There’s no doubt about it: Hong Kong is foodie heaven. You can indulge any whim, with restaurants all over the city featuring cuisines from around the world. Hong Kong also has a number of classic dishes and street food snacks for which it is famous. Here’s a quick guide to some of the to-die-for local dishes.
A classic Hong Kong snack, these are balls of deliciousness made with fish meat, often cooked in a piping hot curry and commonly sold at street stalls.
Affectionately called gai daan zai (“mini chicken egg”), this is Hong Kong’s version of a waffle. A crispy exterior hides the soft, sweet sponge inside. Can be served plain or with toppings such as chocolate.
There’s actually no pineapple in this bun! It gets its name from a crackly, sugar crust on top of the soft, sweet bread roll and looks like a pineapple. A pineapple bun (or bo lo bao) is a soft sweet bun topped with a harder crumbly cookie-style crust made of sugar, eggs, flour and lard. When cooked, this crust on top cracks open, giving the bun a pineapple-like appearance on top. There’s no actual pineapple in the ingredient list! Here are a few other facts about this delicious bakery snack that you might not know!
- “Pineapple Bun” was once nominated as a typhoon name but rejected on the grounds that it would sound silly in otherwise serious news reports of the storm
- The famous snack appeared in animated form in the 2004 film McDull, The Prince of the Pineapple Bun with Butter.
- In 2014, the pineapple bun made it onto the government’s list of 480 “items of living cultural heritage” (along with fire dragon dances, kung fu and snake wine).
- A Japanese variety of the pineapple bun is the “melonpan”, whose top resembles a rockmelon or cantaloupe.
- Among the famous places to buy the buns in Hong Kong is Tai Tung Bakery in Yuen Long, which has made around 1,000 of them daily for well over 70 years.
Two types of egg tarts have emerged since they first became popular, one with a flaky, pastry shell and another with sweet shortbread. Whichever shell you pick, it encases a soft, creamy custard.
Hong Kong milk tea is a creamy drink traditionally made with Ceylon black tea and evaporated or condensed milk.
Known as siu mei, Chinese barbecued meats are very more-ish. Our faves include char siu (barbecued pork), barbecued goose and roast pork.
A Hong Kong version of dining with small dishes, dim sum includes classics such as har gao (steamed shrimp dumplings wrapped in a thin, translucent skin), char siu bau (barbecued pork bun) and siu mai (Chinese dumpling).
A succulent meat and shrimp filling is encased in a silky smooth dumpling wrapper before being served in a clear, light broth.
“Where do you go for your favourite Hong Kong dishes, and what do you eat?”
“My kids and I like freshly made egg waffles – iconic Hong Kong street food – and there are lots of stalls. We like the ones in Sheung Wan. There’s a new one called Mami Pancake on Hillier Street, which makes them in loads of different flavours like chocolate and banana, and even matcha!” – Claire
“Char sui (barbecue pork) on Sing Woo Road is our weekly go to! My son takes his own box so we avoid using any Styrofoam. The pork, veggie and rice box costs $48 and it’s delicious. We take all our visitors there too. Also, Mak’s Noodle (on Wellington Street) for a bowl of Hong Kong wonton is the best!” – Neelam
“I’m a lover of sweets, so egg waffles on any corner are normally a must. Especially the ones stuffed with Nutella. Yum!” – Maria
“There are too many to mention. And here’s a tip: there’s usually a reason if there is a queue for a street stall!” – Jacinta
“In Jordan, there is a fantastic local Hong Kong dessert restaurant called Kai Kai that my wife and I love going to for a sweet glutinous sesame rice ball treat.”– Murray
Dumplings. Most definitely dumplings. – Julie
Dim sum. For me, the local cuisine is all part and parcel of living abroad. I would ideally go with a local colleague to ensure that we order all the must-haves. – Ross
I can eat my own bodyweight in dumplings! – Ruth
Char siu fan! An absolute classic and everyone here will have their own favourite spot. Eat around and find your local! I would also recommend all newcomers try the local delicacies. Give the cow stomach and pigs’ intestines a go. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. – Alex
See more in our Wine & Dine section:
This article first appeared in the City Guide 2018 issue of Expat Living magazine. Get your free copy now!