Chow Down Like a Local When Exploring Hong Kong’s Magical Open-Air Street Stalls

By Renée Tse

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City Guide: Hong Kong.

There’s no doubt that Hong Kong is a buzzy business capital, and living it large is one exciting way to do the bustling city. But if you want to veer away from the glitz and glam of the high-end restaurants, do it like the local business men and women and discover the culinary magic of the city’s iconic dai pai dongs (open-air street stalls) and cha chaan tengs (western-inspired Hong Kong-style cafes). Finding a good one can be a challenge, but seeing a queue out of the door is a good start (lining up for food is essentially a sport here). However, if you’re on a time crunch and exploring is not on the itinerary, here’s a guide to five of Hong Kong’s must-visit local favourites and their speciality dishes.

WonTon Noodles at Good Hope Noodle

123號 Sai Yee St, Mong Kok

Wonton noodles (which consist of shrimp dumplings and thin egg noodles) is a classic Cantonese dish and a go-to for many worker bees at lunch thanks to its quick service and hearty fare. Take a peek inside the kitchen at the front of the restaurant to catch the chef kneading the dough and making the noodles from scratch.

Fish Meatball at Anli Street Restaurant

57 Shau Kei Wan Main St E, Shau Kei Wan

There’s something soothing about eating a bowl of flat rice noodles with fish meatballs when you get off the plane or are terribly jet-lagged. Head to this dai pai dong-turned-restaurant location for this popular Hong Kong delicacy and revel in their ultra bouncy fish cake meatballs. You won’t regret it.

Instant Noodles at Sing Heung Yuen

2 Mee Lun Street, Central

Yes, anyone can make instant noodles at home but there’s something so delicious about the tomato-based soup with beef slices at this famous dai pai dong. If you still have room in your stomach, get their famous lemon crispy bun drizzled with sweet condensed milk. It’s everything. 

Hong Kong Milk Tea at Lan Fong Yuen

2 Gage St, Central

If there is only one thing you must have in Hong Kong, make it the HK-style milk tea at one of the oldest dai pai dong-turned-cha chaan tengs (its original facade is still in front of the restaurant). Thanks to the stocking-like filter they use to pour the tea through, this is a stronger and smoother take on the regular old tea with milk and sugar. It’s a tradition for residents to religiously drink this everyday, especially with breakfast.

Western Hong Kong Style Breakfasts at Capital Café

Shop B1, G/F, Kwong Sang Hong Building, 6 Heard Street, Wan Chai

Capital Café is originally a “bing sutt,” which is a ‘50s-style traditional cold drinking house that is a predecessor to a cha chaan teng. Although the menu is quite simple, they are known for their fuss-free Western-inspired HK-style breakfast sets, which include ham and macaroni in soup, scrambled eggs featuring 3.6 Hokkaido milk (read: rich and creamy) with butter and topped with truffles.

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