With a population of more than 7 million and a reputation for great food, Hong Kong is home to more restaurants per capita than any other city in the world. The rich culinary history in this diverse economic and cultural hub has been influenced by tastes from all across the globe, but Cantonese and Japanese dishes nonetheless dominate the city’s food scene. In recent years, however, Hong Kong has become notorious for something much harder to swallow than its food: it is one of the most expensive cities in the world. And while steep living costs and booming business go hand-in-hand with the countless fine-dining establishments, Michelin-starred eateries, and elegant restaurants to be found throughout the city, it is still possible to find a world-class Dim Sum experience without breaking the bank.
But before launching into the list of the city’s unmissable eateries, you might be wondering what exactly Dim Sum is. To answer: Dim Sum can be many things. It is basically a Cantonese version of Spanish tapas, and consists of bite-sized food served in small bamboo steamer baskets along with tea. Dumplings, noodle rolls, and congee are common Dim Sum dishes, but the variety and diversity of tastes is vast and always changing. To experience Hong Kong’s Dim Sum first-hand, check out these five phenomenal restaurants:
Tim Ho Wan, Mongkok
It is hard to keep a good thing secret. So when world-famous Chef Pui Gor opened this tiny eatery on Kwong Wa Street in Mong Kok, word got out fast. But when Michelin awarded Tim Ho Wan one of its coveted stars, wait times of two hours or more became a daily routine. So if you are eager to try the world’s most inexpensive Michelin-starred restaurant, be sure to arrive before 11am to beat the lunchtime crowd. Or be ready to shop nearby while you wait for your number to be called. A good-sized meal averages at about $40 HKD (roughly $5 USD). Don’t miss the pineapple buns!
Maxim’s Palace, City Hall
Situated in a huge ballroom with stunning panoramic views of the Hong Kong waterfront, this restaurant undoubtedly offers one of the best Dim Sum experiences in town. The highlight of this particular eatery is the trollies, which weave their way in between the tables. Stacked high with steaming baskets of Dim Sum, you have to be quick to wave down the one carrying your favorites. Despite the noisy, sticky, chaotic atmosphere, you would be hard pressed to find a more authentic Dim Sum experience, especially one that so faithfully captures the busy, bustling spirit of Hong Kong cuisine. Expect to pay about $200 HKD. Don’t miss the har jiao (prawn dumplings)!
Lung King Heen, Four Seasons
This is the world’s very first 3 Michelin starred Chinese restaurant. The menu speaks for itself, check it out here. I challenge you to find another restaurant of this caliber where you can expect to pay less than $300 HKD for a stupendous dim sum lunch meal! Some critics even consider this establishment to be the finest Chinese restaurant in the world, which makes the affordable prices at Lung King Heen even more remarkable. The sea urchin in lobster jelly comes highly recommended!
Fu Sing, Causeway Bay
Fu Sing’s dining room is perhaps even more chaotic than that of Maxim’s Palace – but in a way, it is the hustle and bustle, the gold and gaudy decor, and frenetic pace that gives Fu Sing its charm. Avoid the rush hours, and be prepared to pay around $200 HKD per person. The food is delicious and authentic, and the pork dumplings alone make Fu Sing worth at least one visit.
Man Wah, Mandarin Oriental
The goal of this article was to find world-class Dim Sum at affordable prices, and thus far we have done exactly that. However, no exploration of Hong Kong’s gastronomic delights would be complete without mentioning the luxurious Man Wah.
I would venture to say that the quality of their Dim Sum puts it among the best in the world. The menu can seem a little overwhelming, but the enthusiastic staff are more than happy to offer their advice. I dare say that everything on the menu is of the same exemplary standard, but one item in particular I can recommend is the Peking Duck with hoisin. Given the popularity of the restaurant, it is definitely best to book at least a week in advance. Expect to pay around $500 HKD per person (and to leave unable to eat another bite!).
Of course, Hong Kong is also full of undiscovered gems that don’t make it on to lists such as this. So after you’ve tried these much-trusted restaurants, be sure to hit the streets in search of a true local secret. In the culinary capital of Asia, you won’t have to go far to find great food. And while you might have some disappointments along the way, the satisfaction of finding your own secret spot is sure to make the Dim Sum even tastier.
This article was written by Tom, a seasoned traveler of Asia who blogs on behalf of HotelClub.com. If you’re planning to discover the city’s rich culinary heritage for yourself, why not visit Hong Kong with HotelClub.com
Photos 1-5 were provided by TomEats – Flickr