If there’s one city where the old cliche ‘east meets west’ doesn’t deserve an eye roll, it’s Hong Kong. The city’s charms lie precisely in its contradictions—in the juxtaposition of old and new, high-end and humble, diverse and familiar. All of this, combined with a frenetic pace of living, results in a city that always manages to surprise. The foodie scene here is no different—diverse, exciting, and always ebbing and flowing with the latest trends. This guide is just the tip of the iceberg of Hong Kong’s offerings but consider it a starting point. Here, a roundup of the places that have weathered decades to some of the most buzz-worthy additions to check out.
The brainchild of two Canadians, chef Matt Abergel and entrepreneur Lindsay Jang, Yardbird was an overnight success when it opened in 2011. Since then, it’s become a staple in Hong Kong’s F&B scene with an innovative take on Japanese food culture and family-style Western dining. Yardbird is a modern Japanese izakaya that specializes in yakitori and good vibes and is located in the hip neighbourhood of Sheung Wan. Gordon Ramsey himself has been spotted here!
Tai Cheong Bakery has been famous for their egg tarts for over six decades. They even claim to be the inventors behind the butter-flavoured shortcrust pastry variety of Hong Kong’s most beloved snack. With now 14 branches across the city, their tarts are raved about by tourists and global media alike. You can’t leave the city without trying one — a smooth and creamy egg tart with a buttery crust is one of the city’s quintessential foods.
Little Bao is a modern diner that combines a worldly take on nostalgic Chinese flavours with a focus on sharing both food and cultures. The restaurant is helmed by local celebrity chef May Chow, who was named Asia’s best female chef in 2017 and has made bao dishes her signature. Here, bao—a type of fluffy steamed Chinese bread—is reimagined into “burgers” with beef bourguignon or smoked fried chicken, or even for dessert with sea salt ice cream and rose milk ice foam.
In the bustling streets of Hong Kong, this Japanese-style cafe in Sham Shui Po offers a minimalist respite. Lifestyle cafes have been on the uptick in the city for a while now and this one is no different, taking a meticulous approach to decor, refreshments and of course, coffee. Enjoy handcrafted beverages on tatami mat seating, and don’t miss out on the Sapsan toast where a piece of egg-soaked bread is fried until golden-brown, and served with seasonal fruits, maple syrup, and whipped cream.
Film and art lovers, take note — Kubrick is a quiet, artsy coffee shop and bookstore named after the 20th-century movie director. Enjoy typical cafe fare, like coffee, sandwiches and pasta, surrounded by film-related books, indie magazines and the work of local artists, who often hold exhibitions here. Comfortably worn wooden shelves and an abundance of plants create a relaxed atmosphere—the perfect place to while away an afternoon.
In a city as fast-moving as Hong Kong, some have made concerted efforts to preserve precious heritage. This coffee shop has been converted from the famed Tai Wo Tang, a traditional Chinese medicine shop that first opened in 1932. The TCM shop closed down in 2019 following the passing of its medicine practitioner, but reopened soon after, with cold-brew coffee and avocado toast juxtaposed with the near-century-old setting’s original furnishings, including the iconic gold signage, medicine drawers, and numerous glass jars. This place is old-school apothecary aesthetic meets cafe chic.
Local roaster and coffee chain Elephant Grounds are as known for their ice cream sandwiches as they are for their coffee. New flavours and combinations are revealed every few weeks on —where else?—their Instagram and are only available while supplies last. Their Valentine’s edition, for one, featured red velvet cheesecake ice cream with raspberry chocolate rice puffs, topped in white and raspberry chocolate. When they’re not satisfying sweet tooths, they’re serving up Asian-infused comfort food like yuzu-coated chicken wings, tuna poke don, or eco-conscious salads from local hydroponic farms.
Ruam, pronounced roo-uhm, is aptly named for the Thai word, ‘gather’ — and this vibrant-casual garden bar and eatery was designed to be the perfect place to do just that. Located off of Ship Street in Wan Chai (a district known for its happy hours!), Ruam features a warm, buzzy atmosphere enclosed within a lush terrace and intimate indoor dining area. Try their crab omelette with crispy garlic, made fresh to order, or their slow-cooked lamb shank in massaman curry, paired with Thailand’s finest craft beer or a signature cocktail.
Refined but hearty is a good way to describe the food at Pirata. Led by Chef Stefano Rossi, this Wan Chai eatery serves up homey Italian food inspired by the recipes of his nonna. From the decadent Pappardelle with Beef Ragu, which combines perfectly al dente pasta with flavourful, melt-in-your-mouth ragu, to the Scallop Gratin, baked in-shell and coated in breadcrumbs infused with Mediterranean herbs—Pirata is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, for brunch, lunch and dinner.
Australia Dairy Company is the most iconic cha chaan teng (Hong Kong-style cafe)—and also one of the oldest restaurants—in the city. They specialize in steamed milk pudding and custard dishes, scrambled eggs and toast, and of course, the famous Hong Kong milk tea. It was founded by one of the oldest families in Hong Kong and named by the founder who worked on an Australian farm in the 1940s. The service is known to be super-efficient (just don’t expect them to be friendly!), and the line for a table nearly always extends around the block — if you’re looking for the real Hong Kong experience, this is where you’ll find it.
There are places that are designed to look good, and places that are designed to look good on Instagram. Iron Fairies is both. Decorated with 10,000 butterflies swinging from the ceiling and thousands of small iron fairies scattered around the tables, Iron Fairies is a jazz club located in the heart of Lan Kwai Fong, Central. The nightspot is known for its live music and expert mixology — and of course, ambience in spades.
This isn’t your regular visit to the doctor. Dr. Fern’s has been hailed an “absolute must” for gin lovers—or even if you just like discovering hidden gems! Tucked away inside Central’s posh Landmark mall, this is an atmospheric bar that blends only the most premium of gins with aromatic botanicals (organic and locally-sourced!) in vibrant teacups. Enjoy hot or cold alongside expertly curated charcuterie boards.
Junon started off as a cabaret dining venue in the ’60s before falling out of favour when fast food started taking over the city. Since then, the retro restaurant has been revived by history buff and Cantopop singer, Hins Cheung, into a vintage Parisian bistro. A callback to Hong Kong’s halcyon days, Junon features renaissance-style glamour with a dimly lit interior, a stained-glass ceiling, and a theatre-style stage for live entertainment—the perfect accompaniment to pan-fried flat iron steaks and a glass of red.
Located at the Hong Kong Peak, Rajasthan Rifles is a unique take on Indian food. Created to reflect the Anglo-Indian cuisine of the British Indian Army in the 1920s, the eatery is styled like an officer’s mess hall, with the waiters in appropriate uniforms to match. The food is playful, original, and lushly flavoured with spices, featuring dishes like the Admiral’s Fish ’n’ Chips, which pairs beer-battered fillets with masala fries and marrowfat peas, as well as an Indian version of a club sandwich filled with chicken tikka chaat, English cheddar, a masala omelette, and tomato chutney.