As American citizens in Thailand, immigration requires us to leave the country and re-enter every 60 days. At first that sounded like such a drag, but honestly its been a great excuse to see some cool spots within Asia. We were up for a visa run and had our hearts set on Japan, but after seeing how expensive flights were and how freezing cold it was in there January we stumbled on the idea of Hong Kong. Its a short, inexpensive flight from Thailand and it just seemed easy. We didn't know what to expect, but Hong Kong blew our minds!
First of all, it's super clean. At least coming from Thailand it is. There is hand soap and toilet paper in public/restaurant bathrooms and there are public trash receptacles on every block (probably how they keep the city so clean) which may seem like a small thing, but again, coming from Thailand, was an exciting detail. It felt easy and safe to walk around the city and public transportation was a breeze. AAaaand communicating with locals is a cinch since everyone speaks English. Hong Kong felt like the New York City of Asia. And the FOOD. Wow oh wow. I mean we were excited about getting a change in scenery and cuisine, but HK delivered in a big way.
True to how we like to travel, we ate our way through the city over the course of 3 days and I’m super excited to share with you what we enjoyed! The few touristy sights and activities I had on my to-do list were really just something to do in between checking off the restaurants I had on a much longer list of places we had to eat. Walk, eat, walk, eat, sleep, repeat. Hopefully with this list I can guarantee you’ll eat as good as we did!
Without further ado, and in no particular order…
MAK MAN KEE
PARKS STREET / KOWLOON PENINSULA
A Michelin starred hole in the wall noodle shop with the best shrimp wonton soup I’ve ever had. The shrimp were juicy and the wontons were huge. I got mine without noodles but my husband got them with and I believe we ordered some Chinese broccoli with hoisin as well. Absolutely incredible.
DIN TAI FUNG
TSIM SHA TSUI
This is a well known, deeply revered worldwide chain of restaruants— an empire really—with fast, efficient service who are famous for their Xiao Long Bao, or steamed soup dumplings. They have instructions at the table explaining the process of how best to enjoy eating them, and we found this quite helpful. The soup dumplings were incredibly delicious, the meat filling inside was kept moist by that little bit of broth in each dumpling. I might also mention that although not what they are famous for, we ordered sweet and sour chicken here that was unlike anything we’ve ever tried before and worth ordering as well.
YAT LOK ROAST GOOSE
STANLEY STREET / CENTRAL
Another unassuming yet Michelin starred restaurant with authentic old school Chinese barbeque. It’s a very compact space and guests are asked to share tables and hurried through their entire dining process. At the front of the restaurant, a chef gathers noodles of different sizes in one of those plastic drawer organizers that one might use to store art supplies or kid toys. Even though the experience was not relaxing, it was just part of the experience and the roast goose with noodles were all they are cracked up to be.
SHELLY STREET / CENTRAL
By our third day in Hong Kong, we’d eaten our body weight in noodles and dumplings and were really in the mood for something not Asian. Especially living in Thailand and being pretty starved for middle eastern flavors, this absolutely hit the spot for us. We ordered a bottle of French-Lebanese red wine and an array of dishes. The whole roasted cauliflower with zhoug was the star of the show but the baba ganoush almost made me cry a little tear it was so good. Look, we literally couldn't wait for me to take a pic of it before digging i. The tabbouleh was outstanding, as was the za’atar fried chicken. I think it would be pretty safe to say you could order anything here and it would be delicious.
HILLER STREET / SHEUNG WAN
A delightfully hipster coffee shop that made me completely forget I was in Asia, and I mean that in the best way possible. They were using coffee from roasters from Germany, the girl manning the espresso machine had a posh Euro accent and really knew her stuff, and there was a single burner on the opposite counter where made-to-order toasts and egg combinations were being made singularly and fresh. My husband and I ordered the usual suspects— pour over for him and a piccolo latte for me, along with a thick slab of sourdough avocado toast with soft scrambled eggs. We were not disappointed.
THE COFFEE ACADEMICS
CAUSEWAY BAY / FLAGSHIP STORE
This place wasn’t just a coffee shop. It was an institution. It had amazing vibes— the ceilings were tall, the lighting was moody, and the message that they are really, really into coffee is conveyed well, in an impressive but not intimidating way. We ordered our go-to pour over and piccolo, as well as a beautiful potato rosti with sour cream, smoked salmon, and a perfectly poached egg. There was such a nice ambience we wanted to stay for hours.
KAM WAH CAFE
BLUE STREET / PRINCE EDWARD
Perhaps the single most delicious thing I ate on the entire trip was here. It’s called a pineapple bun, (Bo lo Bao) and this cafe is famous for doing them right. A pineapple bun is something I became quite enamored with in my time in Hong Kong, so let me give you the lowdown:
There is no actual pineapple in it, but it’s acquired the name because of the color and pattern on the top of a bun, resembling one. The top layer is sweet, crunchy, and crumbly, almost like a thin layer of sugar cookie on top of the base, which is soft and pillowy, like the love child between brioche and a sweet Hawaiian dinner roll. They are typically served warm, sliced in half, with thick pats of salted butter wedged in between. You have the option to have them without butter, but really I'm saying you don’t.
We came to this cafe in search of supposedly the best Pineapple Bun in the city and it truly was the best one I tried (and I consumed an embarrassing amount of Pineapple buns in this relatively short time). This is a local spot, not in a touristy area. The wait staff is not particularly friendly and they don’t have patience for awkward tourists that don’t know the drill, but I wasn't bothered because I didn’t come for the ambience. As soon as they handed over that bun nothing else mattered.
YEE SHUN MILK CO
PILKEM STREET / JORDAN
This is another no frills, open-late local favorite, the menu is in Chinese and overwhelming to say the least. We were definitely the only tourists there. We came to try the famous “steamed milk in two skins” which is a steamed milk custard of sorts that doesn’t sound or look appealing in any way, but is inexplicably delicious. I was confused whether or not I should order it hot or cold but a kind older Chinese man at the table next to us leaned over and recommended the hot version, saying it was what most of the locals opt for. I’m glad I got his suggestion and tried the hot version. When it first came to me, all runny and coagulated looking, I thought I’d just try a bite to say that I tried it and leave but after the first bite I wanted another and then another. I ended up finishing the whole thing because it was so oddly addicting and unexpectedly good.
Note: This is just a block or two walk away from Mak Man Kee noodle shop (see #1 ) so I’d recommend trying them on the same evening.
LEE KEUNG KEE NORTHPOINT EGG BALL
Egg Waffles (also known as bubble waffles or eggettes) are another Hong Kong specialty item, a street food beloved by locals. I did a quick google search of the best egg waffles in town and Lee Keung came up in almost all the top results. This is basically just a small stall in an alley on the backside of a large electronics mall (Wan Chai computer centre) that my husband wanted to go to to get come camera equipment and when I realized how close we would be to this iconic waffle stand, it was really a win/win. Boy gets toy, Girl gets waffle. Its an eggy waffle batter cooked between two ancient, piping hot plates with oval divots. The outside shell is crisp and thin and reminiscent of a fortune cookie in flavor and texture, whereas the inside of each “bubble” is soft, doughy and vanilla scented, reminding me of a cruller doughnut.
FINANCE STREET / CENTRAL
Another Michelin star chain restaurant with amazing Dim Sum. It’s crazy how dense this city is with Michelin stars where you’d least expect them. Crystal Jade came recommended by fellow Blogger/ Foodie friend Katherine at CardamomAndTea who lives in Hong Kong and although perhaps slightly skeptical about how good a chain restaurant could really be, I’m so glad we took a local’s recommendation. We ordered scallion pancakes, hand pulled noodles (la mian), fat noodles with cabbage, steamed dumplings filled with tofu and mushrooms, and pan fried dumplings—a whole mess of food, really. We ate every last bite.