Hong Kong Cuisine: 20 Foods You Must Try

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Hong Kong is a bustling metropolis known for many things, but Hong Kong cuisine is what this progressive city is best loved for.

It didn’t get its title “Culinary Capital of Asia” for nothing. And it even beats some of its food loving neighbours like Malaysia and Thailand. The wide variety is an impressive fair – from authentic Asian street food to Michelin star restaurants.

If you’re visiting Hong Kong, you better be ready to eat.

Just like any cuisine around the world, Hong Kong’s dishes tells much about its blended culture and deep history.

As a former British colony, the population developed a taste for Western and European cuisine. Its status as an expat hub has also greatly influenced how Hong Kong food evolved over the years.

The result is a delicious blend of Cantonese cuisine with Japanese, Vietnamese and Indian influences, side-by-side Western food cooked with Asian ingredients.

 

Experiencing Hong Kong Cuisine

Restaurant street in Hong Kong

It’s not only the food itself that sets the Hong Kong food scene apart. How, where, and when you eat is just as important.

Dai Pai Dong

One of the most popular dining experiences in Hong Kong is called “dai pai dong.” These are open-air street stalls that serve local dishes.

These stalls serve just about anything under the sun from Hong Kong street food to full fried rice meals. The most common are stir fries – fresh and quick to prepare, served to customers seated at small tables and chairs set in front of the stalls.

Eating here you will most likely be seated alongside strangers and busy office workers. It is a front row seat of local street life.
 

 

Food Trucks

Food trucks are also starting to become popular, serving up a range of local dishes and international cuisines.

They’re usually found at tourist spots like Wan Chai, Wong Tai Sin Square, and Hong Kong Disneyland. However, they do move around from time to time. You can download the Hong Kong Food Truck app to find out exactly where they are.

 

Cha Chaan Teng

Hong Kong style diners or “cha chaan teng” started after World War II. These diners formalized the Asian-Western fusion, also known as Soy Sauce Western.

And now are known for a quick-service, sit-down style restaurant.

There’s a cha chaan teng in practically every corner and most are open till very late. Dishes are diverse and so are the customers – students, yuppies, executives, and pensioners.

Most of them have English menus as well, so foreigners are a common customer throughout the day.

 

Seafood

The cornerstone of Cantonese cooking is fresh seafood. And there are a number of quality seafood restaurants everywhere.

An exciting way to experience these dishes is to find a Seafood Street.  This is a cluster of restaurants specializing in seafood dishes with fresh catch on display.

Most of them are near a fish or seafood market and customers are free to choose which seafood they want to have cooked.

Also you can find them most often in the New Territories and outlying islands like Kowloon and Cheung Chau.

 

Fine Dining Restaurants in Hong Kong

Fine dining in Hong Kong is a sought-after experience. Hong Kong was the first city in China to have a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Now, it boasts of over 60 Michelin-starred restaurants with many more regularly showing up in Asia’s “best of” lists.

 

 

 
 
Hong Kong cuisine, a busy row of restaurants in Hong Kong

20 Hong Kong Foods to Try

Taking a gastronomic tour of Hong Kong cuisine is one of the most exciting things to do in the city. But it can be overwhelming as there’s SO much.

Yet, you can’t put a price on such an educational experience, so here are the 20 top dishes to look out for to make your trip both memorable and iconic.

 

Classic Hong Kong dim sum at a restaurant.

Dim Sum

The absolute staple Hong Kong dish is dim sum. These are little bite-sized dishes that are usually served with hot tea.

There are different kinds of dim sum. And the most common are dumplings that are either steamed or fried and filled with different kinds of meat and vegetables.

But dim sum has a wide range of eats like braised chicken feet, spring rolls, and fish balls. It’s one of the most common foods to eat. And it is an iconic Cantonese dish known all over the world.

Quick, easy, and always delicious, dim sum should be at the top of anyone’s list with a visit to the city. Eat it with morning tea or yam cha and you already partake in a very traditional practice.

Many Hongkongers claim that you will find the best dim sum in Din Tai Fung restaurant in Causeway Bay. This Taiwanese restaurant is so popular it has outposts in North American and is considered one of the best Torrance restaurants in southern California. 

The portions are big, everything you order is absolutely delicious, but the dish prices are a bit high.

 

 

 
  

Char siu, traditional Hong Kong cuisine, pork on a white plate.

Char Siu

A typical dish in any roast meat shop is char siu. It’s also referred to as Cantonese-style barbecue pork.

This delicious, usually fatty (which is a good thing), sweet meat is best eaten with rice or sometimes eaten alone as a snack.

It’s usually marinated in soy sauce, hoisin sauce, a seasoning blend including Chinese five spice, and either honey or sugar.
 

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For those not familiar with Asian food, char siu tends to be too sweet for the palate. However, the blend of sweet, smoky, and umami makes this dish a big hit on any foodie list.

“Char siu” literally translates to “fork burned,” referring to how the meat is cooked over an open fair or covered oven on forks.

 

Roasted goose soup in a white bowl, common Hong Kong food

Roast Goose

One of Hong Kong’s most traditional specialties is roast goose.

The marinade itself speaks to the complexity of the dish where most recipes are kept top secret and can include over 20 different spices.

The whole duck is roasted over charcoal until the meat turns juicy and skin turns golden brown and crispy. It’s then chopped up into small pieces and served with plum sauce.

The meat is succulent, and the skin adds the perfect texture, but moderation must be practiced. Roast goose can be very fatty. And while consuming an entire goose is tempting, it may not be the best idea for one or two diners.

Since roast goose is such an important dish in Cantonese cuisine, restaurants that make it exceptionally well are also some of the most popular restaurants in Hong Kong.

The number one go-to restaurant for roast goose, and also a One Michelin Star restaurant, is Yat Lok at Conwell House along Stanley Street in Central Hong Kong.

Yung Kee Restaurant is another favorite, having served amazing roast duck in Central for decades.

 

 

 
 

Hong Kong drink, milk tea in a restaurant.

Hong Kong Style Milk Tea

An afternoon staple for any local is Hong Kong-style Milk Tea. While it’s technically not food, this drink is so popular that Hong Kong locals are said to drink over 900 million glasses of this sweet, refreshing drink every year.

Hong Kong-Style Milk Tea is Ceylon black tea mixed with condensed milk (some versions use evaporated milk for a lighter drink) and sugar.

There are different cooking and brewing methods to produce the tea, creating different flavors. Some also add tapioca balls, pudding, or gelatin to add texture.

It’s a common item in many dai pai dong and cha chaan teng.

 

Go Lo Yuk

The English-speaking world knows this dish as sweet and sour pork. The comfort food is incredibly popular not just in Hong Kong, but all over the world.

How many times have you gone to your favorite Chinese food restaurant and ordered this dish? Exactly.

No, you don’t have to travel across the world just to try go lo yuk. But you should do it if you want to try the best and most authentic version of the dish that exists.

The original recipe calls for vinegar, hawthorne candy and preserved plums. These ingredients give the dish its special sweet and sour taste, as well as the scarlet color.

However, most fast food restaurants nowadays use just ketchup and some food coloring, in order to minimize costs and maximize quantity.

That is why you absolutely have to try this dish in a respectable Hong Kong restaurant, which will serve you the real deal.

 

 

 

 
 

Scrambled egg sandwich on a white plate, common Hong Kong cuisine

Scrambled Egg Sandwich

No, it does not sound as delicious as sweet and sour pork. But it is the perfect dish to eat when you have ten minutes for your lunch break.

It’s prepared in a matter of minutes. You can eat it with one hand in very little time. And it will keep you full for several hours.

A good scrambled egg sandwich will be light, delicious and filling. If you get a sandwich that’s overly oily, head to a different restaurant.

You shouldn’t expect too much from a scrambled egg between two pieces of white bread, but it’s another item to add to your list of must-try Hong Kong foods.

 

Wontons

Fried dumplings are a staple dish of Cantonese cuisine. They are prepared differently in nearly every city, so trying the authentic Hong Kong version is a must. Wontons are loved for their rich meat fillings (pork) and the clear soup they are served in.

The difference between wontons in Hong Kong and wontons elsewhere is in preparation.

If you order wontons in Hong Kong, you should expect that staple seafood flavor since the dish is usually prepared with salted fish instead of peppers.

These fried dumplings are incredibly popular in Hong Kong, both in restaurants and in dai pai dong.

We highly recommend Mak Kee in North Point, a street food vendor popular for their delicious and affordable wontons.

 

 

 
 

Traditional Hong Kong cuisine as a street food - fish balls.

Fish Balls

Fish balls or fish ball noodles are incredibly popular in Hong Kong cuisine. They are one of the favorite street foods, because they are delicious and bite-sized.

And there are technically two types of fish balls in Hong Kong – those that are served as street food, and those that are served uncooked, as a soup ingredient.

Both are very light in flavor, which explains why people in Hong Kong eat about 3.75 million fish balls a day!

Cooked fish balls are normally served with spicy or sweet sauces, and you can get them at pretty much any street food vendor.

You can even try fried fish balls, which taste amazing, but are much less healthy than the original version of the dish.

 

Stinky tofu is a common street food in Hong Kong

Stinky Tofu

This popular dish from Hong Kong is only for the brave person. It gets the name from the unpleasant smell that emanates from this dish.

Stinky tofu is made by preparing a brine from meat, fermented milk and vegetables. Weirdly enough, this strange dish is very popular. And it is commonly found at street vendors and lunch bars.

You don’t go to a sum restaurant to try stinky tofu. In fact, you will most likely be able to smell it from about a mile away. It’s said to smell like stinky feet or rotten garbage, which does not sound appetizing at all.

But the more the dish stinks, the better it tastes. The flavor of stinky tofu is often compared to that of blue cheese, and occasionally rotten meat.

 

 

 
 

Cheung Fun Noodles in a bowl with chopsticks.

Zhu Cheung Fun

Rice rolls, steamed rice rolls or zhu cheung fun are a staple of Hong Kong street food. And they are very popular as dim sum dishes.

Their preparation is quite interesting. First the rice noodle sheets are made from rice flour, tapioca and water. The sheets are then filled with meat, rolled and steamed.

When properly prepared, a rice roll will be slightly transparent, so that its contents are visible.

Steamed rice rolls can be made with various different meats, including beef, shrimp and barbecued pork (char siu). They are usually served with hoisin sauce, sesame sauce, soy sauce and some roasted sesame seeds.

 

Brisket noodles is one of the most common Hong Kong foods.

Beef Brisket Noodles

Another dish that should be mandatory on your list of Hong Kong foods to try is beef brisket.

You will find quite a lot of variations of this dish, with the most popular one being beef brisket noodles. The meat is served in a soup, most frequently with curry noodles.
 

 
You can try the best beef brisket in a Hong Kong restaurant in Causeway Bay. It’s called Sister Wah Beef Brisket. And the beef here is braised in stock that has about a dozen different herbs in it, and it is served in clear soup.

This restaurant is loved by many Hongkongers, not just because the beef brisket noodles are absolutely delicious, but also because the price points are incredibly affordable.

 

 

 
 

Portuguese egg tarts in a restaurant in Hong Kong.

Egg Tart

You didn’t think we’d only focus on savory dishes, did you?

No trip to Hong Kong would be complete without trying some of their staple desserts.And egg tarts are very high on that list.

The custard tart has a standard outer pastry crust, and is filled with egg custard. It’s then baked, and served fresh from the oven.

At least, the Hong Kong egg tart is. This dish is popular worldwide, so naturally there are numerous different ways to prepare and serve it.

Egg tarts of Hong Kong are not sprinkled with ground cinnamon or nutmeg, which is common for European egg tarts.

Additionally, the English like to serve this custard tart at room temperature, while Hongkongians prefer to serve it while it’s still piping hot.

Since egg tarts are a dessert pastry, you can usually find them in bakeries and cake shops. Some restaurants will include them in their dessert menu. But they are a much more popular snack in coffee shops.

 

Pineapple bun bread in a store.

Pineapple Bread

Pineapple bread is another sweet delicacy that’s incredibly popular in Hong Kong.

It’s known as boh loh yau; boh loh refers to pineapple, while yau refers to oil/butter, with which the bun is stuffed with. The interesting thing about this dish is that it does not actually contain pieces of pineapple.

It gets the name because the top of the bun is cracked, and resembles the outside of a pineapple. This part of the dish is made from sugar, eggs, flour and lard, and it is quite crunchy and sweet.
 

 
The dish is frequently served hot, with a slice of butter between the top and bottom bun. 

Pineapple bread is delicious. But it’s often criticized for being unhealthy, due to all the sugar and fats. You should definitely try it on your culinary adventure through Hong Kong.

But don’t overindulge if you want to still fit into your favorite jeans when you get back home.

 

 

 
 

Snake soup in a bowl in a restaurant.

Snake Soup

We’ve established that there’s no lack of weird foods in Hong Kong. But here’s another strange dish to try – snake soup. As in soup made from snake.

If you’re an adventurous eater who enjoys trying new things, Hong Kong is the perfect place to try snake!

The dish usually contains meat from at least two types of snakes. Chrysanthemum leaves are added to the soup, and they make it taste somewhat sweet.

The snake meat is said to taste just like chicken – no surprises there. And you won’t see anything that resembles a snake in your soup.

You probably wouldn’t even realize that you were eating a snake if it wasn’t in the name of the dish.

 

Roast pigeon is a common Hong Kong street food

Roasted Pigeon

Beijing has the Peking Duck, but Hong Kong has the roasted pigeon.

It might not seem as fancy as the staple dish from Beijing, but we assure you it is just as delicious, if not even more. And it’s definitely another item to add to the ever-expanding list of must-try Hong Kong foods!

The traditional roasted pigeon from Hong Kong is braised in rice wine, star anise and soy sauce. It is then roasted until the outside is dark brown and crispy, while the overall flavour of the dish is earthy and dark.

 

Phoenix talons are a common street foods in Hong Kong.

Phoenix Talons

Phoenix talons are actually chicken feet. Yet another weird but popular dish from Hong Kong cuisine.

They are named phoenix talons because the word ‘phoenix’ is often used to refer to chickens in Guangdong culture.

Chicken feet is one of those dishes that’s best eaten with your eyes closed. It doesn’t look appetizing, but it actually tastes very nice.

The feet are usually deep fried, steamed and stewed in black bean sauce. The high temperatures ensure that all the bones inside the talons are softed, so that they melt in your mouth.

And this dish is considered to have huge benefits for skin and bones, because they contain a lot of collagen and calcium.

Close your eyes and dig in!

 
 

 

 

Hong Kong clay pot in a bowl.

Claypot Rice

Not all staple Hong Kong foods are weird and extravagant. In fact, one of the most popular dishes from this part of the world is incredibly simple and traditional.

Claypot rice is a dish served in a clay pot, hence the name.

You get a big bowl of rice, and a variety of toppings. You will usually get some sort of meat, an egg, vegetables and a bit of dark sauce.

Claypot rice is most commonly served piping hot, with traditional Chinese sausages.

It’s a delicious dish that tastes very familiar, so perfect for all travellers that are not brave enough to eat snakes and pigeons.

 

Hong Kong hot pot at a restaurant.

Hot Pot

Hot pot dinners are extremely popular for groups of people in Hong Kong. Friends get together, they go out, order a giant hot pot and they socialize over the meal.

They are a particularly popular part of Hong Kong cuisine in fall and winter, when you just want to escape the cold and have a hot meal.

Hot pots are great for groups of people because you can choose exactly what you want to get in them. You pick the soup base, as well as the other ingredients, which include seafood, meats and vegetables.

Because of that, there’s not really a single recipe for a hot pot. Some restaurants even have dividers in the hot pots. These stop all the different flavours from mixing together, and allows you to eat several different dishes.

It’s the ultimate comfort food, and the perfect way to experience traditional Hong Kong food with friends!
 
 

 

 
 
Hong Kong food, egg puffs on white wrapper.

Egg Puffs

Eggs are a very common ingredient in Hong Kong cuisine, both in sweet and savory dishes. Therefore, it’s no surprise that one of the most popular street foods in Hong Kong has egg as the star ingredient.

Egg waffles, egg puffs or eggettes are famous for their bubble-like edges, which they get from being cooked in a special mold.

This is something you can eat rather quickly, but which will keep you full for a while.

And that’s probably the reason why it was voted the number one street food by Hongkongers in 2016.

It’s also great for snacking, since the individual bubbles can easily be broken off and eaten one by one.

 

 

 
 

Hong Kong style French Toast on a white plate.

Hong Kong-Style French Toast

A lot of Hong Kong restaurants and cafes combine the local cuisine with western cuisine. And one of the dishes that’s a result of this magnificent fusion is Hong Kong-style French toast.

It is the champion of breakfast foods, also known as cholesterol on a plate.

The two slices of bread are covered with fruit jam, and then deep fried. This dish is usually served piping hot with some butter on top, which melts over the bread and makes your mouth water.

However, Hong Kong-style French toast is not something you want to have for breakfast too often, for obvious reasons.

But nothing’s stopping you from trying it once or twice, and we highly recommend you do so!

 

 

What Hong Kong food did we miss? Let us know in the comment below!

 

Pin it For Later: Hong Kong Cuisine

 

French Toast, Claypot rice, Egg Puffs, Hot Pot, Phoenix Talons, Roasted Pigeon, Snake Soup, Pineapple Bread, Egg Tart, Beef Brisket Noodles, Dim Sum, Zhu Cheung Fun, Stinky Tofu, Fish Balls, Scrambled Egg Sandwich, Char Siu, Roast Goose, Mae, Chinatown, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon , Sarah Arista, Central Hong Kong

Join the Conversation

  1. Your pictures are awesome and it makes anyone want to travel to Hong Kong right away! Very inspiring post – I’ll have it in mind for my next Hong Kong trip!

    1. Mike Jensen says:

      Hong Kong is definitely a food mecca!

  2. John Rodgers says:

    I am always interested in local cuisines. Eating the foods of other cultures is one of the top reasons I travel. Great post and delicious images. So far, we have traveled to 94 countries in 6 years. Please continue your good work.

    1. Mike Jensen says:

      Thanks John, that is certainly an impressive record you have. You just need to get to Hong Kong now, perhaps once things have settled a bit over there. Happy travels!

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