Introducing the Hong Kong you never knew
Life in Hong Kong transcends cultural and culinary borders, such that nothing is truly foreign and nothing doesn’t belong. – Peter Jon Lindberg
For such a small island, there is ridiculous amount to see, eat, drink, visit, watch, explore and do in Hong Kong and for some it can be a little overwhelming!
I have so many friends and friends of friends coming to Hong Kong for work trips, and it usually leaves them with little time to play tourist. They often ask me for the “must do’s” and places they “must eat”, so over the years I have compiled a list.
It seems selfish to keep this vast array of Hong Kong knowledge to myself, so here are a few of my favourite things (cue Sound of Musical voice).
Your local travel guide to Hong Kong
Where to eat in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is proving itself to be quite the culinary destination: a veritable melting pot of international cuisine, if you will. Did you know Hong Kong has one of the cheapest Michelin starred restaurants in the world? Of course the Chinese and Cantonese food is amazing, but I can understand if you are craving a bit of home after a week of work lunches and dinners so I have provided a few of my favourites from dim sum to smashed avocado on toast.
Quick lunch in Central, Hong Kong
If you’re travelling to Kong Kong for work, chances are your office will be based in Central. For a quick and healthy salad lunch head to Open Kitchen in the IFC. If you want to impress clients, book ahead for a fancy spread at Mott 32 (pre-order your Peking Duck).
The Best Dim Sum In Hong Kong
Tim Ho Wan – Sham Shui Po + Central @ IFC Mall
This little gem is the Michelin starred restaurant I mentioned. Not only is the food fantastic it is also cheap! Last time I went my friend and I walked away completely stuffed and only $200 HKD out of pocket. The original location is in a very cool old part of Kowloon called Sham Shui Po, but there is also a new, more convenient location located in Central at the IFC Mall. Expect long lines at both, but they do move fairly quick!
When I went to Hong Kong, I knew at once I wanted to write a story set there. – Paul Theroux
Din Tai Fung – Causeway Bay
Soup dumplings anyone? Or Xiao Long Bao as the locals call them. Yes, this restaurant is a chain and no this isn’t even the original, but it is amazing nonetheless. Don’t be put off if you see a long queue, they usually move pretty fast as this place is a well oiled machine. While you wait, walk up to the window and watch the masters make these tiny bundles of deliciousness.
If you’re like me and get a bit of travel anxiety (I am always three hours early for a flight), fear not! Crystal Jade has a location right in Hong Kong Airport (Terminal 1) and it is super tasty. Some of my favourites include all of their soups, which include authentic hand-pulled noodles, and basically all of their dim sum.
Fancy some “turnt up” dim sum? Then this is the place for you. Located in one of my favourite malls, Pacific Place, this newcomer has some really innovative and tasty food. I may have ordered the black truffle har ju three times, don’t worry…I shared.
Eat like a local
Try one of the cooked food centres! My personal favourite is Wong Nai Chung Centre in Happy Valley, but the Sheung wan cooked food centre also has some delicious options. Cheap and cheerful!
This type of restaurant is called ‘Cha Chaan Teng’ and is commonly found in Hong Kong, Macau and parts of Guangdong on the mainland. These local diners are where Hong Kongers go for their regular meals.
A traditional Hong Kong breakfast at Australian Dairy Company
For the best scrambled eggs of your life, head across Victoria Harbour to Kowloon. Take the MTR to Jordan station and make your way to The Australian Dairy Company. Don’t let the name fool you – this is where the local Hong Kongers eat. This is fast food in the literal sense. You’ll be seated and have finished your meal in 10 minutes flat. It’s a brilliant experience for hungry travellers. Don’t let the line put you off, you’ll be inside in no time.
To get there take the MTR to Jordan station, exit C2 onto Bowring Street, then turn right onto Parkes Street.
Smashed avocado on toast in Hong Kong
For the Hipster-inclined, head straight to Fine Print for amazing coffee, croissants and avocado on toast. Sit on the street (literally) as you sip your soy macchiato and watch the world go by. For even better coffee and smashed avocado to rival any Australian offering, head straight to Blend & Grind just off the Mid-Level Escalator past Caine Road. Their banana bread is definitely worth the walk from Central.
Vegetarian and Vegan restaurants in Hong Kong
I have an enormous soft spot for the vegan/vegetarian restaurant, Grassroots Pantry on Hollywood Road. We interviewed the founder Peggy Chan, who is on a mission to change the way Hong Konger’s eat and source food by bringing organic, plant-based dining into the mainstream. She’s an inspiration and the food is the best in town. Grassroots Pantry is perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner – be sure to try the popcorn ‘chicken’ and the turmeric latte.
For a super special private dining experience book Masala & Olives. The founder and wellness entrepreneur, Kanch will prepare you and your party an incredible vegan degustation and serve it to you in the comfort of her own apartment. Bonus: the night time views from her home are breathtaking.
Famous Hong Kong Milk Tea
Lan Fung Yuen is legendary. It is the home of the deliciously refreshing Hong Kong Milk Tea – brewed in what looks like a very long (hopefully clean) sock. Be sure to pick one up just off the Mid-Level Escalators.
While you’re at it, pop around the corner to Tai Cheong for a traditional Cantonese egg tart or pineapple bun. They look and taste the same as their Portuguese counterparts, but with one critical difference: the Cantonese recipe switches butter for pork fat.
Western restaurants in Hong Kong
Brickhouse – Lan Kwai Fong
This is one of my favourite restaurants to bring out of town guests too! Hidden in a back alley at the bottom of Lan Kwai Fong this place has an awesome vibe with very good margaritas and mexican food.
The view from this restaurant is so charming. Start off by walking up the peak and seeing Hong Kong Island from every angle! Finish off at the Peak Lookout for some wine and oysters, along with many other great dishes. If you’re feeling energetic, use this guide to hike up Victoria Peak from Central.
Looking for a place to finish up some emails and people watch at the same time? This is the perfect place. Comfy couches and lots of food options (and free wifi) makes this the perfect place to hangout for a couple of hours. Start at Man Mo Temple (you have to get some culture in…right?) on Hollywood Road and walk up Square Street, lots of cute little shops to pop your head in. Once you get to the top of the street take the stairs on your left and follow the road until you stumble upon Oolaa. Enjoy!
This yakitori place has an awesome Brooklyn meets Tokyo vibe. The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable and the soundtrack is on point. Grab a seat at a bar, order a bunch of food and the house sake…you’re welcome.
True to it’s cheeky moniker, this modern Chinese fusion restaurant is a visitor favourite – the staff are energetic and fun. The food is pretty darn good too. Expect to go early or line up. I usually rock up early to put my name down on the door and then head around the corner for an award wining cocktail at Quinary Their signature Earl Grey Caviar Martini just won a bunch of international awards. This is a great way to kick off an epic weekend in Hong Kong.
Head to Kennedy Town going West on the Island Line and you’ll find a heap of cool new restaurants in what is fast becoming the hippest neighbourhood in Hong Kong. Its newest offering is 11 Westside by LA executive chef, Esdras Ochoa. Get a table, order a margarita and settle in for the afternoon. Ole.
The best cocktails in Hong Kong
Do as the local (expats) do and bar hop along Staunton street for happy hour. Take the midlevel escalators from Queens Road and hop off on Staunton Street. Pop into one of the many bars, but be sure to get a seat near the front so you can people watch!
Talk about your people watching…this street is always a party, sometimes a little too much. But if you can brave it then again grab a seat near the street so you can get your fill of locals and tourists alike imbibing on their favourite beverages. Can’t find a seat? Grab some beers at 7/11 and take a little walk…no open container laws in Hong Kong!
If you are looking for views of Hong Kong Harbour check out Red Bar at IFC! Yes, there is an actual bar up there, but you can also bring your own drinks and snacks.
Cafe Grey Deluxe, Hong Kong
Fancy a fancy cocktail? My favourite bar with such beautiful views of the harbour is located at the top of the Upper House Hotel. Come for breakfast, lunch, high tea or just a cocktail…I promise the experience will be special.
For sunset rooftop drinks, make Ce La Vie your first stop. I think this photo says it all.
The ‘Must See’ sites of Hong Kong
Need to pick up some last minute souvenirs? This is the second street to be built in Hong Kong and is also the place to buy some authentic (looking) chachke’s and trinkets to bring home to your loved ones.
Continue down Hollywood Road until it becomes Queen’s Road West. This neighbourhood is called Sai Ying Pun, favoured by the young professionals and local Hong Kongers, it is “the hot bed of urban cool.” Spend a few hours exploring. One of my favourites is this little stall stocked full of classically decorated ceramics.
Looking for something to do inside? Check out one of my most loved museums. The exhibits are interactive and thoughtful, not to mention you learn a bit about Hong Kong’s expansive history.
Take the glass bottom cable car to see the Buddha that certainly lives up to it’s name…because it is BIG. It is pretty awe-inspiring to see the Buddha rising in the distance as your cable car slowly climbs upwards and onwards and it’s even more impressive up close. Tip – Buy your tickets in advance.
Sail on Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong
One thing you MUST do before leaving Hong Kong is to see the city from Victoria Harbour. Book an early evening ticket on the Aqua Luna (a traditional junk boat) for a 45 minute sail up and down the Harbour – enjoy the city lights while sipping on a glass of champagne.
This list is only the tip of the iceberg. If you have more suggestions for us to add, let us know in the comments below!
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Your local travel guide, Hong Kong