique flavor and you’ll know it is not duck. Duck meat won’t even come close to its yumminess and richness.
Another of their signature dishes is the BBQ pork on a sizzling plate. The BBQ pork is melt-in-your-mouth tender. The flavor of the dish is greatly enhanced by the sauce that has been reduced to a glaze by the sizzling hot platter, that coats the pork with yumminess.
We are also getting a whole fried chicken, squabs, and a steamed whole fish. WOW! Ming is certainly one of the best places to eat like a feast in Hong Kong!
Tim Ho Wan
Michelin One-Star Dim Sum Restaurant
Although Tim Ho Wan is well-known for its Michelin Starred dim sum, the one star was actually awarded to its original Sum Shui Po location. None of its numerous new locations around the World has been awarded a star.
Dim sum dishes are freshly steamed to order and they are definitely better than many other places — especially if you are coming from outside of Asia.
My number one favorite is the pan-fried stuffed “tiger skin” green peppers which are only mildly hot. They are usually found only in certain Asian regions so enjoy them while you are here.
The other staples such as siu mai, egg rolls, beef balls, etc. are all very tasty and live up to their hype. And don’t forget to save room for dessert. The sweet red bean soup with taro is close to heavenly.
Takeout menu is available. Cash only. No credit cards.
Mak’s Noodles (Mak Un Kee)
Iconic Wonton Noodles Cafe
Your trip to the Pearl of the Orient is almost incomplete without a taste of one the most popular local comfort foods known as the wonton noodles soup (won ton mein).
While there are plenty of great places to eat in Hong Kong, getting the perfect bowl of this local favorite is no easy task. There are numerous noodle places, but only a few are the best. I always trust Mak’s – the iconic establishment of the won ton mein since the 1960’s.
Slightly chewy (al dente) egg noodles are served in a rich broth typically made with pork bones and seafood and filtered so that it is clear. The won ton are like shrimp and pork dumplings wrapped in a skin that is thin but somewhat consistent that holds the dumpling in place. A sprinkle of green onions adds the final touches to the aroma.
Be warned that there is a slight alkaline taste to this noodle soup – this is just the way it is and it is truly a local thing. Some people may not like it. But if you like it, or get accustomed to it, you will know it is comfort food indeed.
Asian Cuisine with a Western Twist
Greenhouse, located in Time Square in Causeway Bay is a hip and trendy restaurant with a lively atmosphere and a vibrant feel.
Their theme is “Asian cuisine with a Western twist”. The menu is very extensive and covers pretty much all of Asia. There are the typical Chinese favorites as well as Southeast Asian cuisines from Singapore and Malaysia. A large selection of western foods such as pizza, burger, and pasta are also available.
Shown above is a peach and duck salad. Slices of smoked duck breast are accompanied by a blend of greens that’s tossed in a slightly sweet and mild vinaigrette. The finishing touch is a sprinkle of pine nuts and pomegranate seeds which make the dish a refreshing salad.
Trendy Dim Sum Bistro
Ming Bistro is a trendy Hong Kong dim sum restaurant with a bistro-type menu and vibes. It is definitely not the typical and traditional dim sum places that you might be familiar with.
Its menu focuses on creativity and uniqueness and you will indeed be able to sample dishes that you won’t be able to find anywhere else.
I team up with a couple of local foodies and order a variety of dim sum dishes, all of them are very good. Shown in the pictures above, clockwise from the left are:
Shrimp and seafood rolls (my #1 favorite), pan-fried BBQ pork buns, pan-fried lotus root cakes, and shrimp and potato pancakes.
Har Gow (shrimp dumpling), butterfly sandwich with “Kum Wah” ham, quail egg siu mai (pork dumpling), and steamed sponge cake (amazing dessert).
Lunch specials and takeout menus are available.
Hong Kong Style Cafe
Tsui Wah was first established in 1967 and has long been the city’s iconic “café” or “Cha Chang Teng”. Back in the seventies, Tsui Wah itself can be considered a destination when visiting Hong Kong.
Tsui Wah has now grown to several dozen locations and is no longer the single destination that you have to go. They are now almost everywhere so you will very likely run into several of them during your visit in the city. However, Tsui Wah is still widely considered to be one of the best places to eat in Hong Kong by both locals and visitors.
Pictured above to the left is their baked pork chop rice which is my personal favorite. Fried rice topped pork chops is layered with tomato sauce, fresh tomato slices, and cheese, and baked until the cheese is golden brown. How can you resist the aroma of this dish?
To the right is a local breakfast which includes Borscht soup with macaroni, ham, “slippery” scrambled eggs and a butter roll.
Today, Tsui Wah remains a favorite spot for locals seeking their comfort food as well as tourists seeking the unique “Hong Kong Style Cafe” experience.
Kee Wah Bakery
Hong Kong’s Iconic Bakery
Your visit to the Pearl of the Orient will be incomplete without a visit to a Kee Wah Bakery. They have numerous locations and can be found in major city centers, malls, and MTR (subway) stations. Bear in mind that most locations are takeout only so plan accordingly
They are almost like the bakery icon of Hong Kong. I rarely use this phrase to describe any eatery, but at Kee Wah – everything is good!
My personal favorites are walnut cookies, almond biscuits, buttery egg rolls, and their seasonal mooncakes.
I am showing you above the giftbox and its contents that I bought. Believe me… The recipients of any of your giftboxes from Kee Wah will be endlessly grateful.
Don’t forget to buy one for yourself!
One of the Best Burger Diners
After so many days of Asian food, I am now craving for a BURGER! That is actually not hard to find as the city is full of Western food eateries.
Burger Joys is somewhat (loosely) the equivalent of In N Out in California or Shake Shack in New York. No matter how you put it, the meat is fresh, flavorful, and grilled to perfection. Burger Joy is indeed one of the best places to eat burgers in Hong Kong.
And to put them one notch above of their peers, the burgers here are served in a brioche bun, which does separate them from the other players.
The menu has a few options, but I am going to make it easy for you: Get the Signature Double Cheese Burger!
Both dine-in and takeout are available.
Ho Choi Seafood Restaurant
Dim Sum and Seafood with Harbor View
Tsim Tsa Tsui East (TST East) on the Kowloon Peninsular offers the most spectacular view of Hong Kong Island. However, most restaurants with a decent view charge an arm and a leg for their premium locations.
Ho Choi (literally translated as good luck in Cantonese) Seafood Restaurant, is located in the Empire Centre right at the waterfront and offers an amazing harbor view. Prices are reasonable and moderate for this high-end area.
Turns out that this is indeed one of the best places to eat dim sum with a view of the Island and Victoria Harbor.
Here you will rub elbows with the local folks and truly enjoy local flavors. However, be warned that the staff speak limited English, so be patient and understanding.
I usually go there for dim sum, and they are good, but not the top-notch. Pictured here are my favorites (clockwise): Bean curd roll in tomato & egg soup, veggie and mushroom siu mai (pork dumpling), beef balls, and pork spareribs in black bean sauce.
If you go there for dinner, you can get a glimpse of the Symphony of Light show from your table which starts nightly at 8pm.