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Mido Cafe
Photograph: Courtesy cc/flickr/faikevin

Hong Kong's oldest restaurants you need to visit

Oldies but goldies in the city

Written by
Time Out Hong Kong
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The food and drink industry in Hong Kong is flourishing once more, but between new ventures and chain eateries popping up and disappearing quicker than you can say "char siu fan", it's easy to forget about the city's decades-old restaurants that have stood against the test of time. From famous tourist spots to local neighbourhood joints, here are some of the most historical restaurants in Hong Kong you should check out to show your support.

RECOMMENDED: Feeling nostalgic? Take a trip down memory lane by checking out these historic streets in the city.

The oldest restaurants in Hong Kong

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Tsuen Wan

This old-school style tea house, located in Tai Mo Shan, serves up traditional dim sum including Chinese dumplings, rolls, buns, and other delicacies in classic Cantonese style. Everything here is mostly self-service, down to preparing and pouring your own tea. Many of the vegetables here are sourced from a local farm, which means the dim sum is not only flavourful but also fresh. 

  • 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.

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  • Restaurants
  • Sheung Wan

Step back in time to the 1950s at this quaint neighbourhood cafe. The simplistic layout, rustic furnishings and the loyal crowd perfectly personify the Hong Kong of yesteryear. A cup of the smooth and gloriously creamy milk tea is guaranteed to hit you with a wave of nostalgia as well. Hoi On Cafe is one of the very few authentic old-school HK diners keeping it real in this fast-moving cosmopolitan city.

  • Restaurants
  • Wan Chai

Many assert that this is the first proper cha chaan teng in Hong Kong. That claim may be dubious, but its credentials as a local culinary institution most certainly are not up for debate, having been around since the 1940s. All the standard cha chaan teng fare here is good, but it’s the coffee and egg tarts that have kept people coming back to this patch of Wan Chai for over 70 years.

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  • Restaurants
  • Sheung Wan

First founded in Guangzhou in 1889, Lin Heung moved to Hong Kong in 1926 and has been a beloved fixture in our territory ever since. The quaint tea house has maintained its roots, continuing to serve traditional dim sum from a trolley – a practice long-abandoned by most places in the city.

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  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Sha Tin

This place is a true Hong Kong institution and has been serving up Cantonese delicacies for over half a century. This postwar hotel was built in the 50s, and was once a popular socialising spot for Hong Kong celebrities, socialites, and important government officials between 1950 to 1960, before closing its doors in 1985. The restaurant, however, carried on. After surviving a devastating fire in early 2020, the restaurant is still standing and continues to serve nostalgic Hongkongers its famed roast pigeon.

  • Restaurants
  • Yau Ma Tei

Even if you’ve never heard of Mido Cafe, you’ll most certainly recognise its interior. This cha chaan teng-bing sutt combo hasn’t changed one bit ever since it was established in 1950. It exudes nostalgia thanks to its well-worn coloured windows, mosaic tiles, and ceiling fans. It has served as a backdrop for numerous films and TV shows, including The World of Suzie Wong, Moonlight ExpressStreet Fighters, and Revolving Doors of Vengeance. Try and grab a seat in one of the booths near the window so you can admire the scenery outside - if you’re lucky, you can even capture the cafe’s glorious neon sign in your Instagram pic.

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  • Restaurants
  • Sai Ying Pun

A Sai Ying Pun institute for over 50 years, the latter half of the 2010s was not kind to Sammy’s Kitchen. They were forced to remove their famous cow-shaped neon sign in 2015 and came close to relocating in 2017 after their rent was doubled overnight. Thankfully they survived, and continue to serve up both cha chaan teng staples and vintage Hong Kong-style Western food, which is an increasingly rare cuisine.

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  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Central

Altogether almost 130-years-old through its various iterations, Ser Wong Fun has been an institution here for generations. The restaurant has retained a fiercely loyal following who come in their droves for the shop’s delicious snake soup believed to have myriad of health benefits.

  • Restaurants
  • Sha Tin

Established in 1956, this iconic eatery located in the oldest public housing estate in Sha Tin is not just your ordinary dai pai dong. The artsy photographs on the wall and randomly placed memorabilia give this place an eclectic vibe. The restaurant is run by Cheung Man-keung (also known as B Gor), a patron of the arts and a well-known figure in the community. B Gor and his staff regularly organise events from bowling competitions to beach clean-ups and even run a monthly Elderly Happiness Day at the shop where noodles are given to the elderly for free.

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  • Restaurants
  • Jordan

Tai Ping Koon is one of the oldest existing names in Chinese restaurant history, having first opened in 1860 in Guangzhou before coming to Hong Kong in 1937. A favourite among neighbourhood locals, the food at Tai Ping Koon is consistent and plentiful. The must-try signature dishes are the roasted young pigeon, TPK dry fried rice noodles with beef, and Swiss sauce chicken wings. 

More things to get nostalgic about

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