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mysillything/CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr
mysillything/CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr

8 Classic Hong Kong Cafe Foods

Picture of Sally Gao
Updated: 9 February 2017
In Hong Kong, a cha chaan teng (literally meaning tea restaurant) is a small cafe or diner that serves affordable fast food, tea and breakfast. A cha chaan teng is instantly recognizable by its mix of eclectic, East-meets-West menu containing dishes that could have only been invented in a city like Hong Kong. Read on for a rundown of 8 classic local favourites you can find in many cafes around the city.

Crispy Buns With Condensed Milk

This sweet, buttery snack is a must-try for visitors to Hong Kong. It consists of two halves of a bread bun, toasted on one side and drizzled with condensed milk. It sounds simple but the result is delicious enough to make you faint.

Crispy buns with condensed milk, Hong Kong | ©David Boté Estrada/Flickr

Crispy buns with condensed milk, Hong Kong | ©David Boté Estrada/Flickr

Hong Kong Milk Tea

You can’t make a list of Hong Kong cafes without mentioning the milk tea. Hongkongers consume more than 900 million cups of milk tea a year. Made from black tea and evaporated or condensed milk, a perfect cup of Hong Kong-style milk tea should be smooth and rich, bringing out the roasted flavor of the tea leaves. This drink can be served hot or iced.

noya59629/CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr

noya59629/CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr

Swiss Wings

These braised chicken wings marinated in a sticky, sweet soy sauce taste heavenly. Nobody knows why they are called ‘Swiss wings’ but one urban legend has it that a Westerner who came across the dish asked the waiter what it was called and misheard the answer ‘sweet wings’ as ‘Swiss wings’, thus a classic dish was born.

Stuart Spivack/CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr

Stuart Spivack/CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr

Hong Kong-Style French Toast

This buttery, chewy concoction consists of deep-fried sliced bread dipped in butter and is often topped with more butter, syrup or condensed milk. Hong Kong-style French toast is a popular option amongst locals for both breakfast and afternoon tea.

Kansir/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

Kansir/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

Baked Tomato Pork Chop Rice

This classic dish is a great comfort food for Hongkongers. It consists of fried pork chops over rice and veggies, coated with a thick layer of tomato sauce and melted cheese. A great baked tomato pork chop rice dish is best tucked into fresh out of the oven.

Alpha/CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr

Alpha/CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr

Red Bean Ice

Hongkongers have been sipping this refreshing dessert drink since their childhood. It consists of azuki beans, syrup, evaporated milk and crushed ice, sometimes topped with vanilla ice cream. The best part? Scooping up the azuki beans with a spoon once you’re finished with the drink.

snowpea&bokchoi/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

snowpea&bokchoi/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

Spam Egg Noodles

This essential diner food consists of three things: sliced luncheon meat, fried egg and firm, chewy instant noodles (also known as ‘doll noodles’ in Cantonese). Vegetables are sometimes added but they’re not necessary. Full of MSG flavorings, this dish is not considered healthy by a long stretch but it is dependably tasty!

mysillything/CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr

mysillything/CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr

Singapore-Style Noodles

As with the Swiss wings, this dish is a Hong Kong invention so you’ll have a hard time finding it in Singapore. Consisting of stir-fried vermicelli with curry powder, onion, chili peppers and pieces of sliced ham and shrimp, these noodles are intensely flavored and usually moderately spicy.

Deborah Austin/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

Deborah Austin/CC BY 2.0/Flickr