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Hong Kong Food Culture: 15 Must Eat Local Food in Hong Kong

Last Updated on September 3, 2020 by queenie mak

Hong Kong is one of the best cities in the world to try different types of cuisine. But the best food in Hong Kong has to be the Hong Kong-style dishes that are inspired by traditional Cantonese cuisine, British food culture and other Asian cuisines.

Hong Kong food culture is all about wholesome ingredients, easily accessible (because they can be found anywhere), and completely affordable. No matter where you are in the city, you can always find delicious local food at any time of the day.

I was born in Hong Kong but grew up in Toronto, Canada. However, when it comes to eating in Hong Kong, I consider myself a local. And I consider myself a foodie, which means I spend way too much time researching and looking for good local food. But at least I can share everything I know with you in this post.

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What you need to know before trying some of Hong Kong must eat places

There are many places to eat in Hong Kong but the best ones are in Hong Kong cafes serving Hong Kong-style food or Hong Kong cuisine. This type of food is an eclectic mix of Cantonese cuisine with influences from British culture and a mixture of other Asian cuisines like Japanese and Southeast Asian.

Also known as cha chaang teng (translation: tea restaurant), this type of cafe serves the best local food in Hong Kong. It has a la carte dishes and set meals for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Typically, a set meal comes with an entree and a hot beverage.

Here are some additional tips for eating in Hong Kong:

  • Most cafes and restaurants accept either cash or Octopus Card, a rechargeable smartcard
  • During peak hours, some restaurants will require you to share the table with other patrons. It is very common to share a table with strangers. But don’t feel obligated to talk to them. Most people keep to themselves.
  • Lunchtime is extremely busy. Avoid the long queues by going between 2:30 to 3:00 pm and order the cheaper afternoon tea menu.
  • Speaking of afternoon tea, most cafes have an afternoon tea set meal which includes a smaller portion of the main course and a hot beverage. The meal is cheaper and the cafe is usually not as busy. It is usually between 2:30 to 5:30 pm.
  • Bring your own napkin/tissue. It is a Hong Kong thing.
  • If you want a cold beverage instead, you can add a few dollars (usually $3HKD) and you can change your beverage from hot to cold.
  • Most cafes have an English menu. Otherwise, the Chinese/English menu is on the wall or on the table.

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1. Dim Sum (點心)

Dim Sum is a meal with a variety of savoury and sweet dishes and typically served on small plates or bamboo steamers. Some favourites include har gow (shrimp dumpling), siu mai (steamed pork dumpling), char siu bao (barbecue pork bun), cheung fun (rice noodle rolls) and many more.

Besides all the bite-size dishes, drinking Chinese tea is a big component of the meal. The name “dim sum” in Cantonese is yum cha, which literally means “drink tea”. The dim sum culture goes back to the 10th century when people drink tea and eat small portions of food at tea houses.

And Hongkongers love eating dim sum for breakfast or lunch! This Hong Kong must eat experience is best shared with friends and family. But even if you are travelling alone, don’t skip dim sum because you can still order a few things and still sample a variety of dishes.

Where to eat dim sum

  • Yum Cha (飲茶) ($$) – a modern dim sum chain restaurant serving the cutest and yummiest buns
  • Tong Tong Town (仝堂茶聚) ($$) – another modern Chinese restaurant with very appetizing looking dim sum in Festival Walk by Kowloon Tong
  • Jasmine (八月花) ($$) – a traditional Chinese restaurant serving dim sum. There are several locations in Hong Kong
  • LockCha Tea House ($$) – try dim sum at an eclectic Chinese tea house in Central

2. Wonton Noodles (雲吞麵)

Wonton Noodles is a classic Cantonese dish and a must eat in Hong Kong. A bowl of wonton noodles has about 3 or 4 shrimp wontons and the right proportion of al dente thin yellow noodles. Then all the delicious ingredients are served in a hot bowl of clear pork broth. And it extra tasty when you add chilli oil (HK favourite condiment) to the noodles.

I do find that the typical portion is quite small. If you are super hungry, you might want to order two bowls! Or try other local food in Hong Kong!

Where to eat wonton noodles

  • Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop (麥文記麵家) ($) – locals dine at this local restaurant in Jordan regularly. It has been part of the Michelin Guide for many years.
  • Tsim Chai Kee Noodle Shop (沾仔記) ($) – this busy noodle shop in Central is another recommendation from the Michelin Guide
Kam Wah Cafe & Bakery
Kam Wah Cafe & Bakery

3. Pineapple bun and butter (菠蘿油)

The most iconic baked goods in Hong Kong is the pineapple bun.

A good pineapple bun is fluffy and sweet. And most of all, the top golden crackly crust doesn’t fall apart when you take a bite into it. It doesn’t taste like pineapple at all, but rather, it just tastes sweet. The name refers to the crackly appearance of a pineapple (but I don’t really see it, do you?)

While you can eat it as is, Hongkongers really like to eat it with a big slab of butter. You can find it on the menu at any cha chaang teng across the city during breakfast and afternoon tea time.

Or you can find variations of the pineapple bun at almost all the bakeries in Hong Kong.

Where to eat pineapple bun and butter

  • Kam Wah Cafe & Bakery (金華冰室) ($) – besides serving all types of Hong Kong local food, the local cha chaang teng in Mongkok makes the best pineapple bun in my opinion. The crusty top doesn’t fall apart!
  • Lucky Star Coffee Shop (幸運星咖啡室) ($) – try the pineapple bun at this modern cha chaang teng in Causeway Bay

Related Post – Best specialty coffee shops in Hong Kong

"Big men" sandwich at Men Wan Bing Teng
Men Wan Bing Teng

4. Pineapple Bun Sandwich (菠蘿包三明治)

Since the pineapple bun is such a popular item in Hong Kong, many cha chaang teng‘s invented new ways to serve the sweet bun.

Enters the pineapple bun sandwich. Yup, now you can get a breakfast sandwich with a pineapple bun. Not all the cha chaang teng have this on their menu, only a few. But if you like a breakfast sandwich, then this is a must try!

I quite like scrambled eggs, spam, tomato and cheese pineapple bun sandwich. Or just plain scrambled eggs in a pineapple bun. There’s no wrong way to eat a pineapple bun!

Where to eat pineapple bun sandwich

  • Men Wah Bing Teng (敏華冰廳) ($) – try the “Big men” breakfast sandwich at one of the over 20 locations in Hong Kong.
  • Shun Hing (順興茶餐廳) ($) – a local cha chaang teng in Tai Hang serving the fluffiest scrambled eggs in a pineapple bun
Satay beef and egg sandwich at A Cup of Tea
A Cup of Tea

5. Scrambled egg sandwich (蛋治)

I know what you are thinking – it’s an egg sandwich. Egg and bread. So simple.

But there is more to it. There is something so special about the classic scrambled egg sandwich in Hong Kong. The egg is super silky and buttery. And the white bread is soft and pillowy, and it may be eaten as is or toasted. The combination of the two is just heaven! I always crave an egg sandwich and I have it at least once a week! That’s how good it is!

So try one in the purest form. Or try one with ham, salty beef or satay beef. That’s the next level of deliciousness!

This Hong Kong local food can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea time and it can be found at almost all cha chaang teng‘s.

Where to eat scrambled eggs sandwich

  • A Cup of Tea (我杯茶) ($) – the cafe in Wan Chai specializes in satay beef and egg sandwich
  • Lucky Star Coffee Shop (幸運星咖啡室) ($) – get take-away or eat-in at this updated cha chaang teng in Causeway Bay
  • Australian Dairy Company (澳洲牛奶公司) ($) – if you are not having the HK-style breakfast, try the egg sandwich in this busy cha chaang teng in Jordan
HK styled French toast at Mon Kee Cafe
Mon Kee Cafe

6. Hong Kong-style French Toast (港式西多士)

The Hong Kong-style French toast isn’t just any standard french toast. It starts with a peanut butter sandwich made with two pieces of white bread and a generous amount of peanut butter. Then the entire sandwich is fried until it is golden brown. And before you eat it, you have to add butter and drizzle condensed milk or syrup on top.

Doesn’t it sound delicious? Try one during afternoon tea time (usually between 2:30 to 5:30 pm) at almost any cha chaang teng‘s in Hong Kong.

Where to eat HK-style french toast

  • Mon Kee Cafe (旺記冰室) ($) – this modern cha chaang teng uses whole wheat bread and red bean filling to make this classic local favourite
  • Australian Dairy Company (澳洲牛奶公司) ($) – besides the excellent HK-style breakfast, the traditional cha chaang teng in Jordan also serves a good HK style french toast
HK breakfast at Tea Master
Tea Master

7. Hong Kong-style Breakfast (港式早餐)

A typical Hong Kong breakfast has several components. First, there are fried eggs or scrambled eggs, ham, spam or sausage, and a piece of thick toast. And on the side, you get either a bowl of oatmeal, satay beef with instant noodles or macaroni in soup. And you will always have a Hong Kong-style milk tea to go with your breakfast. More on that later.

It sounds like a lot of food but the portion is quite small. And besides, breakfast is the most important meal of the day so its quite alright to eat a bit more.

You can find this breakfast combo (or a variation of it) in any cha chaang teng in Hong Kong.

Where to eat HK breakfast

  • Tea Master (茶王冰室) ($) – a modern cha chaang teng serving set breakfast meals in Prince Edward
  • Australian Dairy Company (澳洲牛奶公司) ($) – rated as the best Hong Kong breakfast cafe, but be prepared to order even before you sit down. Best to go during weekdays
  • Men Wah Bing Teng (敏華冰廳) ($) – a local cha chaang teng with over 20 locations in Hong Kong serves several HK-style breakfast combos
  • Café de Coral (大家樂) ($) – a HK chain restaurant serving the cheapest HK-style breakfast

8. Baked Tomato Pork Chop Rice with Rice (焗豬扒飯)

As a staple to any cha chaang teng in Hong Kong, the baked tomato pork chop with rice is a local favourite that is eaten as lunch and dinner.

The baked dish starts with a thick cut of pork chop placed over a bed of fried rice. Then a sweet tomato sauce with onions and peas is drizzled over the top and the entire dish. Sometimes, the restaurant might even put a bit of cheese on top before the entire dish is baked in the oven until it is ready to eat. The ingredients sound simple but the combination of everything together is dynamite!

Where to eat baked tomato pork chop with rice

  • Queen’s Cafe (皇后飯店) ($$) – the Russian cafe serves a delicious baked pork chop rice and other signature Russian dishes
  • Café de Coral (大家樂) ($) – the cheapest baked pork chop rice and you can get it at one of many locations in the city

9. Barbecue Pork over Rice (叉燒飯)

Cantonese style roasted meat is part of any staple diet in Hong Kong. There are several popular types of meat including roasted goose, roasted duck, roasted suckling pig and more. You can order one of these roasted meats over rice, two types or even three types of meat

One of my favourites is barbecue pork over rice, or called char siu fan, in Cantonese. The pork is tender and juicy. And it has a bit of sweetness to it because of the honey and maltose in the barbecue sauce.

A plate of char siu fan comes with a generous portion of barbecue pork, white rice and sweet soy sauce poured over the meat and rice. I always ask for more sweet soy sauce because I like saucy rice! Ha!

Where to eat barbecue pork rice

  • Chop Chop (食神叉燒) ($) – a modern restaurant with Chinese interior accents serving classic HK roasted meat dishes
  • Good BBQ Takeaway (好燒味) ($) – a takeaway place that makes good barbecue pork rice
  • Tai Hing Roast Restaurant (太興燒味餐廳) ($) – over 200 restaurants all over HK, China, Macau and Taiwan, the local restaurant specializing in classic HK roasted meats
Cafe Seasons
Cafe Seasons

10. Scrambled eggs and barbecue pork rice (叉燒滑蛋飯)

Cantonese people really love using eggs as one of the main ingredients for cooking. If you haven’t noticed already, a lot of the must eat food in Hong Kong uses egg as one of the main ingredients. Keep reading because there are more!

And this must eat dish combines two favourite ingredientss: eggs and barbecue pork.

There is something so comforting about a plate of scrambled eggs and barbecue pork over rice. The eggs are fluffy and silky and barbecue pork is sweet and savoury. Together with a sweet sauce served over a plate of white rice is what I called my ultimate comfort food.

Where to eat scrambled eggs and barbecue pork rice

  • Cafe Seasons (四季常餐) ($) – a modern cha chaang teng in Central serving this local favourite with a special soy sauce
  • Mon Kee Cafe (旺記冰室) ($) – the cha chaang teng has several locations serving their famous Japanese-style eggs and barbecue pork rice

11. Hong Kong-style Egg Tart (蛋撻)

HK-style egg tart is one of the best Hong Kong food you should try. The egg pudding is lightly sweetened and the flavour balances out with the buttery crust. They can be eaten as a snack or dessert.

Each bakery or restaurant will make a version of their own. Some will be sweeter than others and some even make them in different types of flavours including matcha, and with red bean. But they are always made with either a shortcrust or a flakey crust.

There are huge debates on which crust goes better with the eggy goodness. My personal favourite is the shortcrust because I prefer the texture. Try both and let me know in the comments which one you like better.

Where to eat egg tarts

  • Kam Wah Cafe & Bakery (金華冰室) ($) – a local cha chaang teng in Mongkok makes a delicious egg tart with a crumbly flakey crust
  • Lucky Star Coffee Shop (幸運星咖啡室) ($) – get a shortcrust egg tart at this modern cha chaang teng in Causeway Bay
  • Tai Cheong Bakery (泰昌餅家) ($) – a traditional bakery selling different types of egg tart. Try one at one of several locations in Hong Kong
  • Bakehouse ($$) – a western bakery and restaurant selling sourdough egg tart
  • King Bakery ($) – find many varieties at one of these bakeries that specialize in egg tarts
Yee Shun Milk Company

12. Steamed Milk Pudding (馳名雙皮燉奶) and Steamed Egg Pudding (冰花燉雞蛋)

Steamed egg and milk desserts are very popular in Hong Kong. Each type of dessert is steamed to perfection and it has just the right amount of sweetness. You can get either dessert hot or cold.

The steamed egg pudding has a similar consistency to egg custard and crème brulée. They are all egg-y and silky smooth. The Hong Kong version can be eaten as is, or add other toppings like red beans. And there are other flavours like ginger milk and chocolate milk.

As for the steamed milk pudding, I think this is one of the more unique desserts that only exist in Hong Kong (as far as I know). It has the same texture and consistency as steamed egg pudding, but it is made purely with milk.

Where to eat steamed milk and egg dessert

  • Yee Shun Milk Company (義順牛奶公司) ($) – local dessert shops with several locations in HK
  • Australia Dairy Company (澳洲牛奶公司) ($) – if you are not having their popular HK-style breakfast at this popular cha chaang teng, try their steamed egg pudding

13. Hong Kong-style Milk Tea (港式奶茶)

Hongkongers LOVE their Hong Kong-style milk tea! The flavour of the tea has to do with how HK-style milk tea is made. Black tea leaves are drained with a sackcloth bag, which makes the tea much smoother and richer. Then add the perfect amount of evaporated milk to balance out the tea flavour.

Drink it hot or cold and at any time of the day. And you get an HK-style milk tea anywhere in Hong Kong! From cafes to convenience stores, but the best ones are made in cha chaang teng.

Where to drink HK-style milk tea

  • Lan Fong Yuen (蘭芳園) ($) – one of the oldest cha chaang teng famous for its “silk stocking” HK-style milk tea and HK-style fast food. Try it at one of three locations.
  • A Cup of Tea (我杯茶) ($) – besides satay beef and egg sandwich, the cafe also makes an excellent HK-style milk tea and HK-style milk tea and coffee
  • Tea Master (茶王冰室) ($-$$) – a modern cha chaang teng in Prince Edward serves “king of milk tea” that comes in a gold cup and saucer and cost $88HKD. Or order the cheaper one like the one pictured above.

14. Egg Waffles (雞蛋仔) and Hong Kong-style Waffles (格仔餅)

One of the most popular Hong Kong street food is egg waffles. Also known as eggette, egg puffs, and gai dan zai, the waffle has round bubbly “eggs” all connected together.

The yummy treat is made to order and it is best to eat while it is warm. The exterior should be a bit crispy and the inside should be a bit soft like a mochi. While I love the original flavour, you can choose many other flavours including matcha, chocolate, coffee, spicy pork floss and salted yolk!

The other type is the Hong Kong-style Waffles which has “grids” that are perfect for spreading butter, condensed milk and white sugar. The waffle is folded in half and eaten like a sandwich. It does get a bit messy though with the melty peanut butter and condensed milk, but oh-so-delicious!

Where to eat egg waffle

  • Mammy Pancake (媽咪雞蛋仔) ($) – my favourite egg waffle place in Hong Kong. They have many flavours to choose from and several locations in HK
  • Lee Keung Kee North Point Egg Waffles (利強記雞蛋仔) ($) – try both Michelin-recommended original flavour egg waffles and HK-style waffle at one of the few locations

15. Afternoon Tea

Enjoying an afternoon tea is definitely part of Hong Kong food culture. It is a custom adopted by Hongkongers when Hong Kong was part of the British Colony.

The British tradition is always accompanied by small bite-size savoury snacks and sweet treats, scones with clotted cream and jam, and of course, tea (but you can have coffee too). And it is part of the tradition to use fancy flatware, fine china and a 3-tiered tray.

Most hotels in Hong Kong will have afternoon tea between 3 to 6 pm. And an afternoon tea is not cheap, but the food is always delicious and always Instagram-worthy.

Where to have afternoon tea

  • Mandarin Oriental (香港文華東方酒店) ($$) – have afternoon tea at the Clipper Lounge on the mezzanine level in this hotel in Central
  • The Peninsula Hong Kong (半島酒店) ($$$) – the hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui is super popular for their classic afternoon tea at The Lobby
  • Cafe Épure ($$$) – try the afternoon tea set at the one Michelin star French contemporary dining restaurant
  • The Lounge & Bar ($$$) – book a table by the window and have high tea at the Ritz Carlton. The view of Victoria Harbour from 102nd is breathtaking!

Related Post – Introduction to all the must eat food in Taiwan

Which local Hong Kong food are you going to try?

I hope this post will inspire your inner foodie to come out and enjoy some of Hong Kong’s must eat food. I’ll keep adding recommendations as I come across new ones.

And if I miss any Hong Kong must eat places, let me know! Leave them in the comments below!

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About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 18+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

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