For foodies Hong Kong is a destination which will truly titillate multiple senses including taste, smell and vision. As locals will advise visitors, Hong Kong offers the most Michelin-rated restaurants in the world second only to Paris.
Since Hong Kong is one of the most cosmopolitan cities on the earth, the dining scene reflects the diversity of traditions and cultures and truly embraces the multiculturalism through the dining options found throughout the region.
Breakfast: Most hoteliers offer breakfasts catering to their clientele. At The Renaissance Harbour View the breakfast is a vast buffet catering to their diversity of guests. While the majority of the breakfast offers both local (duck feet) and western (waffles) options, even guests from down-under were pleased with the breakfast spread selection including Vegemite.
Beyond the hotels, you will see many local Hong Kong enjoy western style breakfasts. All the major multi-national fast food chains are represented in Hong Kong. Yet local customs are considered. Yet many locals can be seen enjoying a breakfast of congee, a broth usually mixed with pork and egg. Many street-side stands sell this to passers-by.
Lunch like many major cities can be both casual and fast or a long affair depending on the occasion. Fast food options are packed at lunch. Yet just as busy are the street-stalls selling everything from juices to pork buns to rice bowls. The street-stalls are a local favorite as they are inexpensive and usually good quality (however let your eyes be the judge). Yet within the business community, it is common to have a formal 3-course lunch lasting 2 hours or more.
Dinner is where Hong Kong truly shines. The diversity of dining options is truly breathtaking with 11,000+ restaurants
International celebrities from Joel Robuchon to Mario Batali have all opened outposts in Hong Kong. Many local chefs have gained world-wide recognition for their culinary skills. And of course the late-night informal eats can be a gastronomic experience not available anywhere else in the world.
Yet for those whose time on Hong Kong is limited, it is suggested to attempt to try a diversity of options within the limited time.
• The Dim Sum experience is a must, a pastime of the city. Depending on the restaurant options can range into the 1000’s. Indulge and watch as the carts roll past. Do not be shy and ask what each item is. The experience is akin to a seated buffet. My personal favorite is Steamed Shrimp Dumplings and I suggest U-Banquet on Nathan Road in Kowloon.
• Fusion Dining is a hot trend with local chefs. As the term suggests Fusion Dining is combining the Cantonese base with other cultures. Due to the diversity of Hong Kong as a crossroads of the world, Fusion style is prevalent in many establishments.
• Michelin-Starred: For the true gourmet experience, any of the Michelin rated restaurants will not disappoint. One of my most memorable meals was at Dynasty. The menu, a diverse mix of Cantonese delicacies with a French influence was truly delightful.
Where to Eat: Hong Kong has a diversity of neighborhoods each with a unique dining identity. The following are a few of my favorites:
SoHo: Located above Central and South of Hollywood Road, this chic neighborhood of boutiques transforms into a hot night-spot with upscale yet casual dining and bar options. Be sure to explore on foot as the streets are narrow and many restaurants offer outdoor seating.
Aberdeen: While I am not usually one to suggest mainstream tourist options, the Jumbo Restaurant in Aberdeen is one to consider. Jumbo Kingdom is a floating restaurant designed to resemble a Chinese Kingdom. Think you have seen expansive dining options in Las Vegas? Jumbo Kingdom seats 2,300 diners all while floating on water.
Murray House: Once located in Central, this colonial era building was dismantled and rebuilt brick by brick on the Stanley waterfront. The first-floor of the building offers a diverse selection of restaurants, many with views of the water.
Kowloon City: While off the beaten path for those in search of authentic and inexpensive Asian cuisines, this is the neighborhood. While still retaining some of the grittiness of this former industrial neighborhood, the restaurants offer the diversity of Asia and are mostly inexpensive, family-run and informal. A great area to experience Asian cuisines, many prepared within open-kitchens.
Seafood Lovers: Lei Yue Mun is a former fishing village more recently absorbed into the cosmopolitan zeitgeist of Hong Kong. Yet for locals and tourists alike this area offers a truly unique experience concerning seafood. First you buy your fish and/or seafood from a tank in the market stall. Then you take your choice to one of the local restaurants who will prepare and cook your selection for a modest fee. Truly the food cannot be any fresher and the preparation can be to taste and is quite reasonable. The area gives new meaning from water to table in minutes.
Some additional tips if considering Hong Kong for a culinary experience:
Reservations: For better dining establishments, lunch (between 1P and 2P) and dinner, reservations are suggested. For many the evening dining experience is enjoyed with friends and family thus do not be shocked by the number of larger tables, many with a “lazy-Susan” installed to facilitate sharing of dishes.
Dress: While most of Hong Kong is casual, finer establishments may request appropriate business attire. In better restaurants a jacket and tie for men is a must. Denim and related casual fabrics is usually not appropriate for fine dining establishments. Consider business casual as a guide.
High Tea: As modern Hong Kong was founded as a British Colony and only reverted to Chinese governance within the last two decades it is not uncommon for finer hotels and clubs to offer “High-Tea” as a daily offering. Be sure to enjoy one High-Tea experience while visiting. Two personal favorites, in Kowloon, The Peninsula and on Hong Kong Island, The Mandarin.
With the 11,000+ restaurants available, picking and choosing is not easy. Your hotel’s concierge or front desk can be most helpful. Do not be shy concerning requests. I have worked with local concierge’ concerning Kosher/Halal, vegetarian, gluten-free and so forth. The reality is Cantonese and Asian cuisine is not for everyone. However due to the sheer diversity of Hong Kong’s dining scene, one will not go hungry.
Additional Resource: Hong Kong Tourism Board
An additional note, The Hong Kong Tourism Board offers an excellent selection of apps for both Apple IOS and Android systems. Many of the apps are interactive and the mapping programs are excellent for both first-time and experienced visitors. I would suggest having a data plan in Hong Kong. Even though wireless is available in many areas, a data plan would be a good companion for touring. If you forget to secure a plan before traveling from the United States, upon arrival in Hong Kong you may receive text messages from local carriers offering various plans.