Despite its modest size, Hong Kong is undoubtedly considered one of the world's culinary capitals due to its own famous dishes and for its significant role in helping Chinese food from other regions reach international menus. With more than 12,000 restaurants dotted throughout the city and serving a dizzying array of dishes, choosing a restaurant in Hong Kong is both incredibly simple and daunting at the same time – just where do you start?
Fortunately, Hong Kong's famed foodie districts are teeming with options to suit every budget. Or if you prefer, you can head straight to the city's most renowned restaurants to begin your culinary tour in style.
Where To Eat
You don't have to travel far from Hong Kong's bustling CBD to find the best restaurants – follow the crowds and you’ll be on to a winner. If you're determined to try the best, though, it's worth heading to the city's dedicated dining districts, where you'll find an abundance of eateries competing on more than just prices.
If you're staying in Kowloon, lively Tsim Sha Tsui is the gateway to some of Hong Kong's most notable food streets. Knutsford Terrace is a quiet pedestrian lane by day but at night the strip filled with restaurants, bars and trendy nightspots comes to life, with more than 30 international eateries offering the best international cuisine, as well as an abundance of local fare.
The restaurants and bars along Ashley Road will also delight you, with menus that reflect the long history of Chinese and European cultural fusion. If you prefer a view with your meal, head to the water at Tsim Sha Tsui East for harbour-side dining to suit all budgets – from cosy local diners to the award-winning brasseries of 5-star hotels.
Hong Kong Island isn't lacking in the culinary stakes, either, and if you're staying around Central you'll be spoiled for choice, with multicultural restaurants beloved by residents and visitors alike. To the south of Hollywood Road, dining out in upmarket SoHo carries an expensive price tag, but it's worth it for the premium ingredients that go into every meal and the fine wines that accompany them.
For a less pricey alternative, Lan Kwai Fong is where the locals go to party, and you can expect sizeable crowds at the end of the working week when Central office workers let their hair down. Still, with more than 90 restaurants catering to every taste, it's never too hard to find a seat by the window or out in the street so you can people watch in one of Hong Kong's most popular nightlife spots.
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What To Eat
You'll find Chinese food of all persuasions in cosmopolitan Hong Kong, but if you're visiting the city for the first time, you owe it to yourself to seek out menu items that are distinctly local.
There's no better place to start than dim sum with your choice of meat or vegetable fillings, traditionally accompanied by tea. A light alternative to fried snacks, dim sum will hit the spot at any time of day – whether you're picking some up from a budget street vendor or taking your seat among enthusiastic diners and bamboo containers for an authentic experience.
If you need something more filling, just look for a restaurant with freshly cooked meat hanging from the ceiling and sit down to a traditional Cantonese barbecue. Pair your fork-roasted pork, goose or chicken with rice, noodles or rice noodles, or order a combo plate to save yourself the burden of choosing.
For a unique Hong Kong flavour, search the menus for sampan-style crab – a cooking tradition that originated with local fishermen whose meal of choice out on the water was crab stir-fried with chilli, garlic and ginger. If that's getting a little too adventurous, traditional baked crab and other freshly caught seafood is a less powerful but no less tasty alternative.
If you have friends, family or business associates in Hong Kong, one favourite custom you're bound to experience is the hotpot. The hotpot is a communal dining experience that's also the perfect opportunity to try a wide variety of new foods, preferably with the guidance of a local food expert so you know exactly what you're eating. Diners order a custom soup base and stew each item to their preference, so there's no blaming the waiter if your meat and vegetables don't turn out as you had hoped.
Before heading home at the end of your culinary day out, stop off at one of the countless 24-hour eateries for stir-fried noodles or congee. This rice porridge is a popular pick-me-up that's as diverse as you'll be used to by now from Hong Kong cuisine. Congee is served with your choice of meat and vegetables inserted raw and boiled in the rice to give it its distinct flavour.