Clerkenwell Boy's Guide to Eating in Hong Kong
The mysterious food blogger Clerkenwell Boy takes us to his favourite haunts in Hong Kong – noodles and dumplings abound. Get ready to drool.
19 April, 2016
Dim sum (brunch)
Dim Sum is a form of brunch which involves sharing a wide array of bite-sized dishes. The tradition goes back centuries to when chefs would cook dishes to 'touch the heart' (the literal translation for dim sum) of Chinese emperors. The popularity of dim sum began to spread as tea houses along the ancient Silk Road would serve snacks to entice hungry travellers.
Lin Heung Tea House (old school)
Established in 1926, this is one of the oldest tea houses in Hong Kong. The atmosphere is rather hectic but you'll be feasting over some of the most traditional dim sum in the city.
Yum Cha (modern)
This is THE place to go for an emoji dim sum feast. Think cute piggy BBQ pork buns and don't miss the exploding custard buns… check out the videos on Instagram.
Tim Ho Wan (Michelin)
The cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world - join the queues and make sure you order their famous baked barbeque pork buns. If you can't be bothered queuing and want to go all-out, book a table at Lung King Heen (at the Four Seasons hotel) - the first Chinese restaurant to receive three Michelin stars.
Dumplings and Noodles
Din Tai Fung
My go-to place for freshly made XLB (xiao long bao) soup dumplings in Asia. Founded in Taiwan in the 50s, the dumplings are made on-site and the whole menu is reasonably priced.
Noodle specialists since the 60s, these guys have been consistently serving up some of Hong Kong's best wonton noodles (the noodles are extra thin and springy here).
Ho Hung Kee
Probably my favourite place to go for a nourishing bowl of congee (rice porridge) wonton noodles and ho fun (stir-fried rice noodles) - it's also the first wonton-noodle restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star.
Eat with the locals
A classic 'Cha Chaan Teng' (literally translating to tea restaurant) - the most famous branch is on Wellington Street and open through to the early hours of the morning. Go there for the deep-fried french toast and fried pork chop buns, washed down with a glass of Hong Kong-style milk tea (served hot or cold).
A lively 'dai pai dong' (street food stall) made famous by Anthony Bourdain. Go there for the beer (served in porcelain bowls) fresh seafood and deep-fried salt and pepper pork ribs.
Shanghai Hong Kong Noodle Shop
Join the queue for the freshly made soya milk (served hot or cold and sweet or savoury) and the sticky rice rolls (filled with deep-fried dough, pickles and pork floss). If you're still hungry, head across the road to the various street food vendors for some traditional clay pot rice (cooked to order and extremely delicious) or spicy curry fish balls served on a stick
Roasted, Barbequed and Grilled
Go early (or brave the queues). The legendary slow roasted goose with crispy skin served on steamed rice is THE must-order dish. The barbeque pork noodle soup is also worth a try.
Pre-book a table and order the Peking duck. If you're hungry and are able to order a few days ahead, try the beggar's chicken (wrapped in herbs and slow-baked in clay)
Le Garçon Saigon
A beautiful modern brasserie with French and Vietnamese influences, make sure you order the grilled yellow chicken (served with fresh rice paper and Vietnamese herbs and spices). Create your own spicy wraps and wash them down with some brilliant cocktails from the bar.
The hottest tables
Ho Lee Fook
A fun and modern chinese kitchen inspired by old school Hong Kong cafés and the spirit of late night NYCChinatown hangouts, enter on street level - past the Mahjong tiles and wall of waving cats - and you'll find yourself in an atmospheric basement restaurant. Order the 'mostly cabbage, a little bit of pork' dumplings (inspired by the chef's childhood and his mum's recipe) and the delicious roasted goose (which paired surprisingly well with the Hong Kong style deep-fried French toast - served with maple syrup and condensed milk).
Widely acclaimed chef James Henry rocked the food world when he left the iconic Bones restaurant (now closed) in Paris. So when I heard that he would head up the kitchen at Belon - a new Parisian bistro in Hong Kong - a dinner booking at this venue went straight up the priority list. The skilful cooking really showed off each ingredient to its best potential - from the Hokkaido uni with sweet potato waffle, through to the thoughtful desserts. Bring a friend and order the whole chicken to share (stuffed with herbs and truffles and roasted to perfection).
Housed on the site of a historic pawn shop dating back to 1888, the building in which this concept store/restaurant is housed has been beautifully renovated and now includes a lifestyle store on the ground floor (Tang Tang Tang Tang) a cocktail bar on the first floor, plus a bright and airy restaurant on the second floor serving traditional and modern British cuisine by celebrated chef Tom Aikens.
Yardbird is a modern izakaya-style restaurant that specializes in yakitori (skewered, charcoal grilled) chicken. Save room for the chicken, egg and rice.
Beautiful high ceilings, crystal chandeliers, an open kitchen plus impressive views over Victoria Harbour, this two-Michelin starred restaurant dishes out classy French fare. My favourites included the roasted langoustines with peas. The freshly baked bread and salted French butter are worth a trip alone. There's also a range of brilliant desserts and a fantastic selection of artisan cheeses.
Cafe Gray Deluxe
Housed on level 49 of the trendy Upper House, the afternoon tea offering is extremely popular with locals, tourists and celebrities so make sure you book ahead. Ask for a window table overlooking the harbour and check out their tea-based cocktails.
Located on the 101st floor of the International Commerce Centre, the Japanese-inspired area is a fun and lively space where chefs prepare and grill various dishes to order over an open flame right in front of diners. Each dish is delivered to guests on traditional wooden paddles. Diners are also invited to help make a traditional mochi (a sweet rice cake) which was both entertaining and delicious.
Bakeries and Desserts
Tai Cheong Bakery
Hong Kong is famous for its bakeries and the flagship Tai Cheong store in Central (opened in 1954) sells the best freshly baked egg tarts in the city. You can buy them individually but most people walk out with a box full of goodies.
Serving up Hong Kong's favourite 'pineapple buns' - these are soft pillowy rolls with a super light texture and a sweet crunchy golden crust (resembling the exterior of a pineapple). The buns actually contain no fruit and are best served warm with a large slab of butter washed down with the local milk tea.
The popular 'egglets' (also known as bubble waffles) have been given modern twist here with flavours such as matcha, chocolate, sesame and sweet potato.
One of the most instagrammed dessert spots in Hong Kong, Via Tokyo dishes out matcha soft serves with special flavours including black sesame and Hokkaido milk.
Best of the Rest
A morning visit to the local markets.
An evening adventure around Lan Kwai Fong and the mid-level escalators to seek out the latest cocktail and wine bars.
A ferry ride and day trip to Macau or nearby islands.