From traditional Cantonese dim sum to the latest trend in Japanese cuisine, there's almost nothing you can't find in Hong Kong. With Japanese and Korean food so widely popular in our city, most of y’all are probably experts on the best restaurants for authentic ramen or Korean barbeque – no surprise there – but if that’s as far as your knowledge of Asian food goes, then you’ve only touched the tip of the Asian cuisine iceberg.
From a hearty bowl of pho to a traditional Filipino boodle fight (yes, that's a meal), Hong Kong has no shortage of Southeast Asian eateries serving up jolts of sweet, tangy, spicy and sour flavours. Follow our list to find out where you can find these mouthwatering plates in Hong Kong.
Best Southeast Asian restaurants in Hong Kong
While Hong Kong has no shortage of Thai food, this hole-in-the-wall restaurant's rendition of Thai street food is a step above others, without breaking the bank. On the whole, the menu remains true to its origins but with a few tweaks. The generous bowl of wagyu beef boat noodles with crunchy topping is a must-try, and the desserts are also impressive, using lots of fresh fruit and homemade ice creams. With its loud noise level, cramped interiors and perennial queues outside, this casual joint is not a place you can linger. So slurp your noodles down and head to one of the many bars in the neighbourhood for a drink.
Reputed as among Singapore’s premier Hainanese Chicken Rice spots, this world-renowned restaurant has recently made its first overseas debut, the Chatterbox Café, at the brand new cultural-retail destination K11 Musea. Chatterbox Cafe’s signature dish, the Mandarin Chicken Rice, sees the restaurant's renowned chicken poached in a rich broth that's made using the exact same recipe as at Chatterbox Singapore. The smooth, juicy and tender boneless chicken meat retains a thin layer of oil that gives it a nice sheen. Served atop of fragrant rice and paired with a trio of homemade chili sauce, dark soya sauce and freshly ground ginger, this dish is heaven in your mouth.
This new Malaysian restaurant in Soho, named Jalan — literally “street” in Malay — offers a range of casual Malaysian favourites with fun lil' twists. The easy-to-navigate menu is split into two sections. The top half offers tapas-sized portions, while the lower consists of larger dishes that equate to your standard meal. One dish that stands out from the crowd here is the coconut roasted prawn curry, and it's every bit as delectable as it sounds. The soupy concoction is served in a fresh, “Jalan” branded coconut, filled with a generous amount of swollen, succulent prawns and coconut meat. Add some roti canai to the mix, and pair it with one of Jalan's many tropical-inspired cocktails.
The Nha Trang group-owned BÊP serves everything from big, steamy bowls of pho to banana-leaf wrapped sticky rice, and other dishes found both on and away from the streets of Vietnam. Dig your chopsticks into a cheerful-looking bowl of bun rieu, a rice noodle soup bowl indigenous to North Vietnam. Generous chunks of mashed crabmeat, and chả lụa come drenched in the sweet and tangy tomato and garlic broth. Or opt for something more refreshing with the crunch cha gio – Vietnamese fried spring rolls with fresh herbs, lettuce, pork, shrimp and mixed vegetable filling.
With all bare concrete, hand-painted signs, plastic stools, and no-frills tables, Cô Thành feels like a slightly sleeker version of a hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese eatery. Founded by the sole apprentice of Nyguen Thi Thanh – the lady behind the popular Saigon food stall featured on Anthony Bourdain’s TV show No Reservations, Cô Thành dishes up authentic dishes that send the senses to Saigon. We recommend trying the bun mam, which is a rice vermicelli noodle dish made with a fermented fish and shrimp paste broth, topped with fresh prawns, squid, a few slices of crunchy roasted pork belly, okra, aubergine, chives and pineapple to balance out the savouriness.
While the pristine beaches of Bali are a little out of reach, you can get a taste of the island of gods by booking a table at this Sai Ying Pun hotspot. Housed inside the Hong Kong outlet of Potato Head – Bali's famed party institution – Kaum is an expansive restaurant offering authentic Indonesian cuisine. The menu pays homage to the indigenous cooking traditions and native flavours of the archipelago, with a long list of sambal dishes for you to explore, including the fried duck with durian chili sambal sauce dish durian lovers must try. For the less adventurous foodies among us, you can't go wrong with Kaum's mouthwatering version of rendang daging sapi – a spicy, slow-braised beef with red beans mixed with coconut milk and Sumatran spices, topped with sweet potato crisps.
While other Asian cuisines have been part of Hong Kong's mainstream landscape for countless years, Filipino food still remains largely underrated in Hong Kong. This tiny little restobar in Jordan offers some of Hong Kong's best Filipino food. The menu goes beyond the typical chicken adobo (chicken cooked in soy sauce), offering a wide range of dishes Filipino families would eat at home. We recommend trying the Filipino breakfast favourite 'silog' (sinangang at itlog, meaning garlic fried rice and egg) dishes. Our personal favourites are the Longsilog – garlic fried rice, fried egg, and longanisa (Filipino sausage that's slightly sweet), and Tapsilog – also garlic fried rice and fried egg, but with tapa – fried beef strips. Alternatively, dive deeper into Filipino cuisine and try Sisig, diced pig head and liver seasoned with calamansi and chilli, paired with rice and egg, served on a hot plate.
If you're eating with a group of friends, ask for a boodle fight, and the staff will place rice, tomato, salted egg and more food of your choice atop a banana leaf. Eating with your hands is a must, we promise the food somehow tastes so much better that way.