Having family in Hong Kong means that I do visit it pretty often, at least once a year for the past 10 years or so, sometimes even up to 3 or 4 times in a single year! Perfect for those who love the city life, Hong Kong has many nooks and crannies, as well as fancy restaurants and mega old school cha chan tengs on the same street.
Since there's so much to cover, I've decided to split them into various categories based on different budgets, so you can see what suits your needs and wants. In addition, I'll throw in some things / other sights you could do between meals. Let's begin! :)
Tip: HK uses OpenRice quite religiously for food, so download the app before going. For all the OpenRice links, look for "All Branches" so you can see which is the nearest to you.
Cheap Eats ($)
(1) Sing Lum Khui Rice Noodle House 星林居 @ Tsim Sha Tsui - They have a few outlets at Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) area, serving sour spicy noodles. Basically you pick the regular noodles on the order chit (it has way too many options, like an OHT answer sheet), then tick all the boxes for toppings/ingredients that you want. My favourites include the Crab Roe Dumplings, Soft Pork Bone and Enoki Mushrooms, but there are others like Fatty Beef, Tripe, Sausages and so on! Most people usually order 3-4 toppings, so be careful not to go too wild even though it's tempting, or you'll have a mountain appearing in front of you! You can even customize the sourness & spice levels, and how much vegetable garnish you want on it. My usual order? Little Spicy and Normal Sour, with Less Noodles... It's a huge portion, and the norm is already quite spicy, so err on the side of caution, and don't go wild with the spice levels!
(2) Kau Kee Beef Noodles 九记牛腩面 @ 21 Gough St, Central - They serve up yummy beef noodles, dry with oyster sauce (as shown below), a curry noodle version, or one with soup. They do have an English menu, just smile at the servers, put up with them if they happen to be grumpy that day (which happens quite often, I hear), and ask for the English menu... Or stare at the menu in the shop window as you're waiting in line outsidel, and prepare to shout out the number of your order once you've decided! Often has a queue outside, so it's best if you go at non-peak hours!
(3) Sing Heung Yuen @ Central - This is right opposite the beef noodles - famous for their tomato instant noodle soup and their lemon honey toast. You also get to customize the toppings on your noodles, from pork chop to luncheon meat, beef and so on. Pretty yums!
(4) Tai Cheong Bakery @ Lyndhurst Terrace - This place does eggtarts the way I like it. It's a buttery biscuit crust with soft egg custard filling that tastes best when eaten fresh out of oven, so eat it right outside the shop - you won't regret it! (I do usually go when the weather is cold, which makes the hot egg tart extra awesome.) They also have 17 other outlets littered across Hongkong, so even if you can't get to this particular one, do search for one near you!
(5) Lan Fong Yuen - They have 2 different outlets, one on HK island and one on Kowloon. This typical HK "Cha Chan Teng" is famous for their milk tea... They also do yummy instant noodles, too! If you go to the one at Chung King Mansion at TST, remember that the entrance is not through the actual shady building, but an escalator down to an upmarket shopping place. The cafe is in the back.
(6) Tsui Wah - This is the HK "Cha Chan Teng" version of fast food. Many outlets! They have such a big menu, it's hard to pick what to eat. But most things are good - try the 奶油猪, a toasted bun that's layered with butter & condensed milk. I used to order the Satay Fatty Beef instant noodles with Fish Paste Puff (as seen below), but I'm not sure if it's still on the menu... I'm sure there's plenty to look forward to though!
(7) Capital Cafe - This "Cha Chan Teng" serves something called the Principal Toast... That's toast topped with scrambled eggs and truffle. Great for a mid-afternoon snack! Has a number of outlets, so pick the closest one to you!
(8) Tim Ho Wan - Famously known as the cheapest Michelin dish you can find in the world (at least when I first had it), we have it in Singapore too... But the quality of the famous Baked Char Siew Bao (barbecue pork buns, as shown below) in HK is WAY better than in the outlets in Singapore. I'm not a huge fan of the rest of the dimsum on the menu, but those buns are a must try - even if you can't get a seat, or can't go for a full meal, order a takeaway and snack on it immediately to make the others in the queue jealous... Trust me, it's well worth a trip. Many outlets, so take your pick!
(9) DimDimSum Dim Sum Specialty Store 点点心 - Another good place to go for dimsum... Some misses (forget about the Truffle Xiao Long Baos, they're completely dry), but many more hits that more than make up for it. And it's pretty affordable, with a number of stores. Also has promo prices for odd hours on weekdays, I believe!
Mid-Range Eats ($$)
(10) Butao Ramen - Officially my favourite ramen. Has many different outlets, so pick one close to you. I loved the Black Ramen, the flavour was strong and yummy. The black soup will definitely look messy while eating, so go with someone you're comfortable with, they can check your teeth and mouth for you! Don't forget to order the half-cooked Japanese Ajitama eggs, they were one of the best I've tried, so golden yellow & yummy! I did go back to the outlet at TST recently, only to be disappointed by the soup (it was way too thick, maybe the regular chef was on leave), so do proceed with caution.
(11) CitySuper @ HarbourCity & Times Square - Ok, so this is actually a chain of supermarkets in Hong Kong, alongside Park N Shop, Wellcome and Jasons Marketplace. HarbourCity and Times Square are both mega huge shopping malls (Times Square occasionally has bazaar sales for branded goods, so look out for posters around the mall), but there's a supermarket in these two malls called CitySuper (also exists in other malls too, you can out other locations close to you). If you know me, you know I can spend hours just walking the aisles at supermarkets, I love it. They do have lots of different produce, and a cooked food section too, plenty of food choices!
(12) Labmade Icecream - Dessert! They always experiment with interesting flavours on a weekly basis (so there's always something new to try), and freeze it with liquid nitrogen. I've had French Toast, 流沙 Custard Bun, and many other interesting flavours while I was there. A few outlets available!
(13) Smile Yoghurt & Dessert Bar - Pop in yoghurt shop, I know the one at Tsim Sha Tsui has a couple of seats, not sure about the rest. Kinda works like Llao Llao, but a better version, more unique toppings n mix! Has 3 outlets, just search for the one closest to you.
Upmarket Bites ($$$)
(14) The Dining Room 南小馆 - A casual dining restaurant serving Shanghai food, I quite liked the food here too. Special mention goes to the steamed luffa gourd with organic soy milk. Sounds nuts but I quite liked it! Also does the usual noodles and stuff, so don't get scared off by the odd combination without checking it out, haha. They have several outlets and it's mostly within malls, so check out the one closest to you!
(15) Tung Po Restaurant 東寶小館 - A gem of a restaurant, hidden in a sports facility building that has a wet market on the second floor - confusing, I know. This place is quite well-known though... It's been said that Benedict Cumberbatch had dinner here when he was filming Doctor Strange in Hong Kong. Must have dish? Stir-fried Tom Yum Topokki. I usually claim that Korean rice cakes (or Topokki) are quite a waste of stomach space, but this is the only time I couldn't stop picking at a dish made mainly with this ingredient. Check out the enticing colours in the picture! Great flavours and wok-hei (flavour of the wok).
(16) Siu Choi Wong 小菜王 @ Sham Shui Po - This hole-in-a-wall joint was opened by an old policeman after he retired. It's loud, noisy, gets pretty crazy & crowded, but the food's really yummy. Try the eel fried rice! Oily, but really has the scent of the wok... Well fried!
(17) Lee House Restaurant 李公馆 @ Wanchai - A proper restaurant! If you go after 2 or 2.30pm, you'll get a discount off the regular lunch menu. They have good dimsum here, alongside other restaurant-type dishes. Their best? Cheong Fun with mushrooms and the crispy pastry (must be eaten hot).
(18) Mott 32 - High-end restaurant with a fancy menu and prices to match. The char siew here is made with iberico pork, which is fatty and melts in your mouth, just the right texture and taste. Do call ahead to book your table and reserve a plate of char siew, as it's been known to run out pretty fast! Save space for the Scallop & Prawn Soup, served in a claypot with deep-fried rice puffs. Super yummy, definitely a comfort food for most! Round off the meal with the fascinating Soy Sauce and/or Steamed Ginger ice-cream... Without a doubt, worth a try!
(19) Yardbird @ SOHO - This Yakitori place is well-known, but not for the budget traveller. One stick can set you back S$8, so it's tiny portions for a not-so-tiny price. Food was decent and served in interesting ways, so you still can eat here, but only if you don't mind leaving either with a half-full belly, or a half-empty wallet. Cocktails here are amazing though - at approximately S$22 a cocktail, I tried 3 different ones and loved all of them.
(21) Quinary - On the topic of cocktails, this is another great place to check out. They open from 5pm till 12mn, and have the fault of having an overly extensive menu of cocktails, which makes it SO difficult for an indecisive person like me to pick a cocktail. Thank goodness I rarely stop at one cocktail. ;) Standing at #7 on the list of Asia's 50 Best Bars 2017, it can get quite crowded during peak hours, so do either try to pop in early, or just a little before closing if you want to get a seat.
(22) Mrs Pound - My cousin brought me here, it's also one of those speakeasy places, looks like a shop that produces traditional Chinese chops, but press down the chop in the bottom left corner of the display, and presto! A door slides open to reveal the secret passage to the restaurant (as seen on the right of the picture below). Food's pretty good too, functions as a bar as well!
(23) Ye Shanghai 夜上海 - upmarket Chinese restaurant in Marco Polo Hotel, the venue alone should give you an idea of the prices to expect - but it's of good standard. Probably quite baby-friendly too!
(24) The Chairman - Fancy place that can get quite expensive, but with relatively large portions. Reservations are necessary, and if you're trying to manage your budget, it would be best to opt for either the 3 or 4-course lunch instead of the a la carte or dinner menu. I'd highly recommend this Sichuan Lamb Belly (shown below), while their clams are supposedly one of their signatures too (I didn't get to try this, sadly, as they ran out of clams).
(25) Seasons @ Lee Gardens 2 - I've got good news and bad news. The bad news is, it was Chef Olivier's last day when I visited the restaurant, so I'm not sure you'll get to try this amazing dish (pictured below) of a 63-degree cooked egg with creamy polenta, parmesan and popcorn if you visit Seasons. The good news is, he's opening his own restaurant in Causeway Bay sometime soon, and Chef Lorenz of L'Atlier de Joel Robuchon Singapore is taking over the helm at Seasons, so I'm sure there'll be two awesome restaurants for you to check out in Hong Kong soon!
In between all that feasting, it's important to find stuff to do to walk it off! Here's what I did on one of my trips recently:
(1) Street Art - Hunt down street art in the area around SOHO and Hollywood Road. You'll be amazed at what you can find at a random street corner! Plus, walking around is great to burn off some of the calories from the good food you'll be indulging in. ;)
(2) Sai Kung - Take a day-trip to Sai Kung, hop on a boat and visit the various islands dotted around the area! Some of them are not even inhabited, and it's mesmerising to see the views, knowing that these formations were created through hundreds or thousands of years of waves beating on rocks. It's best if you get a group together, and charter your own boat for approximately 90 minutes. It might be expensive (we paid about HK$1500 for 3 pax), but you'll get to do the full tour - most other trips are only to 1 or 2 of the highlights in the area, so it's not as worth it! Hope you'll enjoy great weather!
(4) Dragon's Back Trail - This I've never attempted, but for all the city sights Hong Kong has to offer, they supposedly have twice the amount of nature for you to explore. I've seen some pretty awesome photos of the view from this hike, but have not summoned enough courage and stamina to carry it through myself... Will save it for next time, I think!
(5) Stanley Market - This place can get quite packed with tourists, but it's still fun to visit, and hang out near the water. Click on the link to find out more about what to expect, how to get there, and what time to set off. Do watch out for your bags though!
As you can tell, there are lots of good eats to look out for in Hong Kong, from cheap eats to fancy fine-dining! Do let me know if there's any discrepancies or changes (if they've closed or moved), and I'll update this post accordingly. Thanks in advance, and enjoy!