If you’ve ever called/emailed/tweeted me about where to eat in Hong Kong, here’s more or less the list you would’ve seen. I’ve copied and pasted it here, with a little more detail added. I’ll try to update as often as possible/relevant. Note that I’ve tried to keep my notes short to keep it an easy to read ‘list’, but if you want more details, just ask. Links will take you to addresses either in Openrice, one of my previous posts, or to my Facebook photos (usually with notes of some sort).
As this list is intended for visitors, most places are easy to get to, though not all are on an average visitor’s trail. One day I will split them up into “easy/not so easy to get to”, but until then…
To reiterate: this is a work in progress. Am I an idiot for having left something out? Tell me – comment away!
Tim’s Kitchen – if you’re keen on luxurious Chinese classics like goose web and fish maw; but I go for dim sum.
Celebrity Cuisine – quality, skillful Cantonese fare
One Harbour Road – precisely cooked dishes, spacious, relatively quiet, great view, no complaints!
Kimberley Chinese Restaurant – that pig!
Lung King Heen – the only 3-Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant in the world etc. but the hype has real substance – food, service, ambiance, view – all tops.
Yan Toh Heen – not the most exciting, but most things are textbook good, and plus it has a great view
Tak Lung – very old school, very out of the way (not far, but just totally off track, in San Po Kong). If you don’t have time to go so far out or aren’t fully ready for working class HK environs, go to Manor for similar old-school cuisine.
Lei Garden – several branches, apparently Wanchai is best (I’ve never been). Elements andTST (Tsim Sha Tsui) East branches are quite good. IFC branch is also popular. Avoid Kowloon Bay branch. If you want soup (a Cantonese slow-cooked affair that yields a subtly-flavoured consomme-like broth – not for everyone, but is an elixir to many who grew up with it), you must reserve ahead when calling to book, and don’t go too late or everything will be sold out. Get the suckling pig cubes too.Dim Sum
Lin Heung (this is from my early days of food blogging, so please excuse the other random crap on that blog…) – it’s old school, and the food is rough n’ ready. Some people prefer the newer carbon coby Lin Heung Kui on the corner of Queens St better. Each to their own, but I say go at breakfast-time.
Jade Garden – owned by the Maxim’s group, it’s a slightly finer version of what you’d get atMaxim’s City Hall (which is notoriously difficult to get into and not that great, but a decent, ‘tame’ pushcart experience with nice big windows and a view… ish). However, I can only recommend the outlet at Star House, quality at others are inconsistent.
Victoria Seafood – learn these three words: char siu so (char siu pastries)
Fu Sing – a lot of people like this place and swear by its char siu. I’m not such a fan, but it’s ok all-round. Have the baked char siu buns and avoid the Sheung Wan branch. One gripe – they don’t do steamed rice paper rolls.
West Villa – same group as Manor, but about 1000x busier. Fairly consistent, above average.
Tim Ho Wan – ok, it’s not the “best dim sum ever”, but for those lower-than-low prices, it’s very good, as long as you don’t mind waiting for about an hour for a table. There’s a branch above Hong Kong Station – nice initiation for new arrivals, or great snack for the wait at the airport. Original (starred branch) in Mong Kok, second in Sham Shui Po, third in HK station, and newest in North Point.Organic/Slow food/New Chinese
The Chairman – not exactly organic but back to basics – farm-to-table, locavore, no MSG, traditional ingredients and recipes (to an extent). Pre-order the gum chin gai.Beijing
Kowloon Tang – Elements (the mall above Kowloon Airport Express Station). The best Peking duck I’ve probably ever had (including in Beijing). The other dishes are Canto though.
Spring Deer – old school fatty Peking duck with ancient, grumpy waiters
Peking Garden – The Alexandra House branch is still my bet in HK for a leaner, super-crisp Peking duckShanghainese/Suzhou/Hangzhou/Ningbo (sorry if I’ve offended anyone by clumping these together – forgive me, I’m an ignorant Cantonese person! No seriously, Chinese provincial fare has been so bastardised here, they’re almost the same thing)
Zhe Jiang Heen – The story goes – some rich dudes got sick of the traffic jams in Central just to get to the Shanghai Fraternity (see above) and decided to open their own place in Wanchai with chefs they trust. The food here is consistently good – dishes range from decent to wow. Pre-order the hongshao rou with squid.Sichuan
San Xi Lou – Central/Mid-levels – mala (numbingly hot) hot pot and trad Sichuan dishes, don’t order from non-Sichuan menu.
Man Jiang Hong – TST. I’m not sure if these are the same people who opened the previous MJHs, and hence San Xi Lou above, but the food at MJH is just as good. Environment is slightly rowdier than SXL.
Sijie – private kitchen, moved to a slighty swankier new location near Times Sq. Owner (Sijie) is a hoot.
Da Ping Huo is a private kitchen for those who want atmos and hospitality. The chef (wife) usually comes out and sings opera at the end; the husband is the maitre d’ of sorts and is a painter. You’re generally well looked after by jovial staff. Just don’t go expecting “real” Sichuan food. It’s been modernised, or (HK-ised?) but still very tasty.
T’ang Court – Langham Hotel TST – fancy, pricey. Best at dinner, don’t miss the whole crispy skin chicken.
Chiu chow (or Teochew to the Singaporeans/Malaysians)
Sheung Hing (or Shung Hing)
Hot Pot (aka steamboat)
iPot – Taiwanese mala (and other soups), a pot each (so fancy!), and pretty good quality all-you-can-eat veg and meatballs/fishballs
San Xi Lou (see Sichuan)
Gaddi’s – Peninsula Hotel TST – very trad, some would even say it’s camp, with it’s frills, gilding and all. Best for the very reasonably priced set lunch for around HK$400. As far as I know Robuchon and Caprice also do reasonably-priced lunch sets. I’ve personally been to Robuchon and find it to be very good, but for the price, I’d still go to Gaddi’s for the whole hog (sterling service). Anyway, L’Atelier discussions shouldn’t go under classic French…
Contemporary European and/or French
Amber – Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Central – so many people hate it, but I’ve had some truly awesome meals there. One of the first places in HK to cook contemporary European to an international level.
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon – JR needs no introduction, but I must say that his Salon de The downstairs does one of the best sandwich deals in town.
Caprice – it’s had 3 Michelin stars from the get-go. It’s good, but I always end up with one course that’s blah. The cheese trolley is amazing.
St Betty – Shane Osborn (ex-2 Michelin-starred Pied a Terre in London) is behind the stoves. Nuff said.
“On a lower budget” French bistros
La Parole – a social enterprise well worth supporting, good food for the price too.
Le Monde d’Ulysse – Gage St, Central – foie gras & duck confit to take home (closest thing we have to a traiteur in countryside France) or eat in.
Agnes b le pain grille – less expensive and cheerful. Decent food – something that never ceases to amaze me because if there’s a city where this fashion-food thing could go terribly wrong, it’s Hong Kong. Desserts are hit/miss, chocolates suck.
Le Blanc – Wanchai – private kitchen, decent dinners for $300-ish, byo as many bottles as you like! Sister restaurant Le Marron is in Causeway Bay, but I’ve had better food at Le Blanc.
Otto e Mezzo Bombana – expensive but delicious, especially the pasta and that ribeye for two. Book well ahead, especially now that it has 3 tyres.
Il Moro – super “secret” as there’s no sign, but it’s just on ground level on Lok Ku Rd, just off Hollywood. The chef/owner cooks whatever – usually it’s Moorish-Italian – and although I’ve yet to go, reports on the food have been very good (good value too). Bookings essential as it’s not always open (Tel: 2581 1809).
Tapeo – Tapas
BCN – also tapas. I’ve yet to go but have only heard good things
Comilonas – one-table-only private kitchen good for large groups (min 10, max 20). Operated by super-friendly couple Carrie and Lluis (Lluis is from Catalonia), who can customise a menu for you, and best of all, it’s well-priced, there’s no corkage, and the food is delish – exactly what a private kitchen should be.
Mandarin Grill – a classic. Some say it’s changed for the worse since molecular influences by Exec Chef Uwe Opocensky came on board, but I still quite like it – usually nothing to fault from a technical level, and the service is tops. Since the crazy inflation our city’s been seeing, The Grill is actually now a good deal for fine dining.
Blue Butcher – right, so they don’t exactly like to be called a steakhouse, and I guess they have a point – very good dishes all round, from pigeon to pudding.
Lawry’s the Prime Rib – tasty lobster bisque (not a fan of the actual steaks there though)
Ta Pantry – a private kitchen. Not entirely western – Esther, the chef, has a few menus, they’re all comfort/fusion-ish, with great flavour combinations.
Grand Hyatt Steakhouse
Steak House at the InterContinental Hotel – Probably the best steaks in town, but I hope you’re not paying!
Gold – comfort contemporary American. Big, bold flavours, when you’re in the mood for melted cheese on your veal chop and the like.
Won Pung Won – one of many little Korean-owned and run restaurant in TST, but I like that their food is fresh and not over-sauced, and that they have everything from BBQ to shabu-shabu (sorry I don’t know what the Korean name for it is – the servers here call it that too!) to standard, hearty dishes like galbi jim.
Jun-Ko – family-style. A handy pre-theatre dinner spot as it’s close to the Arts Centre etc. Ask for the “raw” kimchi.
Kaya – Russell st, Causeway Bay – BBQ.
Myeongdong Express – looks like a student canteen, and probably is, given its relative proximity to the Polytechnic University. Cheap and cheerful.
Go Koong [link goes to photos on FB page]
Cheong-Jin Dong – both CJ Dong and Go Koong are decent go-tos for Korean.
Kenjo – omakase is super pricey ($1000+ per head), but if you’re not too hungry and order from the menu you can come out only $400 lighter
Sushi Sase – top of my “high end Japanese to go to” list, I’ve not been yet, but have only heard good things.
Sushi Kuu – “No, OMG, I cannot leave Central!” sushi place. Decently priced for the location and quality (med-high).
Sushi Shota for decent sushi and kushiyaki for $200-300 per head (not incl. drinks), Causeway Bay
Great Asia in Wanchai who started off as seafood distributors so their sashimi is good value. Cooked food is less exciting. Decor is pretty weird (fluoro-lit diner meets HK-style quasi-Japanese)
Sushi Yoshitake – I’ve yet to blow $3k on a meal here, but reports have been stellar.
Sapporo – it’s been here way before the ramen craze, and still holds its own despite the sudden slew of new competition. Moved from Exchange Square to ground level on Connaught Rd. As the name suggests, it’s northern and hearty. They have shio and shoyu tares too, but I’d suggest going with the classic Sapporo style with miso. They even have a miso one with a slice of butter on top!
Yachiyo – Moved from the location mentioned in the blog. Won’t change your life, but very decent. Classic tares like shio, shoyu and miso, plus spicy miso (which isn’t actually spicy…)
Daruma – a rich but very drinkable tonkotsu soup. Dogs welcome and bookings taken.
Ramen Jo – another “to-go” list item
Rasupermen & Raironmen – both newish, have yet to go. Ex-Mist, and I rather liked Mist…
You may have heard about Butao and Ippudo. Well, if you’re going to Japan any time soon, don’t bother with any ramen place in HK, but if you’re not – well, ok, knock yourself out, butplease, just don’t say something silly like “it’s the best ramen in the world” or the like – as you’ll see from my post about Ippudo in Fukuoka, Hong Kong ramen is nothing.
Inaniwa Udon Nabe – at Elements. When you need a quickish meal of proper food (no, popcorn at the cinema does not count). Very decent, silky, light yet strong udon.
Izakaya / yakiniku / yakitori / kushiyaki
Kusuya Rakuen – izakaya/sake bar. Very casual Okinawan fare, large awamori and sake selection. The bar is the reason I go – it’s probably my favourite place to sit in the whole of Hong Kong. Serious. I’ve never put it on the blog because they’re packed as hell already and to make matters worse, have recently shortened their opening hours (1am weekdays, midnight Sat – go figure). Boo.
Yardbird – yakitori (mostly chicken). House-infused sakes, etc., a neighbourhood hang turned the hottest opening of 2011, by ex-Zuma chef.
Kushiyaki Beco – by the Sushi Kuu crew (see above), a casual, neighbourhood-y skewers joint with a focus on beef and other cow bits. Sweetmeat your cuppa? Bingo.
Nantei – before yakitori was hip, there was Nantei. Don’t think it’s not going to be crowded though, the place only sits about 20 people tops. Book.
Hoka Hoka – if you ever find yourself in a back alley of TST East (I won’t judge), hungry for some Japanese bar food and sake – here you go. Full of Japanese businessmen.
Old School HK style
Tai Ping Koon – east-meets-west, kitschy 1950s style. This was considered ‘western’ food to HKers in the 40’s. They’re most famous for their chicken wings poached in sweet soy sauce and huge souffles. several branches, I like the ones on Pak Sha Rd, Causeway Bay, and Granville Rd, TST. Decor at Granville is more interesting – timewarp 50s deco.
Australian Dairy Company – not for everyone, and nothing to do with Australia! (See my Openrice review via link)
Kung Wo – tofu paradise, if you’re venturing out to Sham Shui Po.
Lok Cha Teahouse – in Hong Kong Park (walk up from Pacific Place, Admiralty) for tea and dim sum in a quaint setting. The dim sum is passable
Three Virtues – bustling, very “local” veg dim sum place. Things get a bit oily, but pretty tasty. North Point (and branches)
Harvester – pay-by-weight lunch spot in Sheung Wan
Amy’s Vegetarian – private kitchen if you can ever get a booking
Veggie Palace – also a private kitchen, less difficult to book, in Wanchai.
Vegelink – another veg private kitchen that comes highly recommended. North Point.
Cafe Causette – not a veg restaurant, but a nice selection of perfectly executed and interesting enough vegetarian food, at the Mandarin Oriental
Life Cafe – the Soho standby for your quinoa and salad fix.
Veggie SF – American-inflected vegetarian – burgers, bakes, pastas etc. in a cute environment
Mana! – a newer “fast food” joint by the folks behind Life Cafe.
Some are mentioned above under their respective cuisines – just grouping them all together again…
Ta Pantry – see Miscellaneous Western
Il Moro – see Italian
Comilonas – see Spanish
Seema’s Private Kitchen
Mandy’s Private Kitchen
Le Blanc / Le Marron – see On a lower budget French
Sijie – see Sichuan
Amy’s Vegetarian – see Vegetarian
Veggie Palace – see Vegetarian
Amber – I always get sick after their weekend wine lunch, but I always go back. I think that tells you something
Whisk – free-flow Roederer and a relatively tranquil environment
Linguini Fini – cocktails, free-flow Prosecco, dishes all under $100, organic/homemade focus, you can’t really go wrong
Sift – dessert bar, cake shop and probably Hong Kong’s best cupcakes. Sit-down in Graham St original and new mall-cafe in Princes Building (both Central), and takeaway in Wan Chai.
Mandarin Cake shop (not Landmark Mandarin) – you can also sit in now. Gobstopping sugar art on show; great cakes, pastries and bread; rose petal jam makes a great souvenir.
Simply Life at ifc – BAD coffee, but a great place to sit for brunch/lunch – pretty much the same view as Isola and Four Seasons lobby, but at 1/2 the price!
Vero – local chocolate makers with small cafe, out of the way in Wanchai near the Convention Centre. They also have a shop at the Landmark (Central) now, much easier to get to but no seats.
Xiao Tian Gu – Hokkaido milk puddings!!
Xi Yan Sweets – modern Chinese-ish desserts
Teakha – scones, Asian teas, and the cutest terrace.
(Good lookin’ places for views and/or sleek design, but not necessarily food)
Cafe Gray Deluxe – beautiful, soigne setting, though I find food to be inconsistent. Good for dessert and a civilised drink.
Lily & Bloom – design spot for comfort food menu, but mostly it’s the style scene.
Coffee – a slightly more updated and expanded version here.
Knockbox – moved to Mong Kok, helmed by barista champs, “serious” new wave coffee.
Barista Jam – Sheung Wan
18 Grams – Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui (little concession counter in CitySuper). The folks must have been trained in Oz, cause they serve flat whites! Sadly the super cute Causeway Bay location will have to shut very soon due to rent.
Coffee Assembly – Elgin St. One of HK’s first boutique roasters, though I think their roasts (in general) lack a bit of depth.
Cafe Corridor – sister store of Assembly, on Russell St, Causeway Bay, opp. Times Square
RabbitHole Coffee – looks like a warehouse/lab, siphon, espresso, drip and more. [link goes to FB photo album]
Unar Coffee – hipsters unite! Tai Hang
Cafe Loisl – Vienna in Sheung Wan/Mid-levels
Coco Espresso – Queen’s Rd, Sheung Wan
Crema – one of HK’s first ‘real’ coffee places, but due to hidden/inconvenient location in TST East, lack of PR and coffee knowledge of the public, has never had as much great press as the likes of Fuel. They only use 1 blend.
Xen – specialises in siphon coffee, a bit out of the way in Quarry Bay (bad rhyme unintentional).
Fuel Espresso – ifc & Landmark, Central
Clipper Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental
InterContinental Lobby Lounge – the view! The view! And good food too.
Antique – very girly salon. Great macarons, silly prepaid coupon system (but no-one seems to really mind except me!)
Jean-Paul Hevin – the Lyndhurst branch is cuter. Bring me a Guayaquil and I will just about do anything.
Probably not as much of a concern to visitors, but we are definitely seeing the rise of artisanal breads here and it’s worth noting. I don’t know about you, but I rely very much on bakeries when I’m travelling alone for a quick carby snack.
Levain – one of the only homegrown, independent bakeries in town (another is Tufei Pain Pain but their selection is too small). New location on Aberdeen St with a few seats and sandwiches makes it a much easier stop than the old one in Jordan (lots of stairs and a steep slope though).
Salon de The de Joel Robuchon – as mentioned above, best sandwich deal in town, but also great cakes and baguettes
Mandarin Cake Shop – if you need a large loaf, like a sourdough rye, call ahead so they can hold one for you because by the afternoon they’re sold out. I like their wholewheat croissants too. They have seats if you want to stop for a coffee (but go regular/brewed, not espresso-based)
Misc local eats
Mak’s on Wing Kut St, Sheung Wan (nb. this is different to the Mak’s that most people go toand that you may already be familiar with, which is on Wellington St). my guess is that the owners of these shops were brothers/relatives and had a row and split up.
Ho Hung Kee on Sharp St East in Causeway Bay, behind Times Square
Cha Chaan Teng – ie. local-style cafes
Kam Fung – the quintessential HKer’s afternoon tea is a flaky egg tart and a HK-style milk tea, and one of the best places to get it is here. Wanchai.
Capital Cafe – for a less gritty CCT experience, full of Cantopop posters, also in Wanchai
Australia Dairy Company – see Old School HK
Lan Fong Yuen – junky (but SO tasty) instant noodles with pan-fried chicken, also famed for HK-style milk tea. Whatever weird stuff they do with chicken thigh, I love.
For Kee – (old: Part I / Part II [n.b. Part I links to an old, short round-up, in which I say the Sheung Wan ain’t worth the good rep it’s got for good, cheap food. Okay, so SW’s not thebest, but I take the “not so great” comment back. I’ve now grown to love SW, especially For Kee – evident in Part II, in which I call For Kee a “gem”. Sheesh, inconsistent bloggers.]) For Kee shouldn’t really go under the CCT section, but then again, they do a great milk tea. Their claim to fame is pork chop – it’s simply marinated in soy sauce, sugar etc., home style, and pan-fried. Have it on rice, soup noodles or soup macaroni, with choi sum (vegetables), eggs, tomato (and/or – you’re the boss!). After about 2pm, they also do pork chop burgers (chop, tomato and mayo – I usually tell them not to put mayo in – personal pref).
Dai Pai Dong – eating at sit-down street stalls (read more about the evolution of dai pai donghere)
Ball Kee -‘Western’ fried rice and other fried rice and noodles. Excellent ‘wok hei’ (breath of the wok). In a tiny alley off Hollywood Rd, diagonally opposite Lin Heung. Woks right next to you, barking waitress lady, brilliant.
Sing Heung Yuen – macaroni in tinned tomato soup and beef omelet? Yep. It’s not for everyone. Australia Dairy (see Old School, above) does macaroni in clear soup with processed ham. It’s a HK thing.
Chan Sei Gei – classic DPD experience, better at dinner when they cook individual family-style dishes (usually at lunch it’s just spam and eggs on rice)
Yat Lok – roast goose!
Joy Hing – char siu and siu yuk (crispy roast pork) are my faves here. Ask for fatty char siu (“fei cha”) if you like it, otherwise the default is lean.
Beef brisket noodles
Sister Wah – clear soup brisket. Better than the famous Kau Kee in my opinion. KK’s too fatty and their powdery curry makes me choke.
Law Fu Kee – several outlets in Central
Wai Kee – down n’ dirty street market feel kinda place.
(Ho Hung Kee (above) also does good congee)
Gai daan zai – I don’t really like street food at the stalls on street corners in HK, except for this waffle thing that has protruding oval/egg shapes instead of the standard square/checks. Called ‘gai daan zai‘ and it’s a dying art – they just don’t make them like they used to. But there are a couple of places that are decent. Note that the Granville guy has moved a little across the street, down towards Chatham Rd – (do check the comments too for more suggestions from more gai daan zai lovers!). And this one, if you’re heading to the eastern part of the island, is a must.
Kam Fung – see above. Their egg tarts are made with puff pastry
Tai Cheong – shortcrust egg tarts. Also try their ‘donuts’ – “sa yoong”
Bars – I put together a map of my current favourites here.
Wyndham the 4th – creative and meticulous drinks by Hong Kong’s World Class Bartender of the Year 2012 Winner Tom Wood. Check out the one that incorporates roasted goose fat from Yung Kee.
L’etage – Another Japanese bar in Causeway Bay, to replace Yu-zen (gone downhill since Butler – see below) and Executive Bar (so serious it can be scary). Could have a larger selection of pours though.
Butler – Japanese bar – precision cocktails like the well-known Executive Bar but a slightly younger, less scary atmos. You’ll still pay through your nose for a drink, but it’s the only place to get a proper cocktail on Kowloon side and for that alone it deserves triple-choc-brownie points.
8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo – sure, I love the restaurant, but the bar deserves an entry of its own. I have yet to have a cocktail there that I don’t like. The Dandy in particular is so comforting, it’s my alcohol equivalent of the restaurant’s pasta.
Il Milione – ex-Otto bartender Rush is there, as well as consultant Giancarlo Mancino. They specialise in negronis and other forgotten or old fashioned drinks. Swanky bar with a small food menu. The restaurant will be serving Umbrian food but right now (Feb 2013) it’s still a few weeks away from opening.
Mandarin Grill + Bar – don’t mistake the lounge outside the restaurant for a mere waiting room. Their dry martinis are spot-on, and the warmed, spiced nuts don’t hurt either.
001 – speakeasy owned by a liquor store. Love their whisky sour and grilled cheese sandwiches. No photos, and increasingly, an attitude, sigh.
Socialito – lethal, delicious cocktails.
Lobby Lounge at the InterContinental – if you don’t mind the lobby atmos (it’s recently been renovated and has a more demure tone) and live band – it’s one of the best places for a eye-level, front-row harbour view (like being on a ferry without the wind and the sea sickness) and the food & drink ain’t too shabby either.
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