Hong Kong is known as a food lover’s paradise, serving up delicious dim sum, all of the major metropolitan Chinese cuisines as well as the best sushi outside of Tokyo. With a notoriously mercurial dining scene, local foodie and travel writer Johannes Pong reveals his perennial favourites.

Classic Chinese food

Mott 32 peking duck hong kong food

The Hong Kong equivalent of brunch is yum cha, when families and friends get together over the weekend for tea and dim sum – stacks of dumplings in bamboo steamers and delectable small plates – finished with a dish of fried rice or noodles to share. With floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Victoria Harbour and a revamped interior of understated industrial glam and chinoiserie, Dynasty (lead photo) is the place to go for dim sum. Come back for dinner too, as the menu features elevated takes on Cantonese classics: the char siu (barbecued pork with sweet caramelised lacquer) is undeniably one of the best renditions on offer in the city.

Kins Kitchen is the brainchild of local foodie and food writer Lau Kin Wai and his son Lau Chun. They’re passionate about old, forgotten recipes, updating classics and cutting no corners. The most delicious mizhi yuntui, one of the oldest recorded recipes from the Qing Dynasty, is served here. An agate-like cube of honey-braised Yunnan ham (cured pork) is cooked for 40 hours with lotus seeds, melt-in-mouth decadence served with pillowy steamed buns.

Other urban Chinese cooking styles are represented and loved in predominantly Cantonese Hong Kong. The cavernous and chic Mott 32 in the basement of the Standard Chartered Bank Building in Central – named after the first Chinese convenience store in New York’s Chinatown – does an exceptional Peking duck roasted with apple wood and served with fluffy pancakes (pictured above). Dong Lai Shun specialises in mutton hot pot, using only the marbled cuts of Inner Mongolian black-headed rams. The Causeway Bay branch offers a tasting menu featuring some rare dishes from all over China. Try the chilled northern starters as well as a Guizhou style poached fish in a spiced, tangy broth. You won’t be disappointed!

Translucent beef Yun Yan restaurant Hong Kong

Speaking of spice, Sichuanese is the ‘it’ Chinese cuisine, sought after throughout the West and China as a whole. There’s no shortage of authentic Sichuan food in Hong Kong either. Sichuan House may have a generic name, but their fare is far from basic (pictured above). Although fiery, each dish displays distinct flavour profiles. The numbing kick of Sichuan peppercorn in the poached fish in chilli oil is absolutely tantalising. Order the prawns coated with two kinds of earthy, dried chilli powder at your own peril though! Yun Yan over in Causeway Bay Times Square offers a subtler but no less authentic take on Sichuan cuisine, refined Chengdu (Sichuan’s capital) classics like mapo tofu and paper-thin crystal beef (pictured above).

For Shanghainese, head to Liu Yuan Pavilion, a social club for the old Shanghai elite in Hong Kong. Their xiaolongbao (pork dumplings in soup) as well as the simple crispy rice in a rich stock are out of this world. Zhejiang Heen also offers the sweet cuisine from the eastern provinces. Two unparalleled dishes include the crab stir-fried in syrupy soy sauce with rice cakes and the “eight treasures” duck, stuffed whole with black mushrooms, chestnuts and glutinous rice. Adventurous diners should try the stinky tofu. Local street stalls serve it deep-fried, but Zhejiang Heen offers a rather traditional version, steamed with slivers of bamboo and edamame.

International food

Sushi Rozan omakase Hong Kong food

A former British colony, Hong Kong also has some noteworthy offerings from the UK. The Pawn by Tom Aikens, located in an old 1888 heritage building, presents a balance between high-end and good, honest British cooking. Try the juniper-marinated venison with smoked beetroot, or the citrusy duck bolognese pie with a crusty layer of Gruyère on top of mash – winter comfort food at its best.

Want a taste of Japanese in Hong Kong? Some Japanese expats argue Hong Kong offers the best high-end sushi outside of Tokyo. Make your way to Sushi Rozan (pictured above) where Chef Masataka Fujisawa shows off his razor-sharp sushi skills with a lot of pizzazz. If you’ve never tried omakase (Japanese for “I leave it to you, chef”) sushi, now’s your best chance. It’s an enjoyable experience at an unhurried, leisurely pace, thanks to the first-rate kitchen staff.

Newer openings include Kaum by the popular Potato Head club in Bali. There’s no beach in the urban hipster area of Sai Ying Pun, but the gorgeous lounge designed by Sou Fujimoto is great for coffee in the afternoon. If you’re keen for a nice meal, you’ll find authentic, intense Indonesian dishes like Balinese babi guling (pit-roasted pork), to modern variations of Indonesian cuisine, like crispy duck served with a durian chilli relish or raw tuna marinated in lime, mint and shallots. Yum!

Down an alley right around the corner stands Fish School, home to Chef David Lai’s modern seafood restaurant, very much inspired by Hong Kong flavours and a tribute to local seafood. Go for the outstanding starters to share, like sea urchin with marinated raw crab and rice (pictured above), scallop with tofu and spring onion or a rich bowl of Bouillabaisse made with the freshest local seafood.

Chef Vicky Cheng at VEA Restaurant in Sheung Wan serves up a polished tasting menu with Hong Kong touches and monthly menu changes. Must-tries include his “Earl Grey Goose” with cherries, taro and “lo sui” (a traditional Teochew-style sauce for braising), or the pork belly with firefly squid and mui choy. Courses come with a wine or a cocktail pairing by champion mixologist Antonio Lai. Think ambrosial creations like calvados with aged Chinese black vinegar and a heart-warming whisky with shiitake mushroom consommé.

Once you’ve had your fill of fabulous food in Hong Kong, get out, about and active in the city to burn off some of those calories

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