Hong Kong is a destination for opulent cuisine, but for a cheaper and more authentic Cantonese experience, Hong Kong visitors are advised to try its cheaper counterpart, Kowloon. Though less accommodating to English speakers than the island, Kowloon offers a truly immersive experience. We revisit Kowloon’s ten best restaurants.
Above & Beyond Courtesy Above & Beyond
Above & Beyond
Honey-glazed Barbecued Kagoshima Pork | Courtesy Above and Beyond
The 28th-story view from the exemplary Above & Beyond restaurant offers panoramic vistas of the expansive and beautiful skyline. The Cantonese-style interior of the restaurant is mixed with more contemporary styles, making it an upmarket yet relaxing place to enjoy a cocktail and sample the delightful dishes, which are contemporary twists on authentic Cantonese cooking. Highlights include the noodles with mushroom and black truffles, deep-fried whitebait with honey chili and sesame, and steamed turbot in a delicate soy sauce broth. The restaurant’s dishes aren’t solely Cantonese – on weekends and lunchtimes there is a delicious selection of afternoon tea and authentic American breakfasts.
For a less authentic, but more refined experience, diners are recommended to visit Aqua Roma, situated in Kowloon’s ultra-fashionable One Peking. The impressive and stylish interior is matched only by the dazzling views of Hong Kong’s harbor and skyline, with seats arranged on mezzanines, ensuring every customer has a great outlook. The restaurant mixes Japanese cuisine with that of southern Italy, from the Italian lobster pizza and olive tapenade, to the Japanese octopus salad and stone-cooked wagyu beef. The prices are reasonable for the quality and location. Twinned with a great selection of accompanying wines and unusual cocktails, this restaurant is one of the best in Kowloon.
The popular Cambo Thai Restaurant offers a range of extremely fiery dishes, from hot curries and spicy fried curry crab, to the milder shrimp served with a sweet and sour sauce. Sticking to its Thai roots, the restaurant uses fresh ingredients to create authentically cooked Thai dishes. Highly recommended is the baked seafood rice in coconut, which is a mild creamy dish, served as an alternative to the staple red and green curries. The rice comes served in the coconut shell, which allows you to scrape the flesh, adding to the flavor and the authentic exotic feel of the restaurant. For dessert, the creamy black rice with mango and coconut milk is a good palate cleanser and contrasts well with the spicy food.
The Golden Orchid in Kowloon is one of the most popular hangouts for locals and Thai expatriates in the area. Housed in the Thai hub, this unassuming restaurant is situated in the heart of the ‘Kowloon City’ area, surrounded by almost 40 other Thai restaurants. Highly recommended by diners, this restaurant is often full of locals, and is a great place to mingle. The interior is unpretentious and simple, allowing the dishes to speak for themselves: if it’s your first time here, go for the tender brisket of beef or lamb, cooked in a yellow curry – it’s a Thai specialty and one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes. There are other, more refined Thai restaurants in Kowloon, but few compare to the authentic tastes of Golden Orchid.
Islam Food is a popular restaurant in Kowloon that serves up a wide selection of Cantonese dishes in an unpretentious setting. The food is all freshly prepared and halal, and also caters for vegetarians, and some of the house specialties include the dim sum veal goulash cakes, and the stir-fried mutton. Also highly recommended are the soup noodles in peanut sauce, the sweet and sour prawns, and the spicy fried tofu. Being very popular with locals, Islam Food is a great place to mingle, and if there is space at your table, it is customary to give up your seat for another waiting customer.
A restaurant popular with those in the know, Sharmaji Indian Veggie Restaurant is ideal for vegetarians, but the delicious Dhaba-inspired dishes make it popular with everyone. While the décor is nothing to write home about, the food here takes center stage. Highly recommended is the homemade parathas (Indian flat breads), which are light and perfectly baked, and go extremely well with the wide selection of curries served in the traditional thalis, which are metal trays with individual compartments. The restaurant is also open for traditional Indian breakfast. Highly recommended is the aloo paratha, which is a flavorsome way to start the day.
A signature dish at Spring Deer | Courtesy umami.typepad.com
simplylife BAKERY CAFEis a popular hangout for locals, serving a variety of breakfast and lunch items. Founded in 2007, it offers a mix of both East and West culinary inspirations where every day, freshly made European-style breads, pastries and pizzas are created in-house. The cafe’s mantra is to keep things tasty and simple, using only the freshest ingredients and the café’s own unique cooking expertise. The reasonably priced set lunch menu includes tea, soup or salad, and a main course, of which the black cod comes highly recommended.
Although it may not be the highest-profile of Kowloon restaurants, Spring Deer is a modest establishment that has been running for over 45 years. The restaurant is often overlooked by the guidebooks, but its old-school atmosphere makes it an ideal place to enjoy traditional specialties. The house favorite honey-glazed Peking Duck is tender and tasty, and is also well priced for two people to share. North Chinese and Pekinese meals are a specialty here – as well as the duck, there are a number of other roast pork, beef and chicken dishes that come highly recommended. Booking far in advance is a necessity at this busy institution, as it is often filled with local families and groups, so getting a table can be extremely difficult.
Kowloon in the summer sees the temperatures rise, but as the evenings get cooler, the outdoor eateries come alive. The area was once home to numerous outside eateries, but nowadays these are mostly found in the bustling Temple Street, which is home to a wide selection of excellent spicy crab restaurants, with Temple Spice Crabs being one of the most popular. Although extremely busy with locals and tourists, it is the cheap beer, fresh seafood and well-spiced crustaceans that set it apart from the others. The chairs of the eatery spill out onto the street, which looks like a chaotic scene, but once seated on the long benches, the bustling atmosphere makes it a great place to eat. The spiced crabs are of course a must-try item, but the establishment also cooks up a tasty selection of Cantonese seafood dishes too. The price of the food is reasonable, but the cheap beer draws the crowds.
Whilst Hong Kong is often cited as the most expensive region in the world, Tim Ho Wan is an amazing value-for-money restaurant, worth visiting for its fantastic array of dim sum – and known as the world’s (former) cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant. The most popular dim sum is the cha siu baau, a Cantonese pork-filled bun, which attracts a number of loyal customers. As well as the cha siu baau, there is vermicelli roll stuffed with pig’s liver, pan-fried turnip cake, and steamed egg cake, which make up the menu’s ‘four heavenly king dim sums’. Be sure to get there early enough to secure yourself a table, as the restaurant’s rise in popularity means queues are regularly over an hour in length.