An edible Hong Kong bucket list
Yes yes, guo bao technically is a Taiwanese sandwich style, but Hong Kong-born chef May Chow has turned the classic street food on its head with innovative flavours and quality produce. The buns are fluffy and smooth, and the combination of ingredients, like shiitake mushrooms with pickled daikon, turns even the most boring vegetarian bao into a party on the palate. 66 Staunton St, Central, 2194 0202;
Yardbird was one of the first restaurants to put the Hong Kong dining scene on the map. With lines out the door on any given day, and features in all the international foodie magazines, the modern yakitori joint’s small plates menu is a winning formula. The sweet corn tempura is the pick of the list, with its light batter packing kernels that are fried a golden crispy texture. One bite and you’ll be asking where this dish has been your whole life. 33-35 Bridges St, Sheung Wan, 2547 9273;
Yeah. Yeah. You’ve heard a lot about egg waffles in Hong Kong, but how exciting can waffles get, right? Well Oddies has upped the ante with innovative variations of the basic waffle recipe such as red velvet, brownie choc chip and even ham and cheese. The best bit? Combining these fantastic flavours with a side of ice cream. 45 Gough St, Central, 2750 2111;
The French usually have this market cornered. Macarons are a hard dessert to master but this little patisserie has nailed it. Not only does it have that light-as-air texture and properly-creamy cream, the innovative flavours take inspiration from nostalgic Hong Kong tastes like milk tea, Chinese ginger vinegar and Horlicks. Want something more sophisticated? There are elegant varieties such as lavender honey and sage as well. G/F, 1 Sau Wa Fong, Wan Chai, 2528 6577.
Dim sum, like any other cuisine, is an ever evolving thing. But at Tai Wing Wah you can take a step back in time with tried and true recipes delivered via old school and sometimes – ahem, rude – service. The dai bao or simply put, big bun was originally a breakfast item to give labourers a good start to the day. Sadly, this impressive bun is rarely seen nowadays because of low margins on serving it in restaurants. Various locations inc 2/F, Koon Wong Mansion, 2-6 On Ning Rd, Yuen Long, 2476 9888.
You haven’t truly made a trip to Hong Kong if you hadn’t tried the city’s most polarising snack. Repulsive for many but loved by millions, bean curd is left to rot then deep fried and dished up slathered in sweet and spicy sauce. Not unlike blue cheese, the result is pungent, but the fermentation process makes for a smooth, fluffy texture of tofu, that foodies swear by. Love it or hate, you gotta try this for yourself. Shop 10, G/F, 30-32 Nullah Rd, Prince Edward, 2142 7468.
Clay pot rice is a winter delicacy in Hong Kong. Just imagine steaming hot rice, with a variation of marinated meats cooked over coal in a warm pot. The sign of a good pot is the layer of crispy rice sticking to the bottom and Kwun Kee is known for producing this each and every time. What sets Kwun Kee apart is the quality Chinese dried meat that releases aromatic oils, which infuse with the rice to form the caramelised layer. Only served for dinner, you better make sure you book ahead. Shop 1, Wo Yick Mansion, 263 Queen's Rd W, Sai Ying Pun, 2803 7209.
We’ll say this off the bat, this Hong Kong-style coffee shop – or cha chaan teng – has nothing to do with Hawaii whatsoever. But they do make one knockout egg tart. There are plenty of places in town that sell this quintessential Hong Kong snack but the multi-layered flaky pastry that encases the smooth egg custard here are the best in town. 33 Stanley St, Central, 2526 8063.
Legend has it this historic eatery actually gave the sweet soy sauce snack its name. Tai Ping Koon opened in 1860, and the name is said to have arisen when someone misinterpreted a waiter saying ‘sweet wings’. With no affiliations with the country, the Swiss wings at Tai Ping Koon are plump and aromatic. You might want to order a side of rice to mop up the sauce. Various locations inc 60 Stanley St, Central, 2899 2780
Two Michelin stars are just two of many accolades under Richard Ekkebus’ belt. As the culinary director at Amber, his innovative cuisine never fails to impress. Even though a meal here costs a pretty penny, it’s worth spoiling yourself. The signature kohlrabi, where the root vegetable is marinated in lime juice olive oil and garnished with uni (sea urchin) and caviar, is a refreshing and crunchy dish that exemplifies the style at this iconic restaurant. 7/F, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen's Rd Central, 2132 0066.
XO rice noodles is a no brainer when ordering dim sum. Smooth chewy rice noodle is the perfect vehicle for the spicy umami of XO sauce. It became an instant favourite after the condiment went mainstream in the 90s. We like the twist offered by T’ang Court, where the noodles are golden fried, enhancing the vibrant flavours with a crunchy texture. 1/F-2/F, The Langham Hong Kong, 8 Peking Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2132 7898.
This Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant is known for using the creme de la creme of locally sourced ingredients to produce a truly Hong Kong flavour. We love the shrimp dumpling or ‘har gow’. Taste the aromatic yellow wine and crunchy fresh shrimp the moment you bite into the iridescent chewy wrapping. It’s bliss. L6, Cordis, Hong Kong at Langham Place, 555 Shanghai St, Mong Kok, 3552 3028.
Right on the slopes where Sheung Wan begins and Central ends, Celebrity Cuisine is one of the destination restaurants that put Kau U Fong on the foodie map. The signature dish that started it all is the chicken wings stuffed with bird’s nest. The coveted ingredient is cooked in a flavourful soup base and stuffed inside a deboned chicken wing. Fried golden crisp, every bite is a burst of tender chicken and delicious bird’s nest. 1/F, Lan Kwai Fong Hotel, 3 Kau U Fong, Central, 3650 0066.
Zong zi or sticky rice dumpling is celebrated during the Dragon Boat Festival but eaten at congee places throughout the year. Congee King is celebrated for its soft and smooth rice porridge but the dumpling here is unforgettable. The meat in the middle is marinated in the eatery’s unique spices and paired with a salty egg yolk, creating a fragrant and meaty centre to the sticky casing. This is a satisfying meal in itself. 7 Heard St, Wan Chai, 2882 3268.
It’s hard to find a bad dish at this historical French restaurant in Hong Kong. Recently taking on board French-contemporary chef Xavier Boyer, the L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon alum is exceeding expectations with his culinary prowess. The menu changes seasonally here but the signature lobster soup is the epitome of exquisite ingredients, cooked flawlessly. But hey, order anything here, it’s all great. 1/F, The Peninsula Hong Kong, 22 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2696 6763; hongkong.peninsula.com.
And to drink...
It is with the promise of decadence from a bygone era that new Wyndham Street haunt Stockton lures passersby. Difficult to find, it’s taken a cue from Brickhouse’s success by securing a ‘hidden’ (by way of dark alley, winding stairs and nondescript door) location for this new bar concept of 1900s London luxe – a particularly English moment in time when gentlemen were gentlemen and ladies were most definitely ladies. Try the Bajan Housewife, an exotic take on the mojito, served with crushed ice, this tall cocktail has charm.
From floor to ceiling, Skye’s reception area is completely clinically white, alongside sleek curvatures that are reminiscent of futuristic sci-fi flicks like Gattaca. We love the 27-floors-up views, and the space-age ambience of this sleek and smart bar. Order the Park Typhoon, a cocktail with a medley of Asian tasting notes such as pandan and coconut. The prices are more than reasonable given that the tipples are above-par and the snacks are also tasty.
It’s not everyday you come across a jukebox in Hong Kong that includes the Gorilla Biscuits’ early hardcore anthem Start Today. But the Pontiac is that rare breed in this city – a grungy, down-at-heel American-style bar that looks like it would fit in just as well in downtown NYC as it does on the steep slope of Old Bailey Street. When it strikes midnight and a couple of bartenders hop on the counter to begin pouring Becherovka into patrons’ mouths, the Coyote Ugly comparisons are even harder to resist. The bar is helmed by Beckaly Franks, a lady who’s mixed it with the best. Ask her for a classic Old Fashioned, it's a silky tipple diluted just enough.
One of the only bars Time Out Hong Kong has ever awarded five stars, this ‘creative cocktail space’ goes above and beyond what a bar, however superlative, offers. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the J. Boroski experience (although trust us, the drinks are pretty intriguing) is that this bar is in a secret location. In order to nab yourself an invite and find out the exact locationyou'll need to email firstname.lastname@example.org ahead of your trip.
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