Hong Kong DINING
Hong Kong – The World Wide Wok
You’ll be spoilt for choice with a smorgasbord of dining options in Hong Kong, with traditional Cantonese cuisine, European fare and even a burger and fries.
Where to Eat? The choice of restaurants in Hong Kong is overwhelming – there are over 9,000. You can choose any number of ethnic flavours and standards from world-class five star Michelin to delightful and authentic street vendors. Depending on how adventurous your family is, you can make your visit to Hong Kong a complete culinary experience.
Like shopping and retail, Hong Kong’s dining options are divided into districts. Although it is still possible to obtain a range of foods in any one district, each has become famous for particular styles and regional menus:
Causeway Bay serves traditional Hong Kong fare in abundance
Lan Kwai Fong and Soho serve cosmopolitan dishes and are great for late night revelling
Stanley features alfresco with an international flavour
In Kowloon you’ll find reasonably priced and authentic Chinese
Lei Yue Mun, Sai Kung and Lamma Island serve fresh seafood treats
Hung Hom has numerous specialty restaurants for a great choice under one roof
When people talk about Chinese food outside of China, it’s most likely Cantonese. Because most of the Chinese who travelled the world came from Guangdong (Canton), the international ‘Chinese’ meal stems from their incredibly varied and delicate recipes. It’s easy to find ‘Chinese’ meals in any big city, but you won’t find Cantonese anywhere like in Hong Kong.
Authentic Cantonese cooking is performed like an art. Ingredients and spices like ginger and soy sauces are chosen with great care and cooked with precision. Cantonese kitchens are always hot, noisy and steamy because the process of preparation will always take precedence over the comfort of the cook. To observe a Cantonese master chef in action is almost theatrical. The freshest ingredients are added at precisely the right moment, tossed stirred and served with all the aplomb of a true creative genius. Hong Kong chefs, like rock stars, are very creative and competitive and cultivate followings wherever they go. Hong Kong’s own style of Cantonese is considered a refined and artistically enhanced form of the traditional style.
The Discovery Channel’s celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, believes “the most impressive thing about Chinese cooking is how much there is of it, and how much more there is. There’s so much unfinished business …”
Fook Yuen Seafood Restaurant, Houston Center, Tsim Sha Tsui East (Kowloon)
Recently opened, this new Cantonese restaurant is a little pricey but offers a wonderfully authentic and visually exciting menu. With such alluringly named dishes – almond cream sweet soup, snake soup and bamboo fungus with double boiled essence of toad – you know you’re in for a treat. The signature dish (translated), ‘drunken shrimp on fire’, is served as a marvellous tableside show.
Open daily 8am-11pm, 4/5 stars. Dishes in the mid-HK$300s (AU$50)
Ph +852 2117 2333
Green Island, 16a Possession St Sheung Wan (near Ferry terminals, Hong Kong Island)
Green Island is also recently opened and places more emphasis on funky décor and hip staff than award-winning cuisine. Sure to impress any teens in your family, the English menu is a bonus and includes such creations as deep-fried peanut butter sandwich doused in syrup. Mmmm! Traditionalists, don’t worry, can still enjoy decent local fare and be sure to try the <geung mutt>, or ginger honey tea.
Open daily 7am – 11.30pm 3/5 stars. Dishes under HK$200 (AU$33)
Ph +852 2986 8886
Ngau Kee Food Café, 3 Gough St Central (recently relocated)
Authentic and a bit rough around the edges, Ngau Kee’s diner is a great example of a traditional dai pai dong (open air food stall). Not everything will appeal, so choose carefully. Dishes are often experimental, using familiar ingredients in unusual ways – a wonderful trait in Hong Kong. The beef is better than the pork, but don’t be put off, this café is a true Hong Kong experience.
Open Mon-Sat 11am – midnight. 3/5 stars. Dishes under HK$200 (AU$33)
Ph +852 2546 2584
The traditional and internationally popular form of Chinese fast food, most people have experienced <dim sum> at home. If you haven’t, then Hong Kong is a great place to start.
Steamed pork buns, shrimp dumplings, beef balls and pan-fried squid with spicy salt are just some of the local favourites. But extend yourself and try some of the more exotic varieties like fried water chestnut cake, lotus paste bun and steamed turnip cake.
A perfect family activity, the eating of <dim sum> is called <yum cha>, in reference to the great quantity of tea that is drunk with the meal. Dishes, usually steamed, are served in little bamboo baskets. You just stop the waiter and take one. You are then billed per basket at the end. Great fun!
Sunday is the usual day for <dim sum>, but you’ll need to compete with everyone else in Hong Kong.
For a primer on the mind-boggling varieties of dim sum, visit the dim sum guide at: www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/gourmet/dimsum
Super Star Seafood Restaurant, Wilson House, 19-27 Wyndham St, Central (with branches in Tsim Sha Tsui's Harbour City, Causeway and Wan Chai)
This much talked-about restaurant is a dim sum place with a twist. Hugely popular, it’s always lively and full of action. Crazy dishes like shrimp har gau, deep-fried stuffed crab claws and poisonous stone fish are popular with locals, but the dim sum (served until 5pm) are the drawcard. Ask about the dim sum in animal shapes!
Open Daily 11am-11pm. 3/5 stars. Most dishes under AU$50 (HK$300)
Ph +852 2628 0339
Dong, Arcade 2, Hotel Miramar, Tsim Sha Tsui
A favourite with food critics, Dong combines an imaginative, mainly Cantonese menu, with upbeat décor and exemplary service. A great dim sum range with much interest in the roast goose and birds nest soup with minced partridge.
Open Mon-Sat 11.30-2.30, 6pm-10.30 Sunday and holidays 10.30-3.30, 6-10.30. 4/5 stars. Dishes under AU$50 (HK$300)
Ph: +852 2315-5166
House of Tang, Metropole Hotel, 75 Waterloo Rd, Ho Man Tin (Kowloon)
Not far from the famous Ladies’ Market and bustling Nathan Road, this is one of the most famous and authentic <dim sum> restaurants. Outside of the <yum cha> crush, there’s the much talked about barbequed eel fillets or crispy smoked duck.
Open daily 11.30am – 2.30pm, 5.30pm-11.00pm 4/5 stars. Dishes under AU$50 (HK$300)
Ph +852 2761 1711
WESTERN AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL CUISINE
It might seem a long way to go for a burger and fries, but be assured every conceivable style of western food is available throughout Hong Kong and Kowloon. In particular Italian, French, ‘Fusion’, Japanese and Thai proliferate with a quality that rivals their home countries.
Why not combine an excursion to The Peak with a non-Chinese meal? At the top you will find a broad range of quality familiar take-aways, cafes and family-style restaurants with such names as Bubba Gump, Kyo Hachi, Tien Yi, Pearl on the Peak, (good ol’) Burger King and Eating Plus, all of which will complement a great day out.
Café Deco, Peak Galleria, The Peak, Ph +852 2849 5111
A great al fresco dining experience, Café Deco would have to be the pick of the Peak. With expansive seating, it’s easy to get a table for a large family and the comprehensive menu is sure to please everyone. If you get tired of the expansive view of Victoria Harbour, check out Hong Kong’s largest collection of art deco artefacts hanging from the walls. Book well in advance for the best tables.
Café Deco is open 365 days a year.
Monday to Thursday: 1.30am to 12 midnight
Friday & Saturday: 11.30am to 1.00am
Sunday & Public Holidays: 9.30am to 12 midnight
4/5 stars. Dishes under AU$50 (HK$300)
More info: www.cafedeco.com
Mandarin Grill, 5 Connaught Road, Central
If you fancy a treat for yourself and the kids, then head to this upscale hotel for Sunday brunch when kids under 1m tall eat free. Kids under 12 are not permitted Monday-Saturday. Great for top shelf western cuisine like Wagyu beef, sashimi and oysters.
Daily 7-11am; noon-3pm; and 6:30-11pm 4.5/5 stars. Dishes over AU$50 (HK$300) Ph: +852 2522 0111
Al's Diner, 39 D'Aguilar St, Central
You’re on holidays, right? When you’re done dim summing and the kids are ready to revolt, head for Al’s Diner in Central where they can indulge themselves in Al’s all-American menu. Burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, chilli, meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, milk shakes, ice-cream floats, banana splits – it’s all here. Do it for the kids.
Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-1am, Sun 11:30am-midnight. 2/5 stars. Dishes under AU$50 (HK$300) Ph: +852 2869 1869
- Mainland Chinese sometimes stick their chopsticks into a communal bowl. This is frowned upon in Hong Kong. Look for special serving sticks or spoon.
- Flipping a half-eaten fish over on the plate is bad luck. You’ll capsize the fisherman’s boat. Remove the bones instead.
- Don’t worry if people put their fish bones on the tablecloth next to their bowl. It’s normal. Just don’t do it at home!
- It’s polite to accept tea during a meal and make a point of thanking the waiter with a light tap on the table and a quick smile. Hang the lid on the handle for a refill.
- Chinese love toothpicks and its good form to use one after a meal. Shield your mouth with your other hand while doing so.
- Don’t leave chopsticks poking upright out of your rice. It’s bad luck.
Merchants and Restaurateurs who display the Quality Tourism Services (QTS) logo on their premises have passed a stringent quality assurance entry test to deliver a superior level of service. A listing of these businesses can be found at the HKTB website: www.discoverhongkong.com
Star ratings are provided by HK Magazine’s 2006 Restaurant Guide, Hong Kong’s most respected independent dining guide.
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