Hong Kong’s restaurant, bar & street food is renowned worldwide.
Take the newly refurbished Peak Tram up Hong Kong Island’s highest hill and you’ll arrive at the ultimate symbol of this vibrant world city. The spectacular Peak Tower is shaped like a wok – perfect for this stir-fry of cultures and cuisines.
One of the world’s great gourmet destinations, Hong Kong’s kitchens reflect yesterday’s history and today’s diversity. Renowned for traditional Cantonese cuisine, the global hub lures chefs and food-obsessed travellers from all over the world.
From fine-dining palaces to street-food stalls, diners can choose from a bewildering array of menus.
Experts pinpoint 2009 as the year when the city claimed its first star on the world’s cuisine map, when the renowned Michelin Guide published its first Hong Kong and Macau edition. The 14th version has just been published, adding yet more names to the seven 3-star, 12 2-star and amazing 52 1-star restaurants honoured in 2022.
As international travellers return to this mouth-watering destination of 17,000-plus eateries, many will opt to sample Hong Kong’s famous street food. In 2016, the guide decided to honour exceptional kitchens serving good food at moderate prices: it now lists more than 60.
Three establishments (The Chairman, Neighborhood, Wing) feature in the World’s 100 Best Restaurants rankings and another trio (Coa, Argo, Quinary) in the 100 Best Bars.
Visitors returning to the city might be surprised to learn that Hong Kong’s restaurateurs and bars prospered during the pandemic. Hongkongers love eating out – it’s estimated they spend about $NZ12,225 a year enjoying themselves in restaurants, compared with our $NZ3500.
When 6pm closing was mandated, they ate in mid-afternoon, left the table by 6, leaving time free for the city’s battery of world-leading chefs to experiment with new ideas, and even open new establishments.
Says chef Vicky Cheng of the Michelin-starred VEA and world-ranked Wing: “Hong Kong is just a little dot on the map. But this little dot has such an incredible amount of people who love to eat. When I talk about my childhood memories, everything is about food.”
If there’s one thing that never changes about the city’s food scene, it’s constant change. Week after week, new restaurants open – meaning chefs, sommeliers and waiters at established favourites and new kids must always be at the top of their game.
There’s another thing: you’ve got to stand out from the crowd and that doesn’t mean flash décor; it demands daring, innovative cuisine and superb ingredients.
You’ll find those at some of the recent fine-dining arrivals, such as Noi, a contemporary Italian restaurant with Asian flavours at the Four Seasons; seafood-focussed Plaa, where traditional Thai dishes get an inventive riff; Agora, contemporary Spanish fine-dining; and Heimat, elevated German cuisine and wines.
Soybean is the star of French-Chinese Mora: enjoy soft tofu with caviar and other flavour-enhancing condiments; Japanese-led Haku uses ingredients and techniques from around the world to achieve something unique, while The Magistracy reflects timeless London restaurants.
Other chefs, such as Cheng, take their heritage and re-define it as breathtaking modern cuisine. Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons was the first Chinese restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars, creating delicate dim sum and perfectly steamed seafood dishes. Two-starred Yan Toh Heen, at the Regent, serves exquisite Cantonese; One Harbour Road, at the Grand Hyatt, features a take on home-style meals in a recreation of a 1930s-era Chinese mansion.
Man Wah, the Mandarin Oriental’s Cantonese restaurant, also has a Michelin star, while Indian aficionados will relish the New Punjab Club, the world’s first Michelin-starred Punjabi eatery.
Fancy a cocktail? Go right to the top: Ozone, 480m above sea level on the 118th floor of the luxurious Ritz-Carlton is the one of the world’s highest bars. Its deep blue décor feels like an extension of the night sky outside; inside, the cosmopolitan nightspot serves inventive cocktails and delicious Asian tapas.
Dedicated to agave drinks, Coa is inspired by Mexican bars, set in a cosy and friendly environment. Settle in: the spirits menu alone runs to 41 pages. Of the other top 100 bars, Argo has delighted in a beautifully refurbished corner of the Four Seasons hotel since 2021 and Quinary promises a multi-sensory experience with its house-flavoured spirits. Signature cocktail, the Earl Grey Caviar Martini.
DarkSide is a sultry cocktail and jazz bar; patrons of Candour favour hip-hop beats while Tell Camellia is renowned for tea-inspired concoctions.
Fine wining is a thing too, at places like Somm in The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, a casual restaurant and wine bar with over 1600 champagnes, wines and a collection of rare sakes.
LQV Wan Chai, Bȃtard, La Cabane, Premier Cru and Le Bistro Winebeast serve the best of French wines and dishes; Brut! sources from the world’s organic and biodynamic growers. Famed critic James Suckling’s establishment covers 100-point rated wines from his decades-long career.
Relaxed arrivals include BaseHall 2, bringing 13 culinary concepts under one roof; 22 Ships’ traditional yet modern tapas echoes Spain, as does Barbar, where’ll you can find the best sangria, sherries and craft gins in town.
In Hong Kong, everyone queues for tasty, traditional and affordable egg tarts, curry fish balls, noodles, crispy chicken and dumplings from the sizzling woks at open-air stalls. Popular sites include 70-year-old Chan Kan Kee Chiu Chow, Kung Wo Bean Curd Factory, roast meat specialist Tin Hung and Ding Ba Street Food’s Taiwanese snacks. For a contemporary take, Big Buns sandwich spot leads the pack.
Traditional cuisines thrive in long-time favourites the China Club and Peking Garden, Fook Lam Moon, Liu Yuan Pavilion and Moon Bay. Hsin Kwong Chiu Chow is a much-loved late-night spot.