Hong Kong is a glorious collision of east meets west and the city’s culinary scene reflects its diversity. The variety of food on offer is mind boggling – from a comforting bowl of congee in a streetside dai pai dong to the most refined French cuisine, it’s all here. Come hungry.
Best for cocktails
M Bar, Mandarin Oriental
Take the lift to the 25st floor of the impossibly elegant Mandarin Oriental for beautifully crafted cocktails in an intimate bar that oozes refined glamour. Order the Hong Kong Legend, a heady mix of vodka, gin, lychee, lemon and Pu-erh tea cordial. Service is super slick and the food menus come courtesy of the hotel’s Michelin-starred Pierre and Man Wah restaurants.
Best for Indian food
New Punjab Club
Don’t expect chicken tikka masala at this clubby restaurant in Hong Kong’s buzzing Lang Kwai Fong where the North Indian menu centres around meats cooked in a smoky tandoor. The old school drinks trolley gets things off to a flying start serving up a selection of gin and tonics, which go nicely with the restaurant’s famed samosa chaat.
Best for dim sum
City Hall Maxim’s Palace
Lunch at Maxim’s is a throwback to the good old days: it’s loud, fun and the dim sum is still wheeled around on trolleys by uniformed staff – just point to whatever takes your fancy. Tourists and locals flock to the enormous room on the second floor of City Hall with its glitzy chandeliers, dragon motifs and swirly carpets to feast on har gow (shrimp dumplings) and char sui bao (barbecued pork buns). There are no reservations.
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Best heritage experience
The divine Madame Fu (pictured top) occupies the top floor of the Barracks Block in the former Central Police Station, a beautiful colonial building recently renovated to become the Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts. Designed in the style of the elegant Shanghai cafes of the 1930s, the main dining room is stunning: high ceilings, exposed original brickwork and potted palms. Standouts on the modern Cantonese menu include the crispy belly pork and steamed garoupa with glass noodles.
Best neighbourhood food
Tucked down a quirky side street in vibrant Wan Chai, Jason Atherton’s 22 Ships serves small plates of tapas and has a buzzy neighbourhood vibe. This isn’t the place for a lingering romantic dinner but it’s perfect for just about everything else: seating is at a long communal table facing the street or stools around the intimate U-shaped bar. Be sure to try the scallop ceviche with yuzu and the pork and foie gras burgers.
Best for Thai food
It’s all about the marriage of sweet, sour, salt and heat at this hip little place on Hollywood Road. Chachawan (specialises in fresh, punchy dishes with strong clean flavours derived from north east Thailand. The Som Tum (pounded green papaya salad with a sweet and sour tamarind dressing) and Pla Phao Glua (salt crusted whole seabass stuffed with lemongrass, pandanas and lime leaf) are both standouts.
Best for classic elegance
Owned by the late Sir David Tang, the China Club operates as a private members club, but a good concierge can get you in – and it’s well worth it. High on the thirteenth floor of the handsome art deco Old Bank of China Building, the atmospheric interiors exude old-Shanghai glamour. The dim sum and Peking duck are legendary.
Best for fine dining
Looking for unbridled luxury? This elegant French restaurant on the sixth floor of the Four Seasons hotel has three Michelin stars under chef Guillaume Galliot and perfectly marries lavish surrounds with exquisitely prepared food. The prices are steep but the weekday set lunch is always good value.
Best for hipsters
This deeply cool modern izakaya is a favourite with the city’s cool crowd and specialises in sharing plates served up in a minimalistic space in happening Sheung Wan. The humble chicken takes centre stage on a yakitori menu that celebrates every part of the bird from breast and thigh to the heart (served with spring onion and ginger) and skin (with sake and salt).
Best for coffee
This New Zealand-based coffee roaster revolutionised the Hong Kong coffee scene when it opened in 2008 and it still serves the best cup in town. There are now six outlets in high traffic areas and the cappuccino is consistently excellent – rich and full bodied with a velvety texture.
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Best for island food
Ming Kee Seafood Restaurant
A seafood lunch on one of the tiny islands surrounding Hong Kong is a brilliant way to experience a more authentic taste of the city. The best is Ming Kee Seafood (+852 2849 7038) on tiny, rocky Poi Toi, a 50 minute ferry ride from Aberdeen or Stanley. This is rustic beachside village dining: round tables, plastic chairs and buckets of live seafood. There’s no need to look at the menu - you are here for the chilli pepper squid and prawns with spring onion and garlic.
Best for dining southside
Repulse Bay is only 15 minutes from Central but the south side of the island is another world – lush green jungle, winding roads and sandy beaches. Spices has a prime position on an expansive colonial-style outdoor terrace with mesmerising views over the South China Sea. The pan-Asian menu incorporates dishes from India, Vietnam and Thailand. On a balmy evening there’s no better place to be.
Best for weekend brunch
Brunch is a huge deal in Hong Kong and Zuma’s luxe offering is as good as it gets. Here's how it works: an exquisitely presented selection of appetisers is laid out on a help-yourself buffet including the finest and freshest sushi, sashimi, tempura, soups and skewers. Order mains from the robata grill (the miso marinated black cod is sensational) and dessert arrives on a spectacular iced platter. The free flow package includes Champagne Ruinart.
Best garden terrace
Duddell’s is a discreet, beautifully designed oasis tucked up a side street in the Shanghai Tang Mansion in the heart of Central. There’s a Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant on the third floor but the fourth floor is the place to be with its elegant, airy ‘Salon’ bar, popular dim sum menu and lush and leafy garden terrace.
Best for Italian
8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana
Chef Umberto Bombana ran the Hong Kong Ritz Carlton’s legendary Italian restaurant Toscana until it closed in 2008 and has made a triumphant return with the chic Otto e Mezzo, the only Italian restaurant outside Italy to be awarded three Michelin stars. It attracts a sophisticated crowd who feast on Bombana’s famed lobster risotto, hand made pasta and truffle dishes.
Best for afternoon tea
For a classic afternoon tea in gracious surroundings head straight for the grand Lobby Lounge at the historic Peninsula for acres of marble, gilded columns, and lush potted palms. Tea is taken to the sound of the resident string quartet and includes dainty sandwiches, tiny scones and delicate house made pastries.
Best for harbour views
There’s no better place to be at sundown than the spectacular wraparound terrace at Sevva on the top floor of the upscale Prince’s Building. Come at dusk, order a glass of fizz and bag a low slung sofa – then watch in wonder as Hong Kong is transformed into a shimmering, twinkling wonderland. The views are staggering – Victoria Harbour across to Kowloon on one side and the city and Norman Foster designed HSBC headquarters on the other.
Best for breakfast
Café Causette is the answer to every culinary (and emotional) need in Hong Kong – open all day, a great place to eat solo and with a menu spanning Asian and Western tastes. Breakfast ranges from eggs served everyway to Bircher muesli and pancakes, acai energy bowls and noodles, dim sum and congee.
Best dai pai dong
Dai pai dongs are the traditional place to experience Cantonese street food, but get in quick as they are disappearing fast. This is no frills food cooked up on woks in streetside shacks with a few plastic tables and chairs. Sing Kee (82 Stanley Street, Central) attracts a mixed crowd of city workers, locals and tourists who feast on chilli pepper squid and stir fries. Ask what’s good and take what comes.
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