Guide To Hong Kong’s Local Food: Where To Eat & What To Try!
We love the food in Hong Kong. Honestly, ‘love‘ might be an understatement in this context. Everyone knows we visit Hong Kong way too often; it has reached a point where we actually toyed with the idea of relocating to Hong Kong. While that idea that never materialised, we came to a conclusion: We have developed an unhealthy obsession with Hong Kong’s glorious food.
Hong Kong’s local eateries serve primarily Cantonese cuisine – where rice and noodles are considered staple food. But that’s not all. Hong Kong’s British colonial past has also given birth to unique fusion delicacies such as Macaroni in broth with Fried Egg and Sausage, Swiss Sauce Chicken Wings and Hong Kong-style French Toast. These classic east-meets-west dishes can be found across Cha Chaan Tengs (casual eateries that serve Hong Kong-style Western dishes).
Dining in Hong Kong’s local eateries might be quite a culture shock for first-timers. Get this straight – rudeness is a social norm in Hong Kong. For instance, we’ve been curtly asked to ‘fai di’ (which means hurry up in Cantonese), when we only just started our dinner – so that the shopkeeper could call it day. Our advice? Don’t ever take it personally, it’s merely their way of life.
The language barrier might too be an issue as most eateries’ staff only converse in Cantonese. But fret not, travellers can wander through the chaotic streets of Hong Kong aimlessly and still chance upon the tastiest food. Do note that some shop owners have also seized this opportunity to mark up the prices for their dishes when you request for english menus. What a smart tactic.
We are so glad that it doesn’t matter what time you decide to head out for a meal because the Pearl of the Orient never sleeps and many eateries are still open at the most unearthly hours. Thanks to our Hong Kong friends’ recommendations – we’ve compiled a list of 9 awesome local eateries that you should check out. Please do share with us your favourite local restaurants too!
1. Australia Dairy Company (澳洲牛奶公司) – Divine Scrambled Eggs
Queues are formed outside Australia Dairy Company (澳洲牛奶公司) daily, but don’t worry – efficiency is in the DNA of Hong Kongers. The queue moves incredibly fast and we are usually seated down within 10 minutes.
Must-order dish: The world’s BEST Scrambled Eggs Toast (HK$20). The scrambled eggs here are seriously the best we ever had. It’s creamy, smooth, moist and they melt in your mouth.
Other dishes: They are also famous for their Steamed Milk Pudding (HK$28) and Almond Egg Custard (HK$28).
Before you visit: Bear in mind that Australia Dairy Company is a local cha chaan teng and not some Australian brand spin-off. The waiters here do not speak english and there is no english menu, but do not let the language barrier deter you from savouring the world’s best scrambled eggs! You could try to either point at your neighbour’s food or show the waiters online pictures.
Expectations: As with most other local Hong Kong eateries, service here is atrocious. Our virgin trip to Australia Dairy Company had us chided by the waiters for our indecisiveness. While many other travellers report similar nasty encounters, do know that this isn’t always the case.
In fact, our latest trip to Australia Dairy Company was surprisingly pleasant; locals whom we shared table with chitchatted with us and waiters were smiley. We almost couldn’t believe it! Having said that, it’s still best to have zero expectations with regards to the staff’s friendliness.
Address: 47 Parkes Street, Jordan, Hong Kong Daily Operation Hours: 7:30 - 23:00 (closed on Thursdays) Directions: 1-min walk from Jordan MTR Station (Exit C2)
2. Chau Kee (周記點心) – Join The Queue For Their Lava French Toasts
Chau Kee (周記點心) is a local cha chaan teng located in Sai Ying Pung. The Hong Kong eatery has cleverly stuffed Asian ingredients into thick French toasts and these creations are taking Instagram by storm…
Must-order dish: Everyone is here for their Golden Lava French Toast (HK$25). Slice the piping hot buttery toast and watch a generous amount of liu sha flow onto the plate. Admittedly, the molten salted egg yolk might be overwhelmingly rich for some and is recommended for sharing.
Other dishes: Still hungry? Then give their deep-fried and steamed dim sums such as Siew Mai with Black Truffle and Crab Roe (HK$24) and Shrimp Toasts with Sesame (HK$30) a shot.
Before you visit: Take note that the dim sum restaurant is closed on Mondays.
Expectations: You might have to wait up to half an hour for a table. Also, you are expected to share the booth seats – which are small and crammed – at Chau Kee with other diners.
Address: Shop H1, G/F, Tung Lee Mansion, Water Street, Sai Ying Pun, Western District Daily Operation Hours: 08:00 to 18:00 (closed on Mondays) Directions: 5-min walk from Sai Ying Pun MTR Station (Exit B1/B2)
3. Kam Wah Cafe (金華冰廳) – The Mother Of All Pineapple Buns
Kam Wah Cafe (金華冰廳) is an institution in Hong Kong. The local chaa chaan teng opens till midnight daily and foodies flock here for their Pineapple Buns.
Must-order dish: The Bo Lo Yao (HK$9). The lukewarm buttered pineapple circular bun with a crackly top – crisp on the outside and delightfully fluffy inside – is stuffed with a slab of cold butter.
Other dishes: In the unfortunate event whereby these Pineapple Buns are sold out, you can still order from their extensive menu and try other delicious creations such as Hong Kong-style French Toast (HK$15) and Baked Curry Pork Chop Noodles with Cheese.
Before you visit: These Pineapple Buns are very popular and sell out like hotcakes. It is best to visit in the morning so that you can grab a fresh-from-the-oven Pineapple Bun! You can choose to dine in or opt for takeout.
Expectations: We have visited Kam Wah several times over the past recent years and we noticed that quality has been inconsistent.
Address: G/F, 47 Bute Street, Prince Edward Daily Operation Hours: 06:30 to 12:00 Directions: 5-min walk from Prince Edward MTR Station (Exit B1/B2)
4. Kau Kee (九記牛腩) – Beef-brisket Noodles Do Live Up To The Hype
There is a relentless queue formed outside Kau Kee (九記牛腩) every single day (except Sunday), rain or shine. We have walked past the specialty beef brisket noodle restaurant countless of times, but it took us years before we alas succumbed to herd mentality. What took us so long?!
Must-order dish: The Curry Beef Tendon E-fu Noodle (HK$46).
Other dishes: Their best-selling Kau Kee’s Beef Brisket with Rice Noodle in Broth (HK$43).
Before you visit: Although Kau Kee’s official opening hours state 10.30pm, it actually closes its doors once they run out of beef brisket – which usually happens around evening or in the late afternoon. Note that the restaurant is closed on Sundays.
Expectations: Be prepared to queue, especially if you want to dine in. Kau Kee has always been packed even before it was awarded a Bib Gourmand Award in the MICHELIN Guide. But the establishment did not meteorically rise to fame.
Kau Kee has been around since the 1930s and has garnered a huge following over the decades with its simple yet delicious dishes. The no-frills eatery is certainly here to stay in its immensely gentrified neighbourhood.
Address: G/F, 21 Gough Street, Central Daily Operation Hours: 12:30 - 22:30 (closed on Sundays) Directions: 6-min walk from Sheung Wan MTR Station (Exit A2)
5. Mak’s Noodle (麥奀雲吞麵世家) – It Used To Be One Of The World’s Cheapest Michelin-starred Restaurants
Mak’s Noodle (麥奀雲吞麵世家) is a household name in the Pearl of the Orient and its very first store – on Wellington Street – provides a quintessential Hong Kong experience. Even Anthony Bourdain and Vogue have sung praises of the humble eatery.
Must-order dish: The palm-size bowl of Wanton Noodles (HK$33). These springy noodles are served in an aromatic broth prepared with dried flounder, dried shrimp roe and pork bones. Umami at its finest!
Other dishes: Tossed Noodles with Beef Brisket (HK$57) and Vegetable with Oyster Sauce (HK$30).
Before you visit: There are five other outlets across Hong Kong in the following areas, namely Causeway Bay, Jordan, The Peak, Tin Hau and Tsim Sha Tsui. You might want to consider visiting those outlets instead if it happens to be more convenient for you.
Expectations: A meal at Mak’s Noodle on Wellington Street is truly an unforgettable one. Hong Kong’s cha chaan tengs are notorious for their absurdly small seating space and the crammed booth seats here at Wellington Street is a classic example.
At one point in time, Mak’s Noodle was the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant. However, it is currently nowhere found in the Michelin Guide. Perhaps its recent overseas expansion plan was a kiss of death. Regardless of whether or not Mak’s Noodle has the Michelin’s stamp of approval, we’re still coming back for their comforting wanton noodles.
Address: 77 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong Daily Operation Hours: 11:00 to 21:00 Directions: 8-min walk from Central MTR Station (Exit C)
6. Sing Heung Yuen (勝香園) – One Of The Last Few Dai Pai Dongs
Sing Heung Yuen (勝香園) is one of the last surviving Dai Pai Dongs. For those not in the know, Dai Pai Dongs refer to the open-air roadside stalls with a huge green coloured license plate. Back in the 1950s, Dai Pai Dongs could be found everywhere across Hong Kong – but the current number has dwindled to an astonishing 25 due to the government’s intervention.
In the past, noise pollution and hygiene issues were so problematic that the government has stopped issuing Dai Pai Dong licenses – hence explaining the diminishing number. However, our experience at Sing Heung Yuen was actually a positive one – no tummy ache and no sightings of pests. Perhaps Dai Pai Dongs are no longer the same as they were before.
Must-order dish: Everyone orders a customisable bowl of noodles in tomato broth (from HK$18). You can choose to add bacon, egg, luncheon meat and whatnot.
Other dishes: Condensed milk buns.
Before you visit: Sing Heung Yuen is located right across Kau Kee Restaurant (see above) – so you might want to check out these two restaurants in one day to save all that travelling time.
Expectations: Sing Heung Yuen’s main draw is its novelty of being one of Hong Kong’s last few dai pai dongs. Don’t expect much from the food – there’s nothing mind blowing to shout about.
Address: 2 Mee Lun Street, Central, Hong Kong Daily Operation Hours: 08:00 to 17:30 (closed on Sundays) Directions: 6-min walk from Sheung Wan MTR Station (Exit A4)
7. Si Sun Fast Food (時新快餐店) – What The Locals Don’t Want You To Know
Si Sun Fast Food (時新快餐店) is one of Hong Kong’s best-kept secrets. The informal eatery looks unassuming; it isn’t a restaurant you would take a second look at. But lesson learnt: Never ever judge a book by its cover. Today, Si Sun Fast Food remains largely unknown amongst tourists.
Must-order dish: The burger (from HK$17 to HK$23). It’s unbelievably cheap and good! Handcrafted patties – made from beef and pork – are served with an artisanal sauce. The burgers are greasy and mad satisfying.
Other dishes: French Fries (HK$17).
Before you visit: Prepare to wait for a seat during dinnertime.
Expectations: These Hong Kong-style burgers are the cheapest in Hong Kong. Of course, do not expect a premium wagyu beef patty. But for the price you are paying, this is one of Hong Kong’s best budget eats!
If you are after a quintessentially Hong Kong dining experience minus the tourists, then we suggest you head to Si Sun Fast Food. Think Chinese signboards, crammed communal tables and a maddening locals-only crowd during dinner. P.s. Opt for takeaway to avoid the long wait.
Address: G/F, 1A Whampoa Street, Hung Hom Daily Operation Hours: 11:00 to 21:00 Directions: 10-min walk from Hung Hom Station (Exit A3)
8. Tsui Wah (翠華餐廳) – The 24/7 Cha Chaan Teng We All Frequent
Tsui Wah (翠華餐廳) might be a chain store, but the food served here is absolutely amazing! We have dined at Tsui Wah countless of times (the outlet at Central in particular), yet we are still extremely fond of its food.
Must-order dish: Nothing warms our hearts like a bowl of Pork Cartilage Noodles!
Other dishes: Fishball Noodles and their amazing Condensed Milk Buns.
Before you visit: As Tsui Wah is open 24/7, you might want to schedule trying this restaurant for supper instead and make time for other eateries.
Expectations: The renovated outlet at LKF is where you can watch drama unfold in front of your eyes like an epic TVB series. We’ve watched people puke, make out, fall out and pass out. Not even kidding. But Tsui Wah is not just a supper destination – we’ll gladly drop by for lunch too.
Address: G-2 / F, 15-19 Wellington Street, Central Daily Operation Hours: 24/7 Directions: 6-min walk from Central MTR Station (Exit D2)
9. Yat Lok (一樂燒鵝) – One-Michelin-Star Specialty Roast Goose Restaurant
Yat Lok’s (一樂燒鵝) is renowned for their mouthwatering roast goose. It’s so good that we’ve been returning repeatedly despite Yat Lok’s non-existent hospitality i.e. them rushing us to eat faster so they can call it a day and their attempts to charge us more.
Must-order dish: Holy moly. Yat Lok’s ROAST GOOSE is the epitome of foodgasm. Dip the glistening crispy skin and tender fragrant meat into a sweet plum dipping sauce and wait for waves of euphoria to hit you with each bite.
Other dishes: The Roast Pork Belly aka Sio Bak and Char Siew tie as runners-up.
Before you visit: It’s best to bring along a local friend who can speak Cantonese – because Yat Lok has two different menus. Needless to say, the eatery charges a lot more for the English menu. Yeah, it sucks to be a tourist. Once, the shop owner tried to openly ‘con’ us but failed – thankfully, my friend questioned her in Cantonese and she sheepishly handed us the ‘local’ menu.
Expectations: Yat Lok is indeed deserving of its Michelin star and relatively pricey price tag. And yes, the food is worth tolerating the crappy service.
Address: G/F, 34-38 Stanley Street, Central Operation Hours (Monday - Saturday): 10:00 to 21:00 Operation Hours (Sunday and Public Holiday): 10:00 to 17:30 Directions: 6-min walk from Central MTR Station (Exit D2)