Best Local Restaurants and Cafes in Hong Kong
Last year during my Global Business Strategy class, my professor asked, “What are some ways to get to know a culture?” based off of our independent readings. But having not read it, of course, I raised my hand for the participation points and answered, “food” given my study abroad experience and having traveled to multiple countries. The class laughed because I don’t think it was in the reading, but hey, I was still right. When it comes to understanding a culture, I think one of the best ways is through eating its food. I mean, who doesn’t love food? So here’s a list of some of the best places to enjoy Hong Kong’s food and at the same time, maybe learn something about its culture.
Tip: Ask if they have an English menu because some places do. If you look like a local like me, they will assume you are and will automatically give you the Chinese menu.
Yee Shun Milk Company (Yau Ma Tei)
This is one of the most famous places to eat and enjoy traditional steamed milk pudding. I came here with friends and they ordered for me because I didn’t know any of their food, let alone what to get. It was jammed pack with customers, but the food was delicious. We ordered their classic steamed milk pudding, french toast, and probably the most unusual combination of food items I saw, the ham macaroni soup. It was interesting because you could the British influence in some of these food items and how well two completely different cultures fused together to create their modern day food. I believe all this came out to be about $72 HKD (~ $8.80 USD).
Australia Dairy Company (Jordan, Kowloon)
Similar to YSMC, Australia Dairy Company is also famous for their steamed milk pudding and similar food items, but here, they have a sets on their menu, where you can order a breakfast set that includes toast with butter, eggs, ham macaroni soup, and milk tea for about $36 HKD (~$5 USD), but that doesn’t include their milk pudding, which is probably another $25 HKD (~$3.20 USD). You should really try their Hong Kong Style Milk Tea or Iced Lemon Tea, at least once. Hong Kongers are very proud of it. Doesn’t necessarily have to be here.
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Kim Wah Cafe & Bakery (Mong Kok)
Best known for their pineapple bun with a slab of butter, only $10 HKD ($1.28 USD). Accordingly to my friend, the idea behind the thick slice of butter is that it would melt as you leave it the fresh and piping hot bun. That would take a while, so people just eat it, melted or not. Fun fact, there’s no pineapple in the bun. It’s just called that because when the sweet top crust is golden brown and checkered, it resemble a pineapple pattern. Also, the egg tarts are really good here, about $5 HKD (< $1 USD).
Lin Heung Tea House (Central)
Another traditional dim sum restaurant that I did not get the chance to add onto my previous post of Cheap Dim Sum in Hong Kong. This local and chaotic restaurant has been in business, serving its customers for over 100 years now. However, I recently heard they will be going out of business soon and the location will be demolished. I recommend going here before they close for good. Also, the process of ordering dim sum is different here. Instead of the waiters/waitresses pushing the carts around the restaurant, you have to bring the stamp card with you as you push your way to the carts and get the dishes yourself. I think they do this because it’s so crowded and small that it would be very difficult to push the carts and have them come serve you. Siu mai and har gow go out faster than others. You can expect to spend around $70-$120 HKD ($10-$15 USD) per person here.
At some dim sum places, they will have tofu pudding. When my friend ordered it, I didn’t know what she ordered because it’s in Cantonese, tau fu fa (douhua). When I saw it, I knew it was my childhood dessert, đậu hủ. We made the connection that the two sounded very similar and it blew our minds. I knew and learned that the Vietnamese language was derived from Chinese beforehand, but experiencing it was a whole different realization. Back then, the Vietnamese used Chinese characters, but when spoken, it sounded different, known as Chữ Nôm. Vietnam didn’t want China to understand anything they were saying/writing as way to state their independence from them. So, in order to do that they adopted the Latin alphabet during the French colonial period. (This is based off of my memory from my Vietnamese professor a few years ago, so it may not be completely accurate). I find it so interesting that some of the cultural past can still be found lingering around the modern day.
Kau Kee Restaurant (Central)
Get ready for a scavenger hunt to find this place! Kau Kee is a walks away from Central Station up a hill. Long lines at this Michelin recommended restaurant, but the turnover isn’t too bad, about 30 mins. It’s worth the wait for their yummy beef brisket soup noodles and their curry beef brisket noodles. The beef is so tender and will melt in your mouth. You can expect to spend at least $50 HKD ($6.41 USD) for noodles + $16-$25 HKD ($2.05-$3.21 USD) for drinks.
Wai Kee Noodle Cafe (Sham Shui Po)
Came here with a few friends after class. This place serves really good and tender pork liver noodle soup. You can choose either noodles or macaroni, and add any other additional types of meat, like beef sausages, eggs, etc… Their Kaya french toast is also something to try. It may get overpoweringly sweet after the first few bites, so I recommend to share it with friends and have something to drink.
Mr. Wong’s (Mong Kok)
This is the place for really cheap food and free beer. I had dinner here with a group of 15 people and Mr. Wong himself served us. He’s a funny and entertaining man who’s very welcoming of others. I noticed a lot of foreigners come here and everyone has a good time. Even though we didn’t make a reservation for 15 of us, he made sure to make room for all of us. As for the food, there’s no menu, no prices and we didn’t order any of it. He basically suggests/decides what to eat, but also we had a few who spoke Cantonese and they ordered for the rest of us. We aren’t picky eaters and the food was pretty decent given that it’s all you can eat at an extremely cheap price. Plus, all you can drink beer. There 2 big coolers in the back filled with beer and we’d just grab them when we wanted more. All this for $60 HKD (~$7.69 USD). In terms of the environment there, it’s not the cleanest. Don’t be surprised if you see a rat, but the establishment seems like the norm compared to the rest of HK.
Psst… it’s rumored that Mr. Wong uses his establishment for money laundering and that he sells drugs, like in Breaking Bad. I mean, how else is all the food and drinks so cheap? I’d still eat there again.
Yat Lok Restaurant (Central)
A Michelin star restaurant that Anthony Bourdain has been to. They are known for the roasted geese with a secret recipe for their marinated sauce. Apparently, it takes 20 prep steps before it’s cook. I mean look at that sauce glistening off of that meat. So moist and tender, it’ll melt in your mouth. I recommend the BBQ Pork & Roaster Goose Drumstick with Rice since it’s a good meal for one for about $115 HKD (~$15 USD) and it’s pretty filling. Expect a long line outside of the restaurant, but should move pretty quickly as people tend to eat fast here given how crowded it is.
Dessert! My favorite meal of the day 😀
Lee Keung Kee North Point Egg Waffles (Tsim Sha Tsui - Nathan Road)
You have to try HK egg waffles when you’re there. This stand makes the best egg waffles because of a much lighter texture compared to other places, and it’s crispy on the outside while still airy on the inside. It’s made fresh to order, so you will have to wait a few minutes for it. After receiving your deliciously sweet waffles for $22 HKD (~$2.80), you can walk across the road to Kowloon park and chill there with your delights.
Kai Kai Dessert (Jordan)
For a more traditional sense of dessert, Kai Kai Dessert has one of the best sweet soup desserts (tong sui). They’ve been in business for the last 40 years and have won Michelin Guide Recommended Street Food 3 years in a row. My favorite soup dessert is the black sesame for about $20 HKD (~$2.56 USD).
Hui Lan Shan (Tsim Sha Tsui - Jordan Road)
If you love mango as much as my brother and I, then this is one of the places to eat mango sago. The family came here after watching the light show, A Symphony of Lights, in TST. We order a Jumbo Pomelo and Mango Sago Set that comes with our 2 choices of snack dishes, which were Mango Mochi and Crispy Potato Wedges. All for $129 HKD (~$16.54 USD) for 4 people. Eating it was like being in heaven and it hit the spot too, especially on hot days with the nasty humidity… I also recommend the durian mochi and other durian flavored food they have. I dare you to eat it. It’s so good.
Thanks for reading! This post was requested by a few friends who are traveling to Hong Kong in the upcoming months, so I thought I’d give them some recommendations while I’m at it. If you would like for me to post about something specific or want more recs for another country, please feel free to contact me, comment, or ask questions.