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22 Ships exterior
Photograph: Courtesy 22 Ships

The 15 best restaurants in Wan Chai

You’re spoilt for choice in this foodie neighbourhood

By Time Out Hong Kong
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Despite its colourful reputation as Hong Kong’s red light district, there’s so much more to Wan Chai than just Lockhart Road. Nestled between the tong laus and modern architecture are a number of great rooftop bars and a wonderful range of restaurants. Whether you want Asian cuisines, local cha chaan tengs or something European, you can find it here in Wan Chai.

 

Wan Chai’s best restaurants

22 Ships exterior
Photograph: Courtesy 22 Ships

22 Ships

Restaurants Spanish Wan Chai

Situated on Ship Street, arguably Wan Chai’s coolest street, 22 Ships delivers a boundlessly creative tapas menu. Established by chef Jason Atherton, the team uses modern touches – foams, gels and novel flavour combos – to update classic small plates. Stop by here for brunch and enjoy the free-flow beer offers over the weekend.

Bo Innovation

Restaurants Wan Chai

With intelligent, innovative and even humorous plates, ‘Demon Chef’ Alvin Leung’s three-Michelin star masterpiece is a must-try if you have the budget (it’s one of the pricier restaurants on this list). Rather than the 10-a-penny east-meets-west fare we’re so used to, Bo Innovation offers a refreshing fusion of traditional and modern Chinese ideas. A top spot for a special occasion.

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Brass Spoon

Restaurants Wan Chai

At Brass Spoon, diners can take a seat at the communal marble table, pop on a disposable apron and dig into MSG-free pho with, you guessed it, a brass spoon. Tick your choice (or choices) of beef and opt for sides like steamed rice rolls on the ramen bar-style menu. The raw and cooked beef noodle pho comes with generous helpings of herbs and lime, as well as satisfyingly thick, custom-made noodles.

Capital Cafe

Restaurants Wan Chai

Set up in homage to traditional cha chaan tengs – as well as Cantopop singers and movie stars – Capital Café serves up excellent renditions of CCT greatest hits, including scrambled egg on thick buttery toast, hot milk tea and HK-style french toast. The restaurant is typically cramped and hectic, but with friendlier service than Australian Dairy Company on the other side of the harbour. The set menu costs $40 and will fill you up for the rest of your day exploring the neighbourhood.

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Cheung Hing Kee Shanghai Pan-fried Buns

Restaurants Wan Chai

This unassuming shop is tucked away on Thomson Road – a street full of hardware shops. The signature buns are prepared fresh and are filled with rich pork bone broth and topped with sliced spring onions. The Shanghainese soup dumplings are available with various fillings, as well as sauces to dip into. Just be careful to let the goodies cool slightly before you bite into them, so as to not burn your mouth.

Ham & Sherry

Restaurants Wan Chai

A venture launched by the dynamic duo behind 22 Ships, Ham & Sherry is the perfect place to dive into a full tapas meal accompanied by a tasty sherry – which is considered a natural pair with Iberico ham, hence the name. Contemporary Catalonian blue and white tiles line the interior and exterior of the bar, making a cool photo backdrop as you wait for rustic Spanish dishes and sharing plates arrive at your table from the open kitchen.

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Joy Hing BBQ Shop

Restaurants Wan Chai

Serving some of the finest char siu rice in the territory at rock bottom prices, Joy Hing is a must for authentic Cantonese roasted meats. The barbecued pork is so good there’s even a Facebook group dedicated to the humble appreciation of the dish. The tiny shop fills up quickly so try to arrive early. Otherwise, do as many locals do and order your meats to go.

vietnamese
Photograph: Courtesy Le Garcon Saigon

Le Garcon Saigon

Restaurants Wan Chai

One of the best Vietnamese restaurants in town, Le Garcon Saigon is headed by Aussie-Viet chef Bao La. Bao takes traditional ideas and techniques – usually involving cooking over charcoal – and updates them with modern twists. His mission is to show off the diversity of Vietnamese food – without a bowl of pho in sight. Instead, you can enjoy smoky meat and fish dishes served with mountains of fresh herbs and fully-flavoured sauces. Be sure to wash all of these down with a Saigon beer or two.

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The Pawn
The Pawn

The Pawn

Restaurants Wan Chai

Housed in a magnificent heritage building transformed from a former pawn shop, The Pawn maintains its colonial charm while serving refined modern British fare courtesy of head chef Tom Aikens. Surrounded by modern chic furnishings, diners can tuck into traditional and modern dishes at the ’kitchen’ or head over to the Botanicals Bar, which looks out onto Johnston Road below.

Pirata

Restaurants Wan Chai

Going beyond stereotypical Italian fare, Pirata’s homely family-style dishes are the perfect comfort food. Spread out across two sky-high floors, the industrial rustic interiors will have you feeling like you’re dining in a New York penthouse. The dishes here are built to share with price tags that won’t break the bank. Have a go at the MMM (My Mama’s Meatballs), tagliatelle with black truffle, and roasted suckling pig with apple sauce.

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Qi – House of Sichuan

Restaurants Wan Chai

For a lip-numbingly good time, this Northern Chinese eatery offers a fiery menu of stir-fried meat and seafood dishes. Try the chilli dungeness crab, a mountain of fresh crab stir-fried with an even bigger mountain of chillies plus garlic salt and Sichuan peppercorns. You’ll be glad you shelled out for it.

Samsen boat noodles
Photograph: Courtesy Samsen

Samsen

Restaurants Thai Wan Chai

Samsen is a cut above some of the other excellent Thai restaurants in the neighbourhood. Former Chachawan head chef Adam Cliff’s take on Thai street food hits the spot with standout dishes such as huge bowls of wagyu beef boat noodles with crispy shallots, and fried Thai noodles with juicy tiger prawns. No reservations are taken here, but you can pop across the road to Stone Nullah Tavern – or to 7-Eleven next door – for a pre-dinner drink and the restaurant staff will call you when there’s a free table.

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Tai Lung Fung
Photograph: Courtesy Tai Lung Fung

Tai Lung Fung

Bars and pubs Wan Chai

The interior here offers a nostalgic nod to historic Hong Kong with old movie posters, neon signs and antique clocks hanging from every fixture. Tai Lung Fung – local slang for the showy or ostentatious – is a great after-work watering hole that stocks a solid range of craft brews and decent wines and spirits. It’s easy to while a way a few hours in this atmospheric setting.

Ted’s Lookout

Bars and pubs Wan Chai

If you want to hang out with Wan Chai’s trendy crowd, then head to Ted’s Lookout. There’s usually a buzzing atmosphere and, with a good range of Japanese beers, clever cocktails and excellent sliders, this is a solid spot to chill out after a day out in Wan Chai.

Fancy drinks instead?

Djiboutii
Djiboutii

The best bars in Wan Chai

Bars and pubs

Once infamous for being the seedy heart of Hong Kong Island, Wan Chai has shed much of its sleazy reputation in recent years. The wider neighbourhood is now home to an increasing number of top tier bars – which come with some of the best cocktails and amazing rooftop views. 

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