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Hong Kong hasn't gained an international reputation as one of the foodie capitals of the world for nothing; in addition to a rich local dining culture, the city's nature as an international port and multicultural melting pot means that you'll get almost every sort of cuisine you can name here, at plenty of different price points. While not as acclaimed as, say, Singapore or as affordable as mainland China, Hong Kong has plenty to offer in terms of dining.
Cantonese fare will obviously be the easiest type of cuisine to find, and it comes in many different forms, from hot pot to dim sum to egg tarts. Experience a meal in a luxurious fine-dining restaurant where you'll find gold flakes in the har gow (shrimp dumplings), or head to a hole-in-the-wall cha chaan teng (Hong Kong-style cafe) for a milk tea while sitting elbow-to-elbow with taxi drivers and office workers. You'll find plenty of other Asian cuisines, including Thai, Indian, Nepalese, Korean, Japanese and other varieties of Chinese, as well as various North American and European dishes as well. The only areas that aren't well-represented are Africa and Latin America — which is currently changing with the arrival of a handful of new Mexican and Peruvian restaurants in town.
In a word, eclectic. Hong Kong is a city of foodies, so you can always rely on a smattering of new establishments to create a gastronomic buzz, alongside the old favourites. Most cuisines have found a home of some kind here - explore the city through your stomach.
Top of the restaurant food chain are the Michelin Star establishments like French restaurants Caprice at the Four Seasons, with its new cheese-paired-with-wine hideaway Caprice Bar, Restaurant Petrus at the Island Shangri-La, and Gaddi’s at The Peninsula.
If you’re in Hong Kong you should be eating Chinese food of course, and the top five star hotels have some of the most luxurious Chinese restaurants in town. However, it’s fun to explore the independent restaurants like Tim Ho Wan (+852 2332 2896), the Michelin-starred dim sum eatery in Mongkok that doesn’t take reservations, but is worth the queuing to get into, as well as San Xi Lou’s amazing Sichuan food in Mid-Level's Coda Plaza (+852 2838 8811), and a mixture of Chinese cuisines at beautiful restaurant The Monogamous Chinese tucked away in Soho.
Seafood is a staple Cantonese ingredient, with restaurants housing fish in tanks to ensure absolute freshness. Lamma Island’s Yung Shu Wan and Sok Ku Wan are both lined with seafood restaurants, Mui Wo on Lantau Island has alfresco places with plastic chairs and tables and very affordable prices to the right of the ferry pier, or make a day of it out in Sai Kung in the New Territories and eat at one of the pier-side eateries.
Recently South American influenced restaurants have been popping up like mushrooms, with La Chicha offering a stylish Peruvian menu and Brickhouse’s cool, grungy venue with Mexican dishes. New to the scene is the just-opened Mayta Peruvian Kitchen & Pisco Bar in Lan Kwai Fong. And don’t miss fantastic and affordable eateries like Taco Loco on Soho's escalator and Taco Chaca in Sai Ying Pun.
Other South East Asian cuisines are popular, like Vietnamese, with Nha Trang in Central perennially busy, and the tiny Chom Chom (+852 2868 3302) a fun find above Wellington Street. Authentic Thai restaurants can be found across Hong Kong, especially in Kowloon City, but in Central, Tuk Tuk Thai (+852 2542 2760) is a reasonably priced café for the area, and serves up deliciously spicy dishes.
For snacks or eating on the run, hole-in-the-wall eateries chop up roast duck, char sui (pork) and chicken, serving the meats with rice and vegetables as an easy and affordable lunch box. And the old fashioned dai pai dongs are the endangered traditional street side food stalls, wok-frying up wanton dumplings, instant noodles in soup and fried rice. It is customary to share tables, and if you don’t speak any Cantonese just point to someone else’s plate to order.
Hong Kong’s restaurant scene is varied, dynamic, and cosmopolitan. Cantonese cuisine can be explored at every level, whether you’re looking for dim sum, street food, noodle shops or white-tablecloth luxury. Regional Chinese cooking is also well-represented, as are other Asian cuisines, especially Japanese.
Venues vary widely. There are tiny dives, massive banquet halls, and plenty of stylish places filled with pretty people. Many of the city’s great restaurants are in malls and hotels. Some of Hong Kong’s best food, from Sichuan home cooking to molecular Spanish, is found in so-called “private kitchens,” which essentially exploit a loophole in the law that allows otherwise unlicensed spaces to serve food if they designate themselves a private club.
Some of the world’s most well-known chefs have outposts here: Nobu, Gagnaire, Robuchon, and even Mario Batali has gotten in on the act, which speaks to (among other things) an Italian trend that shows no signs of dying any time soon. And this is a city that loves trends. Just don't leave without trying some of the classics.