Hong Kong is one of those food destinations you dream about. You can get exceptional food almost anywhere and eating was our favorite thing to do there (yeah, I said it). Over two weeks we explored many amazing neighborhoods through their cuisine. We didn’t try everything HK has to offer, but we had our fair share. Here are the dishes you should try when in Hong Kong.
Tools You Need
Here are two resources that were indispensable in our quest for the best food in Hong Kong.
Open Rice: Hong Kong’s equivalent to Yelp and FourSquare. Just download this app and search for what you want. Maps and Cantonese names are provided to make finding the places even easier.
That Food Cray: Excellent food blog that covers the Hong Kong food scene and beyond.
What To Eat
Tucked away in a non-descript building among hip design boutiques, Kau Kee serves tons of people every day, 15 minutes at a time. You don’t come here for the ambience, you come to this no nonsense place for a delicious bowl of noodles. Each round table seats about 8 and the staff will tell you to move over to accommodate more people, so expect to get cozy with strangers. There’s two dozen options on the menu (all with a low price), but the brisket with E-Fu noodles is my favorite. It’s a bit frantic in there, but worth it for the filling hot beefy broth.
Just a few years ago, Tim Ho Wan was the cheapest Michellin starred restaurant in the world. That’s no longer the case, but they are still insanely affordable for the quality of food coming out of the kitchen. They are hugely popular and have multiple locations around Hong Kong. We went to the original location in Kowloon which is less crowded. You can’t go wrong when ordering here, but you must try the baked pork buns. They melt in your mouth and are unlike any we’ve ever had before. After the pork buns I recommend the gluttonous rice dumpling, rice steamed in a banana leaf filled with a mixture of pork and mushrooms. Add to that the tender chicken feet, the shrimp dumplings and some congee. This place also offers takeout and it tastes just as good as dining in.
These little steamed bun sandwiches are hands-down one of my favorite foods and Little Bao knows whats up. Although it is on the pricey side, their Xao Long Bao are perfect. Combine it with a well crafted cocktail and one of their unique starters (including the addictive LB Fries), and you will have an excellent meal in a modern, friendly environment.
I was seriously disappointed with Hong Kong’s street eats. I had envisioned the array of stalls found in Taiwan night markets and HK just didn’t meet expectations. One thing Hong Kong street food gets right are the Gai Daan Jai or egg waffles. When done properly, these egg-shaped waffles are crispy on the outside and light and soft on the inside with a hint of coconut. We came across this tiny stall, on Nathan Road south of the Jordan MTR station, one night which had a huge line of people, and stopped to give them a try. For about $1.50 we got a massive waffle to share. They are perfect with a mango bubble tea or by themselves as a snack or desert.
I don’t know what to say about this place other than these desserts are visually intense. They look complex, but are delicious without being too sweet. We shared the foot tall bread tower with mango ice cream, but it was the coconut custard that won us over. It’s a fun place to grab dessert where everything is as fun to look at as it is to eat.
Vegetables can be hard to come by on Hong Kong menus. This stems from the notion that vegetables are cheap and therefore poor people food. This means veggies typically appear in two forms: steamed Chinese greens or wrinkled beans. Chinese greens are delicious, but when given the option, I usually go for the wrinkled beans. They are a little crispy, a bit spicy, and at Ah Chun Shandong, covered in an almost candied garlic. We came here for the handmade dumplings, but the wrinkled beans stole the show. They were so good, we almost ordered a second round, but we were too full.
One thing I love about dining out in Asia is the creativity of the chefs. At Holy Chef in Cheung Sha Wan they clearly like to have fun. Their menus (at least when we visited) were printed on old comics and the dishes were just as playful. The first time we went, we had a simple brunch: I had a burger and Maya had Eggs Benedict (both well made). The second time we went for dinner and got a chance to see their more expressive side. We both ordered the Black Mountain which was a deconstructed burger, salad, a pasta salad served in a waffle cone, and a pair of gummy Dracula fangs. It was playful, but more importantly, it was delicious. The big surprise was just how well the waffle cone went with the pasta salad. It didn’t compete with Kau Kee Beef Noodles, but the food was delightful and unexpected.
So many pineapple buns, so little time. Chinese bakeries don’t fuck around and offer awesome goods, whether it’s sweet buns for breakfast or savory ones for lunch or a snack. They also offer pineapple buns in multiple variations, and we tried one every chance we got. I probably ate 5-7 pineapple buns in a 2 week span. Which brings me to…
Baked Goods – from any Chinese bakery
A great, cheap option for breakfast, lunch or just an afternoon snack. We had some really amazing stuff from BreadTalk, but you can pop into any place that looks good. Pick up an egg custard (or four) or pork buns. Even when we bought a mystery item, it never disappointed.
This spot is known for their handmade bamboo noodles which they make on site and in full view of pedestrians. The dish that they are really known for is the bamboo noodles with shrimp roe. I’ve had noodles with roe before, but it this was completely different. It was a plate full of chewy thin noodles completely covered in minuscule shrimp roe and broth; simple and damn good. Mix it up and slurp.
Inspired by the British, this really popular drink of black tea and milk is surprisingly refreshing on a hot day (iced variation that is).
Yes it is a Japanese dish, but we aren’t going to Japan on this trip and you can get an amazing bowl in Hong Kong which precisely what we got at RamenJo in Causeway Bay.
Things We Didn’t Have, But Probably Should Have
Curry Fish Balls
These are a quintessential Hong Kong street food. They seem to be everywhere. I’ll usually try anything once, but I’m not fan of fish balls and took a pass on these. Maybe next time.
We love hot pot any day of the week, but the weather was so humid every day while we were in Hong Kong, sweating over a boiling pot wasn’t happening. If you don’t mind the heat, you will be happy to know there are lots of excellent hot pot options throughout the city.
Roast Duck & Roast Pork
This wasn’t meant to be. We never found ourselves around the right place at the right time to dig into these fabulous meats. Next time Hong Kong.
Anything we missed? Let us know in the comments below.