din tai fung steamed angle loofah XLB

Where to eat in Hong Kong: Tsui Wah, Cafe de Coral, Delicious Kitchen, & Din Tai Fung

Hong Kong is a foodie paradise, with a vast array of delicious dishes available from around the world. From traditional Chinese cuisine to modern fusion dishes, there’s something for everyone in the city. In this article, you’ll find out some of the affordable restaurant options for budget travel to Hong Kong.

Being a world city, I expected Hong Kong cuisine to have a strong Chinese influence mixed with elements from the West. So when I went there with my best friend, we sampled some of the restaurants popular with tourists and locals alike. Here’s a list of where to eat in Hong Kong especially if you’re on a budget!

Note: Prices as of 2015

Where to eat in Hong Kong: cheap eats

TSUI WAH

tsui wah specialty breakfast Hong Kong
Macaroni soup in Tomato Puree, Scrambled Eggs, Sausages, Crispy Bun with Butter, and Hot Lemon Tea
  • For list of branches: www.tsuiwah.com
  • Payment options: Cash, Octopus

This restaurant was recommended to us by friends of friends who have previously been to Hong Kong. But apart from that, we had no clue why it was popular.

Turns out, Tsui Wah used to be an “Ice Café” in Mongkok in the late 1960s. Now, it’s an HKSE-listed company with many branches in Hong Kong and PRC. Their menu consists of East-meets-West food choices. The name Tsui Wah literally means “Evergreen Chinese”.

When we first got to the Wellington branch, we were quite hesitant to enter. Judging from the customers dining at that time, we were the only foreigners. Or at least it looked like it. The presence of many locals is not bad mind you. It’s the opposite. It just shows that the restaurant is really good if it’s patronized by the locals.

It was the morning of our second day in Hong Kong so of course, we had to try their breakfast menu. They have a separate breakfast menu, as well as continental and specialty breakfast items.

For 38 HKD, I got a Specialty Breakfast. This consists of Macaroni soup in Tomato Puree, Scrambled Eggs, Sausages, Crispy Bun with Butter, and Hot Lemon Tea.

My best friend got Breakfast B (36 HKD): Satay Beef Noodles in Soup, Scrambled Egg, Crispy Bun with Butter and Milk Tea.

tsui wah breakfast b
Satay Beef Noodles in Soup

While it was all delicious and served fast and hot, it was all too much for us to eat. I’m a light breakfast eater so we ended up asking for a takeaway bag.

Since it was breakfast, we also noticed that the table turnaround was very fast. We were only two people at a table of four, so we also experienced having a solo tablemate with us.

Tsui Wah certainly takes their mission to serve healthy food to heart, as I learned on the menu that the eggs they serve are “pollution-free”.

When you ask for complimentary water, they will give you hot water. Probably why Hong Kongers are mostly slim, eh?

As a cha chan teng (Hong Kong-style tea house), of course, Tsui Wah also boasts of their milk tea. Served in a preheated cup, their tea is made with premium Ceylon tea leaves and evaporated milk. As a lover of milk tea, I can certainly say that Tsui Wah’s milk tea didn’t disappoint. It was smooth.

The service was really fast and the dining staff was hygienic. They wore gloves when they cleared out the dirty dishes. The interior of the restaurant is certainly modern, with brightly colored tiles and mirrors.

tsui wah flat noodles

We became instant fans, such that we opted to also eat our dinner later that day at the same branch of Tsui Wah. This time, we decided to try their top dishes. We had Fish Balls and Fish Cakes with Flat Rice Noodles in Fish Soup (37 HKD) and Hainanese Chicken Rice (70 HKD).

Their fish balls are made of yellow eels and different varieties of fish and are made fresh in the morning daily. I certainly loved the saltiness of this noodle dish. One serving can also be good for two if you are a light eater. The rice served with the Hainanese chicken has distinct flavors of basil, lemongrass, and chicken stock. It was also served with a soup that we didn’t recognize what was in it. The dipping sauces meanwhile, really helped with the inherent fattiness of the duck.

tsui wah hainanese chicken
Hainanese chicken

CAFÉ DE CORAL

cafe de coral breakfast noodles ham
  • 2/F, Chung King Mansion (Woodhouse), 36-44 Nathan Road Tsim Sha Tsui
  • Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 07:00-21:30
  • Payment Options: Cash, Octopus

Breakfast on our third day in Hong Kong was with fellow Filipino travelers I met through a Facebook group. One of them is a Filipina working and studying in Hong Kong. She brought us to a fast-food restaurant that was surprisingly located in the same building where we were staying.

Café de Coral was also established in the late 1960s and grew into a large company with more than 140 restaurants now in Hong Kong. It is also the first publicly-listed company of its kind in Hong Kong, setting a precedent for other restaurant companies. Aside from being a Quick Service Restaurant (QSR), it is also an institutional catering and food processing business.

When we got there, the queue was already long at the counter. Since the menu was so extensive, we haphazardly decided on Fried Noodles in Soy Sauce and Ham served with Milk Tea (20 HKD). Quick decision-making was needed because unlike in the Philippines, Hong Kongers are used to fast-paced life.

Again, like in Tsui Wah, the diners are composed mostly of locals. By this time, I was thinking maybe it was not an indication that the restaurant was good, but that probably the locals were a fan of eating out. Hehe.

Still, the simple breakfast turned out to be quite tasty and filling even for its cheap price. The milk tea wasn’t bad either but I still liked Tsui Wah better. CDC’s dining interior is typical of QSRs. The signature dish is Baked Pork Chop with Rice.


DELICIOUS KITCHEN

delicious kitchen double pork rib rice

G/F 20 – 20A Ashley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

Another recommendation from friends of friends because of their Double Pork Rib Rice. We got there in time just before the lunch hour rush so we were able to secure a table for four. We went to Kowloon Park in the morning and met up again with two Filipinas, one of whom also works in HK.

I liked the colors of the dining area, which is a combination of white and purple. Of course, we ordered Double Pork Rib Rice (58 HKD) for the two of us.

Our friends also ordered Yeung Chow Style Fried Rice (55 HKD), Double Boiled Chicken Soup with Wonton in Casserole (95 HKD), and Deep Fried Wonton in Sweet and Sour Sauce (55 HKD). We overestimated our eating capacity again and ended up ordering too much. The servings were also quite generous.

delicious kitchen pork rib rice yeung chow fried wonton

The star of the show was the Pork Rib Rice (pai kut choi fan). The pork cuts were sweet and tangy from the honey glaze. It was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. I must say, that despite its oiliness, this has won me over. The bed of vegetable rice was fluffy and mixed with broth and bok choy. The subtle hint of ginger worked well with the pork rib.

The rest of the food we ordered was good but failed to steal the limelight from the pork rib rice. Service is not top notch but we didn’t encounter any mishaps so that’s a plus. Tea is 2 HKD per person and an additional 10% service charge is added to your bill.

While the dining area looked spotless, the back area was the opposite. Going to their toilet area provided us with a glimpse of the kitchen and back hallways, which turned out to be quite disorganized and not the most hygienic-looking. We almost couldn’t believe that we were going in the right direction when we finally got to the toilets. It was located in the back alley of the restaurant. Oh well.


DIN TAI FUNG

din tai fung kitchen tea red bean paste bun
  • Shop G03-G11 G/F, 68 Yee Wo Street, Causeway Bay
  • Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 11:30 – 22:00

For our last dinner in Hong Kong, we decided to try a Michelin-starred restaurant. I have already tried eating a few times in Tim Ho Wan (Manila) that’s why we picked Din Tai Fung.

Famous for its Xiao Long Bao, it was originally a cooking oil retail shop in Taiwan in the 1950s. The New York Times in 1993 gave them their first accolade as the only Asian restaurant in their Top 10 Restaurants of the World list. It was consecutively awarded one Michelin star from 2010 – 2014. Din Tai Fung has branches worldwide.

Arriving at the restaurant, one will be first greeted with the view of their kitchen through glass windows. I was impressed with what I saw, with the cleanliness and hygienic handling of food, despite the chefs being busy. Walking through the dining area, I felt a bit underdressed. My white shirt and jean shorts weren’t in theme with the luxurious feel of the interiors. The servers were prompt with giving the menu and order sheet.

They have an extensive menu, like the other restaurants we tried in Hong Kong. But we focused on their specialty: Xiao Long Bao (steamed soup-filled dumplings).

Working in the hospitality industry afforded me knowledge of how these kinds of food are made fresh, and by hand. So I know, that a lot of effort and skill goes into making them. It takes 18 folds and 3 days to make those delicious morsels.

For the XLB, we tried Steamed Angled Loofah and shrimp dumplings, and Steamed Pork Dumplings. Both are priced at 58 HKD/6 pieces. We also ordered Steamed Mini Red Bean Paste Bun (30 HKD/3 pieces) and Spicy Vegetable and Pork Wonton (56 HKD).

din tai fung pork xiao long bao
Din Tai Fung’s Xiao Long Bao

The signature XLB eating guide was noticeably absent from our table and I was too shy to ask our server. So I just used the photo of the guide I saved on my phone. Hehe. According to the guide, one must first make the dipping sauce. The suggested ratio for soy sauce and vinegar is 1:3 and must be put in the ginger dish.

When eating the signature pork Xiao Long Bao, it is recommended to first try eating it without the sauce, to savor the flavor. After dipping the XLB in the sauce, transfer it to the spoon and poke a small hole to release the hot broth inside. XLB is best eaten by first sipping the broth (caution: HOT!), putting ginger on top, and then taking a bite.

I loved the steamed angled loofah and shrimp dumplings better but that’s just my personal preference. I thoroughly enjoyed eating the signature pork XLB too. It was surely an experience eating that savory goodness according to the guide. I normally pierce them and put soy sauce after I’m done sipping the broth.

I will surely try DTF here in Manila soon just to see if they are consistent, but they probably are because one doesn’t just get a Michelin star. 😉

din tai fung spicy vegetable and pork wonton

I’m not a fan of spicy food but the Spicy Vegetable and Pork Wonton will surely delight heat lovers. Despite the chili, the wontons remain tasty and the flavors of each ingredient remain distinct. The red bean paste buns are a nice ending to our meal, cleansing the palate and leaving us with the slightly sweet taste of red bean paste.


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OTHER FOODSCAPADES IN HONG KONG

grilled cuttlefish avenue of stars hong kong

While in Hong Kong, we didn’t just try restaurants. Some of our other food adventures include lining up and eating cuttlefish in the Avenue of Stars. People were lining up for this and the smell emanating from the small kiosk was enticing, albeit pungent to others. The cuttlefish is first cooked on a flat grill and then passed through a “shredder”. The result is the typical chewy dried cuttlefish snack. Not worth the long line, though. Hehe.

Getting lost means sometimes ending up having your dinner in 7/11. Thank God for the Octopus card and 15 HKD noodles with dim sum. Haha.

When we visited Ocean Park, I was expecting that for lunch, we’d be using the free fried chicken voucher. We got these from purchasing the tickets at a travel expo. Turns out, I forgot those vouchers and was left with the other set of vouchers. The only food coupon there was the Buy One Get One Free Afternoon Tea Set from Bayview Restaurant or Panda Café.

There was a pretty long queue because we got to Bayview Restaurant during the lunch hours. We were expecting the Afternoon Tea Set to look like the one on the coupon but we were wrong. Haha. Also, the price of the meals in Bayview Restaurant is quite expensive so we had to make do with the stub, so as not to blow up our budget. We were given a fish ball noodle soup and cola without ice. Luckily, the Haagen-Dazs ice cream in the photo was for real. 🙂

bayview restaurant ocean park noodles
bayview restaurant voucher haagen dazs ice cream


Next time I come back to Hong Kong, I would like to try the famous pineapple buns and the mini egg puffs.


What are the other best places to eat in Hong Kong on a budget?

Tim Ho Wan – the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in Hong Kong. At least, their branches in North Point and Sham Shui Po were. Always expect a long queue. A meal can go as low as 15 HKD. Recommendations: Baked Bun with BBQ Pork and Steamed Prawn Dumplings.

Australia Dairy Company – Known for its signature scrambled eggs and steamed milk, this Hong Kong institution is not one to linger in like other cha chaan teng. Eat quickly, pay, and get out. The breakfast set costs 36 HKD (2 eggs, toast, macaroni soup, tea/coffee). Remember to ask for the scrambled eggs.

Fairwood – a Hong Kong fast food chain restaurant. Similar to Cafe de Coral. Meals as low as 20 HKD.

Maxim’s MX – Not to be confused with Maxim’s Palace, Maxim’s MX is the fast food restaurant chain of Maxim’s Group. Meals as low as 25 HKD.

Mak’s Noodles (Chung Kee) – famous for their authentic wonton noodles with prawn dumplings and pork broth. Tucked away on 37 Wing Kut Street, Sheung Wan. There are other Mak’s noodles around Hong Kong but this is branch in Wing Kut is said to be the oldest.

Kam’s Roast Goose – another Michelin-starred restaurant. Come before dinner time if you don’t want to queue. Their Roast Goose with plum sauce is, of course, the bestseller. HKD 150/190 (upper/lower 1/4)

Mrs Tang Cafe – Around 10 10-minute walk from Kwun Tong MTR station, this is the pioneer in Tomato and Egg Pineapple Bun. Opened in 1965, Mrs Tang Cafe is one of the original bing sutt (traditional coffeehouses) in Hong Kong. Also recommended: egg salad toast.

Yat Lok – One of the most famous roast goose restaurants in Hong Kong. It used to have a one-star rating on Michelin. Roast goose drumstick with rice costs HKD 108.

Dimdimsum Dim Sum Specialty Store – Head here for their Piggy Custard Buns (HKD 21) which you must eat as soon as it’s served.

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QUALITY TOURISM SERVICES (QTS) SCHEME

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) conducts an annual quality assessment of food establishments rating their product quality and service. QTS-accredited establishments have a specially designed QTS decal in front of their shops. This scheme ensures that restaurants pass the following criteria:

  • Provide quality food in clean and hygienic premises;
  • Provide clear and precise menus with prices for food and beverages; and
  • Ensure superb customer service.

Source: Discover Hong Kong (click on the link to check which restaurants are QTS accredited)


Have you been to Hong Kong? What was your favorite food?

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Darlene is currently on the road again and traveling full-time after being an expat/overseas Filipino worker in Qatar. She's rediscovering what it means to travel solo and in her 30s while working on her blogs.

Comments

  • YUMMMMY! Craving some of those right now! I’ve always wanted to try Din Tai Fung esp now that they have a branch at SM Megamall! But there always seems to be a line, no matter what time I go! I guess it means it definitely worth trying 🙂

  • Thank you for your post. I haven’t been to Hong Kong but I am a real foodie and I can see why this is a great destination for this. So many great photos of different dishes. It was really informative.

  • Voyager

    We were in Hong Kong last december and must say it is a great place for a foodventure, though being vegetarians we had limited options.

  • OMG! the food looks delicious! I have never been to Asia in general and — I don’t know if I should say as a Latina or as someone from the West — food is a topic that definitely worries me. From what Im seeing, in Hong Kong theres nothing to worry about!

  • OMG! you are making me miss Hong Kong so so so so so much! I am feeling hungry!

  • Wow, so many amazing dishes! I had no idea Hong Kong had so many great food options. I think I’d be excited about pineapple buns too!

  • At first glance, I thought the macaroni soup is pork and beans hahaha…

    So they serve pollution free food? Now that’s interesting. I heard lukewarm water is also good when you are dieting. It may be one of the reasons they are slim.

    Oh my god I want to try those xiao lng bao! I hate you Dada! I’m craving right now and this post is not helping at all hahaha…

  • Christina

    I have never been to Hong Kong but I had always envisioned when I go it will be a foodie type of tour. The places you visited all seem like good candidates. Your post has made me hungry!

  • Your photos honestly made me feel hungry. When I hear the word Hongkong I think of shopping and Disneyland. Now I have something more to look forward to in this country – food trip!

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