Hong Kong boasts one of the world’s most diverse and dynamic food scenes. Whether you’re looking for fine dining restaurants, cheap eats, or want to try the hottest new openings, the city’s culinary landscape has something for everyone. But if you want to eat like a true local, from traditional Cantonese dim sum to dishes influenced by British culture, there are numerous local dishes that represent our city in the most authentic and delicious ways. Check out this list of beloved local dishes that Hongkongers can’t get enough of!
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Amazing Hong Kong food
1. Barbecued meats
From melt-in-your-mouth honey-glazed char siu pork and crispy suckling pig to fatty pork belly and succulent goose or duck, nothing beats some good ol’ Canto-style barbecued meats, aka ‘siu mei’. Joy Hing in Wan Chai offers a solid selection of roasted meats, with its pork being particularly popular thanks to its perfect ratio of meat to fat. Alternatively, head to West Villa Restaurant for their famous char siu rice dish or visit Mott 32 for some Iberico char siu.
2. Cart noodles
If you’ve ever wanted to build the perfect bowl of noodles, this is the way to do it. Cart noodles are mix-and-match affairs that allow diners to choose from a bunch of different ingredients, including soup bases, noodle types and toppings. The list of ingredients varies from restaurant to restaurant, but common favourites include beef brisket, daikon, fishballs and dumplings. A local favourite is Man Kee Cart Noodle in Sham Shui Po, which has been serving customers for over a decade.
3. Claypot rice
Available during the colder months of the year, this hearty, warming dish is made up of rice and various toppings in a clay bowl that is traditionally slow-cooked over charcoal stoves. This process toasts the rice, giving the bowl a crunchy, carby crust. Click the button below for our list of the city’s best claypot rice restaurants.
4. Curry fishballs
Curry fishballs are probably Hong Kong’s most iconic street snack. Though they’re mostly made from flour these days and contain almost no fish meat, this has had little effect on the snack’s popularity. Springy in texture, the bite-sized spheres bob about in a strong curry sauce before they’re skewered on a bamboo stick or ladled into a takeaway bowl. Head to Fishball Gor, located near Mong Kok’s Langham Place, and try their fishballs in original or spicy flavour cooked using a secret recipe of herbs and spices.
5. Dim sum
No Hong Kong experience is complete without a dim sum meal. Traditionally served in bamboo steamers, these small plates are designed to be shared, allowing you to taste a bit of everything. Must-orders include steamed siu mai (pork dumplings), har gow (prawn dumplings) and the fluffy barbecued pork-filled buns known as char siu bao. Click the button below and peruse our recommended dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong.
6. Egg tarts
Egg tarts are a Hong Kong sweet staple. Creamy custard nestles in a golden crust that’s either butter-cookie in style or made from crumbly, flaky pastry. There’s fierce debate over which style of crust is better, but either way, these tarts are best eaten fresh and warm straight out of the oven. Hoover Cake Shop, a renowned Chinese bakery in Kowloon City, is a local favourite for its egg tarts using duck eggs that produce a smoother, stronger-flavoured custard filling. They announced closure in late 2022, but The Academics Group (proprietor of The Coffee Academics cafe chain) took over the shop and is set to reopen. Watch this space for updates.
7. Egg waffles
Egg waffles, eggettes, ‘gai daan jai’, or whatever you want to call it, this eggy snack is a quintessential part of our city’s street-food culture. Warm and fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside, these bubble-shaped waffles are the perfect grab-and-go snack. There are plenty of street vendors that offer egg waffles, often with a wide variety of fangled creations – topped with ice cream, different colours, shapes, and flavours, some even have molten centres! Whether you prefer to try funky flavours of cheese and charcoal or are looking for the popular star-patterned variety, click below to see where to get your hands on the best egg waffles in Hong Kong.
8. Egg sandwich
The humble scrambled egg sandwich occupies a special place in the hearts of Hongkongers. A good egg sarnie should contain a fluffy, creamy centre between two slices of butter-smeared white bread – it’s simple, yes, but also incredibly satisfying, whether it’s enjoyed during breakfast or as an afternoon snack. There are also other renditions where you can add fillings such as ham, cheese, and our favourite, corned beef.
9. French toast
French toast might not be of Hong Kong origin but the local rendition of this dish is an indulgence like no other. Instead of being merely browned in a griddle or pan, the bread is drenched in an eggy mixture and then deep-fried until crisp and golden. It’s then served with a fat pat of butter and a healthy dose of syrup. Oh, we forgot to mention that French toasts à la Hong Kong are almost always plumped with some sort of sinful filling. The mainstay is peanut butter but you can find more creative ingredients such as kaya, cheese, molten salted egg yolk, and even beef satay.
10. Hairy crab
While most of us might associate mooncakes as one of the key things to eat during autumn, another crowd favourite has to be hairy crabs. Typically in season from September to late November, these crabs are an autumn delicacy that can be enjoyed anywhere from the comfort of your own home to some of Hong Kong’s most luxurious restaurants. Known for their sweet flesh and buttery golden roe, the value of these crabs can easily go over triple digits, but they’re definitely worth their hefty price tags. Bookmark the link below to get updates on where to eat hairy crab during its season.
11. Hong Kong-style steaks
Nicknamed ‘Soy Sauce Western Restaurants’ due to our city’s very own adaptation to Western cuisine, Hong Kong steakhouses are best known for their sizzling hot plates and unbeatable prices. While the quality of meats at Chinese steakhouses is most likely going to be on the cheap-and-cheerful side of things, the affordable set meals and the bustling environments make it a one-of-a-kind experience.
12. Lo ding
Instant noodles are a staple in Hong Kong-style fast food. Although cooking the noodles in soup is a tried and true method, draining the noodles and tossing them in a sauce – be it soy, cheese, or curry sauce – is another way to spice up what are essentially bland noodles. You can even dress up the noodles with extra toppings such as pork chops and veggies.
13. Milk tea
If Hong Kong was a drink, it’d be milk tea, seeing as how we drink 900 million cups of it a year. This combo of black tea served strong with condensed milk is a brilliant bevvie hot or cold. If you’re a fan of milk tea, try Hong Kong’s very own ‘silk stocking milk tea’ – a version of the popular drink that gets its signature smoothness from being strained through a fine, pantyhose-like mesh.
14. Doggie’s noodle
When it comes to Hong Kong street food classics, many people might easily miss doggie’s noodles. Popularised during the 50s and 60s, this noodle dish made from glutinous rice gets its name from its similarity to a dog’s tail. Served with a rich gravy-like broth and topped with mushroom, minced meat, and fried lard, this dish is full of flavour and textures.
15. Maltose cracker
Like the saying goes, less is more. This humble snack is made with just two ingredients – maltose syrup and saltine crackers. Particularly popular with kids (or those with a sweet tooth), this nostalgic sweet treat can be easily made at home. While you might not find it on every street corner, you can find it at mom-and-pop shops on the streets of sleepy towns like Tai O.
16. Pineapple bun
Despite its name, a pineapple bun contains none of its namesake ingredient (although some chefs now add pineapple to the bun for novelty’s sake). Instead, it’s named because it resembles the spikey, tropical fruit. The sweet streusel-like crust on top is made from sugar, eggs, flour and lard, baked until golden-brown and crumbly. This delicious treat is best eaten right out of the oven with a thick slab of cold butter stuffed in the centre – it’s not healthy by any means, but that’s what makes it so good.
17. Wonton noodles
Wonton noodles can be found in many other parts of the world, but in our opinion, the Hong Kong variety ranks the best. Served in a light and delicate soup, this dish features thin and springy egg noodles topped with delicious prawn-filled wonton dumplings in smooth wrappers (some restaurants may add a bit of pork to their wontons) and garlic chives for a fresh and aromatic punch. For heart-warming wonton noodles, head to Mak’s Noodle, a family-run eatery serving Hongkongers for the past five generations.
18. Flower of love
Who would have thought that there would be a type of sushi that was invented in Hong Kong? With its name literally meaning ‘flower of love’, this type of sushi was invented in the 90s by a local sushi chef who wanted to cheer his wife up after an argument. Using salmon sashimi to wrap around a portion of rice and topping it off with fish roe and mayonnaise, the final product looks like a blooming flower.
19. Macaroni soup
Macaroni soup is a cha chaan teng staple typically served alongside egg sandwiches. Served in a light chicken broth, this dish can be topped with ham, luncheon meat, or char siu. This main dish is a great option for any time of the day, but most choose to eat it as a breakfast or brunch option. It’s also great for recovering from a raging hangover.
20. Tofu fa
Hongkongers know how to bring out the best in beancurd. Take these puddings, for example. Also known as ‘dau fu faa’ in Cantonese, these are essentially servings of silken tofu sweetened with syrup or brown sugar (or both!). A lot of dessert shops also offer other add-ons, such as coconut milk, osmanthus syrup and even hunks of durian.
21. Three stuffed treasures
These deep fried ‘treasures’ are a street food classic. Consisting of green pepper, eggplant, and tofu, they all get a generous stuffing of dace fish paste. However, each store has its own variation of ingredients, such as Chinese red sausage, jalapeno, or bitter gourd. You can normally buy them in pick-and-mix style, but we recommend sticking to the classics before trying other variations.
22. Two-dish rice
Topped rice is one of the simplest yet diverse dishes typically served in low-cost establishments frequented by blue-collar workers. In essence, it consists of a rice dish topped with two or multiple side dishes. Ranging from simple stir-fries to roasted siu mei – the possibilities with topped rice are endless. Some classic rice toppings include char siu omelette or tofu with roast pork. Despite not being glamorous, it typically comes in hearty portions that leave you full and getting the job done.