There are all kinds of Chinese food, and all kinds of international food you can eat in Hong Kong. But what exactly is Hong Kong food? This is a question that people could argue over for decades, but I’ve picked out five arguably iconic Hong Kong dishes to end the debate. They may not have originated from here, but they sure got famous here!
1 Traditional Hong Kong Dim Sum
You may not think of good food in Hong Kong when you walk past a dim sum restaurant overseas, but surely you won’t miss out on dim sum when you’re actually here. Wikipedia told me that dim sum originated from the Cantonese, and we’re about the only city that still speaks Cantonese. I think you can make the necessary connection here. Take your pick from har gau (prawn dumplings), siu mai (prawn-and-meat-ball), or cheong fan (silky rice rolls), these dishes will certainly be something you remember from our city.
Best place: One Dim Sum
Shop 1 & 2, G/F, Kenwood Mansion, 15 Playing Field Road Prince Edward
+852 2789 2280
2 Chinese Siu Mei or Roasted Goods
Another Hong Kong staple, there are of course plenty of upscale or famous restaurants recommended in guide books, but locals would know that these things best come cheap. Char siu (roasted pork) is probably the most universally loved with its sweet sauce and semi-fatty layers. But siu yok (roasted crispy pork) comes a close second with it’s irresistibly crunchy skin when done well, and sinfully satisfying layer of fat.
Best place for roasted goose: Yat Lok Restaurant
G/F, 34-38 Stanley Street, Central
+852 2524 3882
3 Best Egg Tarts in Hong Kong
Macau or KFC have their Portuguese renditions, but we have the arguably better egg tarts. The best ones are usually found in local bakeries, and there are two kinds of tart base available: cookie or flakey pastry (another preference debate that could ruin a city…). If you haven’t had the pleasure of tasting one of these, here’s a blow-by-blow rundown. When your tart is still warm and fresh, the buttery biscuit base will satisfyingly first crumble with your bite. Then the lightly sweet and soft egg pudding will combine with the crumbles to give you enough bite to savour the flavours. There’s something just satisfying about something so basic yet so good.
Where to eat egg tarts in Hong Kong? Any local bakery you walk past with a fresh pan of egg tarts.
4 Curry Fishballs & Siu Mai
Taiwan probably has us beat when it comes to street snacks, but our curry fishballs and fish siu mais are uniquely Hong Kong. When I was living abroad, I found comfort in Chinese takeout and buffets, but nothing really hit home quite like these classic HK duos. Especially siu mais, and not the dim sum variety, really hits the spot when you’re feeling just a bit peckish and crave for something hot.
Best place: you’ll have to try your luck with street stalls, but I definitely don’t recommend 7-11
5 Yuen Yeung Hong Kong Milk Tea
Fine. Not a real food. But you can’t deny that this is a 100% Hong Kong thing! Most people will think of milk tea first, but with Taiwan and the UK both having milk tea as their unofficial national choice of beverage, this just won’t fly. On the other hand, our city is probably the only people that would somehow want to mix coffee with tea, creating this unique blend of three parts coffee, seven parts milk tea mixture called yuen yeung (Chinese for mandarin ducks).
Best place: literally any cha chan teng or local restaurant
A third culture kid in Hong Kong, Karen loves to explore cities one bite at a time, preferably also with a glass of wine. A fashion blogger turned lifestyle writer, you’ll find her reading digital marketing books, refreshing her socials and looking for the next new restaurant to try.