With more than 10,000 restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world, there is no shortage of choice when it comes to dining out in Hong Kong. Whether it is Italian, Japanese, Thai or French food you crave, there is a restaurant to suit every taste and budget.
Virtually every major cuisine of China is represented – from Cantonese to Shanghainese, Sichuan, and Chiu Chow. Especially popular among the locals are Hong Kong’s famous dim sum restaurants, which serve snacks such as buns, pastries, congee and steamed dumplings made of minced meat and vegetables during breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. The locals traditionally refer to this dining experience as Yumcha which translates as drinking tea in Cantonese, as dim sum is always accompanied by copious amounts of Chinese Tea. Dim sum is usually served in small portions, between two and four pieces in a bamboo basket or on a plate, at about HK$20 to HK$40 each serving. Mealtimes at these restaurants are noisy, bustling affairs, packed with office workers on weekdays and families on weekends.
If you are not a fan of Chinese dining, do not worry – top international restaurants can be found everywhere, particularly in five-star hotels in the business district and dining hot spots like Lan Kwai Fong and the Mid-Levels. Some of the top luxury hotels also regularly feature visiting celebrity and Michelin-star chefs throughout the year.
French, Italian, Japanese, Thai and Indian are some of the more popular foreign cuisines, though there is an increasing number of restaurants offering greater diversity, ranging from Middle-Eastern to Vietnamese, Mexican and East-meets-West fusion dishes.
A meal at the less expensive restaurants generally costs around HK$200 per person, excluding drinks and tips. Expect to pay more than HK$700 for fine dining, and the most expensive restaurants will easily set you back HK$1,000 per person. Most restaurants automatically tag on a 10% service charge to the bill. Additional tipping is not expected, although locals usually leave the small change.
Restaurants in Hong Kong typically open for breakfast around 8am, serve lunch from 11.30am-3pm and dinner from 6pm-11pm. Many restaurants shut shop between the lunch and dinner seatings and reservations are usually required at some of the most popular eateries. Walk-ins are usually welcome at most other restaurants. Levels of hygiene are high and restaurants are frequently inspected by the health authorities. Generally speaking, you are safe eating practically anywhere in Hong Kong, whether it is a casual eatery or a fine-dining restaurant, with the sole exception of unlicensed street vendors or food carts.
Traditional Hong Kong Style Restaurants
Dai Pai Dong
Dai Pai Dong’s are open air street kitchens which were once the corner stone of Hong Kong’s dining culture. These open air kitchens which are also known as ‘cooked food stalls’ used to exist all over Hong Kong but now only 28 authentic and licensed Dai Pai Dong’s remain in Hong Kong. These open air stalls which feature kitchens equipped with large stainless steel cooking utensils have an untidy and rather unruly air but they are known for their delicious low priced wok cooked dishes like noodles and toast with condensed milk.
Cha Chaan Teng
A Cha Chaan Teng is essentially a Chinese-style diner that offers an affordable menu that features both traditional Hong Kong foods and Hong Kong style western cuisine. Popular eats at a Cha Chaan Teng include white bread toast with butter and condensed milk, instant noodles, tea and lemon, a beverage that features coffee and black tea and western dishes like beef brisket, steak and pork chops. Cha Chaan Tengs in Hong Kong are usually open from 11am to 5pm though the Wellington Street branch the Tsui Waah chain of Cha Chaan Tengs is open round the clock.
Hong Kong’s private kitchens or speakeasy style restaurants housed in private apartments/offices originated due to adverse economic conditions after the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the SARs epidemic of 2003 when many chefs lost their jobs and could not afford to open and operate their own restaurants and incur huge overheads. These private kitchens initially offered very reasonably priced two or three course meals but during recent years they have been transformed into relatively upscale eateries which are used to showcase the talents of a talented chef.
Magnolia Private Kitchen – New Orleans Cuisine
Shop 5, G/F,
No. 17 Po Yan Street,
Tel: 2530 9880
Mandy’s Private Kitchen – Caribbean Food
Tel: 9816 9946
Michelin Guide: Hong Kong and Macau 2014 By Michelin Guides
Provides a list of restaurants in Hong Kong and Macau that have met the requirements for the famous Michelin stars. In order to win a coveted Michelin star the restaurants have to demonstrate that they use high-quality ingredients in an innovative and creative way. However keeping in mind the uniqueness of Hong Kong’s street foods Michelin has also bestowed its ‘stars’ or awards of excellence on small, hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Hong Kong like Tim Ho Wan in Yau Ma Tei which is renowned as the world’s cheapest Michelin starred restaurant.
Hong Kong’s Best Restaurants by Hong Kong Tatler
The Hong Kong version of Tatler magazine which covers A-list society events, celebrity news and parties has its own well respected restaurant guide for Hong Kong.
WOM Guide by Fergus Fung & Samanta Pong
The Word of Mouth Guide has contact information for numerous restaurants in Hong Kong. The guide which is available in print and online also includes articles by well known chefs and enthusiastic food lovers and also welcomes reviews by registered members.
TimeOut Hong Kong by TimeOut
Considered one of the best guides to bars and restaurants in Hong Kong. TimeOut not only provides comprehensive reviews of places to eat and drink, it also lets you know which celebrities are dining where.
Cool Restaurants: Hong Kong by Anna Koor
Provides an insight into Hong Kong’s most hip dining venues. Besides highlights of the dining scene in Hong Kong, Cool Restaurants also contains a number of recipes for some of the popular dishes served at some of the venues.
An online database of restaurants in Hong Kong that allows users to search for a restaurant by location, price, type of cuisine or ambiance. The website also features user reviews of many of the restaurants.
An online guide to restaurants in Hong Kong that lists dining venues alphabetically. The website also publishes details of any special offers that are currently being run in Hong Kong bars and restaurants.
A database of restaurants that allows users to post reviews of venues that they have visited. The full list of restaurants is searchable according to factors such as location and price, and the website also offers a newsletter service where registered users can receive up-to-date information on restaurants in Hong Kong.
An online guide to some of the best restaurants and bars in the city.