Hong Kong Mak Kwai Pui Tim Ho Wan Finest Food Stories
to-eat list

Hong Kong

July 24th, 2018

BY Chris Dwyer

Hong Kong is one of the world’s greatest food cities. With more than 25,000 different places to eat the challenge is simply knowing where to start. Take your pick from every single global cuisine imaginable as well as some of the planet’s finest restaurants for reflecting China’s incredible culinary diversity. Whether you opt for fish balls from a street cart or a world renowned Michelin-starred meal, there’s something for everyone at every price point. Whatever your style, come hungry and with an open mind. You can’t go wrong.

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Fine Dining

Amber

The jewel in Asia's crown

Amidst a remarkable collection of Michelin restaurants with no fewer than six three-starred and eleven two-starred eateries to choose from, it’s surprisingly one in the latter category that has consistently wowed Hong Kong. Amber at the Landmark Mandarin hotel is led by Dutch chef, Richard Ekkebus, who’s one of the most respected and liked in the business. His stunningly-plated creations, impeccable produce, and constant innovation have made Amber one of the best fine dining restaurants in Asia, not just Hong Kong.

INSIDER TIP

The outrageously good lobster jelly with Hokkaido sea urchin and caviar is worth every cent.

Fine Dining

Lung King Heen

The Cantonese cuisine splurge

There are a multitude of options if you’re looking to splurge on Cantonese cuisine but few are better than Lung King Heen at the city’s elegant harbour-side Four Seasons Hotel. Chef, Chan Yang Tak, has more than 50 years’ experience and executes some of Hong Kong’s finest dim sum as well as perfect takes on classics such as roast meats and stuffed crab, as well as peerless desserts -not traditionally a Hong Kong high-point. Flawless service and incredible views make this a true fine dining destination whilst its three Michelin stars prove it is critically, as well as publicly, acclaimed.

INSIDER TIP

Don't miss the unusual but brilliant signature dish of crispy scallops, fresh pear, shrimp paste and Yunnan ham.

Local Speciality

Tim Ho Wan

Dim sum dreams

There can be no more indicative local speciality for Hong Kong than dim sum – the tradition of steamed, fried and baked small-plate dishes that’s now much loved across the world. Amidst countless options, Tim Ho Wan in Sham Shui Po offers consistently excellent renditions at remarkably fair prices.

INSIDER TIP

The barbecue pork pastry ("cha siu bao") is particularly legendary thanks to an incredible sweet pastry dome that hides rich, fragrant pork.

Local Speciality

Kam's Roast Goose

Fine meats and infamous century eggs

In the roast meat paradise that is Hong Kong, this vote goes to Kam’s Roast Goose in Wan Chai. Part of a roast meat dynasty that famously split in two (you’ll find the other branch at the much more expensive –and not as good– Yung Kee in Central), you’ll need to be prepared to queue at Kam’s Roast Goose and when you do sit down the tables are far too close together but it’s all part of the charm.

INSIDER TIP

Their roast goose and "char siu" barbecue pork are brilliant; the century eggs delicious; the sauces perfect.

Worth the Hype

Francis

Middle Eastern treasures

Whilst Hong Kong’s 25,000 restaurants cover pretty much any cuisine you can think of, Israeli restaurants had been thin on the ground until the launch of Francis in the city’s Wan Chai district in early 2018. The hugely-popular spot is compact meaning long waits for tables but it’s well worth it for brilliant plates from chef, Asher Goldstein, all accompanied by an impressive wine list.

INSIDER TIP

The must orders are: chicken schnitzel with za’atar & aioli; grilled harissa octopus; and lamb ribs in a brilliant orange, yoghurt & coriander sauce.

Baked Goods

Bakehouse

Seasonal, ever-changing bakes

Bakehouse has been a sensation since opening in late 2017 with lines seen snaking from the door half an hour before the shop opens. That’s because the former Four Seasons Hotel’s pastry chef, Gregoire Michaud, makes legendary sourdough breads, pastries, sandwiches and croissants which are some of the city’s very best. All at bargain prices.

INSIDER TIP

Whilst every day brings different creations, two batches of brilliant croissants are produced daily: one at 8:00 and one in time for lunch.

Baked Goods

Tai Cheong Bakery

The egg tart of choice

For stellar local bakery items there’s one clear option in the form of Tai Cheong Bakery, located in the heart of Hong Kong Island. Since 1954 they’ve been most famous for their Portuguese egg tarts which keeps long lines of customers queuing every day. Creamy, wobbly and decadent in butter-rich pastry, they’re worth every calorie.

INSIDER TIP

A box of egg tarts makes the perfect Hong Kong culinary gift and the shop will wrap them to travel.

Trailblazer

Ho Lee Fook

Good fortune in your mouth

Ho Lee Fook is always packed thanks to its brilliant, contemporary take on Cantonese and Taiwanese cuisine. When pronounced in Cantonese ho lee fook means “good fortune for your mouth”and it’s the leader of a new wave of restaurants funking up traditional Chinese dishes and techniques to brilliant effect. The décor is Instagram-tastic; the cocktails heady; the tunes just right. Most of all, it’s the knockout plates that wow.

INSIDER TIP

Don't miss the sensational Wagyu short-rib with green shallot kimchi, soy glaze and an intoxicating jalapeño smear.

Market Experience

The Java Road Market and Cooked Food Centre

Hawker-style dining

“Cooked Food Centre” is the slightly uninspiring name for Hong Kong’s equivalent of hawker malls where cheap, authentic dishes are served in no-frill surroundings, usually located above fresh produce markets. The plates are knockout and especially seafood dishes. The Java Road location boasts multiple brilliant options including the Tung Po stall whose squid-ink bamboo-pole noodles were praised by Antony Bourdain amongst many others.
Photo: Giariormdu

INSIDER TIP

Stock up on cold beer, wine and tissues before you go.

Breakfast

Australia Dairy Company

Scrambled eggs and surly smiles

Despite its name, the Australia Dairy Company is actually one of Hong Kong’s most beloved breakfast institutions. It’s the “Cha chaan teng” (traditional tea restaurant) to beat them all thanks largely to legendary scrambled eggs. These come in a ridiculously cheap set breakfast (US$4) alongside white toast, macaroni soup and your choice of coffee or tea. Be sure to go for the Hong Kong-style milk tea.
Photo: 圍棋一級

INSIDER TIP

Don’t expect a smile. The service is notoriously rude but actually quite fun if you know in advance.

Chef's Choice

Yardbird

kfc, kinda...

Yardbird is so popular it’s become something of a cliché – THE restaurant pretty much everyone will recommend as well as the one place every chef visits when in town. That’s because the food is brilliant, the cocktails dangerously good, and the service arguably the best in town though. Chicken Yakitori skewers are beautifully executed by the young, funky team while dishes such as KFC (Korean Fried Cauliflower) served with corn tempura & brussels sprouts will keep you coming back for more.

INSIDER TIP

It's always popular and always busy so you'll need to get there at opening to ensure a table.

The Institution

Tai Ping Koon

The presidential choice

Chiang Kai-shek, Ho Chi Minh, and Chow Yun-Fat have all dined at Tai Ping Koon which has been in operation since 1860 and is now one of Hong Kong’s oldest running restaurants with four different locations throughout the city. It specializes in a unique take on Western cuisine including Portuguese-style baked coconut chicken, roast pigeon, and steaks marinated in their own famous blend of soy sauces.

INSIDER TIP

The branch in Central is cosy and the most atmospheric out of the four different locations, especially in the upstairs seating area.

The Institution

Mido Café

Memories of a past era

In the depths of the Yau Ma Tei area of Kowloon the timeless Café Mido sits over a park and harks back to a very different Hong Kong era – the early 1960s to be precise. The interiors are almost untouched and loved by film and art directors as a result, and the tables are generously spaced. Drinks such as hot Coca Cola, or iced lemon coffee are definitely old-school, and the cafe’s signature dish is pork chop baked rice. Frankly though, don’t go for the food so much as the feels.

INSIDER TIP

The french toast is a must-order.

Wine Bar

La Cabane à Vin

Somewhere between Hollywood and France...

Located on Hollywood Road in the heart of the city’s Soho district this unpretentious, compact spot makes wine the star by the glass, carafe or bottle. Great plates accompany real-deal French classics as well as excellent cheeses and charcuterie. Natural wines are a particular draw and it’ll come as no surprise that the list is heavily French-influenced. This spot is popular with restaurant staff after service.

INSIDER TIP

The set lunch is a particular steal and seats by the large open entrance make for great people watching.

Wine Bar

Executive Bar

The bar above them all

Not strictly a wine bar, but rather the peerless, top-floor Executive Bar in Causeway Bay which is run by Ichiro-San, a Japanese perfectionist who will make you brilliant cocktails with understated yet theatrical precision. This is an absolute top-spot thanks to the vast selection of Japanese whiskeys, an incredible attention to detail, and cocktails which use only the finest fruits imported directly from Japan. It’s not cheap but it’s absolutely worth it.

INSIDER TIP

The door says it's for members only but don't be put off, it's not.

Chris Dwyer

Chris Dwyer is a Hong Kong-based freelance luxury travel and food writer, working across some of the world’s most respected media platforms including CNN.com, BBC Travel, South China Morning Post, The Robb Report, various in-flight magazines, luxury lifestyle titles and many more.


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