Eating Out in Hong Kong – from noodles and dim sums to popular hot spots for some of the best food the city has to offer so you can eat as the locals do. An incredible coffee culture means you’ll be fuelled up for all the walking around in this chaotic city.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Hong Kong is its iconic skyline – best way to enjoy sweeping views of the city from The Victoria Peak after a gravity defying ride on the 125 year old peak tram that rises almost vertically above the high rises near by. But that is just one tiny fragment of the city’s personality. No matter what your interests – Hong Kong has a place for everyone to be satiated. Whether you find your nirvana over a bowl of wonton noodles or performing tai-chi at dawn, shopping for designer outfits or handmade knives or travel outside for a bit of gamble using its brilliant transportation network. The city thrives in its chaos, the kind you can love or hate, but definitely can’t ignore.
As always, nothing tells you more about the city than eating and drinking your way around it and I’ll share with you some gems that will leave you wanting more.
Where to Drink the Best Coffee:
Hazel & Hershey – I don’t know whether it was the grey skies in HongKong that go oh so well with lattes or that my coffee came with a side of freshly baked scones, but the cuppa at Hazel & Hershey was without a doubt my favourite in all of HK. A cosy cafe with outdoor seating and much to choose from, tops my list of recommendations.
Cafe DeadEnd – For those (like me) that like their coffee strong – get your caffeine fix at Cafe DeadEnd. Their cappuccinos can power you through even the madness of shopping for all kitchen things at Shanghai Street. You’ll need it.
Elephant Grounds Coffee – A great spot for all day dining coupled with a brilliant cup of coffee makes Elephant Grounds another stellar spot that shouldn’t be missed in the city’s round up of best cafes. Go there for the great cup of joe and their stellar ice-cream sandwiches, stay for an extended lunch and devour their Japanese Katsu curry and burgers. You wouldn’t know when one hour went to three.
Coffee Academics – For an early morning latte head down to Coffee Academics. Get a table by their large window and people watch as you demolish your avo-toast and savour your coffee sweetened ever so lightly with Okinawa brown sugar. Unlike other brown sugar, Okinawan has a deep, rich, almost-caramel like flavour that adds a beautiful note to the coffee.
Best Restaurants to Eat at:
Kale – Serious goodness for those seeking a healthy bite in the city with a lunch at Kale. The name’s a dead giveaway isn’t it! Its healthy alright but packed with flavour. Their grilled sole fillet with kale pesto was beautifully prepared and served over a selection of constantly changing mixed salads plate – roast beets, pumpkins, chickpeas, red cabbage slaw, kale ceasar and pasta salad. Healthy, beautiful colors and oh-so-scrumptious! The kale pesto is not to be missed, end the meal with a bit of guilt with their chocolate brownie with salted caramel for those really in the holiday spirit and not counting calories.
Tsim Chai Kee Wonton Noodles – If there was only ever one bowl of wanton noodles you could eat in your life – this humble one at Tsim Chai Kee should be it. As soon as you’re at the door, you’ll notice that Tsim Chai Kee has been categorised by Michelin as “Bib Gourmand”, which means “inspector’s favourite for good value”. There isn’t really much to choose from – but trust me, you don’t need it. You can get your noodles swimming in a soothing broth and pick a topping – shrimp wonton, beef slices, or fish balls. And as you tuck in, you’ll know just why this place deserves all the credit. It is the kind of common man food that satisfies the soul.
Tim Ho Wan – When I heard of Tim Ho Wan, the worlds cheapest Michelin star restaurant (one star), you can imagine my curiosity. I can now report it is worth every rave review it gets – packed with locals getting their dimsum fix, their char siu Bao (barbecue buns) siu mai dumplings and egg white prawn spring rolls are some of the best I’ve had! And all at prices that’ll blow your mind. Serious stuff of legends!
Sunday’s Grocery – I hate making claims but Sunday’s Grocery truly makes the best sandwiches EVER! Their banh mi had the perfect barbecued meat – crunchy vegetables – fresh herb – crusty baguette ratio. And that Chicken Katsu Sando in buttered toast and Japanese slaw – Wowzers! Topped off with their market chips and double chocolate cookie its the kinda meal that is fast, flavourful and memorable. I still remember every single burst of flavour which is quite the testament.
Little Bao – If its a combination of buzzing atmosphere, cocktails and brilliant pub-grub you have in mind, a trip to Little Bao will tick all the right boxes. Their fries served with Shiitake tempeh, truffle mayo and pickled daikon is the stuff of legends. Follow that up with their drunken clams in shaoxing wine poured over silk-smooth potato puree and floating enoki mushrooms, because you absolutely have to! While the drinks keep on pouring, move over to their perfect little baos and end it all with doughnut-like ice-cream sandwiches – green tea and salted caramel are what you’ll want. If I could, I’d have returned over and over again for this meal.
The Walrus – Don’t miss Little Bao’s trendy neighbour the Walrus because their oyster game is on point – our favorites were the Oompa Loompa (blood orange sorbet on salmon & oyster tartare) That 70s Shell (plum wine caviar with salmon roe) and the CopyCat (avocado, dragon fruit “oyster” for our vegetarian friend). The staff is young and keep you in good spirits making this the perfect pre-dinner drinks spot.
SohoFama – SOHOFAMA’ s menu reflects both the old and the new with some dishes reflecting traditional Chinese while others celebrate the multiculturalism of today’s HK society. Their spicy wontons are the bomb and so are their XIAO LONG BAO (soup dumplings). But the highlight our meal was hands down this Mud Crab Sticky Rice – every bit epic as you’d expect! The combination of flavours from the rice pair perfectly with the succulent crab flesh, easily making it the kind of dish you’d return to a restaurant for.
ChaChaWan – For an authentic taste of Isan – the northeastern region of Thailand, bordering Laos and Cambodia make way to ChaChaWan. Big bold Thai flavours are dominant across their cocktails at the bar as well as the food menu. The Gai Yung– chicken thigh marinated for 24 hours in garlic, pepper, coriander then grilled until crispy tastes even better when dipped with their Jhim Jaew Sauce making it the perfect amalgamation of all my favorite Thai flavors – sticky, spicy, sweet and more! The Som Tam packs a punch, the crab meat fried rice you’ll keep tucking into and the sticky rice and mango makes for the perfect ending.
Linguini Fini – We went here because I had never tried Sea Urchin and their Uni Macaroni Carbonara came highly recommended- Sea urchin, homemade lardo, egg yolk completely bowled us over. The restaurant boasts of it’s use of locally sourced fresh produce and prides itself for being 100% home-made. The house-made pasta is a true testament of that! Great spot for a quick lunch/brunch.
Temple Street Night Market – Messy fingers but oh so very delicious black bean, garlic and Sichuan pepper crabs at the liveliest night market in Hong Kong, Temple Street – no place like Asia for street food! Its definitely chaotic and messy with people selling everything from deep-fried street food, drinks to cheap clothes, pirated CDs and fake labels. Of course you can dull the noise out if there’s a cold beer and some ridiculously spicy food to keep you company. Go here for the atmosphere, stay for the food.
Oddies Foodies – For a spot of satiating all your sweet cravings head on over to Oddies Foodies in Central, HK and order yourself this indulgent Night Wolf complete with caramelised banana ice cream, butter crumbs, passion fruit panna cotta, vanilla & chocolate soft serve topped off with chocolate chip eggette (Hong Kong’s famous egg waffles). Worthy treat after walking for miles!
Markets & More:
Graham Street Wet Market and Wanchai Market are not be missed to experience the city as the locals do. Wet markets are known as such because they sell meat and fish, which require frequent floor washing. Hong Kong’s sheer variety of wet markets showcase food shopping as it should be, almost unfazed by the advent of supermarkets. Every other street corner has vendors selling fruit and vegetables and watching locals bag a bargain is quite the experience.
If you’re after a one-street-marathon shopping affair head down to Mongkok in Kowloon – there’s the Ladies Night Market for bargain clothing, fake Fendi’s, accessories and souvenirs. The Goldfish Street Market and the Bird Market which have exotic and beautiful fish and animals for sale. The Mongkok Flower market makes for a worthwhile exploratory trip as well.
If you’re in Hong Kong and fancy a bit of casino action, Macau is only just a ferry ride away. But if its a bit of peace and quiet you’re after I’d recommend the road trip to the Tian Tan Buddha – 268 steps, one bumpy bus ride followed by an incredible view of the sunset, the experience is anything but ordinary.
I’m embarrassed to admit Hong Kong was never part of my travel bucket-list, even this entire holiday was planned as a sort of last-minute-affordable-airfare kinda getaway, but the city made quite an impression. I was intrigued by the simplest of things – how inspite of being densely populated there was a sense of calm to its chaos, how steep slopes and winding streets didn’t deter sellers from setting up shop and trade, how easily accessible incredible food is at every price range for every pocket.
As Nuri Vittachi rightly said in Hong Kong: The city of Dreams – “the drama, the charm and beauty of Hong Kong is all here-just as is its breathless energy. You can leave Hong Kong, but it will never leave you”. I was incredibly wowed by this enchanting city – it’s skyline, cuisine and crazy street life. If you go with the right spirit, you’ll leave hoping to return.