Hong Kong Food Diary
My Mouth-Watering Journey in the Greatest Food City
When you imagine Hong Kong, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? The night view of the well-lit skyline, the iconic star ferry on Victoria Harbor, an urban jungle with skyscrapers, luxury shopping, the Peak Tram? Well, the list goes on. But for me, Hong Kong is all about the food.
Hong Kong is the destination for all foodies around the world. This great food city has everything, from street food to gourmet Michelin-starred restaurants. As the most respected food traveler Anthony Bourdain said:
“I’m constantly asked ‘what’s the greatest food city in the world?’ and no one can say you’re wrong if you say Hong Kong.” – Anthony Bourdain <The Layover: Hong Kong>
With the limited time (and stomach space) I had in Hong Kong, there was no way I could have visited all of its notable eateries. Having that said, this is not a comprehensive list of must-visit restaurants in Hong Kong by any means. However, after hearing me brag about the fantastic food I had on my trip, I hope to inspire you with a mouth-watering itinerary around the city.
Michelin Restaurant and Street Food in Hong Kong
>Lung King Heen at Four Seasons: Michelin 3-star Dim Sum
Let me start my list with Lung King Heen, located on the fourth floor of Four Seasons Hotel. Lung King Heen is the first Chinese restaurant to receive three Michelin stars. I spoiled myself by starting here as my first meal in Hong Kong.
However, when I walked into the restaurant, I had no idea about the restaurant’s Michelin status. I was lucky to have a family member in food and beverage to introduce me to this restaurant. After delicious dim sum, I gave a big nod to this Hong Kong Micheline-starred restaurant.
Besides the Michelin 3-star dim sum, Lung King Heen provides impeccable service and beautiful Victoria Harbor view. I have to admit I completely forgot to thoroughly enjoy this lovely environment because I was so focused on the food.
Michelin Guide defines the three-star status as “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.” I’m not a Michelin-star chaser, nor do I travel solely to eat. However, I believe eating local food is an excellent way to experience local culture. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a fine dining experience. But I will gladly take an exquisite meal like dim sum at Lung King Heen any time! If you are planning a trip to Hong Kong, Lung King Heen would be an excellent choice to treat yourself out.
?Location: Four Seasons Hotel Map
⏰Hours: 12 pm – 11 pm (Opens at 11:30 am on Sundays)
>Mammy Pancake: Egg Waffle & Milk Tea on Michelin Guide
Confession: I have a weakness for freshly baked pastries. Does the aroma of fresh bread make you stop in the middle of the street? Then, Mammy Pancake needs to be on your list.
Although this freshly-baked goodness has not received any star, the Michelin Guide introduces Mammy Pancake as note-worthy street food in Hong Kong.
As I walked along the Temple Street, I noticed one spot where a bunch of people was gathering. It was Mammy Pancake. I was overwhelmed with the endless choices and felt rushed to order with the growing number of people behind me. I chose matcha chocolate egg waffle and the most popular tofu pudding milk tea (approximately HKD 45).
The egg waffle was crispy outside and soft inside, just the way I like it! Matcha chocolate was tasty without being too sweet. I’ve never had a tofu pudding milk tea before. The first word came to my mind was “interesting,” but it grew on me the halfway, and I liked it by the time I finished.
?Location: Multiple locations throughout Kowloon.
⏰Hours: 12:30 pm – 11:30 pm
Cha Chaan Teng (茶餐廳)
A trip to Hong Kong will not be complete without making a stop at Cha Chaan Teng. Originated from the British colonial era, it became Hong Kong’s unique food culture. Cha Chaan Teng means tea restaurant. These “tea restaurants” serve an eclectic mix of Hong Kong cuisine and localized Western menu, often accompanied with milk tea.
As Cha Chaan Teng is popular among locals and tourists, it is almost always crowded. At Cha Chaan Teng, do not expect a server to come and ask if this is your first time or kindly introduce their special menu. It’s nothing personal, just Hong Kong.
>Kam Wah Cafe: Pineapple Bun
Resisting the aroma of the freshly baked bun is hard. To make it even harder to pass on Kam Wah is the pineapple bun with a slab of ice-cold butter. Yes, a chunk of butter!!! Who can say no to that?
When I went in around 3 p.m., the cafe was packed. After a short wait, I was seated in a small booth with two strangers (which is common in Hong Kong). I came to get the pineapple bun, but I was a bit disoriented to place an order with an overwhelmingly long menu with no photos. I looked around and found almost every single table has commonly ordered a pineapple bun, two pieces of fried chicken wings and a cup of milk tea. When the waiter brought out the same menu for two strangers at my table, I quickly pointed and said, “I will take the same menu.”
Clever? Well, yes and no. I had the best chicken wings ever. Two thumbs up! On the other hand, I ended up getting the pineapple bun without a slab of butter in the middle. What??? I felt cheated! It was no one’s fault but me, though. I didn’t know I had to ask for extra butter.
I drank too much milk tea that day, so I ordered something different: 7-up with Salted Lemons (咸檸七). This old-school Hong Kong drink is made with lightly pickled lemons mixed in 7-Up (or Sprite). It is an acquired taste. I haven’t made up my mind whether I like it or not. But you will not know until you try, right?
?Location: 47 Bute St, Prince Edward, Hong Kong Map
⏰Hours: 6:30 am – 11 pm
>Lan Fong Yuen: Hong Kong Milk Tea & French Toast
Lan Fong Yuen is an authentic Hong Kong Cha Chaan Teng with a long tradition. The popular menu includes milk tea, pork buns and Hong Kong-style French toast. Particularly, Lan Fong Yuen is the spot for anyone searching for the best milk tea in Hong Kong. The shop first brews its tea in a “tea pantyhose” then adds evaporated (or condensed) milk to make its famous Hong Kong milk tea.
I made a pit stop after lunch, so I just got an iced milk tea (HKD 23). It was pretty small, like the one from McDonald’s kids’ meal. It was smooth, creamy and sweet as a good Hong Kong milk tea should be. While I noticed many Hong Kongers drank it hot, I chose a cold milk tea. There was no way I could drink hot tea on the go in the 32-degree weather (approximately 90 degrees Fahrenheit).
?Location: 2 Gage St, Central, Hong Kong Map
⏰Hours: 7:30 am – 6 pm (Closed on Sundays)
>Tai Hing: Hong Kong Milk Tea
Tai Hing is another famous Cha Chaan Teng with many locations throughout Hong Kong. Before going up the Mid-level escalator, I stopped by the nearby location to grab a quick bite.
The overall atmosphere is similar to a local diner in the U.S. (minus the hospitality). Based on my observation, I figured out that utensils and napkins were inside the drawer underneath the table. (Yes, the server didn’t bother to tell me.) I ordered Light Spicy Minced Pork Rice Vermicelli with Milk Tea (HKD 30) off the breakfast menu. Vermicelli didn’t look like anything, but to my surprise, it was tasty; the soup had a deep flavor, and the noodle was perfectly al dente. The milk tea came out in a tray of ice cubes to cool off. Although the iced milk tea costs extra HKD 3, I liked this nice little touch to keep the consistent flavor until the last drop.
?Location: Multiple locations
⏰Hours: Varies by location.
Hong Kong Cantonese Food
>Yung Kee Restaurant: Roasted Goose
Roasted goose is one of traditional Cantonese dishes you must try in Hong Kong. By the first look, I imagined roasted goose to taste somewhat similar to Peking duck. (And I love Cantonese-style Peking ducks!) But it was even better. The skin was crispy and caramel-y. The meat was juicy. It was a perfect balance of fatty, salty, sweet flavors in one bite. Yum!
My only complaint was the portion. I ordered a half roast goose and half barbecue pork. While barbecue pork was delicious, I wish I ordered a full roast goose. Other dishes were tasty, but the roast goose was undoubtedly the superstar of the evening.
Pro Tip: I highly recommend making a reservation. As I walked in for dinner, I saw many people seating on the stairs to wait for a table. The restaurant was packed.
?Location: Central, 32-40 Wellington St, Central, Hong Kong Map
⏰Hours: 11 am – 11:30 pm
>Happy Paradise: Contemporary Cantonese Food
Happy Paradise is relatively new to the Hong Kong food scene, yet quickly has become a hot place among people in the know. It is the latest creation of the Boston-educated, award-winning chef, May Chow.
The SoHo restaurant and bar has funky vibes, decorated with retro diner chairs and neon signs. The menu here is even more interesting. It featured familiar tastes I had millions of times before but presented as a modern western plate. The chef beautifully re-created the Chinese comfort food with western cooking techniques.
My favorite of the evening was salty sweet Char Siu rice. It was a great way to end the meal. It came with sauce and pork lard on the side. Honestly, I get grossed by pork lard (obviously I didn’t put it over my Char Siu). But this one was adorable in the cute smiley pig ceramics.
I didn’t try any of supposedly-applauded cocktails at Happy Paradise. But I did taste their own branded beer, Hangry Donut. A smooth, light drink. Well done, Chef May.
?Location: 52-56 Staunton Street, UG/F, Central, Hong Kong Map
⏰Hours: 6 pm – 1 am ( Closed at 2 am on Thursday – Saturday. Closed on Sunday.)
>Po Lin Monastery: Vegetarian Meal
When I traveled to Lantau Island to visit the Big Buddha, I stopped by nearby Po Lin Monastery and ate a vegetarian meal. While not all Buddhists strictly follow the no-kill philosophy of the Buddhism precept, Buddhist temples typically serve vegetarian meals only. I can’t say it was the best vegetarian meal I had, but it was an interesting affair. Read More > Why I loved and hated Lantau Island: Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery
>Under Bridge Spicy Crab
Let’s call this one an honorary mention. I went to Under Bridge Spicy Crab a few years ago. I fell in love with their delicious spicy crabs and razor clams, and this restaurant became one of my favorites. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to visit this restaurant on this trip. Instead, I tried another spicy crab restaurant along the Temple Street, which was a major disappointment. Save yourself the trouble and visit Under Bridge Spicy Crab if you like to eat crabs.
?Location: Lockhart Rd, #421-425, Ascot Mansion, Bowrington, Hong Kong Map
⏰Hours: 6 pm – 5:30 am
Classic British Afternoon Tea
>The Lobby at the Peninsula Hotel
Would you care for a cup of tea? Outside of the U.K., what other places are better than Hong Kong to find this brilliant British tradition? Having an afternoon tea at the Lobby Peninsula was one of the highlights of my trip.
Fun Cocktail Bars in Hong Kong
>Quinary: Molecular Mixology Bar
One of Asia’s Top 50 Bars 2017, Quinary did not disappoint. This bar reminded me of The Aviary in Chicago, a famed cocktail lounge with creative drinks and theatrical presentation. Not as dramatic as The Aviary, Quinary has similarly adopted molecular mixology and perfected drinks utilizing culinary skills.
Their signature Earl Grey Caviar Martini is not just another Insta-worthy drink but an intriguing one. Its big fluffy foam stands tall on top of earl grey caviar-filled mixture of Ketel One citrus vodka and Cointreau. It’s an easy drink once you find a way to the first sip. Oh, make sure you suck it hard to get the “caviar” and drink through the cloud of foam. Nasal breathing not recommended.
My favorite was Lavender Meringue Pie Cocktail. With a hint of lavender, this girly drink features a thick, sweet marshmallow foam. It drinks almost like desserts even for a lightweight like me. Dangerously good!
?Location: 56-58 Hollywood Rd, Central, Hong Kong Map
⏰Hours: 5 pm – 1 am (Closed on Sunday)
>The Old Man: Intimate Speakeasy Bar
After a meal at Happy Paradise, I hopped over to The Old Man right across the street. Located at lower ground inside a dark alley, it had the speakeasy vibes from the outside. The cozy bar has a marble centerpiece of The Old Man – perhaps a tribute to Ernest Hemingway. The long bar table features a temperature-controlled counter top to keep your drink cool at all times. Quite impressive!
The drinks are quite intriguing and creative. Although I didn’t like the first recommendation, the bartender was kind enough to make another one for me. The second one was green, yogurt-based cocktail. It was nothing like I had before but strangely enjoyable. (Unfortunately, I don’t remember the names of any drinks.) If I compare The Old Man to Quinary, the former features more manly drinks.
Interestingly, the majority of the clientele here was the English-speaking crowd. They didn’t look like locals but could be expats. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop on other people’s conversation, but the bar was pretty cozy and relatively quiet. If you are looking for a place to vent about your boss, this might not be the best place.
?Location: Lower G/F, 37-39 Aberdeen Street, Soho, Central, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Map
⏰Hours: 5 pm – 2 am (Closed on Sunday)
>Aqua Spirit: Rooftop Bar with a Harbor View
Do you care for a view when sipping a cocktail? Then, Aqua Spirit rooftop bar could be the winner. Unlike the typical rooftop bars, Aqua Spirit doesn’t have an outdoor terrace. But don’t be disappointed yet. The panoramic view here is fantastic as the two-story venue features a slanted floor-to-ceiling glass overlooking the Victoria Harbor from the Kowloon side. The floor below this swanky bar is a high-end Italian/Japanese restaurant. A romantic dinner followed by cocktails would make a nice date night.
Aqua Spirit’s cocktail menu flaunts fine classics. My favorite was the Japanese Garden. It is a great summer drink, presented in a cute little handwoven basket.
?Locations: Located at 1 Peking Road Shopping Arcade; from MTR East Tsim Sha Tsui station, Exit at L5 Map
⏰Hours: 4 pm – 2 am
What is your favorite food spot in Hong Kong?
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