Here’s a sampling of things that I ate in Hong Kong.
You’re not going to find anything gourmet here, but I do think it’s an interesting experience, especially if you come at 4:30am as I did on my first jetlagged morning in Hong Kong. Tsui Wah is a chain of restaurants that are essentially diners, so they’re popular with the drunk crowd late at night (the location that I went to in Central is open 24 hours).
I went to the Tim Ho Wan in Sham Shui Po, One Dim Sum near Prince Edward MTR, and Dim Sum Square in Sheung Wan for dim sum during my stay. All were good and cheap and better than anything that I’d had in the US, but I wouldn’t say any of them was phenomenal or a must-eat, and I still can’t believe that Tim Ho Wan and One Dim Sum have Michelin stars.
The best item was (of course) the BBQ pork buns at Tim Ho Wan (Dim Sum Square had a very similar version). Rather than the steamed or baked versions that are common in the US, these have a sort of snowball-fried-sweet top, and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever had before. It’s light and airy yet fatty and sweet. It does get a little too sweet-on-sweet for me, as the bun is quite sweet and the filling is also sweet so it gets to be almost cloying.
Other items that I tried included turnip cake, sponge cake, and rice noodle rolls, but none of the other items that I tried were that much better than what I’ve had elsewhere. I definitely wouldn’t wait more than half an hour to eat at any of these places. For what it’s worth, I was seated immediately at Tim Ho Wan, although I went relatively early in the morning.
This place was recommended to me by a friend, and it was also mentioned in the NYTimes somewhat recently. As such, it’s pretty popular and waits can be quite long, so plan to get there early.
This restaurant is a restaurant that I’d expect to find in a place like San Francisco or New York: much of the waitstaff is not Chinese, menus are completely in English, and prices are high. It’s a yakitori place, so think skewers of chicken. I had the waiter order for me, and I ended up trying the eggplant salad, sweet corn tempura, meatball, heart, rib, and korean fried cauliflower.
All of the food was flavorful, but I got a little bored with some of the flavor profiles quickly. In particular, the most lauded dishes of sweet corn tempura, meatball, and KFC were all pretty one-note. Flavorful, yes, but interesting, not really. Coupled with relatively high prices (my food was ~$50 for not that much actual food, and it’s Hong Kong, where you can get a meal for <$5), it’s not a place that I’d highly recommend, but it’s worth trying.
This was another place recommended by a friend, and I really enjoyed the simplicity of good BBQ pork on top of a bed of rice. This place isn’t fancy and it’s crowded and busy and you won’t have enough space and there’s no English, but it’s good food (and it’s cheap). Get a plate of whatever meat you want on top of rice (the recommendation being BBQ pork, of course), pour the special sauce on top, and enjoy.
A similar place that I enjoyed was Yat Lok, although I missed out on the roast goose because I was there too early, but my bowl of noodles was just simple and tasty.
Australia Dairy Company
If you want an authentic dining experience in Hong Kong, brave the lines and eat at Australia Dairy Company (don’t worry, the lines move quickly). There are hordes of people inside and out and tons of workers moving people quickly through the restaurant. They even have English menus (or they at least have one), but it might take a while to get to you.
They’re known for their scrambled eggs and egg custards. I’m not sure they’re the best scrambled eggs I’ve had (that distinction probably still lies with Gartine in Amsterdam), but the food was tasty, and it feels like you’re part of Hong Kong’s bustle when you’re squished into your table with people running around, sharing a table with strangers.
I’ll be honest, I was disappointed with egg tarts in Hong Kong. The egg tart I had from Lillian’s in Shanghai was better than the egg tarts I tried from Tai Cheong and Honolulu Coffee Shop.
What I wasn’t disappointed by were the desserts at Cong Sao and the drinks at Hui Lau Shan. Cong Sao has lots of desserts that are variations of tropical fruit (e.g. mango, durian) with potentially frozen things (e.g. shaved ice) and probably gelatinous things (e.g. mochi, boba, but not those things). Hui Lau Shan also has some of those things, but they’re better known for their ridiculously tasty and refreshing and sweet-but-not-too-sweet drinks.
Hong Kong has lots of good, cheap food. They also have some very, very expensive food that I did not try this time around, but I will try to get to some of those places on my next trip. I was kinda expecting more things to just blow me away like what I ate on my trip to Shanghai, but perhaps it’s just because I’m more familiar with a lot of the foods I ate in Hong Kong that I was a little less impressed.