Kowloon is one of the two main halves of Hong Kong. There’s the island, which is home to the glitzier neighbourhoods of Central, Causeway Bay and Lan Kwai Fong. And then there’s Kowloon, which is where you’ll find Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok and the New Territories – and a restaurant scene that is much more down to earth. This half is where most people live, and so the food options here are more reflective of what locals really eat.
Kowloon is brimming with delicious restaurants. You’ll find upscale fine-dining spots offering spectacular views, hole-in-the-wall joints with authentic Cantonese cuisine and even some purveyors of European flavours. Check out these 13 great restaurants in the unmissable Kowloon neighbourhood.
Located in the luxurious Elements Mall, Kagura is a Japanese-style barbecue (yakiniku) restaurant that began in Hokkaido and branched out to Hong Kong. Kagura’s founder, Haruyoshi Kashiwaba, subscribes to the farm-to-table philosophy. The Mirai beef is raised at his private farm, where the cattle are given a clean space to roam in and fed only the highest-quality feed. Highlights of the menu are the A4 Wagyu with sukiyaki sauce and the assorted Mirai beef yakiniku platter; place the slices of raw meat onto a griddle and then devour while piping hot.
Diner, Restaurant, Chinese
This hole-in-the-wall restaurant serves up two main dishes: congee and noodles. The former is a savoury porridge made out of rice and the latter is… noodles. The menus are all in Cantonese, but there are pictures you can point to, as well as other diner’s choices. Their signature dish is the traditional Cantonese congee, which you should pair with a fried dough stick and a century egg. The wonton soup is light, fragrant and delicious. Those with peanut allergies should probably give this spot a miss.
From its humble beginnings as a hole-in-the-wall joint, Tim Ho Wan has gone onto open branches all over Asia and further afield. The original Tim Ho Wan lies in Hong Kong’s Sham Shui Po neighbourhood. The four ‘heavenly kings’ of their menu are the pork buns, steamed egg cake, beancurd skin with pork and shrimp and pan-fried carrot cake. The siu mai, steamed shrimp dumplings and vermicelli roll stuffed with beef are all worth trying. It’s best to bring a few friends along so you can try more dishes, but expect to wait up to an hour to eat at this popular restaurant.
Hotel Restaurant, Chinese
Cuisine Cuisine, located in The Mira Hotel, is the perfect spot for Cantonese fine dining. The Michelin-star restaurant is known for its many traditional specialities, including the mouthwatering roasted peking duck and honey-glazed barbecued pork. The signature tasting menus are a great option for sampling a variety of Hong Kong’s most delicious specialities, while the lunchtime spread is all about dim sum. The restaurant also has a knowledgeable sommelier who can help you expertly pair your meal with an impressive selection of world wines.
The spectacular harbour views are reason enough to visit Above and Beyond. Perched on the 28th floor of Hotel Icon, the vista from the floor-to-ceiling windows makes for a romantic venue to take your date or significant other. During dim sum hours, the luxuriously decorated dining room hums with the sort of lighthearted chatter you’d typically find in a traditional cha chaan teng (local diner). The kitchen serves up tried and tested Cantonese classics, like steamed fish, barbecued pork buns and crispy chicken, as well as sme more experimental offerings, such as the wok-fried M7 Wagyu beef with Chiuchow-style soy-marinated goose liver.
This open-air restaurant (dai pai dong) is popular among locals for its casual atmosphere and fresh ingredients. Located in the bustling neighbourhood of Mong Kok, Market Hotpot is a wet market, meat market and hot pot restaurant all in one. Order a pot of their warming chicken and fish maw soup and then add slices fish, meat or veg to cook in the broth. Expect to sit on plastic and wooden stools at tables covered in thin sheets of plastic. This no-frills restaurant is busy, so the waiters will probably usher you out as soon as you’ve finished your meal – but it’s all part of the experience. Flyers and mismatched posters plastered to the walls all add to the unpretentious charm of this venue.
Hotel Restaurant, Italian
Boasting spectacular views from the 102nd floor of the luxurious Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, Tosca is the ultimate destination for modern Italian fine dining. Two-Michelin-star chef Pino Lavarra is shows exceptional attention to detail throughout the menu and you can be sure each dish is not only mouthwatering but also beautifully presented. Classic Italian cooking is paired with local ingredients here, such as the Hokkaido scallops and asparagus, or the roasted Wagyu beef sirloin with artichoke. Check out their weekend brunch spread if you are looking for a true (albeit expensive) treat.
Restaurant, Hotel Restaurant, Swedish, Icelandic, Finnish, $$$
Celebrity chef Jaakko Sorsa is the man behind Hong Kong’s first Nordic restaurant, FINDS. The mouthwatering menu changes seasonally, and uses Nordic cooking techniques such as smoking, curing, pickling and fermenting. The highlights of the menu are the house-smoked salmon fillet and the Nordic seafood platter. Vegetarians will be happy to know that FINDS offers a meatless set menu on Mondays.
Restaurant, Spanish, Tapas
Tucked away in the neighbourhood of Lai Chi Kok is one of the city’s most authentic Spanish restaurants. Everything about Rustico, from the humble decor to the Barcelona-inspired menu, transports you straight to the streets of Catalonia. Tapas are served in traditional ceramic dishes and are bursting with fragrance and flavour. Order the spicy chorizo, seafood paella and suckling pig paired with a bottle of Rioja and you won’t believe you are still in Hong Kong.
Cafe, Chinese, British
Cha chaan tengs typically serve up fusion foods from the British colonial era, but at Capital Café, the food is a touch more refined. Signature dishes to try at this casual restaurant include the scrambled eggs topped with Périgord truffle, Principal’s toast (so called as it was originally made for the singer Alan Tam, whose nickname is ‘Principal’), and, of course, the sweet milk tea. There’s a branch in Mong Kok and another in Kowloon Bay.
Restaurant, Steakhouse, $$$
Helmed by celebrity chef Laurent Tourondel, BLT Steak is the Hong Kong branch of a New York steakhouse based in Tsim Sha Tsui. The restaurant’s brightly lit space include floor-to-ceiling windows that offer gorgeous views of Victoria Harbour. The excellent brunch includes unlimited appetisers, as well as helpings from the dessert buffet and carving station. Prime cuts of beef are imported from the USA and Australia and always reliably delicious; top choices include the beef brisket hash, hanger steak marinated in citrus mustard or baked eggs en piperade. Grab a table outside and watch the nostalgic Star Ferry drift by while enjoying your meal, and save room for the decadent menu of generous American desserts.
Restaurant, Chinese, $$$
One of the best and cheapest spots in the city to enjoy Peking duck is Spring Deer, a humble establishment that has been serving this iconic dish for over 45 years. A tender, honey-glazed roasted duck exits the kitchen doors almost every minute during peak hours. While patrons mainly come for the duck, other items on the menu worth sampling are the handmade noodles, lamb and beef. Portions are large, so it’s best to bring friends or family. The service is casual, so you may have to wave and shout to catch the attention of the busy waiters. Make sure you book ahead as this restaurant is packed almost every day of the year.
One of the best places in Hong Kong for steak and stunning city views is Wooloomooloo Prime. Perched on the 21st floor of The One shopping mall, its towering floor-to-ceiling windows back onto views of one of the world’s most iconic skylines. Come just before sunset to enjoy a sundowner on the terrace while watching the sky turn from day to dusk. While vegetarians are advised to go elsewhere, there are seafood options for pescatarians, and carnivores can enjoy some of the world’s best steaks. The stockyard’s finest M9+ Wagyu sirloin is the tenderest, most buttery cut of meat you’ll ever experience. The dessert menu is decadent and the wine list vast.