Top 10 Quintessentially Hong Kong Dining Experiences
Hong Kong is a food haven. But where do you go looking for the best of the best – the stuff that’ll earn you bragging rights with friends and family back home? Pencil in these quintessentially Hong Kong dining experiences below.
Dim Sum, Lin Heung Tea House
For tourists as well as the younger generation in Hong Kong, yum cha at the original Lin Heung Tea House on Wellington Street (there’s also a newer branch in Sheung Wan) is a one-of-a-kind experience. Opened in the 1920s, the traditional Chinese tea house still runs the show the old-school way: staffers navigate dim sum carts with piping hot dishes through the space, while diners share tables and pour tea out of traditional cups rather than the teapots you usually see at Chinese restaurants. Try the thousand-layer cake, an eggy pastry done the traditional way: Lin Heung is one of the last places in the city that offers this dim sum dish.
Soy Sauce Western, Tai Ping Koon
Soy Sauce Western is a Hong Kong-centric cuisine that originated in the 1950s. It consists of western-style dishes that have been heavily modified to suit the Cantonese palate, resulting in dishes like steak with rice, macaroni in soup with egg and spam, and stewed ox tripe. Tai Ping Koon, which was founded in 1860, is famed for its Soy Sauce Western classics – most notably “Swiss chicken wings”, a dish drenched in a thick sweet soy sauce. As the urban legend goes, a Chinese waiter who didn’t speak great English told a curious westerner that the sweetened soya sauce used in the dish was “Swiss sauce” – and the name has stuck since.
Champagne Brunch, Zuma
For many in Hong Kong, brunch at Japanese restaurant and bar Zuma is a classic weekend pastime. Dig into a spread of sushi, sashimi and heartier grilled dishes, as well as crowd favourites like tempura and spicy beef tenderloin. Best part? The free-flowing champagne, sake and cocktails, of course. Just don’t make any plans afterwards…
Beef Brisket Noodles, Kau Kee Restaurant
Venerable Gough Street mainstay Kau Kee Restaurant’s beef brisket soup noodles is famous around the world. The beef here is tender, flavoursome and melts in the mouth, while the noodles are springy and al dente. A visit to Kau Kee for lunch requires meticulous planning: go early to avoid the queues, but don’t go so late that you encounter the afternoon tea crowd. Forget heading there for dinner – the joint is so popular that it’s usually all out of food by late afternoon.
High Tea, The Peninsula
The Peninsula is a Hong Kong institution, and high tea at its Lobby Lounge should be top of your list if you’re planning an outing for a special occasion. Sit down to exquisite pastries and sandwiches alongside scones with clotted cream and jam, and choose from an assortment of The Peninsula’s signature tea collection. Go baller and add a glass of Peninsula’s own champagne.
Chicken Pot, Supreme Restaurant
Still doing hot pot? You’re so last year. Taking the normal fondue-like Chinese specialty to the next level, the chicken pot experience starts with a piping hot bowl of the juicy, tender chicken in a pot (natch). Polish off the meat, and your server will then pour the broth in. Then your hot pot begins. Why do this? The broth and the ingredients cooked in it soak up the flavours of the chicken. Supreme Restaurant is our favourite – it’s all-you-can-eat food and beer (!) for a couple hundred Hong Kong dollars. The menus are in Chinese, so grab a Canto-speaking friend.
Seafood and Boat Congee, Shun Kee Typhoon Shelter
You’d be wrong for thinking that the Causeway Bay typhoon shelter is some sort of tourist gimmick. Back in the day, the typhoon shelter housed a number of boats each running eateries, serving up classic Cantonese-style seafood dishes using only the freshest of ingredients. Shun Kee Typhoon Shelter is one such that continues to run. Here you’ll find boat congee, a humble rice porridge dish that was once the staple of fishermen families of southern coastal towns. It’s packed with flavour thanks to a delicious combo of ingredients: everything from fish and dried shrimp to pork, beef and octopus are used, all garnished liberally with fried dough sticks and a smattering of peanuts.
Steak, Grand Hyatt Steakhouse
When you think of Hong Kong cuisine, steak might not be the first thing that comes to mind. One of Hong Kong’s best steakhouses, however, is housed at the Grand Hyatt. Here you’ll find sumptuous steak dishes of every cut imaginable, with prime cuts sourced from the US, Canada and Japan. Ask your waiter to recommend a full-bodied red to go with your steak.
Mango Pomelo Sago, Lei Garden
Haven’t tried Chinese desserts before? You’re missing out. Sweet treat mango pomelo sago was invented in the 1980s by restaurant chain Lei Garden, three outlets of which were recently awarded stars in this year’s Michelin Guide. Made with mango, pomelo and sago in a sweet soup, it’s a cooling treat meant to cool down the body in the sub-tropical climate. The dessert is readily available at most Chinese restaurants, so remember to save space for it!
Peking Duck, Peking Garden
Courtesy of Foodie
Peking duck might be a classic Beijing dish, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it justice down south. In Hong Kong, old school Peking Garden does it best, with wafer-thin, crispy skin attached to tiny strip of tender meat (the proper way), sliced by a chef before the diner’s eyes. Yes, the chopped, greasy mess they call “peking duck” overseas is a total lie. Do be prepared to splurge a little here – but trust us, it’ll be totally worth it.
Andrea Lo is a freelance journalist and translator based in Hong Kong. After cutting her teeth in the industry as a staff writer at a lifestyle magazine, she embraced the freelance life in 2015 and hasn’t looked back. She spends her time exploring the best of Hong Kong’s dining and nightlife scene, trialling new fitness trends, and travelling to exotic locales – all in the name of “research”.