Hong Kong is a food lovers paradise. A mecca of non-stop must eats and endless restaurants. With over 7 million people, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities on earth. China, but not China, the city is packed with an endless amount of restaurants serving everything your imagination can think of.
With only a few days in Hong Kong, I had a tough time deciding what to eat. Almost everywhere you look is something amazing and interesting to eat. An assault on your senses. From the hole-in-the-walls, to Michelin star restaurants, to hole-in-the-wall Michelin star restaurants, Hong Kong has it all. So many options and so little time.
Pork buns, dumplings, pineapple buns, burgers, Hong Kong has some truly amazing foods. Some famous, some strange, but most importantly, all delicious.
This is a recap of what I ate in Hong Kong during my trip.
Tim Ho Wan – Dim Sum
Before my flight landed in Hong Kong, I knew exactly where I wanted to go for my first meal: Tim Ho Wan.
For those unfamiliar, Tim Ho Wan is a popular dim sum restaurant serving mainly bite-sized portions of delicious food including dumplings and pork buns. In 2010, Tim Ho Wan was awarded a Michelin star, making it the cheapest Michelin restaurant in the world.
You can always expect a line here and not just because of the food. You can thank Anthony Bourdain. He stopped by here on his show “The Layover” a few years back. I smile when I see both locals and visitors sitting side by side inside a restaurant enjoying great food.
Since I was dining alone, I was seated immediately, although with a group of strangers. This was a common occurrence in Hong Kong, so get used to it. Turns out sitting with strangers can be a great experience. I was told of restaurant recommendations in the city and even got to sample some of their dim sum.
I tried the shrimp dumplings, dumplings in chiu chow, and pork dumplings with shrimp (shao mai), and BBQ pork buns. Without a doubt, the highlight was the BBQ pork buns (char siu). Sweet and crispy on the outside, hot and savory glazed BBQ pork in the inside.
Not sure what to order? No problem. Since everything on the menu was so cheap, and delicious, just order away.
Tim Ho Wan (multiple locations)
9 Fuk Wing St, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong
Open Monday through Friday from 10:00 AM to 9:30 PM and weekends from 9:00 AM to 9:30 PM
Australia Dairy Company – Macaroni Soup and Eggs with Toast
For some odd reason, the Australia Dairy Company has gained an almost cult-like following.
I just don’t get it, I really don’t.
When I arrived minutes after opening, the place was already packed full and there was a line out front. Luckily, the line moved quickly.
The most popular item on the menu was the breakfast set complete with macaroni soup and eggs with toast.
Yes, you read that correctly. This isn’t prison food but one of the most popular restaurants in Hong Kong.
Thinly sliced pieces of processed ham and soft elbow macaroni floating in a simple and cloudy brown chicken broth.
I have to admit, I was a big fan of the eggs. They sure mastered the art of making scrambled eggs, which were cooked to the perfect degree. Each bite of the eggs was creamy and rich, like something you would find in a bistro in Paris. It’s a lot harder to cook the perfect egg than you would think. They know how to do it here.
I ate it all and somehow I still wanted more.
Australia Dairy Company
47 Parkes St, Jordan, Hong Kong
Open daily 7:30 AM to 11:00 PM
Mak’s Noodle – Beef Brisket Soup with Shrimp Wontons and Noodles
There are certain points in my life where I eat something so delicious while traveling that it sticks with me forever. The bowl of beef brisket with shrimp wontons and noodles at Mak’s Noodle is now on that list.
Some people complain that the bowl is too small or too expensive, but I disagree. I thought the portion size was just right. A lot of flavors packed into one small bowl. In Hong Kong, the locals call it sai yong, meaning small morsels or small bowl.
The thin egg noodles had just the right texture and bite. Firm yet springy. The deep brown broth was insanely rich with a slightly sweet flavor of shrimp and beef. The broth took 4-5 hours to make using ingredients such as pork bone and dried flounder.
Floating in the savory broth were large chunks of tender, fatty, melt in your mouth beef brisket. Hidden under the noodles were silky handmade wontons filled with tender pieces of shrimp.
This soup was perfection. I just wish I didn’t have to travel all the way to Hong Kong for it.
Don’t forget to take a moment to watch the chefs preparing bowls of soup and boiling noodles inside the small kitchen near the front.
77 Wellington St, Central, Hong Kong
Open daily from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Yat Lok Restaurant – Roast Goose
Just look at that picture of a glistening and crispy roast goose served at Yat Lok Restaurant.
Perfection. In my opinion, nowhere else on earth can you find meats roasted so beautifully.
Yat Lok Restaurant is another one of those places that has become extremely popular thanks to Anthony Bourdain and his show “No Reservations”. Tony actually visited the other location in Tai Po to the north, but the damage has been done. Expect a line during peak hours or really even anytime.
Over 20 ingredients were used for the marinade on the goose. The secret family recipe included dark soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger.
Not even in my wildest dreams would I ever imagine such a perfectly glazed and crispy goose. Each bite of the caramelized skin of the goose leg just melted in my mouth with intense rich and fatty flavors. Under the skin, juicy and succulent brown meat just fell off the bone. The crispy skin and tender meat were a great balance of texture and flavors.
The BBQ pork was an afterthought to the goose. Although smoky, the pork was on the dry side.
Stick with the roast goose. Even Anthony Bourdain stated that the goose was worth flying all the way to Hong Kong for.
Yat Lok Restaurant (multiple locations)
34-38 Stanley Street, Hong Kong, China
Open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM and Sunday from 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM
Kam Wah Cafe – Pineapple Buns
My first taste of a pineapple bun was at Kam Wah Cafe in Mong Kok. This cha chaan teng, or tea restaurant, is considered to serve one of the best pineapple buns in Hong Kong. Kam Wah Cafe was also visited by comedian Aziz Ansari on the travel show, “The Getaway.”
In a city such as Hong Kong, people are always on the go. With no time for a full breakfast, quick snacks are popular. Just grab and go. How popular are pineapple buns? The tasty snack has been added to the list of Hong Kong’s intangible cultural heritage.
For those unfamiliar, a pineapple bun, or bo lo baau, is a sweet bun, crispy and sweet on the top crust while light, doughy, and warm on the inside. It might blow your mind, but pineapple buns contain no pineapple. The top crust supposedly resembles a pineapple, hence the name.
If you arrive at the wrong time, you will be greeted by a line out the door. Thanks to jet lag, I was up bright and early when the restaurant wasn’t as packed.
And yes, that is a big slab of butter, so you might want to forget about your diet for the moment. Each bite was sweet, buttery, and crunchy. So simple, yet so delicious. Something that is hard to duplicate.
Don’t forget to also try the egg tarts.
Kam Wah Cafe
47 Bute St, Hong Kong
Open daily from 6:30 AM to 12:00 AM
Pololi – Ahi Tuna Poke
It seems like every day, a new poke restaurant is opening up where I live in Southern California. Thanks to Pololi, the craze has finally made its way to Hong Kong.
What is poke you might be asking yourself? Poke is simply a raw fish salad often made with yellowfin tuna, soy sauce, salt, green onions, onions and limu, a type of dried seaweed.
Ordering poke is similar to ordering a burrito at Chipotle or a sandwich at Subway. Pick your base (rice, salad, or both) and pick your topping (variety of tuna, salmon, tofu, or edamame).
Since poke is a new thing in Hong Kong, the friendly lady behind the counter offered free samples to each guest. Unfortunately, many of the toppings were sold out or not available on my visit. I would have loved to sample their salmon, but I was happy with tuna.
I went with the Spice Spice Dynamite ahi tuna with brown rice. The marinade, made with a Korean pepper, was extremely spicy with a solid burn with each bite. If you can’t handle the heat, you might want to order another option. Quick, fresh, healthy, and delicious.
Since the shop was small, most people ordered take away. There were a few small counter style seats for those who wanted to eat on the spot.
Pololi (multiple locations)
35-39 Graham Street, Central, Hong Kong
Open daily from 11:30 AM to 10:00 PM
Tap: The Ale Project – Jiu Yim Po Boy Sandwich
I first found out about Tap: The Ale Project while wondering around the Tong Chong Street Market.
I didn’t sample any of their food at the market, but I did try some of their beer. My favorite had to be the Moon Goodness chocolate stout which was dark, delicious, smoky, and slightly sweet.
I enjoyed the beer so much that I knew I had to stop by their restaurant in Mong Kok for the food and more beer.
When I arrived on a rainy Monday night, I was surprised to see the place packed. Almost every seat was taken. The place just seemed like a great spot to relax with a cold beer and good friends.
For beer, I had to order the Moon Goodness chocolate stout again. I also sampled an 8% 1842 Island IIPA, but it just couldn’t compare to the stout.
In the mood for seafood and a sandwich, I settled on the Jiu Yim Po Boy which paired great with the stout. The sandwich was made with a sourdough baguette, witbier batter jju yim shrimp, sambal mayo, coleslaw, crisp garlic flakes, and Thai red chili. I was a huge fan of the sourdough baguette. The bread, slightly sweet and salty with the classic sourdough taste, was the perfect vessel for large pieces of perfectly fried shrimp. It was crispy and floury on the outside while soft and fluffy on the inside.
The sandwich had it all: salty, crunchy, savory, sweet, and spicy.
Even if you don’t plan on eating, Tap: The Ale Project is a solid choice for some of the best craft beers in Hong Kong.
Tap: The Ale Project
15 Hak Po St, Mong Kok, Hong Kong
Open Monday from 6:00 PM to 12:00 AM, Tuesday through Thursday 12:00 PM to 12:00 AM, and Friday through Sunday from 12:00 PM to 2:00 AM
Bread & Beast – Kimoji Sliders
Bread & Beast was another spot I stumbled on at the Tong Chong Street Market.
When I arrived at the market, most stalls were already sold out of food. Bread & Beast was sold out of their Super Oyster Po’Boy and the Russel Sprout, leaving only the Kimoji Slider. I went ahead and ordered one.
The Kimoji Slider was made with 24 hours smoked beef brisket, aged Swiss cheese, kimchi, and preserved lemon aioli.
With the first bite, I knew I hit the jackpot. This thing was amazing.
The beef brisket melted in my mouth. It was tender, smoky, salty, and covered in a perfectly melted and gooey layer of Swiss cheese. The kimchi added a great crunchy texture to each bite along with a little kick of spice. The lemon aioli gave the sliders just the bite. The slightly sweet bun was soft and lightly toasted on the grill. It really couldn’t get much better. All the flavors and textures were perfectly balanced.
I went back and ordered two more.
On my next visit to Hong Kong, Bread & Beast will be at the top of my list of must-visit restaurants.
Bread & Beast
3 Swatow Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong and at the Tong Chong Street Market
Open Monday through Friday 12:00 PM to 8:30 PM, Saturday from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM, and Sunday from 11:30 AM to 8:00 PM