From stinky street food to the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world, here are five fab foodie experiences to try in Hong Kong.
1. Tim Ho Wan
“Go to Tim Ho Wan,” said everyone who had ever eaten well in Hong Kong when I asked for their advice. Tim Ho Wan is famed for being the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world so I was interested to see if it could live up to the hype.
Inside the unassuming Sham Shui Po location Tim Ho Wan dishes up truly top notch dim sum at a rapid pace (2400 baked bbq pork buns per day!) and an unbelievable price. After navigating the perpetual queue we ordered 13 dishes between 3 people and the bill came to £8 per head including soft drinks!
The pork buns are more than worth the wait and you can also take up the chance to try Hong Kong delicacies like chicken feet and bird’s nest pudding. I braved a nibble on a chicken foot and although the crispy skin was tastier than I expected, gnawing on a knobbly claw was not for me. Something I was surprised to enjoy though was a bird’s nest pudding. The nest is made from the saliva of swallows and served in a sweet egg white sauce. At $48 HKD it’s the most expensive thing on the menu but I really enjoyed it.
Tim Ho Wan, 9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po
(After the closure of the Mong Kok location the restaurant in Sham Shui Po is the only official Michelin-starred venue but you can buy Tim Ho Wan’s tasty food at other outlets in the city. See openrice.com for more information.)
2. Cuisine Cuisine
The Michelin-starred Cuisine Cuisine restaurant at the 5 star Mira Hotel is where you can dine in Hong Kong style. This elegant restaurant attracts as many well-dressed locals as it does tourists; the sumptuous dim sum dishes being served under a ceiling light installation selected by interior designer Charles Allem.
The décor has been chosen to compliment the park views outside as well as the dishes on the menu, which mix traditional Cantonese cuisine with a modern twist. The service is superb and you must save room for dessert.
Cuisine Cuisine, The Mira Hotel, 118 Nathan Road, Tsimshatsui
(During weekdays Cuisine Cuisine offers an all-you-can-eat dim sum lunch for $248 HKD per person where you can eat as much or as little as you like from a menu of more than 20 items.)
3. Stinky Tofu
At the Goldfish Market in Mongkok we smelt the stinky tofu long before we saw it. Our local guide, Fred, insisted there wasn’t an issue with the drains and that it was in fact the scent of a popular Hong Kong snack that we were encountering. Despite the encouragement from the friendly stallholder I didn’t quite pluck up the courage to sample the goods – but if you are looking for an authentic local food experience and don’t mind the smell, find a street stall and tuck in!
4. Turtle Jelly
I wasn’t sure if I was misinterpreting the picture on the window of the Chinese Tea Shop in Kowloon but Fred was able to fill me in – “Yes that is a turtle. We eat the jelly from inside the shell, it’s good for your skin.” Inside the teashop were fridges full of the little pots of jelly alongside popular iced tea drinks. I stuck to iced tea but once I knew what it was began to notice turtle jelly shops all over the city, often identified by the piles of shells outside the shop. I didn’t have a taste of this local food; partly for environmental reasons and partly because I had heard it doesn’t taste that nice! The Chinese are believed to consume it more for the health benefit than for enjoyment.
5. Yuenyueng and Hong Kong French Toast
In need of a caffeine boost after wandering around the Cat Street Market in Central, Fred led us into a tiled café named Wahlok on East Street. Whilst I ordered an iced tea he ordered something that made me jealous: Yuenyueng (or Bistro) – a mixture of iced tea and iced coffee that tastes refreshingly good. The drink mixes two-thirds Hong Kong style milky tea with one-third coffee and is also served warm in the winter.
Fred also introduced us to the Hong Kong version of French Toast – the twist being the slices of bread are filled with a layer of peanut butter before being fried in egg and served with syrup. Yum.
Wahlok 16 East Street, Central
Have any of these whet your appetite?
I visited Hong Kong in association with the tourism board. For more information on things in the city please visit www.discoverhongkong.com. For the ultimate Hong Kong shopping guide see the latest post on Travelling Shopaholic.