Best Traditional Food in Hong Kong. A Delicious History

Hong Kong is a vibrant and dynamic city that offers a diverse range of culinary experiences. From street food to fine dining, there’s something to suit every taste and budget.

Its cuisine is mainly influenced by Cantonese cuisine, European cuisines (especially British cuisine) and non-Cantonese Chinese cuisines (especially Hakka, Teochew, Hokkien and Shanghainese), as well as Japanese, Korean and Southeast Asian cuisines, due to Hong Kong’s past as a British colony and a long history of being an international port of commerce.

Complex combinations and international gourmet expertise have given Hong Kong the labels of “Gourmet Paradise” and “World’s Fair of Food”.

Here are the top 10 traditional dishes to try in Hong Kong.

Best Traditional Food in Hong Kong

Dim Sum

One Dim Sum

Dim Sum is the most popular and traditional dish in Hong Kong. You will find it everywhere, and you will probably try it in more than one place during your trip.

Many dim sum dishes are made of seafood, chopped meats, or vegetables wrapped in dough or thin wrappings and steamed, deep-fried, or pan-fried. A traditional dim sum brunch includes various types of steamed buns, such as cha siu bao (a steamed bun filled with barbecue pork), rice or wheat dumplings, and rice noodle rolls that contain a range of ingredients, including beef, chicken, pork, prawns, and vegetarian options.

Many dim sum restaurants also offer plates of steamed green vegetables, stuffed eggplant, stuffed green peppers, roasted meats, congee and other soups. Dessert dim sum is also available and can be ordered at any time since there is not a set sequence for the meal.

In addition to traditional dim sum, some chefs also create and prepare new fusion-based dim sum dishes. [22][23][24][25] There are also variations designed for visual appeal on social media, such as dumplings and buns made to resemble animals.

Some of the best places to eat Dim Sum in Hong Kong are:

Roast Goose

Kam’s Roast Goose

Roast goose is a staple in Hong Kong cuisine and is often served during festive occasions. The dish is prepared by marinating the goose in a mixture of spices, sugar, and soy sauce before being roasted to perfection. The result is a crispy, succulent dish that is bursting with flavour.

Ovens to roast the goose or any other animal in this traditional way are industrial and need a lot of space and operational costs, so it is not common for people to have them in their houses. Therefore, restaurants do the cooking for them and leave them hanging there so people can go and buy.

It is normally served with rice and some vegetables, like in the picture above.

Wonton Noodle Soup

Mak’s Noodle

Wonton Noodles is popular in Southern China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. The dish usually consists of egg noodles served in a hot broth, garnished with leafy vegetables and wonton dumplings.

The types of leafy vegetables used are usually gai-lan, also known as Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale. Another type of dumpling known as shui jiao is sometimes served in place of wonton. Shrimp wontons are mostly known as Hong Kong dumplings. The wontons contain prawns, chicken or pork, and spring onions, with some chefs adding mushrooms and black fungus.

There are plenty of variations of this popular Cantonese dish, with different toppings and garnishes. For example, the soup and wontons are in separate bowls, the noodles are served relatively dry, served with toppings and garnishes, dressed with sauce, or dipping the noodles in the soup to eat it.

Clay Pot Rice

Claypot rice is a traditional Hong Kong dish that is made by cooking rice in a clay pot with various meats and vegetables. The dish is typically served hot and is sometimes topped with a fried egg.

The rice is presoaked, or in some cases, par-cooked, and finished in the clay pot with other ingredients which then flavour the rice. The rice develops a crust similar to that in Korean bibimbap or Spanish paella.

Traditionally, the cooking is done over a charcoal stove, giving the dish a distinctive flavour. Some places serve it with thick, sweetened soy sauce and sometimes dried salted fish. Due to the time-consuming method of preparation and slow cooking in a clay pot, customers may have to wait a period of time (typically 15–30 minutes) before the dish is ready.

Char Siu

Joy Hing Roasted Meat

Char siu is a Chinese–specifically Cantonese–style of barbecued pork. Originating in Guangdong, it is eaten with rice, used as an ingredient for noodle dishes or in stir-fries, and as a filling for chasiu baau or pineapple buns.

Five-spice powder is the primary spice, honey or other sweeteners are used as a glaze, and the characteristic red colour comes from the red yeast rice when made traditionally. Pork loin and belly are the most popular cuts to prepare this dish.

Fish Balls

Cheung Hing Kee Shanghai Pan-Fried Buns

Fish balls are a popular street food in Hong Kong that can be found at most local markets. The balls are made from fish paste and are typically served in a clear broth with vegetables. They are a flavorful and satisfying snack that is perfect for a quick bite on the go.

Similar in composition to fishcake, fish balls are often made from fish mince or surimi, salt, and a culinary binder such as tapioca flour, corn, or potato starch.

Pineapple Bun

A pineapple bun is a kind of sweet bun predominantly popular in Hong Kong and also common in Chinatowns worldwide. Despite the name, it does not traditionally contain pineapple; rather, the name refers to the look of the characteristic topping (which resembles the texture of a pineapple).

It’s a popular breakfast item and can be found in most bakeries around Hong Kong. In June 2014, the Hong Kong Government listed the pineapple bun as a part of Hong Kong’s intangible cultural heritage. Tai Tung Bakery in Yuen Long, which had been making pineapple buns for more than 70 years, was a key proponent of including the technique for making the buns on the list of 480 items of living heritage.

Beef Brisket Noodles

Kau Kee Food Cafe

Beef brisket noodles is another popular Cantonese noodle dish that features tender beef brisket simmered in a flavorful broth, served over a bed of noodles.

The beef brisket is first marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, Chinese five-spice powder, garlic, ginger, and other aromatics before being braised until tender. The noodles used in beef brisket noodles can vary, but they are typically thicker wheat-based noodles, such as udon or lo mein noodles.

They are often garnished with fresh herbs, such as cilantro or green onions, and served with a side of pickled vegetables or chilli oil for added flavour and heat.

Hong Kong-style French Toast

Australia Dairy Company

Hong Kong-style French Toast is a popular dish that originated in Hong Kong but has since become a favourite in many other parts of the world. It is a unique twist on the classic French Toast, which involves dipping bread in an egg mixture and frying it. In Hong Kong-style French Toast, however, the bread is stuffed with a sweet filling, such as peanut butter or jam, before being dipped in the egg mixture and fried.

The bread used in Hong Kong-style French Toast is usually a soft and fluffy white bread, sliced thickly. The filling can vary but is typically a sweet and rich ingredient, such as condensed milk, honey, or even chocolate spread. The bread is then pressed together to seal in the filling, creating a sandwich-like structure.

Egg Tarts

The egg tart is a kind of custard tart found in Chinese cuisine derived from the English custard tart and Portuguese pastel de nata. The dish consists of an outer pastry crust filled with egg custard. Egg tarts are often served at dim sum restaurants, bakeries and cha chaan tengs (Hong Kong-style cafes).

Egg tarts were introduced to Hong Kong via Guangzhou in the 1940s but initially could only be found in higher-end Western-style restaurants until the 1960s when cha chaan tengs began to serve egg tarts, popularizing the pastry with the working-class Hong Kong population.

Zhu Cheung Fun (Rice Rolls)

Zhu Cheung Fun is a Cantonese dish that consists of a thin rice noodle roll filled with various ingredients, such as shrimp, beef, or vegetables, and then steamed. The dish is typically served with a sweet soy sauce or hoisin sauce, sesame seeds, and sometimes scallions.

It’s a popular breakfast or dim sum dish in Cantonese cuisine and can be found in many Chinese restaurants around the world. Its soft texture and flavorful filling make it a comforting and delicious dish.

Egg Puffs

Mammy Pancake

Egg Puffs, also known as eggettes or gai daan jai in Cantonese, are a popular Hong Kong street food and snack. They are made using a special pan with egg-shaped molds and consist of small, egg-shaped waffles with a crispy exterior and a soft, fluffy interior.

The batter for Egg Puffs is typically made from flour, eggs, sugar, and evaporated milk, which gives the puffs a sweet and slightly milky flavour. Some variations of Egg Puffs may also include additional flavours, such as chocolate or green tea.

Egg Puffs are usually served hot and fresh from the pan and are often eaten as a snack on the go. They can be found at street vendors and markets throughout Hong Kong, as well as in some speciality dessert shops and cafes.

Mango Pomelo Dessert

Mango Pomelo is a refreshing Hong Kong-style dessert that is popular in many Chinese restaurants and dessert shops around the world. It consists of diced fresh mango, sweet pomelo pulp, and sago pearls, which are served in sweet syrup made from evaporated milk, sugar, and coconut milk.

The dessert has a sweet and slightly tart flavour, with a creamy and slightly chewy texture from the sago pearls. It’s often served chilled and is especially popular during the summer months when the sweet and juicy mangoes are in season.

Put chai ko

Put chai ko is a popular snack in Hong Kong consisting of a pudding cake that is palm size and sweet in taste. It is soft but can hold its moulded shape outside a bowl. The cake is made from white or brown sugar, long-grain rice flour with a little wheat starch or cornstarch. Sometimes red beans are also added.

Traditionally, the hawker inserts two bamboo skewers into the cake to turn it out and the eater holds the skewers to consume. At present, most Put Chai Ko are sold in plastic bags.

Milk Tea

Lan Fong Yuen

Milk tea is a popular beverage in Hong Kong and other parts of the world. It’s made by steeping tea leaves in hot water and adding milk and sugar for a creamy and sweet taste. The tea used can vary from black tea to green tea, and the milk can be evaporated milk or regular milk.

It’s often served cold with ice, and sometimes with added toppings like tapioca pearls or jelly. But it can also be served hot as a standard tea like in the picture above. Milk tea is a staple in Hong Kong-style cafes and has gained popularity globally as a refreshing and satisfying drink.

Top 10 Restaurants to eat international food in Hong Kong

Not everyone does, but many people get tired of local food and need a good pizza, bowl of pasta, tuna sandwich, grilled chicken breast with mashed potato, curry, sushi or whatever you consider a good break from Hong Kongese food.

Restaurant NameCuisineLocationAverage Price (per person)
ClassifiedWesternVarious locationsHKD 150-250
Motorino SoHoItalianSohoHKD 200-400
YardbirdJapaneseSheung WanHKD 500-800
The ContinentalEuropeanPacific Place, AdmiraltyHKD 800-1,200
AmberFrenchThe Landmark, CentralHKD 1,500-2,500
CapriceFrenchFour Seasons Hotel, CentralHKD 1,500-3,000
Sushi ShikonJapaneseThe Landmark, CentralHKD 3,000-5,000
The Krug RoomModern EuropeanMandarin Oriental Hotel, CentralHKD 4,000-6,000
8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo BombanaItalianCentralHKD 1,500-2,500
L’Atelier de Joel RobuchonFrenchThe Landmark, CentralHKD 1,500-3,000
BelonFrenchSohoHKD 1,000-2,000
Mandarin Grill + BarWesternMandarin Oriental Hotel, CentralHKD 1,000-2,000

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