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Wai Kee french toast
Photograph: N.Chiu

Hong Kong's best cheap eats

Fuel up with our guide to the best dishes and snacks in Hong Kong for $50 or less

By Time Out Hong Kong

Good food doesn't need to be expensive, especially in Hong Kong. But where do you start? Well, the Time Out Hong Kong food team has done most of the work for you and trawled the islands to sniff out 46 of the best bites we could find under 50 bucks. So why not give your wallet a rest and try out the best street foodbakescha chaan teng bites, and more, all of which makes Hong Kong such a wonderful place to eat.

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Dumplings 'n' buns Skew it! Rice and noods Bring on the carbs 

For the sweet tooth Local eats Restaurant food 

Sink your teeth into a spread at some of Hong Kong’s best restaurants.

Dumplings 'n' buns

Mak Kee Shan Jien Bao
Photograph: Ann Chiu

Pan-fried buns at Mak Kee – $10 for three

Restaurants Chinese North Point

Despite its low-key location and small entrance, crowds appear for this popular neighbourhood shop in North Point. They offer several Shanghai-style buns including pan-fried buns, potstickers and scallion pancakes, all freshly made. The pan-fried buns are fried in a large flat-bottomed iron wok and made in small quantities, so they are always hot and fresh but often sell out quickly. The bun itself is remarkably soft with a crispy exterior, and although there is not much soup inside, the meat is tender and flavourful, and we think it's an excellent value for money at $10 for three. There are even folding plastic chairs outside the store, so you can enjoy them right by the side of the road.

yuen fong dumplings
Photograph: Calvin Sit

Pan-fried pork and chive dumplings at Yuen Fong Dumplings – $18 for three

Restaurants Chinese Sham Shui Po

Their first foray as a brand selling wholesale frozen packages of dumplings in supermarkets won plenty of praise. Today, this popular eatery offers a variety of congee, noodles and rice, and there is often an endless stream of people. Their dumplings are all made in the shop, with fresh ingredients and generous portions. Must-tries include the pan-fried pork and chive dumplings, which are made to order with crispy skin and full of fresh fillings bursting with juice. You can get three dumplings for $18, which is definitely worth trying!  

Dumpling House
Photograph: KiH.

Soup dumplings at Dumpling House – $36 plus

Restaurants Chinese Tsuen Wan

This dumpling joint draws crowds where you’d least expect them: a shopping mall in Tsuen Wan. The lauded dumplings here are much larger than normal. Served in soup or fried, they can be a meal on their own. They come with a range of traditional fillings (chive and bak choi) as well as wild cards like cheese, lamb and onion, and spicy pork. In addition to the quality of the dumplings, their soup base is pretty great too. The ingredients include fish maw, yam, and pork bones, but no MSG, just real ingredients. Soup dumplings can be served with noodles or rice noodles (additional $8).

Islam Food
Photograph: Courtesy Islam Food

Beef buns at Islam Food – $20

Restaurants Kowloon City

Islam Food has been serving up excellent halal eats for over half a century, including its famous pan-fried beef buns. This signature treat is basically a beef burger tucked into what looks like a Shanghainese pan-fried bun. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and seasoned to perfection, these beefy little hockey pucks draw crowds across Hong Kong. Once you try them, you'll understand why.

tim ho wan cha siu bao
Photograph: Courtesy Tim Ho Wan

Tim Ho Wan (Sham Shui Po)

Restaurants Sham Shui Po

This Michelin-starred dim sum chain does many things well, but its baked char siu bao is utter perfection. Crispy on the bottom with sweet, cakey, spongelike domes on top, they're a bit like a cross between pineapple buns and bao – delicious little Frankenstein's monsters with a killer barbecue pork filling. One order is never enough.

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Skew it!

Lui Jai Kee (呂仔記) dumplings
Photograph: NC

Fish siu mai at Lui Jai Kee – $30 for eight pieces

Restaurants Chinese Shau Kei Wan

This shop makes a variety of sweet and savoury goods, including its acclaimed fish meat siu mai. Made by hand each morning, these siu mai eschew the floury mixture you often find around Hong Kong for the real deal: they’re made with three kinds of fish bought fresh from the Aberdeen Market. Don’t forget to add chilli and soy.

Kam Thai
Photograph: Ann Chiu

Thai skewers at Kam Thai – $13 plus

Restaurants Street food Kowloon City

There’s no shortage of mouth-watering Thai dishes in Kowloon City. When it comes to Thai-style skewers, it’s tough to beat Kam Thai. Of all the options, the grilled pork really stands out. Crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, the meat bursts with flavour as you bite into it. Drizzle it with the house-made satay or hot-and-sour sauce.

Fei Jie
Photograph: Ann Chiu

Brined skewers at Fei Jie – $8 plus

Restaurants Mong Kok

See the queue curling around the corner of Ferry Street? That’s for the skewers sold at Fei Jie (an affectionate name for a larger woman in local lingo) – specifically, the brined skewers: turkey kidney and cuttlefish. Locals love them, foreigners not so much, largely because of their curiously chewy texture. Add dollops of mustard and sweet sauce, however, and you’ll see what all the fuss is about.

Kwan Kee BowlPudding
Photograph: Calvin Sit

Chinese rice pudding at Kwan Kee Store – $9

Restaurants Sham Shui Po

This family-run shop has been serving the traditional steamed rice pudding treats known as put chai ko for over 30 years, and they still do it the old-school way. From 2am onward every morning, one member of the family grinds rice into flour; combines that flour with sugar, water and red beans; and steams the mixture in cups. Try the brown sugar version, and celebrate this dying tradition while it lasts.

indonesian sate house
Photograph: Jenny Leung

Satay at Indonesian Sate House – $13

Restaurants Indonesian Shau Kei Wan

A rare non-Cantonese outlet in Shau Kei Wan, Indonesian Sate House serves some of the best cheap skewers in Hong Kong: pork, chicken, beef, mutton and squid, this place has it all. The tiny shop has a fantastic sauce recipe redolent of peanuts and absolutely potent in terms of spice level – a must for any Indonesian restaurant worth its salt. Expect queues. But expect the wait to be worth it.

Fishball_sun luen fung
Photograph: Ann Chiu

Curried fish balls at Sun Luen Fung – $8 for six

Restaurants Sham Shui Po

Fish balls might be the most ubiquitous street snack in Hong Kong, and this takeaway stall in Sham Shui Po really delivers the goods when it comes to this street eat. Though the ratio of fish to flour is debatable, the texture is springy and light – a perfect foil for the viscous curry sauce they’re slathered in. Pick up a skewer of curried squid while you’re at it.

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Rice and noods

Hainan Chicken Specialty
Photograph: Yu An

Hainanese chicken rice at Hainan Chicken Specialist – $38

Restaurants Sai Wan Ho

Out in Sai Wan Ho, this small shop serves some of the cheapest chicken rice this side of Bangkok. Though it may be pocket-friendly, the poultry doesn’t lack flavour or quality, which is pretty remarkable all things considered. If you want the classic, it will set you back just $38. 

HK-style Satay beef noodle
Photograph: Calvin Sit

Satay Beef Noodles at Lim Kee Bing Sutt – $22 plus

Restaurants Chai Wan

If you want to feel the lively pulse of old Hong Kong, you need to head to Lim Kee Bing Sutt which has more than 40 years of history. It's always buzzing with customers and a group of regulars from the neighbourhood sipping milk tea and chatting. Plus, the satay beef noodles are unforgettably good. The beef is soft and smooth, the homemade satay sauce is thick and slightly spicy, and the taste is on point with instant noodles that are cooked just right. You can also try some of the classic bing sutt drinks such as raw egg in hot water or cocoa. 

Mak Man Kee
Photograph: Calvin Sit

Wonton noodles at Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop – $36

Restaurants Jordan

This no-frills noodle joint has been lauded by no less than the Michelin Guide. And deservedly so. The noodles are made fresh every day with duck eggs, giving them a light, springy texture, and the wonton wrappers are so wafer-thin you can see the shrimp almost bursting through them. The soup is boiled for five hours, too, imparting some extra flavour via the broth.

666 Boat Noodle
Photograph: Ann Chiu

Boat noodles at 666 Boat Noodle – $30

Restaurants Shek Tong Tsui

Step into this 70s vibe eatery for a taste of their boat noodles. There are seven variations to tuck into, all as authentic as any stalls from Thailand. The soup base of the boat noodles here is brewed using fresh pork bone to give it its rich flavour (and it’s not overly salty). They’re not skint with ingredients either where their signature pork boat noodles come with pig liver, pork belly and tons of other herbs. The curry brisket noodles and Hainanese chicken rice ain’t shabby either. 

King of Soyabeans
Photograph: Courtesy 豆漿大王新蒲崗店

Shanghai-style steamed sticky rice at King of Soyabeans – $16

Loyal patrons of the King of Soyabeans hail its Shanghai-style steamed sticky rice as one of the best in town. It might look ordinary, but the hand-rolled sticky rice has the perfect bite, and the deep-fried dough has amazing crunch, too. Throw in some pork floss and preserved turnips, and you have a royally delicious combo here. Bonus: it’s all made to order.

Ma Sa Restaurant spam and eggs
Photograph: Courtesy Ma Sa Restaurant

Luncheon meat and egg rice at Ma Sa – $39

Restaurants Cafés Sheung Wan

This old-school cha chaan teng in Sheung Wan takes luncheon meat on rice to the next level, loading it up with three eggs rather than the standard two. Creamy egg yolk spreads over the steaming-hot rice with the poke of a fork, and the flavour is enhanced by soy sauce. Not a fan of spam? Cha siu is actually the norm, but ham is another equally popular choice.

Photograph: Calvin Sit

Pork liver noodles at Wai Kee Noodle Cafe – $32

Restaurants Chinese Sham Shui Po

A popular neighbourhood cafe, Wai Kee is famous for its pork liver noodles. The pork liver tastes fresh, and the soup is sweet with plenty of ginger. If pork liver is not for you, there is also fresh beef, ham, fried eggs or sausages to go with the noodles. Or if you have a sweet tooth, try their kaya toast.

Sichuan Gourmet
Photograph: Cara Hung

Glass sheets at Sichuan Gourmet – $25

Restaurants Kwai Chung

The homemade glass sheets here are smoother than silk. But the real star is the spicy sauce, made with the holy trinity of chilli oil, garlic and vinegar  it’s equal parts spicy and numbing. Cucumber strips, coriander, dried tofu and peanuts provide cooling elements and textural contrast, taking this snack to another echelon.

Pandan Leaf Indonesian Food
Photograph: Courtesy Pandan Leaf Indonesian Food

Nasi campur at Pandan Leaf Indonesian Food – $45

Restaurants Causeway Bay

Nasi campur is a beautiful thing  just white rice served with the curries of the day and maybe a skewer or two, all of which change depending on location and culinary influence. Pandan Leaf whips up a pretty mean and filling version of this omnipresent Indo dish, with sambal eggs, beef rendang and stewed veggies set around a mound of rice, which is garnished with fried shallots.

Yuan Is Here
Photograph: Courtesy Yuan Is Here

Minced pork on rice at Yuan is Here – $42

Restaurants Kennedy Town

Taiwanese street food specialist Yuan is Here delivers the best of the best from old Formosa. Go for the lu rou fan, or fatty minced pork on rice. The pork has just the right amount of grease to satisfy your cravings without overwhelming your palate. And for just $42, you can afford to try some of the other cheap eats on the menu including the salted chicken and fried oysters for a little over $30.

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Bring on the carbs

Pineapple bun
Photograph: Calvin Sit

Buttered pineapple bun at Wing Wah Cafe Restaurant – $14

Restaurants Sham Shui Po

Located on Pei Ho Street near the market, Wing Wah Cafe Restaurant makes their bread fresh, and when it comes out of the oven, the whole shop is filled with an incredible aroma. The pineapple buns here are slightly larger than those found in ordinary bakeries, and they're baked until the top is crispy, but the rest of the bun is still soft and filled with a thick slice of creamy butter. The Chiuchow noodles here are great too, and it's a favourite among people in the neighbourhood.

Sun Hang Yuen egg and beef sandwich
Photograph: Calvin Sit

Egg and beef sandwich at Sun Heung Yuen – $21

Restaurants Sham Shui Po

Founded in 1968, Sun Heung Yuen (Kin Kee) is famous for its egg and beef sandwich which attracts hordes of people to come. The beef is marinated and then fried with eggs, so the sandwich is full of fillings. You can add $1 for toast the bread. The eatery is open 24 hours, and there is usually quite a few people eating late at night.

Gontran Cherrier
Photograph: Ann Chiu

Croissant at Gontran Cherrier – $24

Restaurants Bakeries Tsim Sha Tsui

Opening in K11 Musea in 2019, this venture from one of France’s favourite pastry chefs presents its classic croissant among other thoughtful variations, including the almond croissant, Raspberry Cloud Croissant, Lime Meringue Cloud Croissant, and green tea croissant. Elegantly crafted and almost too pretty to bite, the creations here pack a delicate crisp that gives way to an alluringly airy interior.

Semua Semua
Photograph: Ann Chiu

Coconut kaya toast at Semua Semua – $28

Restaurants Malaysian Sham Shui Po

If you're looking for authentic Malaysian dishes at incredibly low prices, look no further. Semua Semua is a narrow little eatery tucked between two Chinese restaurants that serve up everything from chicken curry, silver needle noodles, otak otak, and kaya toast. The homemade pandan coconut kaya is fragrant and smooth and comes sandwiched between crunchy golden toast. Paired with a cup of teh tarik and you've got yourself a perfect tea time snack.

banh mi thit - tim kee french sandwiches
Photograph: CS

Banh mi thit at Tim Kee French Sandwiches – $40

Restaurants Jordan

This long-standing shop has been serving classic banh mi since at least the early ’90s. That means pork belly, pâté and pickled veggies on proper French baguettes, all prepared in the very definition of a no-frills environment. It may be a tiny shop, but it still turns out well over 100 sandwiches each day. For only 39 bucks, it’s hard to beat the price, too.

lok yuen beef french toast
Photograph: Ann Chiu

Beef satay stuffed French toast at Lok Yuen – $32

Restaurants Kowloon City

Beef satay French toast doesn’t sound like an appetising combo, but this unconventional pairing is on point. Stuffed with fresh beef that’s been marinated in homemade satay sauce, the French toast here is fried to a beautiful golden brown and topped with butter and condensed milk. Sweet, savoury and spicy elements come together much better than you’re imagining. Try it and you might even find yourself ordering seconds.

Gala Cafe 嘉樂冰廳 - egg sandwich
Photograph: Ann Chiu

Egg sandwich at Gala Café – $27

Restaurants Tsuen Wan

A trusted name since opening in 1978, Gala Café is no stranger to queues and crowded tables. This famous spot is well-known for its liberal portions – specifically when it comes to its egg sandwich. There’s more fried egg than bread at play here. While that might seem to throw things out of proportion, in actuality this eggy mess is comfort food in its purest form.

Danish Bakery
Photograph: @ale_n_drum

Pork chop sandwich at Danish Bakery – $19

Restaurants Chinese Sha Tin

Lines wind out the door of the Danish Bakery, one of the quaintest mom-and-pop shops in Hong Kong. This place has been serving pork chop sandwiches for longer than most of our readers have existed, and there’s a reason for that: they’re incredibly delicious. Deep-fried and slathered in mayo and tomato ketchup, the sandwiches are best washed down with dong lai cha (iced milk tea).

Line Up Hotdog
Photograph: Courtesy Line Up Hotdog

Hotdogs at Line Up Hotdog – $28 plus

Restaurants Sha Tin

Line Up Hotdog offers a variety of hot dogs, snacks and drinks that are designed to give a sense of carnival food to Hongkongers. The menu is divided into two categories, 'classic hotdog' and 'playful hotdog', with a variety of components to choose from, as well as homemade sauces, Line Up Hotdog injects new elements into traditional hot dogs. The hotdog bun, which has a bit more bite than the usual hotdog bun, is made by a local bakery. After baking, the bun is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. You can also add a series of toppings at the bar with chopped onions, black olives, hot dog sauce, pickles, pickled carrots, and green onion, to create the perfect hotdog for the individual.

kashmir curry house mutton paratha
Photograph: Ann Chiu

Mutton paratha at Kashmir Curry House – $18

Restaurants Indian Sham Shui Po

The smells emanating from this Indian-Pakistani eatery will have you salivating before you even know what direction they’re coming from, and that’s a good sign that you’re in for something special. For a fast and filling meal, pick up a hearty and fragrant curried mutton paratha from the to-go counter. Bring napkins, but expect to walk away with orange-tinted fingers anyway.

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For the sweet tooth

Ming Wah Bakery
Photograph: Ann Chiu

Siu beng at Ming Wah Bakery – $10 for two

Restaurants Bakeries Mong Kok

This old-school shop specialises in the cheap and delicious baked goods endemic to Hong Kong: pineapple buns, ‘wife cakes’ (lo por beng), and siu beng, stuffed mochi-like pancakes topped with a sprinkle of sesame seeds that are becoming harder and harder to find these days. Beat the queues here to pick up siu beng stuffed with peanut butter, custard, red bean and more.

ah yuk tofu pudding
Photograph: Cara Hang

Tofu fa at Ah Yuk Tofu Pudding – $4

Restaurants Tsuen Wan

The tofu fa, or tofu pudding, at this treasured shop speaks for itself. There are two kinds available: one made from regular soybeans and the other from black soybeans. Both are stone-grounded to make soymilk, which is blended with gypsum powder and left to solidify, producing a smooth, silky texture. Try it warm, and top it with red sugar to give it that caramelised look and some added sweetness.

Yuen Kee Dessert
Photograph: Ann Chiu

Mulberry and egg sweet tea at Yuen Kee Dessert – $35

Restaurants Sai Ying Pun

Yuen Kee is one of the oldest dessert shops in Hong Kong and their dessert items are all worth trying. One particular highlight is the mulberry and lotus seed egg tea. The eggs are cooked with mulberries and soaked until the egg white has completely darkened and the egg yolk is nourishing and healthy. 

Photograph: Courtesy Wah Yuen Dessert

Ginger steamed milk pudding at Wah Yuen Dessert – $26

Restaurants San Po Kong

This San Po Kong shop has more than 20 traditional Chinese sweet desserts, including Hong Kong-style sago, pudding, jelly, and cotton ice. We highly recommend the steamed milk pudding infused with fresh ginger juice. The outcome is a smooth pudding packed with the flavours and aroma of ginger.

Kai Kai
Photograph: Nicholas Wong

Traditional sweet soup at Kai Kai – $22

Restaurants Jordan

You may remember this 40-year-old shop as the Hong Kong torchbearer for the ‘Michelin curse’. After it was recognised by the guide, its rent was hiked and the shop moved to a new location around the corner. Politics aside, this dessert shop really packs them in. All eaters looking for a taste of classic Chiuchow desserts can turn to sweet soups like red bean soup with lotus seeds and black sesame soup.

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Local eats

Chicken Wings Mountain
Photograph: Mabel Lui

Chicken wings at Chicken Wings Mountain – $38 for four pieces

Restaurants Chicken Mong Kok

Your deep-fried bird comes in a range of unusual flavours here  rose, wasabi and lime, and salted lemonade being just a few of the different sauces in which this restaurant dresses its chicken wings. Sure, some of them might sound weird, but they work well as a contrast to the crispy wings. Our pick? That classic Hong Kong flavour combo: black truffle and garlic.

Queen Sophie
Photograph: Courtesy Queen Sophie

Egg tart at Queen Sophie – $10

Restaurants Bakeries Kowloon City

Touting itself as a Hong Kong legend, this bakery serves over 30 types of fresh-out-the-oven pastries throughout the day. While offering a wide range of western options, such as croissants, biscuits, and cakes, the highlight remains their egg tart. The crust is buttery but light, and the filling is not too sweet. Be sure to check out their other flavour variations on this local icon.

More Eggettes
Photograph: Ann Chiu

Eggettes at More Eggettes – $23 plus

Restaurants Snack bars Prince Edward

Although mostly known for its star-patterned eggettes, this shop offers so much more than gimmicky treats. There are tons of flavours to choose from, including some unconventional options like candied pineapple and corn with pork floss. To make the most waves on social media, order the ‘taro starry’, a sweet purple and gold eggette with awesome texture.

Shun Hing Tofu 順興隆荳品廠
Photograph: @tocoffee

Fried stuffed tofu at Shun Hing Tofu Factory – $12 for four pieces

The prized treasure at this delightfully unchanged Cheung Sha Wan institution is the decades-old stone mill. This anachronistic piece of equipment is used to produce everything from tofu to tofu skin to soymilk. Want to try a finished product? Get the fried stuffed tofu, which comes topped with a thin slice of fish meat, and pair it with a glass of cold soymilk for a perfect snack.

Photograph: Calvin Sit

Spam musubi at Pololi – $20

Restaurants Hawaiian Central

Spam is a Pacific Island staple, and one of the most classic dishes featuring it is without a question the humble Spam musubi. Take a slice of what is clearly the most natural meat product on Earth, put it on top of sushi rice seasoned with some soy sauce, wrap it all in toasted seaweed and you’ve got yourself a oneway ticket to Flavour Town.

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Restaurant food

Photograph: Courtesy Hand3ag

Hand-cut French fries at Hand3ag – $35 plus

Restaurants Tsim Sha Tsui

In addition to the beloved sandwiches at Hand3ag, the restaurant’s hand-cut fries are also popular. The chef selects Agria potatoes with a fluffy texture and uses a unique French fry technique to get it just right. The rigorous process requires three days and three nights to make. The result of which is crispy with fluffy potato inside. You can enjoy it with their homemade tomato sauce, truffle mayonnaise, or black garlic sauce.

Photograph: Courtesy Fisholic

Fish ball noodles at Fisholic – $43 plus

Restaurants Fortress Hill

Fisholic offers a variety of fish dishes on their menu that add a modern twist to traditional Hong Kong items such as fish balls, cart noodles, and street snacks. There are also some western fusion dishes that blend the best of both worlds. All types of fish noodles start from $43.

R&R Bagels, 2018
© Michael Perini

Bagel with schmear at R&R Bagels – $35 plus

Restaurants American Central

It’s hard to find a good bagel in Hong Kong  they tend to be flat and doughy  but R&R does them about as well as anyone. You’ll save more if you buy your bagels in bulk, but if you’re looking for a quick bite to eat, you can grab a bagel with schmear. Our favourite is the poppy seed with lox-speckled cream cheese.

Beef & Liberty - Spicy corn off the cob
Photograph: Courtesy Beef & Liberty

Spicy corn off the cob at Beef & Liberty – $42

Restaurants American Lan Kwai Fong

In addition to the series of signature hamburgers at Beef & Liberty, the side dishes on the menu are also worth a look. We recommend the spicy corn off the cob, which has sweet buttered corn mixed with a hit of jalapeno peppers and crispy dahl.

Pica Pica
Photograph: Courtesy Pica Pica

Squid croquettes with 'All-i-Oli' at Pica Pica – $15

Restaurants Spanish Sheung Wan

Hip tapas joint Pica Pica offers a lot of tasty dishes that won’t punish your wallet if you’re not out for a feast (which makes sense, what with it being a tapas restaurant and everything). Try the squid croquettes. Packed with chopped squid, black as coal and creamy on the inside from the addition of squid ink and topped with tangy aioli, the croquettes come in at only $15 each.

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