An expat’s guide to eating out in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival is a must-visit culinary spectacular.
The Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival is a must-visit culinary spectacular.  Photo: Supplied

The woks are sizzling and chopsticks clicking in Hong Kong. This city has always been passionate about food and, despite the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, new restaurants have opened and the dining scene remains as vibrant as ever.

The annual highlight of the food scene is the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival, which runs throughout November. This year's festival is a bold reminder that, despite the COVID pause, Hong Kong remains a world-renowned culinary capital and go-to destination for foodies.

The annual gastronomic extravaganza has both physical and digital events, including live-streaming wine tastings, and walks through the best bars in four neighbourhoods. Among dozens of participating venues are The Wise King, one of Asia's 50 Best Bars, spiced-up Sichuan restaurant Qi Nine Dragons and funky fusion joint Missy Ho's.

One of the latest trends showcased this year is Chinese omakase, in which you let the chef choose your meal. Chefs from Hong Kong's most sophisticated dining venues such as Lung King Heen and Spring Moon are participating.

To celebrate the renewed energy of the Hong Kong dining scene, we asked expat, See Lim, to nominate some favourite dining spots. See is one of 100,000 expats living in Asia's vibrant cuisine capital and, as an avid foodie, she is equally happy in upmarket restaurants or the smallest of dai pai dong or street stalls. This diversity of food options in the Hong Kong food scene is why it's her favourite food city in the world.

For a fine-dining experience, See recommends Tin Lung Heen (1 Austin Road West, West Kowloon) on the 102nd floor of The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong. The grandiose two-Michelin-star restaurant has a commanding view of Victoria Harbour. "Dim sum of the highest quality is served here, or go with the waiter's recommendations for Cantonese cuisine made with the freshest seasonal ingredients," suggests See.

Tin Lung Heen's upmarket versions of dim sum include spiced duck dumplings, poached squid and pork wonton, and lotus root stuffed with beef and water chestnut. Tasting menus include dishes such as steamed crab claw and barbecued pork with osmanthus-flower honey.

At the other end of the dining scale are the city's always-busy noodle shops. One of the city's most popular, says See, is Sister Wah Beef Noodles (13A Electric Road, Tin Hau), which has consistently secured a Michelin Bib Gourmand over several years.

The signature beef brisket noodle soup has a light, flavourful clear broth, while the brisket is sliced thin and cooked until tender, so it melts in your mouth. "Order a side of stewed daikon or white radish," suggests See. "The soft chunks have a good bite and absorb the soup well, creating a simple fuss-free meal at an extremely affordable price."

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Taste around town at Hong Kong's culinary fiesta.

Taste around town at Hong Kong's culinary fiesta. Photo: Supplied

Another Cantonese classic is barbecued meats, usually marinated in soy sauce, honey and five-spice, with roast goose a particular must-try. There are roast-goose joints everywhere – Sham Tseng Village even houses rows of roast-goose specialty restaurants – but See Lim recommends Yat Lok Roast Goose (34-38 Stanley Street, Central), though warns it is always packed.

"If you're lucky and it isn't sold out, order the roast goose drumstick vermicelli soup. The glistening drumstick with its thin layer of crispy skin is dunked in a light, savoury broth. The juices from the perfectly roasted goose blend into the soup and make a great base as you slurp up the slippery vermicelli."

Finally, says See, you haven't done Hong Kong unless you've had an egg tart and crispy pineapple bun. The best place to sample them is in an unpretentious cha chaan teng or café such as Cheung Hing Coffee Shop (9 Yik Yam St, Happy Valley), which has been feeding locals since 1951 and has a charmingly nostalgic interior of wooden booths and mosaic floors.

See's default order here is a crispy pineapple bun – so-called not because of any pineapple, but because its crunchy, crumbly surface resembles pineapple skin – sandwiching a slice of fried pork luncheon meat and fried egg. She pairs it with a hearty glass of Hong Kong milk tea, but always has room for an egg tart afterwards.

"Wait patiently for that precise moment when the egg tarts are taken right out of the oven, and then put in your order. You'll be well-rewarded with the piping hot, crispy crust pastry encapsulating the sweetest jiggly egg pudding."

Eat, drink, play and discover it all in Hong Kong. This city has so many unique and authentic experiences to offer for your first post-pandemic holiday. To stay inspired, visit Discover Hong Kong.