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Hong Kong is among the world's great foodie destinations, with a tastebud-tingling array of food, from posh nosh to the latest in innovative and international cuisines. But it's the tried-and-tested traditional favourites that will really get your lips smacking.
While we can't travel at the moment, we can get inspired for future visits by recreating Hong Kong classics in our own kitchen. Crab with ginger, steamed fish with ginger and shallots, and stir-fried gai lan (Chinese broccoli) are among dishes even amateur chefs can produce.
The typical Hong Kong cooking style is to stir-fry or blanch to tease out flavours. Little oil is used, and few spices. Pork, chicken, and seafood feature prominently, as do bitter greens served with oyster sauce. Look out too for slow-cooked meats simmered in rice wine and soy sauce, as well as the always-popular char siew barbecued meats, marinated in honey, soy sauce and five-spice.
Celebrity chef Adam Liaw, a super fan of Hong Kong cuisine, has been inspired by nostalgia for his Hong Kong visits to create his version of Cantonese-style pork neck char siew. Fire up your oven, follow his video below, and get cooking for a finger-licking treat.
Adam's version of this classic dish is marinaded in hoisin sauce, five-spice, ginger juice, soy sauce and Shaoxing wine, with fermented bean curd adding an extra depth of flavour. Its shiny, crispy glaze and succulent interior form the perfect char siew combination.
You'll see such barbecued meats hanging in restaurant windows in Hong Kong, either to take away or eat inside, sliced on top of rice. When it's time to travel again, put spots such as Yat Lok Roast Goose (34 Stanley Street, Central), Golden BBQ (68 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai), and Yung Kee on your must-visit list.
Yung Kee restaurant should be at the top of any foodie’s must-visit list. Photo: Hong Kong Tourism.
Another Hong Kong must? Nothing beats a leisurely morning enjoyment of dim sum, particularly on Sundays. Settle in amid the rattle of food carts, teacups and chatter, and put together a long lunch from a temptation of small dishes such as translucent shrimp dumplings, spring and rice-noodle rolls, sticky rice, spareribs and thousand-year-old egg and pork congee.
Particularly scrumptious are steamed buns with various fillings: don't miss the classic char siu bao (caramelised barbecued pork). Those at Tim Ho Wan encourage you to over-indulge. Another great dim sum spot is Lock Cha Tea House in Hong Kong Park, featuring all-vegetarian dim sum.
You're sure to leave Tim Ho Wan with a full stomach of delicious steamed buns and char siu bao. Photo: Hong Kong Tourism.
What's less well-known about Hong Kong's food scene is the dai pai dong or open-air street restaurant. These humble, old-fashioned eateries are slowly disappearing, so tuck in while you can.
Among traditional dishes is noodles with pork chop and fried egg: try it at So Kee (15-16 Yiu Tung Street, Sham Shui Po). For noodles, head to Sing Heung Yuen or Cheung Fat Noodles (14 Yiu Tung Street, Sham Shui Po). Braised beef noodles are the ultimate Hong Kong comfort food.
Get a taste of traditional Hong Kong cuisine at Cheung Fat Noodles. Photo: Hong Kong Tourism.
Other dai pai dong dishes include congee, stir-fries, three-stuffed treasures (fried tofu, eggplant and capsicum stuffed with fish paste), and steamed, braised or barbecued meat and seafood. The adventurous can try stinky tofu, and beef offal served in delicious broth. Enjoy the variety all in one place at Woosung Street Temporary Cooked Food Hawker Bazaar in Yau Ma Tai.
Small neighbourhood eateries are also the place to indulge in traditional Hong Kong dishes. Each has its own speciality. Slurp up steaming soup afloat with fat wontons at Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop (51 Parkes Street, Jordan), and satisfy yourself with steamed or fried dumplings at Yuen Fong Dumpling Store (104 Fuk Wa Street, Sham Shui Po). For a quick, filling snack, try the fish balls at Tung Tat Food Shop.
Try local favourites such as fried and steamed dumplings at Yuen Fong Dumpling Store. Photo: Hong Kong Tourism.
Make sure you don't overlook desserts, another distinctive part of Hong Kong cuisine. Generally, these consist of variations on a warm, sweet soup flavoured with black sesame or red bean and containing fruit, sweet-potato cubes, glutinous rice balls, or ice cream.
It might be a while before we can tuck into all these treats in Hong Kong itself, but channel your inner Adam Liaw and get the Hong Kong flavours popping in your kitchen – and your travel inspiration flowing again.
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.