The Pearl of the Orient knows how to eat well. Here, we present the must-try Top 10 dining experiences in Hong Kong and Macau.
Contemporary Cantonese at Lung King Heen
The first Chinese restaurant in the world to hold three Michelin stars, Executive Chef Chan Yan Tak and his team were surprised as anyone when the accolade was announced in 2009. For local foodies, however, the international recognition of Lung King Heen was much overdue.
Meaning ‘View of the Dragon’ in Cantonese, the restaurant boasts spectacular vistas across Victoria Harbour from its fourth floor location, while the interior features a hand embroidered seven feet high glass and silk screen depicting a traditional Chinese landscape, by local artist Helen Poon.
Chef Chan’s signature menu combines familiar Cantonese textures and flavours with innovative presentation, resulting in dishes which include crispy scallop with fresh pear; abalone noodles; barbecued pork with honey; sea urchin in lobster jelly, topped with cauliflower cream; and, somewhat controversially, braised shark’s fin soup with conpoy and fresh crab meat.
Expect to pay around HKD500 (RM200) per person; the weekday set lunches are especially good value.
Four Seasons, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: 852–3196 8880
Afternoon Tea at The Pen
Taking Afternoon Tea at The Peninsula, or The Pen, has been a Hong Kong institution since the hotel first opened its doors in 1928.
Then located directly opposite the terminus for the trans-Siberian rail link, European tourists, movie stars and the upper echelon of Hong Kong society would descend upon the ‘Grand Old Lady’, as the hotel is fondly known, for a spot of tea and cake.
These days, the dress code is less formal (shorts are okay), but the atmosphere retains the air of colonial splendour. While you can order a la carte, it’s recommended you order the full tea for the true experience.
This consists of finger sandwiches such as ham, salmon and cucumber; raisin scones with cream and jam; assorted pastries and chocolates; and your choice of accompanying tea, such as Earl Grey. It can get busy, so reservations are recommended.
The Peninsula, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Tel: 852–2920 2888
Brunch at Top Deck
Located a world away from the busy city, Top Deck occupies the roof of the famous floating Jumbo Kingdom restaurant.
While downstairs serves traditional Chinese fare in an enjoyable if kitchsy environment (you can dress up as the Emperor of China), up top you’ll find one of the better brunch spreads in town, in arguably the most stunning setting.
Covering an area of 9,000 sq ft, the space offers al fresco dining for up to 300 people. Given the nautical surroundings—moored in the middle of Aberdeen Harbour, the Jumbo Kingdom is surrounded by luxury yachts and fishing boats—it’s apt that the buffet has a seafood theme, with signature dishes including Fritto Misto di Mare, a lightly ale-battered medley of rock oysters, tiger prawns, and Hokkaido sea scallops; seafood paella Valencia-style; and Surf and Turf with wild mushroom and lemon butter.
Every Saturday: 11am–3pm, Sunday &
Public Holiday: 11am–4.30pm.
Top Floor Jumbo Kingdom, Shum Wan Pier Drive, Wong Chuk Hang, Aberdeen, Hong Kong
Tel: 852–2552 3331
Dim Sum at Tim Ho Wan
Welcome to the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant. Meaning ‘Add Good Luck’ in Cantonese, Tim Ho Wan shocked the world when the Michelin Guide Hong Kong Macau 2010 handed this hole-in-the-wall eatery (in Mong Kok, no less!) one Michelin star.
The kitchen is helmed by chef Mak Pui Gor, formerly in charge of dim sum at the Four Seasons’ Lung King Heen.
Tim Ho Wan was one of 29 restaurants in the 2010 edition listed under a new category of eateries with a moderate to low price range, following a local backlash the previous year against the perceived elite bias of star ratings.
Due to its new found stardom, and with only 20 seats, you might have to wait up to two hours for a table (there are no reservations, you have to turn up and wait for your number to be called), but the dim sum served makes it worth it.
Must-order dishes include the cha siu bau (roast pork bun), a sweet pastry take on the classic dish, and pig liver cheung fun, noodles wrapped around a strip of liver.
The best bit about Tim Ho Wan though? The fact that a Michelin-starred meal for two will cost less than HKD150 (RM60).
Shop 8, Tai Yuen Mansion Phase 2, 2–20 Kwong Wa Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon.
Tel: 852–2332 2896
Seafood at Chuen Kee
While it may not have any stars, this famous seafood restaurant is still recommended by the Michelin guide as one of the city’s must-try places. Chuen Kee is located in Sai Kung Town, part of Sai Kung district, which is known as
‘Hong Kong’s Back Garden’ due to its country parks and green environment. Opened in 1988, it sits along a strip of seafood restaurants along the pedestrian Hoi Pong promenade—the entrance of which is marked by a large Chinese gateway—and is usually filled with locals, always a good sign.
Rows of fish tanks line the street, filled with sea creatures unloaded directly from fishing boats in the bay. You first choose what you want to see on your plate, before taking your seat inside (you pay by the weight of the items plus a per person cooking charge).
Favourite dishes include Mantis shrimp deep-fried with paprika; the tender scallops served with garlic and vermicelli; and razor clams in a spicy black bean sauce. While service can sometimes be hit or miss, the preparation is immaculate.
53 Hoi Pong Street, Sai Kung, New Territories
Tel: 852–2791 1195
Wonton Noodle Soup at Ho Hung Kee
This 65 year-old stalwart in Causeway Bay serves up probably one of the most delicious (and cheap) breakfasts you’ll find in Hong Kong: HKD50 (RM20) bowls of wonton soup and congee. It also—like Mong Kok’s Tim Ho Wan before it—is the proud owner of a Michelin star.
Ho Hung Kee was founded in 1946 by the parents of current owner Patty Ho, and has hardly changed over the years, retaining its simple decor and no-frills service. The fact that it’s now on par with the likes of Spoon by Alain Ducasse, which was also given a one star rating in the Michelin Guide Hong
Kong Macau 2010, seems by the bye here, with Ho Hung Kee’s loyal clientele still filling most of the booths for their daily fix of dishes such as roast pork wonton noodle soup and pig kidney and liver congee with deep fried wonton. Its popularity probably has much to do with how they make the flavourful base for the wontons.
2 Sharp Street East, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: 852–2577 6558
Chinese Tea at the Luk Yu Tea House
Luk Yu Tea House is one of those places that seems like it’s been around forever, which by Hong Kong standards—considering it opened way back in 1933—it has.
Admittedly, while the dim sum served here isn’t the best in town, and the service sometimes leaves much to be desired, the age and sheer quaintness of the three-floor Luk Yu make this is a must-do while you’re in town.
According to popular lore, the tables on the first floor are reserved for loyal customers only, with most outsiders (i.e. tourists) given a frosty reception by the waiters, many of whom have been with the teahouse for decades.
While this might be true on occasion, for the most part all paying patrons are welcome. Choosing from menus in Japanese, Chinese and English, you come here to yum cha.
Literally meaning ‘drink tea’, yum cha is the practice of meeting friends or family over a pot of tea and a table of dim sum.
Whatever you order, make sure to finish up proceedings with an order of their delicious daan tat, or egg tarts. In 2002, Luk Yu was in the news when a local property tycoon was shot dead by a hitman when eating breakfast.
24–26 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: 852–2523 5464
Egg Tarts from Tai Cheong Bakery
Tai Cheong Bakery owes most of its popularity to its most famous patron, once Christopher Patten, Hong Kong’s last British governor.
Following his arrival in 1992, Patten became a huge fan of Cantonese food, and in particular the bakery’s egg tarts, even going so far as to once tell owner Au Yeung Tin-yun, “’You are the best baker in the world.”
The governor’s love of these rich, crusty treats (because of his love of food generally, the local media gave him the affectionate nickname ‘Fei Pang’, or fat Patten) assured line-ups at Tai Cheong Bakery that continue to this day for what is now known as the fei pang daan tat (fat Patten egg tart).
There was uproar in May 2005 when Tai Cheong was forced to close when the landlord raised the rent to unaffordable levels, though relief when it reopened later that same year in a new location just down the road from the original.
While today there are now 15 stores across Hong Kong and Macau, many swear that the best fei pang daan tat are still made here.
35 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: 852–2544 3475
Indian Cuisine at Hin Ho Curry
This small unassuming eatery in an out-of-way location is an unexpected contender for the best Indian restaurant in Hong Kong.
Since receiving one Michelin star in the 2011 guide, Hin Ho Curry has had its detractors—there are not enough tables, it gets too crowded, the menu is overly long, and service is overly chaotic (admittedly, the service does leave something to be desired, as the staff do have a tendency to get flustered when the place gets busy; as it commonly is these days)—there’s no denying the food on offer is impeccable.
Dishes to order include Indian fried rice flavored with spices and cashew nuts; curry lamb shank; mutton curry with mango; and chicken vindaloo. At HKD40–100 (RM16–40) each, the price is reasonable and the winning combination of cuisine and cost explains why Hong Kong foodies are flocking to Shau Kei Wan in droves.
When you’ve finished, catch a leisurely tram back to town—the terminus is just around the corner.
Shop 11, G/F, East Way Tower, 59–99 Main Street East, Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong
Tel: 852–2560 1268
Macanese Classics at Restaurante Litoral
Occupied by the Portuguese almost 450 years ago, the tiny 29.5 sq km enclave of Macau— located directly across the Pearl River Delta from its sister SAR (Special Administrative Region) Hong Kong—boasts its own cuisine known as Macanese, a unique blend of Chinese, European, African, Indian and other Asian flavours that reflects the Portuguese Empire’s once global reach.
One of the best places to try this cuisine is the Restaurante Litoral, a charming two-storey place on the Rua do Almirante Sérgio, not far from the Maritime Museum and A-Ma Temple in the southwest of the Macau Peninsula.
The decor here is decidedly Portuguese, with whitewashed walls, stone floors, and dark wood furnishings; but the cuisine is something else altogether, such as the minchi; ground beef or pork sautéed with onions, bay leaf, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce, and paired with crispy potatoes and a runny fried egg on top.
Another must-have dish include the curry crab served with shrimp and quail eggs; and the quintessentially Macanese dish of African chicken. Wash your meal down with a glass of imported Portuguese vino or beer.
261A Rua do Almirante Sérgio, Macau
Tel: 853–2896 7878
WHERE TO STAY
Jia Hong Kong
The first Philippe Starck-designed hotel in Asia, in many ways Jia set the standards for all boutique properties that followed. With a name meaning ‘home’ in Mandarin, Starck helped create a fantasy abode that combines whimsy and wonder, with top-of- the-range facilities that include in-room Smeg microwaves.
Dinner is taken in The Drawing Room, the signature restaurant that serves contemporary Italian cuisine, while guests enjoy special access to the exclusive members-only Kee Club.
Unusually for a hip Hong Kong hotel, Jia is located in Causeway Bay not Central, but being based in this vibrant district means that you get to indulge in the city’s best shopping, savour its best dim sum and be within walking distance of the horse races - a welcome home, indeed.
1–5 Irving Street,
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: 852–3196 9000
HONG KONG FAST FACTS
Capital: Central (formerly called Victoria)
Population: 7.1 million
Currency: Hong Kong dollar
Getting there: Air Asia flies three times daily from Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong. Other airlines available.
Famous for its floating village and floating seafood restaurants located within the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelters, this region is popular with tourists. The Tanka people in Aberdeen are generally associated with the fishing industry and there are also several dozen expatriates living on boats in the harbour.
This heavily built-up area of Hong Kong covers parts of Wan Chai and Eastern districts. The rent of shops around Causeway Bay is ranked as being one of the highest in the world, near that of London’s Sloane Street and New York’s Fifth Avenue.
As the central business district of Hong Kong, many multinational corporations have their headquarters here. International consulates are also located in this area, as is Government Hill, the site of government headquarters. Bars, clubs and restaurants can be found at Lan Kwai Fong, Soho and Wyndham Street.
The name Kowloon stems from the nine dragons, a term referring to eight mountains and a Chinese emperor. The urban city has some interesting sites including the Kowloon Walled City, Sung Wong Toi Park and Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Much of Macau’s revenue is dependent on gambling and tourism. The region still bears Portuguese influences during the colonial settlement in the early 16th century. Casino Lisboa is one of the most famous hotel casinos with a three Michelin star restaurant, Robuchon á Galera.