When I am in Hong Kong, I make a point to plan my dining in advance. Not only because most of the better known places must be booked well in advance, but also because there are just so many outstanding choices of where to eat – from Michelin starred restaurants to street-side noodle stands. And dim sum? Don’t get me started on dim sum… it’s a religion in this town and a personal obsession of mine as well.
When traveling, I usually force myself to try something new over going to old favourites. However in Hong Kong, there are some restaurants I simply cannot stay away from. My taste memories are so strong and vivid that I cannot resist a repeat visit to try new dishes and expand my repertoire. Many of these restaurants have been around Hong Kong for a while, in some cases decades, while there are always new stars finding their way to Hong Kong, for example, a new Michelin-starred dim sum on the list. But regardless of their age, they all represent the amazingly high standard of Chinese food – often Cantonese style – that one can find in Hong Kong.
You might ask, aren’t there amazing Italian, French, Spanish restos in Hong Kong?…well yes, there are. But the restaurants listed below are all on par with some of the best dining experiences in the world. And really, did you come to Hong Kong to eat Italian, pretend you are not in Asia, and eat the same kinds of food you can also have in New York, London, Singapore, San Francisco, Paris, etc? I hope not. When in Rome, do as the Romans do…so when in Hong Kong, eat the best Chinese food the world has to offer.
With 1 Michelin Star and listed in Pellegrino’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant List, clearly I am not the only one who thinks The Chairman is tops in Hong Kong dining.
The emphasis here is on simple Cantonese cooking. Simple in the sense that it is classic Cantonese dishes, but perfectly done, with anything but simple flavours. Local ingredients are used ensuring the freshest possible food. As Cantonese cuisine is light and delicate, and strives to bring out the original flavours of food, the freshness of the product makes a truly noticable difference. Chicken and pork are sourced from the New Territories and The Chairman also has its own produce farm in Sheung Shui. For me, the most outstanding dish here is the Steamed Fresh Flowery Crab with Aged ShaoXing Wine, Fragrant Chicken Oil & Flat Rice Noodles. The flowery crab is local to Hong Kong waters and caught daily. In fact, you can still taste a bit of briny sea water in the tender flesh of the crab.
Plan well in advance for dining at The Chairman, there is typically a long waiting list. But it is totally worth the wait.
No.18 Kau U Fong
Central, Hong Kong
Telephone: +852 2555 2202
Also, with a Michelin Star and listed in Pellegrino’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant List…award-winning chef Alvin Leung who helms Bo Innovation describes the restaurant concept as “X-treme Chinese Cuisine.” What is X-treme Chinese cuisine? Alvin says it is about, “breaking down long held preconceptions of what Chinese should look and taste like.” He intends to modern-ize Chinese cuisine through the use of molecular gastronomy and other inventive culinary techniques.
Alvin changes the menu regularly with a view that every time someone comes to Bo Innovation, they should feel like they had a “unique experience.” Recommended dishes include the Dan Dan Noodles reinvented with the addition of pine nuts and squid. Also the molecular gastronomy interpretation of Xiao Long Bao is incredible – I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so I won’t reveal more.
Shop 13,2/f,J Residence
60 Johnston Road
Wan Chai, Hong Kong
(Private lift entrance on 18 Ship Street)
Telephone:+852 2850 8371
The China Club is a members only club, so you will have to wrangle a connection to eat there, but many members are delighted to show off this spectacular place, so don’t feel shy about asking. The China Club is as much about the atmosphere and decor as it is about the classic Chinese dishes it serves. In this turn-of-the-century Shanghai-style clubhouse, Chinese modern art is tastefully mixed with art deco details which creates a retro old world vibe that is simultaneously quirky and elegant. In fact, the China Club is famous for their art collection, so you must take a stroll around the premises to see all the notable pieces.
In terms of food, the things to order here are the Peking Duck and Prawns in Sichuan Sauce. They have Westernized Chinese food as well, but I would suggest to forgo the deep fried egg rolls for something more authentic.
13/F, The Old Bank of China Building, Bank Street
Central, Hong Kong
Kimberley Chinese Restaurant
This restaurant is nothing special to look at….it’s in an average Chinese hotel on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong, the decor is rather bland and the service is so-so. However, this restaurant has become a destination dining experience for many because the food is incredible.
The signature dish is the Boneless Suckling Pig Stuffed with Glutinous Rice which must be pre-ordered and pre-paid at least 1 day in advance. This will make all other suckling pig you have tasted seem woefully lacking – its crisp skin and tender flesh sets the bar incredibly high for this classic Chinese dish. When it’s served, the head is chopped off and then taken away to be carved up – cheeks and ears and such return on a platter. Then the body of this 30-day old piglet, which has been deboned is stuffed with glutinous rice, is cut and served in slices. Come in a group as this dish feeds 10-12 people.
(photo courtesy of http://www.thatfoodcray.com )
The Kimberley Hotel
28 Kimberley Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Telephone: +852 2369 8212
Luk Yu Tea House
Since 1933, Luk Yu has been a dim sum institution on Stanley Street in the Central area of Hong Kong. The warm wood and classic old timey decor has not changed over the decades, nor has the menu. A legend in the restaurant scene not only for its longevity and loyal customers, but also because of the Triad (HK mafia) shooting and murder that took place on the scene in 2002. This place has a great many stories to whisper of history and time gone by.
Luk Yu is all about traditional dim sum. They also serve in the traditional way, with the staff coming around with trays and carts of dim sum to select from. You cannot go wrong with any dish, but they are famous for their simple yet spectacular Har Gow (steamed shrimp dumplings). Also recommended are the Shu Mai, Steamed Pork Buns and Radish Cakes.
Luk Yu Tea House
24-26 Stanley Street
Central, Hong Kong
Telephone: +852 2523 5464
With 2 Michelin Stars and numerous awards under its belt since opening in 2000, Tim’s Kitchen is a must-try on the Hong Kong dining scene. Located adjacent to Central in the less flashy Shueng Wan district. This lack of pretense is also reflected in the decor, which is surprisingly simple. Since Michelin ratings are given on the basis of a combined score for ambiance and food, you know the food is going to be excellent here.
The signature dishes to order here are so many, that it is hard to recommend just one. That said, I would recommend pre-ordering one of the classic Cantonese crab dishes – in particular the Deep-fried Whole Fresh Crab Claw with Peppercorn Salt. It must be pre ordered because Chef Tim uses classic Cantonese cooking techniques, some of which require several days of laborious preparation, thus requiring 24-hours advance notice. Also try the Crispy Chicken and Steamed Garoupa – they sound simple from the description, but are anything but simple on the palate.
Shop A, G/F & 1/F, 84-90 Bonham Strand
Hong Kong, SAR China
Telephone: +852 2543 5919
Tin Lung Heen
In the new Ritz Carlton Hotel on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong, Chef Paul Lau turns out perhaps the best dim sum I HAVE EVER EATEN. It’s so spectacular that as I write this, my mouth is starting to uncontrollably water in recalling the taste memory. No wonder it has already earned 2 Michelin Stars. Oh, and perhaps I should also mention it features one of the most stunning water vistas in Hong Kong from it’s perch on the 102nd floor of the hotel.
Go on Sunday afternoon for the classic Hong Kong dim sum experience. Dumplings are the stars of the show, but also they have some other Cantonese dishes that are must try as well. The Shrimp Dumpling is dim sum perfection with a delicate skin and the freshest shrimp inside. The Vegetable Dumpling with Porcini Mushrooms nearly bursts with earthy flavours and textures. And an Iberico Ham with Asparagus Dumpling presents a lovely and surprising twist of East meets West. However, perhaps the most recommended dish would be non-dumpling – the steamed Crab Claw with Egg White.
Parting advice – bring lots of friends in order to try more dishes!
Tin Lung Heen
Ritz Carlton Hotel
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Telephone: +852 2263 2270
Hutong was one of my first Hong Kong dining experiences – and still remains one of the top dining destinations in this food crazy city. Since opening in 2006, Hutong is the winner of many awards from prestigious international publications and has made it onto Travel & Leisure’s Best New Restaurants, Food & Wine Go List, 4 1/2 stars from the New York Times Review, and Conde Nast Traveller’s Hot Tables List. It is the combination of the sexy yet understated old Beijing glamour (even the bathroom is worth a look), the jaw-dropping, panoramic views of Victoria Harbor and the sophisticated Northern Chinese food with exquisite presentation that contributes to a truly special destination restaurant that attracts in-the-know visitors and savvy locals. Both the decor and the food are equally impressive at Hutong.
Hutong’s menu is large and while we have tried many, many items – and all are impeccable – we do have a few favourites to recommend. The Ma La Chili Prawns, fried with Sichuan Dried Peppers and Chinese Celery is a spicy food lovers dream. Meat lovers should definitely try the Braised Beef Rib wrapped in Lotus Leaf which is so tender the meat practically falls off the bone.
28/F, One Peking Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Telephone: + 852 3428 8342