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If you’re looking to try authentic Cantonese food at reasonable prices while visiting Hong Kong, your best bet is to visit Kowloon. Our handy guide will steer you in the direction of some of the area’s most tummy-pleasing highlights.
It’s well known among locals that Kowloon’s unpretentious hole-in-the-wall restaurants and buzzing canteens offer Hong Kong’s best Cantonese cuisine. From the city’s remaining dai pai dongs (open-air food stalls) to the multicultural mix of food at the eclectic Chungking Mansions and the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred meal, Kowloon is a true foodie paradise.
Breakfast at Nathan Congee and Noodle
You can’t get a more traditional local breakfast than congee (rice porridge). This popular comfort dish is beloved by locals and many refuse to start their day without it. Head to Nathan Congee and Noodle on Nathan Road, across the street from the Novotel. This modest restaurant, seating only around 35, specialises in congee. Testament to their staying power, they have been serving delicious bowls of congee to regular customers for more than half a century. The shop offers a wide variety of flavours, with the most popular being the pork mix, beef mix or fish fillet congee. For the complete experience, order a side of fritters to dunk in your congee.
Lunch at Kwan Kee Bamboo Noodles
Lunch at Kwan Kee Bamboo Noodles in Sham Shui Po is known to be a bit of a showstopper. This is one of few places where they still make jook-sing noodles (also known as bamboo noodles) the traditional way, using a bamboo pole to knead the dough. The kitchen is located at the front of the shop and, if you’re lucky, you will see the chef bouncing up and down on the bamboo pole like a seesaw as the dough is made ready. A rare sight to see these days as more shops switch to using machinery, it’s this energetic method of kneading the dough that gives the noodles their elastic-band bounce. If you want to try truly authentic bamboo noodles, this is the spot, and you shouldn’t miss the wonton noodle soup.
Take in panoramic views over dinner
Above and Beyond is, quite literally, one of the top spots in the city for an authentic yet refined Cantonese dinner. Perched on the 28th floor of Hotel Icon, the restaurant has views that are as stunning as the tantalising food on offer. Meat eaters will love mouthwatering dishes like Hong Kong-style Peking duck and honey-glazed barbecued pork, while an equally tasty vegetarian menu is also available. Set dinners start from HK$488 (£47) per person.
Discover breakfast treats at a cha chaan teng
No trip to Hong Kong is complete without visiting a cha chaan teng (local tea café) for breakfast. Cha chaan tengs first became popular in the 1950s, selling affordable Western-style dishes fused with Chinese cooking methods catering to local palates. Today these local tea cafés remain popular, serving classic (mostly breakfast) specialities such as milk tea, condensed milk buns, doll noodles (instant noodles topped with fried egg and spam) and a host of other Hong Kong-style fusion favourites. A particularly good example of a cha chaan teng is the Australia Dairy Company in Kowloon’s Jordan neighbourhood. This tea café serves quite possibly the best breakfast in the city – fluffy scrambled eggs on thick buttery toast, served alongside a plate of macaroni and char siu (barbecued pork) in chicken broth. It’s the very definition of breakfast bliss.
Enjoy lunch at the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred eatery
Tim Ho Wan is in the running to be the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world. Specialising in dim sum – an assortment of bite-sized Chinese delicacies, usually eaten at lunch – the restaurant is most famous for its baked barbecued pork buns, which are a steal at less than HK$24 (£2.30). The hole-in-the-wall eatery garnered fame after winning a Michelin star in 2010, becoming famous as a dining destination that’s kind to both your taste buds and your bank balance. A meal for two at the restaurant is likely to cost around HK$260 (£25). Other standout dishes include the pan-fried turnip cake, shrimp dumplings (har gow), pork and shrimp dumplings (siu mai) and pork spare ribs (pai kuat). The chiu chow-style steamed dumplings are a vegetarian favourite.
Dine at the Chungking Mansions
Kowloon owes its rich and diverse culture chiefly to its substantial immigrant community, a large part of which hails from the Indian subcontinent. A gathering place for many of Tsim Sha Tsui’s minorities, Chungking Mansions is renowned for serving some of the best Indian and Pakistani food in the city. The Delhi Club – located on the third floor of the building – is a local favourite known for its tasty, authentic Indian food at reasonable prices, alongside friendly and helpful staff. High end it is not, but that has been no obstacle for this hidden gem’s growing fame. Expect great tandoori chicken, curries and cheese-stuffed naan bread. It’s a little tricky to find the restaurant, but once you’re there, the food and service can’t be faulted. Besides a great meal, a trip to explore Chungking Mansions – a labyrinth of of clothes stalls, food stores and guest houses – is all part of the eclectic Kowloon experience.
Watch the sun go down at Tin Lung Heen
For a more upscale alternative, opt for a memorable dining experience at Tin Lung Heen. This two Michelin-starred restaurant, located on the 102nd floor of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, is the highest Chinese restaurant in the city. This elegant dining establishment specialises in elevated Cantonese fare, with sweeping views to match. You must try the delicious Iberian pork with honey, alongside other signature favourites like the double-boiled chicken soup with fish maw, served in a coconut. This is coupled with a great wine list and a sommelier who is on hand to recommend the best food-and-wine pairings.