Unless you’re lucky enough to live in a city with a large Chinatown, your options for good quality Chinese food are likely fairly limited. You end up eating General Tso's chicken, fried rice, and spicy eggplant every time, because, well, there are no other options. We were totally the same -- before spending a week in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is like the melting pot for China’s food culture, and you can literally eat your way through Mainland China without ever having to leave the island. The abundance of restaurants cooking things other than Cantonese food is astounding, and they are totally worth seeking out. After spending a week in Hong Kong eating like a local, we can confidentially say that we know what to eat in Hong Kong and where to eat it.
So do as the locals do and hop between neighbourhoods, take a ferry if you have to, and eat your way through the City. Here’s how to eat your way through Mainland China without leaving Hong Kong:
Szechwan at Yun Yan, Causeway Bay
Stop by Hong Kong’s Time Square, take a ride up in the elevator, and get lost in the multi-level dining mecca. Yun Yan is on the 10th floor, but we won’t be insulted if you get drawn into another restaurant. Szechwan cuisine is spicier than most other Chinese cuisines, and for that, we love it! Order the smoked duck, green beans with minced beef and don’t miss out on the free popcorn.
Wonton Noodles at Mak’s Noodle, Central
You can’t be in Hong Kong without having at least one bowl of noodles. Mak’s is an authentic Cantonese restaurant serving up some of the tastiest wontons around. Go for lunch, to experience the chaos of the lunch rush in Hong Kong, and grab a bowl of noodle soup and steamed chinese broccoli. It won’t be a huge bowl, but it will keep you full for a few hours.
Seafood at the Rainbow Seafood Restaurant, Lamma
Day trip to Lamma for some of the best seafood around. When you get off the Ferry, be sure to go to the second Rainbow Seafood Restaurant, not the first (they’re different). If you can, go with a big group so you can order more dishes. We’d recommend the steamed shrimps, deep fried squid, clams with garlic and glass noodles, pea shoots, grouper 2 ways and the congee with crab. Go hungry. Leave full.
Hakka at Chuen Cheung Kui, Mong Kok
Night time in Mong Kok, one of the major shopping areas in HK, is not to be missed. There are streets for everything, from running shoes to cell phones to anime toys. When you’re done shopping, head down the main drag, and up the stairs, to Chuen Chenng Kui. Surrounded by countless large round tables, you’ll feel right at home ordering tons of dishes. Start with the stewed pork belly with preserved vegetables, chicken baked in salt with special ginger sauce and the mushrooms with crab meat. If you’re still hungry, tackle the menu for round 2.
Hot Pot at Paramount, Mei Foo
Mei Foo is a “quieter” residential neighbourhood (okay, nothing in HK is actually quiet). Wander the streets a bit, before venturing into Paramount for a hot pot feast. There will be broth set out on the table, as well as soy sauce, garlic and green onions, for dipping. We’d suggest ordering the sliced beef, different types of tofu, watercress, wontons, daikon and whole shrimps, then sit back and wait for it all to cook. At the end, order some udon noodles to help you savour the last ladles of broth.
Dim Sum at Chuen Kee Seafood Restaurant, Sai Kung
Venture out to Sai Kung, a seaside village in Hong Kong’s New Territories, for a truly delicious dim sum experience. Try to get there early (say 10:30), and snag any open seats (outside ideally). Order as many dishes off the menu as you’d like, including the sui mui, har gow and steamed pork buns. The serving staff will keep track of what you’re eating on a small card. When you’re done take your card to the cash to settle the bill.
Shanghainese at Hong Kong Old Restaurant, Tsim Sha Tsui (TST)
We came for the soup dumplings (literally a steamed dumpling filled with broth), but once we tasted the spring onion pancake, we knew we had made the right decision to end our trip here. Try the fried yellowjack fish in sweet and sour sauce, the salty pancake with spring onion, the braised pig leg with vegetables in soy bean sauce, and the vegetarian fried string beans.
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Opening photo by Gary Radler, seafood photo by Christian McLeod, and all other photos by Shelley Ludman.