Hong Kong people rightly have a reputation for being food lovers—at any time of the day, anywhere, anyhow, they’ll always manage to eat, whether it be a full blown lunch or dinner or, perhaps, a snack. For sure, you’ll never go hungry in Hong Kong and, whilst your favourite restaurant might be closed, there will always be a corner or street side restaurant as an alternative, offering mainly local delicacies or even ubiquitous dishes like spaghetti or macaroni (local style).
Probably the best way to start your culinary adventure in Hong Kong is to simply wander the streets looking for restaurants, cafés, coffee shops which catch your eye; or you can ask your colleagues and friends for some recommendations or even start by looking at a food/restaurant guide or two.
Restaurants and other eateries come and go at an astonishing pace in the city although, of course, perennial favourites such as certain hotel restaurants enjoy amazing longevity.
Hotel coffee shops or restaurants are favoured places to both eat and meet for a catch up on topics of the day for the local population, tempting palates with extensive buffets and flamboyant desserts; as are western style faster food restaurants such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut or Starbucks.
No doubt, not long after your arrival, you’ll be trying “dim sum” the Cantonese take on Chinese cuisine, with its vast variety of things to eat, some not so tempting to the western palate and others which become firm favourites after only eating them one time; items such as “cha sui bao”, spring rolls (“tsun guen”), “sui mai” and “har gau dumplings” are forever popular with foreigners.
Cantonese style food is mainly steamed but also offers a variety of deep fried dishes, especially from the ubiquitous street stalls which adorn the city. Besides pork, beef and chicken, Cantonese cuisine incorporates almost all edible meats, including offal, chicken feet, duck’s tongue, snakes, and snails. Yet the cuisine also includes a wide variety of vegetables such as “bok choi” a green leafy vegetable and a timeless favourite “tofu” with the aptly named “stinky tofu” being a less widespread favourite, but a favourite nonetheless.
Other favourites include steamed fish, most varieties of sea food, especially hairy crabs in the winter months, chow mein (pan fried crispy thin noodles).
Rather than try to list names and names of popular restaurants, just a few samples of the types of cuisine available are shown, with the reader, hopefully being able to enjoy and adventure to two simply by getting out to the various districts.
Café de Coral and Fairwood Restaurants are two major local chains which offer relatively cheap local food, mainly rice, congee (a popular breakfast, rice based dish with is served with a variety of other ingredients according to the eater’s requirements) and various styles of noodles.
Almost every retail centre seems to have a food court; small local bakeries, cake shops, sandwich shops, delis compete for business with restaurants offering Peking, Hunan, Shanghai, Sichuan or Mongolian restaurants all being representative of China’s varied cuisine. Other Asian cuisines are well represented with Korean and Japanese food available in a number of popular restaurants such as the popular Genki Sushi chain, but also available to buy and self cook, perhaps, in most larger supermarkets.
Indian and Nepalese, European and Middle Eastern dining establishments all abound and, as we said, one thing that won’t happen in that you’ll go hungry in Hong Kong!
Supermarkets and government run wet/dry markets
Two supermarkets dominate the market, namely Supermarkets: Wellcome Supermarket or Park’N’Shop Supermarket but there also Taste and City Super, slightly more upmarket establishments with the latter having a renowned deli section.
In almost every neighbourhood, you will find, more often than not, a government established wet and dry market where locals tend to buy their fruit and vegetables, their meat and fish, seeking the ultimate in freshness; the noises and smells are not, initially, always for the faint hearted but you’ll get used to the “atmosphere” in time and come to appreciate the cheaper prices!
If you can’t face shopping in the markets or don’t feel like carrying your weekly groceries back on the bus (assuming you have not car) both Wellcome Supermarket and Park’N’Shop Supermarket will deliver providing you order more than a set amount. Also, many restaurants offer delivery services directly or through specialised providers, many of whom work with dozens of restaurants to give you almost unlimited choice.
After settling in you may decide to do a cooking course to better understand just how that chef made that delicious soup or dish or dessert. Town gas that help provide the city with its gas resources offer a multitude of courses to help the novice. On the other hand, if you employ a maid and want her to cook some of the dishes you have been missing from home you can always send her to learn at the YWCA.