How many restaurants are there in Hong Kong? The latest Hong Kong Government statistics puts the number of licensed venues at around 24,000. Eat at a new place each day and it would take you a solid 65 years to get through them all.
I didn’t have 65 years; I had two weeks. But I’ll be damned if I let myself be accused of not trying. Welcome to my good food guide for eating around Hong Kong: the I’m Still Hungry Edition.
Visits: April 2017, December 2014
To try and compile a piece titled “the best eats in Hong Kong”, especially by a non-resident who’s only been twice would be doing exceptional disservice to all the local experts who call the urban metropolis home.
So what is this post then?
- A diary of my Hong Kong eats over my two visits (with hopefully more down the track); once in 2014, and once again in 2017.
This post isn’t:
- A definitive guide on what to eat in Hong Kong. Locals will have ten additional suggestions for each entry in this post. I know: I’ve asked. 24,000 restaurants doesn’t exactly leave a foodie hankering for variety.
Sure, some places were unashamedly touristy. But last time I checked, I was a tourist in Hong Kong. Foodie travellers, like travellers in general, have bucket list items, and there’s nothing quite like scratching a bucket list itch. But in the end, I truly hope that you find a gem or two in this post; I sure did – many of the places in this list would never have been considered if it weren’t for the help of locals or those who used to live in Hong Kong. You know who you are #salute.
This post has three sections : savouries, sweets, and fine dining; and uses photo sliders to keep the scrolling to a minimum. While some places do both sweets and savouries Hong Kong’s food culture is one of hyper–specificity: a place is worth the pilgrimage because they do one thing to an extraordinary standard. To honour this, signature items for each restaurant are listed to assist you in your drool-search.
Unfortunately, I forgot to record exact prices for dishes, and occasionally forgot to take location shots. Forgive me – I am travelling for fun, after all. In general, other than fine dining, you can rest assured knowing that while Hong Kong is known for many things, overpriced food is not one of them. That said, in recent years, the more touristy areas are definitely getting pricier (and the Australian dollar isn’t exactly helping). Still, Hong Kong is nowhere anywhere near the wallet buster that is Europe.
Feel free to jump to the table of contents now, but if you’ve the patience, some last tidbits of advice on Hong Kong’s eating culture:
- Sharing is caring, or rather, sharing gets you a meal to begin with. Any good restaurant in Hong Kong is popular enough that more often than not you’ll be forced to sit communally. Get used to not having a whole lot of personal space!
- In most small, locally run shops, the mantra of “get in, get out” applies. Definitely savour your meal, but don’t linger once finished. This isn’t Sydney or Melbourne where you can sip on your latte (or naai caa – HK milk tea) for hours ‘soaking up the atmosphere’. You’re more likely to soak up abuse from the establishment’s boss aunty .
- Unless there’s a serious discrepancy, don’t make a fuss if the bill is a few Hong Kong Dollars (HKD) more/less than it should be. It’s not worth it.
Table of Contents
A star – ‘*’ – denotes an establishment I would highly recommend you try, based on my great experience(s) there.
*Australia Dairy Company – egg sandwiches
*Tsim Chai Kee – wonton noodles
Mak’s Noodle – wonton noodles
*Yue Hing – peanut butter sandwiches
*Ichiran Ramen – tonkotsu ramen
*Yat Lok Roast Goose – roast goose
*Tai O Fishing Village – fresh seafood
Four Seasons Claypot Rice – claypot rice
Kau Kee – beef brisket noodles
Kwan Yu Roasted Meat – soy sauce chicken & char siu
Tim Ho Wan Central – yum cha
Tsui Wah – no-fuss HK breakfasts
Wong Chi Kee – congee
*Via Tokyo – Japanese soft serves/desserts
*Mobile Softee – creamy soft serve
*Tai Cheong Bakery – egg tarts
*Oddies Foodies – eggettes (egg waffles)
LKK North Point Eggettes – eggettes (egg waffles)
*ATUM Desserant – custom dessert art
*Kam Wah – pineapple buns
Nakamura Tokichi – Japanese desserts
The Cupping Room – coffee
Pierre Herme – macarons
*Mott 32 – peking duck & char siu pork
Restaurant Amber – French fine dining
Tenku Ryugin – Japanese kaiseki 101 floors above sea level
Tin Lung Heen – high end yum cha 102 floors above sea level (lol)
Yan Toh Heen – high end yum cha
Australia Dairy Company*
A touristy place to rule them all, yet also one of my favourites, Australia Dairy Company has nothing to do with Australia – go figure. What it is is a restaurant that makes the best egg sandwiches I’ve ever had, and they make the best egg sandwiches I’ve ever had.
No, that wasn’t a typo – I said it twice, it needed to be re-emphasised. It’s difficult to describe just how good a pedestrian egg sandwich can be due to its ostensible simplicity. But in Hong Kong, simple is what does it. It’s one of my favourite food items in the entire world – the marriage of fluffy, soft bread and gooey, perfectly-cooked & seasoned egg is death-row worthy.
So yeah, get the goddamn egg sandwich, whichever way you like it – on the side, with/without toasted bread (I prefer toasted), or even an extra serving. Yeah, I made the mistake of not eating this enough during my 2014 visit, so I took it up a notch – it’s double or nothing baby, all the way!
Also worth getting is the steamed milk pudding, with its velvety smoothness and subtle sweetness. If you want to eat breakfast like a local – the ham & macaroni soup is your ticket to rubbing shoulders with them. Not my thing due to the rather one-dimensional salty flavour, just putting it out there.
Australia Dairy Company can claim another title: it is by far the fastest restaurant I’ve ever experienced. I join a queue 30-40 strong everytime I visit, but somehow get seated before even 15 minutes has passed, and then ushered out of the restaurant before an hour has passed from start to finish. The service is just that efficient. In fact, nothing slows down the wait staff more than indecisiveness in ordering. Don’t make them wait for any reason.
Tsim Chai Kee*
I have to give Sydney credit: in to our multicultural city, rare is a time that I crave something to eat that a restaurant somewhere doesn’t serve.
Sadly, Tsim Chai Kee’s wonton noodles have opened up a giant wonton-sized hole, where I never thought I’d miss something so simple so dearly upon my return.
And truly, giant, juicy-perfect wontons that scream ‘wow, they did NOT skimp on these’ are only the beginning. Then there’s the stringy, al dente strands of egg noodles, cooked perfectly at Tsim Chai Kee. The broth is carefully balanced – not too salty or bland, and with just enough fragrance to keep me slurping. And yes, they are consistent with it – I was also able to verify this over two visits. Yeah, you know I really LIKE a place when I spend a second, precious meal there.
My recommendation? Get the triple topping wonton noodles – you get the great wontons, a real juicy fishball, and tender sliced beef. Yum AF!
Located literally opposite Tsim Chai Kee (I kid you not), Mak’s Noodle is either very, very confident in its noodle dishes, or the owners are absolute nutcases.
Actually, Mak’s Noodle has been around for nearly 60 years, and is considered one of Hong Kong’s most famous wonton noodle shops. If it’s not coming up in Google when searching ‘wonton noodles hong kong’, you’re doing something wrong. For a place to exist this long, it’s got to be doing everything right.
Spoiler alert: yeah, pretty much. The noodles are great, the broth is great, and of course so are the wontons. I do have to give Tsim Chai Kee the wonton edge however, as the wontons at Mak’s Noodle aren’t as big or juicy, but you won’t go wrong visiting either.
Mak’s Noodle does have the benefit of offering a wider menu, such as beef brisket noodles, should that float your boat. These were real good too with seriously fragrant brisket. Though if you’re after a dedicated beef noodle joint, check out Kau Kee.
The kitchen is barely bigger than two shopping trolleys. All of the cooking and wait staffing is done by just two people. You sit on plastic buckets that would otherwise have been rubbish bins. There isn’t even a building – diners literally sit in the middle of a pedestrian walkway in one of Hong Kong’s famous alleyway markets.
Does it get any more Hong Kong than Yue Hing? Of all the places in this post, Yue Hing offers perhaps what locals would describe as the most ‘authentic’ Hong Kong eating experience. Other than locals, you’ll only find the most audacious foodies here – it’s not the kind of place that comes up in a web search without a bit of digging. Maybe that’s just as good – waits for tables can begin as early as 8am, and its most-coveted breakfast items sell out well before midday. True to Hong Kong’s perchance for simple comfort food done right, all this fuss is created by a peanut butter sandwich:
Yeah, Yue Hing is a cafe that sells sandwiches. That’s it. If you’re not convinced, keep walking – but remember that Australia Dairy is ‘only’ famous because of its ‘mere’ egg sandwiches.
Crunchy toast, oozy, finger-licking good peanut butter, salty pork or beef (depending on your choice) & sauteed vegetables. It’s a combo that’s guaranteed to tick all the comfort food boxes – there’s a reason Yue Hing draws queues. Their yuan yang (HK milk tea + coffee hybrid) is also a must-try, and given that all food orders must come with a drink, this is your chance to try HK-style milk tea coffee!
Being someone that loves ramen to bits, you may think it would be hard for me to come up with a restaurant that’s my favourite of them all. Ichiran Ramen makes answering that question quite easy. Sure, ramen connoisseurs might lynch me at finding this out, but so-called artisanal ramen is by definition unique/rare, it does not mean superior. While I love pretty much all ramen, Ichiran’s is definitely one of the best. Thus, for all my readers who live where Ichiran is not available (which is pretty much most places in the world), you could do far worse than have a bowl of its signature tonkotsu ramen in Hong Kong. That said, as it is a decidedly Japanese experience, it’s not a must-visit from an authenticity perspective.
If you do visit, expect low-fuss dining with minimal human contact: it’s one of the draw cards of the place, no doubt a leaf taken from Japanese culture’s propensity for solo dining. Expect an amazing bowl of ramen, with rich & flavourful broth, firm noodles, but most importantly – almost everything is customisable to a ludicrous degree. Indeed, this is one of the more alluring aspects about Ichiran, albeit with the equal potential of ruining the experience for yourself. Now that’s playing with fire 😉
Yat Lok Roast Goose*
You know Peking Duck, you’re not an ignorant buffoon. Now upgrade your poultry game and jump on the roast goose bandwagon. What makes goose compelling are the very same attributes that apply to duck – crispy & flavoursome skin, juicy meat, and goose make for a great roasting candidate that chicken just can’t quite match. The primary difference is that goose is not as strong in flavour as duck is – a duck is ‘duckier’ than a goose is ‘goosey’. Here in Hong Kong, goose’s more balanced flavour profile lends it a reputation that matches that of duck, if not more so depending on who you ask. While there are around four or five restaurants that get the lion’s share of attention when it comes to roasting geese, Yat Lok plays ball with the best of them.
Unfortunately, the fact that it has a Michelin Star means that visiting during off-peak hours is a must if you wish to avoid lengthy waits. But even if you do brave queues, the rewards are well worth it. Not only is the base requirement of well-cooked geese satisfied, the wonton noodles or rice the goose is served with acts as an excellent mop for the deliciously sweet sauce in which the goose is roasted. So. Freaking. Good.
Don’t forget to get their char siu pork either – two birds (well, one bird & one pig) with one stone (pair of chopsticks)! Wow, that was a laboured idiom.
Tai O Fishing Village*
A special mention in a post otherwise full of restaurants, Tai O Fishing Village and the greater Lantau Island are must-visits from both a sightseeing and food perspective if you have a day to spare outside of Hong Kong’s centre. Tai O is special because it’s a lens allowing you peer into a much quieter Hong Kong of the past, without the hustle and bustle. Indeed the ramshackle, dilapidated housing which are practically on stilts above the water has led some to call Tai O the ‘Venice of Hong Kong’. Uh, I wouldn’t go that far – it’s nowhere near as pretty, though its bedraggled look does have its charms.
Per its namesake as a quaint fishing village, there’s plenty of seafood to go around. While Hong Kong central is not exactly lacking, the freshness of the catch at Tai O is the primary drawcard. This means dishes like squid, prawns, and something that I basically never see in Australia: razor clams. They may not be life changing, but razor clams’ sweet, chewy & umami-rich meat, stewed with XO will try their utmost hardest to convince you.
Side note: while you’re in Tai O, don’t forget to also check out the Lantau Big Buddha. One of Hong Kong’s highlight sightseeing destinations, you literally can’t miss this: Big Buddha is big.
Four Seasons Claypot Rice
Even hearing the words charcoal-fired claypot rice should get the salivation works going. The distinctive, earthy-roasted flavour of rice cooked in a claypot cannot be replicated any other way. Common ingredients are Chinese sausage, salted fish, stewed chicken and aromatics.
I was recommended Four Seasons Claypot Rice (no relation to the hotel chain) as one of the best restaurants for this iconic dish. But you must be brave: unlike Australia Dairy Company’s fast n furious approach, Four Seasons is limited by the unavoidable fact that claypot rice simply requires a lot of time. Our wait during a peak time was nearly 90 minutes.
But then there’s the rice itself – fragrant, smoky, and mixing in the charred bits with soy sauce was pretty much the best part about it. I was less impressed with the meat, being a lot less meaty and a lot more bony than I would have expected (especially problematic with the fish variant).
Pro-tip: don’t skip on the deep-fried oyster omelette. Just one juicy, crunchy bite, that’s all. But don’t call me with your addiction problems down the track.
Kau Kee Beef Brisket Noodles
While Tsim Chai Kee and Mak’s Noodle rule the world of wonton noodles, Kau Kee has cornered the beef brisket noodle market. Whether you like your beef fatty, lean, sliced or diced, Kau Kee will wrangle it for you, and wrangle it well.
They also offer a variety of noodle types, ranging from flat mee pok noodles – ideal for soup-soaking, to the rounder, denser e-fu, and of course, even wonton noodles.
It’s a small store, so expect waiting, brusque service and possibly enforced communal seating. Not to worry – you’ll be forgetting all of that shortly after taking your first few slurps. Kau Kee is easily one of the great noodle joints, touristy-ness be damned.
Kwan Yu Roasted Meat
You’ve learned that roast geese are a big deal in Hong Kong, but this doesn’t mean other birds don’t get treated with the respect they’re due. At Kwan Yu Roasted Meat, chicken, duck, pork and more all get the roasted treatment, with delicious results.
The highlight order is the soy sauce chicken. Don’t make a mistake here: there are no English menus, so show them my picture in the slider if you have to! If you don’t get it, you may as well walk out. While I’m not a fan of how the soy sauce chicken is served at room temperature with soft, limp skin (deliberate & traditional, not by accident), the chicken itself is lovingly balanced between sweet and salty. Most importantly, it was the most tender meat I had on the entire trip.
If that’s not enough to satisfy, Kwan Yu’s char siu is also a solid bet. Char siu & chicken in the one meal? I challenge you to find me a tastier way to get your protein fix in Hong Kong.
Tim Ho Wan – Hong Kong Central
Tim Ho Wan is a name that polarises: an icon of yum cha, a tourist trap; blessed by Michelin; one of Hong Kong’s most overrated establishments; a big deal, hardly worth a mention.
Yeah, look, the reality is Tim Ho Wan is overrated: it’s highly unlikely that it’s the best out there, and its signature baked pork bun is certainly one of the most overhyped dishes to ever have come out of Hong Kong.
But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. No, hardly so. Tim Ho Wan is a great yum cha restaurant. I’ve had satisfying experiences every time I’ve eaten here. The Michelin star and “OMG THAT BBQ PORK BUN” hype sure is annoying, but it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it. Heck, if it was so bad, why are there so many imitators out there?
If you have your sights set on Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong, don’t let anyone try to steer you off course – it’s definitely not a wasted meal.
And yeah, get one of those pork buns. You won’t regret it.
Google Maps Location (store I visited)
Tsui Wah is to Hong Kong what Gloria Jeans is to Sydney: there’s plenty of them around the city, the food & drink is dependable, and like many chains – they’re hardly exciting worth talking about
Actually, I do Tsui Wah a disservice on that last part: it is pretty exciting when one of your signature dishes is butter & condensed milk on toasted sweet bread.
Healthy eating, this ain’t.
Hong Kong’s breakfast rep isn’t nearly as good as Sydney’s as most places don’t open till after 10am, but Tsui Wah’s an exception to that rule. Pro-tip: skip the Hainan chicken and get the milk tea, fish ball soup + the aforementioned carby bread bomb. Breakfast: sorted.
Wong Chi Kei
If, like me, you have the luck to get sick in Hong Kong, there is no better cure than congee.
I kid: you definitely do not have to be sick to enjoy congee in HK. Dispel from your head any notions of flavourless gruel when you think about the stuff. In Hong Kong, it’s one of the city’s culturally significant dishes, with high quality and endless variety to show for it.
A particularly famous restaurant chain that specialises in congee is Wong Chi Kei – and they’re damn good at it. Their congee’s consistency is silky & thick, well-seasoned, and very slurp-worthy. Get the crab congee for a particularly decadent experience.
Almost worth getting sick for. Almost.
Hong Kong Sweet Eats
In more than four years of blogging, I’ve learned not to be overly hyperbolic with my statements – unmet food expectations are worse than being catfished on Tinder (ostensibly. Who knows what that’s actually like, *cough*).
But in the swamp of dangerous overhyped ballyhoo is Via Tokyo, and from them the best soft serve I’ve ever had.
Oh shieeeeeeeeee, I went there. BUT, I am not being hyperbolic – Via Tokyo truly, literally makes the best soft serves I have ever personally tasted. Yes, this includes the countless (and excellent) soft creams I’ve had during my travels in Japan.
What makes the soft serve here so good? Is it because of the baby-smooth, cotton-creamy consistency? Yes – partly. Is it because they’re not under or overly sweet? Yes, this part’s also true. However, the defining trait for me is that the flavours of the soft serves are truly representative of the base ingredient. Order a matcha soft serve? Prepare yourself – it’s matcha magic. Same with houjicha, Uji matcha, and so on so forth. Their cheese-based soft serves are not as good; tea flavours are where VT excels.
Why go Tokyo when you can go Via Tokyo?
While Via Tokyo is the undisputed king of soft serve, a far more affordable, no-frills option can be had from the Mobile Softee ice cream truck. At just 10HKD, this is an injection of vanilla creaminess that anyone can enjoy.
It’s not particularly big, but I was very pleasantly surprised at just how much of a punch it packed. The crispy cone was also quite delightful – all unexpected things coming from such an innocuous-looking truck.
The only thing it’s missing is Greensleeves. Heh.
Tai Cheong Bakery*
As a first time in Hong Kong, there’s a certain runsheet of food that just has to be ticked off in order to call the trip a success. Hong Kong-style Egg tarts are indisputably a part of this list, and while there are many, many bakeries specialising in them, you can’t go wrong with Tai Cheong Bakery.
The tarts that come out of the ovens at Tai Cheong are literally and metaphorically golden: the custard is a perfectly consistent, satin-smooth hit of eggy creaminess with just the right amount sweetness. The tart base is so friable, you have to wonder just how much butter is in the pastry – or perhaps more accurately, how much pastry is in the butter.
No matter where you end up getting your egg tarts (there are other bakeries as good as Tai Cheong), just be sure to actually get them!
Eggettes are one of the most curious-looking street snacks Hong Kong has to offer, and also its most popular. Eggy pancake batter is cooked in a specialised waffle maker, producing its signature look of a waffle with semi-spherical shells. You’ll find eggettes everywhere in Hong Kong and even in Sydney, but Oddies Foodies takes it up one step further, truly blinging the heck out of its eggette offerings with high quality ice creams & confections.
I must admit, I was afraid Oddies would succumb to the trap of producing Instagrammable, freakshake-levels of decadence at the expense of a poor quality base product. I’m happy to say that this has not been the case on both occasions I’ve visited. The eggettes themselves are crisp, light, and with almost no natural sweetness of their own. That was perfect – there’s plenty of soft serve, ice cream & chocolate (depending on your order) to bring on the sugar. My recommendation goes to the Night Wolf, though anything with matcha in it is also a sure bet for those who prefer something less heavy. Oddies also produces eggettes with mochi inside the ‘eggshells’, for those after a denser texture. Not quite traditional, but was a store called Oddies Foodies ever going to be?
Be a bit whacky.
LKK North Point Eggettes
If Oddies Foodies is on the extreme end of the scale when it comes to dressing up the humble eggette, LKK North Point is where most locals will point you to for a the traditional, no-frills version.
And there are indeed no frills: the eggettes are served plain, so any faults in the base product have no place to hide. Unfortunately in my case, I wasn’t impressed – they were a bit too doughy, and lacked a certain crispness which is so essential in marking a good eggette. LKK North Point might be plastered with photos of celebrities enjoying its eggettes, but when was the last time a celebrity endorsement lived it to the product they spruik?
Desserts, like most great Hong Kong eats, are generally simple affairs – egg tarts, eggettes, soft serves and so on. But that doesn’t mean innovation doesn’t have its place – it’s just happening at the top end of town. At the pinnacle of the gastro-dessert movement is ATUM Desserant. While there is a standard rotating roster of plated desserts (not unlike Koi Dessert Bar in Sydney), ATUM’s flagship product is the edible improvisation – an edible piece of art that is completely unique every time it’s made. The pastry chefs are trained to work ad-lib, with diners asked to contribute to the process in selecting preferred base ingredients, and even partaking in parts of the plating.
It’s a great experience just to participate, with the resulting artwork tasting ever sweeter for it. While it’s no less gimmicky, it certainly deserves to be considered a great dessert: the individual components such as matcha jellies, bamboo chocolate sorbet and mochis are all well made, the assembly well thought out, and is just a whole lot of fun.
If you’re a dessert person hankering for something different, there’s no place I would recommend over ATUM Desserant.
Pro-tip: don’t get confused between the dessert bar and ATUM restaurant! They’re related, but in completely different locations!
The curious thing about pineapple buns (the bolo bao) is that they have absolutely no pineapple in them. But you know what they are? A dish of cultural significance – as decreed by the Hong Kong Government – and a damn delicious one at that.
What makes bolo bao special is the cookie-dough like batter on top of the bun which when baked, kinda-sorta resembles the skin of a pineapple. This part of the bun is sweet, buttery and crunchy. A fluffy sweet bread sits underneath, and can be used to sandwich all sorts of sweet or savoury ingredients.
One of the most common fillings is butter, changing the name of the dish to bolo yau. Look, did you really think you could visit Hong Kong and diet?
Freshly-baked pineapple buns can be bought pretty much anywhere; the ones from Kam Wah are pretty much some of the best you’ll find. Do try your best to score a fresh batch, even if it involves waiting – the difference is night and day!
Nakamura Tokichi is the kind of place you go to if you’re a Japanophile who’s in Hong Kong and not Japan. A famous chain of dessert shops with its origins in Uji, a city near Kyoto renowned for matcha green tea; Nakamura Tokichi is all about Japanese tea-based desserts, executed to a degree matched by few in Hong Kong, if not none.
While there’s certainly no Hong Kong experience here, my love for Japanese food will still see me seeking out exemplary heroes of the cuisine no matter where I visit. That’s why I ended up at Nakamura Tokichi – and it didn’t disappoint. With a well-stocked who’s who of famous Japanese desserts on the menu, there’s something for everyone. My picks would be the warabi mochi – and well, you’re going to get a matcha soft serve anyway, so let’s just put it out there 😛
The Cupping Room
With plenty of Western ex-pats living in Hong Kong, don’t be too surprised when I tell you that the city’s coffee culture is highly developed, if The Cupping Room is anything to go by. Sydneysiders and Melbournians won’t be left thirsting here, with The Cupping Room’s trendy wood trim, Western cafe-style food and staff fluent in English, it’s almost like stepping back into Australia – not necessarily a bad thing if you’re missing home.
I was only here for a latte (and it was a damn good one), but if I were ever to live in Hong Kong, I know that I’ll have a reliable cafe to keep me sane when I begin craving the good stuff. Locals have informed me of many other cafes with a similarly Western bent, so I’m confident The Cupping Room isn’t an exception to the rule. Yes, you absolutely can get great coffee in Hong Kong!
Pierre Herme Hong Kong
Making some of the best macarons in the world, Pierre Herme is an internationally-recognised name, with quality that walks the walk. I’ll never forget my first visit at the original store in France, where his signature white truffle macaron blew me away – metaphorically, and almost literally as well. It was like nothing I’ve ever had in such a diminutive biscuit, a life-defining moment of flavour that I never thought possible.
The Hong Kong store has a fairly small footprint, but most of Pierre Herme’s signature flavours – such as foie gras, should be there. Don’t bank on the white truffle though, I’ve never seen it on the two occasions I’ve visited – consider it a taster for the eventual Parisian visit. Nevertheless, a box of Pierre Herme macs would make an excellent gift for yourself, or a dessert lover back home. You’re likely to pass Hong Kong Central Station at some point on your trip, so these hardly incur any detour.
Hong Kong Higher-end Dining
Hong Kong’s status as a global city means there’s no shortage of world-class fine dining establishments. There’s a whole lot of Michelin – almost too much some would say – and all the pomp & pageantry that goes with it. I guess that simply goes with the territory, right?
More upper-end bistro-level than fine diner, Mott 32 is worth visiting almost for the fitout alone. Brazenly exuding British Colonial vibes in its interior design, you could easily convince yourself that you’re in a classy, early 20th century opium den in Hong Kong. The jazzy, eclectic playlist and lighting that could only be described as ‘intensely romantic’ only adds to the charm.
While Mott 32 certainly allows the eyes to eat first, its Peking duck and Iberico char siu is what will convince you to make a booking. The peking duck is perfection in a bird – quite probably a ‘top 3 in my life’ kind of dish. I couldn’t find any fault with its crispy skin, succulent meat, and refined presentation style (including a bit of a sauce mixing ceremony at the table!). The iberico char siu is certainly not traditional, but this is assuredly one of those moments where tradition is overrated. The meat is unbelievably juicy, sweet, and oh so porcine; this is putting modern spin on a classic, done right.
Pro-tip: order these two items ahead (when you make your reservation), as Mott 32 needs advance notice.
Restaurant Amber is a three Michelin star French restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong. Michelin’s definition of three stars is that the restaurant serves ‘exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey’. By this definition, I don’t believe Amber cuts it. Have a read of my full post on Amber if you wish to find out more, but teaser pictures are provided below to whet your appetite!
I hope you don’t have vertigo, because there’s a real possibility this is something you would have to deal with if you reserve a table at Tenku Ryugin. The sister restaurant of world-class Nihonryouri Ryugin in Tokyo (that restaurant holding the #7 spot in the Asia’s Best Restaurants List), Tenku Ryugin is literally on another level.
Another 100 levels, to be precise. Located on the 101st floor of the iconic IFC building, Tenku Ryugin – translating as “heavenly dragon’s voice” – is aptly named. The views are grand, and the food equally so. A pure, unadulterated expression of seasonality and Kaiseki-style cuisine is the core philosophy at both Ryugin establishments, and only the best of the best is put out onto the plate.
The meal is insanely expensive – we paid around 5500HKD/$950AUD for two – but such is the nature of many superlative kaiseki experiences. It was certainly interesting to blow my wallet on a restaurant situated so high that even clouds look low-hanging, but I would conclude that Tenku Ryugin isn’t a must-visit if you’re seeking a Hong Kong experience. In fact, you’ll have an even better meal at the original Ryugin in Tokyo – I know, I’ve been to both.
But if you have a date to impress, there aren’t many restaurants that can compete on wow factor as much as Tenku Ryugin. That the food more or less deserves the location makes it a solid choice, should the occasion suit.
Tin Lung Heen
You know what’s even better than 101 floors above ground? 102 floors above ground.
But seriously, imagine the expression on my face when I learned that Tin Lung Heen – a sumptuous expression of wealth in a yum cha restaurant – was also located at the IFC building, and above Tenku Ryugin, no less!
The view and the fancy decor’s all well and good. But real talk: how’s the food?
Average. Yeah, I know I deserve to be slammed for not going somewhere cheaper, tastier, more local etc. However, I wanted to see just what exactly earns a Cantonese Yum Cha restaurant 3 Michelin Stars. Turns out that it’s a combination of excellent service (something you definitely don’t get in many HK joints, and something even fewer Hong Kongers care about), and a luxe fitout suitable for a James Bond villain. The food? Passable seems to cut the mustard.
To Tin Lung Heen’s credit, pretty much every dish was tasty. The issue was that many were not without fault, sometimes exhibiting shockingly basic flaws such as overly thick dumpling skins, which is startling given the pedigree of the restaurant. Most also didn’t have a wow factor (the abalone puff was definitely a marvellous exception to this), and overall I felt I could have had just as good of a time at Tim Ho Wan while paying 1/5 the price. I guess Tim Ho Wan head chef Mak Kwai Pui was onto something when he decided not to take that job at the Four Seasons, eh?
Still, where there’s a use case, there’s a restaurant: if you’ve got an important business meeting and need to seal the deal, Tin Lung Heen’s as good a venue as any in which to do it.
Yan Toh Heen
I know, I know. I literally just implied I regretted gunning for high-end yum cha places, but this was on the same trip, so I was expecting two great yum cha restaurants. But where Yan Toh Heen loses out to Tin Lung Heen in views, it more than makes up for it in serving up superior food.
Yep, this is a high-end yum cha restaurant that actually delivers on the quality standards expected of it – for the most part.
Most plates demonstrated solid flavour balance, were well-made without any obvious issues (no thick dumpling skins that’s for sure), and the service is noticeably better than that Tin Lung Heen’s. Standout dishes were the abalone on crispy taro puffs, YTH’s signature dumpling set, and the suckling pig with an innovative preparation where a thick layer of fat is replaced with soft bread, reducing its greasiness significantly.
All in all, Yan Toh Heen’s a yum cha restaurant I wouldn’t mind returning to, and that’s saying something.
I hope this highly unscientific, personal food diary of my belly-busting experiences in Hong Kong has been assistive in your own research of what to spend your precious calories on. If you have any comments, criticisms, suggestions for where I should visit next time, be sure to sound off in the comments below!
All visits in this post are independently paid for