Old School: Longest-Standing Restaurants in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a foodie’s heaven. But before the city was invaded by hordes of trendy concepts that seem to open and close within a short span of time, these restaurants have been serving quality cuisine for decades and decades – and they’re still going strong today. For a touch of old Hong Kong nostalgia, look no further than these old school establishments. Take note, new-generation restaurant owners…
Luk Yu Teahouse
A visit to Luk Yu Teahouse, founded in 1933, is the stuff of legends: you can expect fine teas, dim sum to die for, and first-rate service – if you’re a regular, that is. Luk Yu’s first floor is unofficially reserved to its legions of loyal customers. In 2002, a customer was actually assassinated on Luk Yu’s floor. A local businessman was shot by a gunman, acting on the orders of a triad boss. The murder only added to the mystique of the legendary establishment, though. Be sure to check out the Chinese art and calligraphy that line the walls, as well as the spittoons that are still placed in the restaurant to this day.
24-26 Stanley Street, Central, (852) 2523 5464
The venerable Jimmy’s Kitchen is as old school as they come. Originally opening in 1928 in Wan Chai, it moved to Central after the war, catering to American and British soldiers who were stationed in Hong Kong. Here you’ll find comfort foods like Chicken Kiev, Steak Diane, and Baked Alaska. While admittedly, it’s not anything that’ll blow your mind, it’s good ol’ classic western food that’s just what the doctor ordered.
G/F, South China Building, 1-3 Wyndham Street, (852) 2526-5293
There’s no doubt that Amigo, which has been standing in Happy Valley since 1967, is a Hong Kong institution. A trip to the restaurant, housed in a Spanish colonial revival mansion, is like visiting a bygone era – think a medieval fortress-like interior with art-lined walls, antique silver trolleys, as well as tuxedoed and white-gloved waitstaff speaking in hushed tones. The unique touches don’t end there: diners are presented with personalised notepads, and food is served only using dishes from heritage fine china brand Wedgwood. Although the restaurant has a decidedly Mediterranean vibe complete with a name that means “friend” in Spanish, Amigo serves French fare. Signature dishes include lamb chops, filet de sole en papillote and scallops Provençal.
Amigo Mansion, 79A Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, (852) 2577 2202
Tai Ping Koon
The pioneer of Hong Kong’s unique soy sauce western cuisine, Tai Ping Koon is a family business that has been around for some 70 years. Soy sauce western refers to an east-meets-west cuisine that blends western classics with Hong Kong flavours, resulting in dishes like steak with rice (instead of potatoes) as well as recipes that are heavy on sauces. Tai Ping Koon is particularly famous for its “Swiss-sauce chicken wings”. The story goes that a foreign diner asked for “sweet sauce” to go with his wings; the waitstaff misheard it as “Swiss”, and the name has stuck ever since. Back in the day, Tai Ping Koon catered to a wealthier clientele, but over the years it has gradually become a casual diner-like spot with pocket-friendly prices.
Various outlets including 6 Pak Sha Road, Causeway Bay, (852) 2576 9161
The Verandah is located at The Repulse Bay, once home to a legendary hotel that played host to distinguished guests like Ernest Hemingway and Marlon Brando. These days, the site is a residential estate, but the restored colonial-style dining establishment The Verandah remains. Here you’ll find classic European cuisine in an elegant setting, complete with a grand piano, panelled mahogany decor and an alfresco space that looks on to the oceanfront. It’s no wonder that critically acclaimed 1955 Hollywood flick Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, starring William Holden and Jennifer Jones, was filmed here. A traditional English afternoon tea is served, as well as brunch on Sundays.
109 Repulse Bay Road, Repulse Bay, (852) 2292 2822
As far as fine-dines go, Gaddi’s at The Peninsula is one of the best in the city. Opening in 1953, the restaurant serves sumptuous French fare. The contemporary decor doesn’t lose the romantic, sophisticated vibe it’s famous for, thanks to a glittering chandelier and exquisitely set tables complete with candlelight. Choose from signatures like creamy lobster soup, Wagyu beef sirloin baked in horseradish salt pastry, and chocolate tart with caramelised Piedmont hazelnuts. If you want impeccable service in a luxurious setting with plenty of history behind it, while also happen to have some money to burn – Gaddi’s is your pick.
1/F, The Peninsula Hong Kong, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, (852) 2696 6763
The Peak Lookout
Taking up a Grade II historical building on the highest point on Hong Kong Island, The Peak Lookout serves up international favourites as wide ranging as fresh Boston lobster, Italian buffalo mozzarella and Hainan chicken rice. The structure, which has been standing since 1888, began serving refreshments in 1947, later becoming known as the Old Peak Cafe until a change to its current name in 2001. It actually came close to being demolished in 1973, when it was proposed that the restaurant should be knocked down to make way for a car park (!). Thankfully, a public outcry meant that it remains standing. The restaurant is mostly a tourist spot, although don’t let that stop you from paying a visit. The view on the garden terrace overlooking the west side of the island is to die for.
121 Peak Road, The Peak, (852) 2849 1000
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”.