Oh, Hong Kong. How is your food so good? And why are you so filled with swanky restaurants whose cocktails made us forget how much money we were spending? We’ll never know. But we’ll always associate you with an overfilled belly and a light wallet.
Here are a few of the unforgettable restaurants we visited.
1. Happy Paradise (Above)
The name of this restaurant in Central doesn’t lie. Decked out with neon lights and futuristic photography, it felt like a diner owned by the Jetson family. Our server told us we should order 7-8 (!!) dishes for the two of us, which was a bold-faced lie. Soon our table was filled with generous servings of amazing, fried, spicy—sometimes floral—food that we sadly could not finish. Almost everything we had here was both a taste of Hong Kong and an imaginative trip into chef May Chou’s imagination.
The fried potato rolls were vinegary and fatty, and would make the perfect cure for any hangover. But the star of the show was surely this sweet and sour fried pork chop dotted with flower petals and cherries. As Neil ate it, he kept saying, “I’m going to pay for this,” not because it would make him sick, but because it was so impossibly good he figured the universe would balance it out with some kind of punishment.
Hangry Donut beer, which was delicious but also had fantastic copywriting on its can.
A savory eggette, a bubbly waffle we would grow attached to in Hong Kong.
2. Ho Lee Fook
While the name sounds scandalous to English-speaking ears, it translates to “good fortune for your mouth.” This restaurant says it’s inspired by “Late-night chinatown hangouts in 1960s new york,” and we definitely enjoyed that vibe. Laid-back, imaginative and hard to get into, it definitely felt like a spot for birthday parties and celebrations.
Chefs planning over a mahjong wall.
Typhoon shelter-style corn covered in fried garlic crumbles.
“Mom’s ‘mostly cabbage, a little bit of pork dumplings.'” Their menu is written in the most original way—I had to love it almost as much as I loved these dumplings.
3. Mott 32
I am still amazed we were able to get into Mott 32. Known as the ultimate dim sum destination, it looked way too fancy for us to ever land a table. Perks of going to Hong Kong in January. This restaurant was run with slick precision, with servers communicating over earpieces as they skirted guests into open tables and topped off dwindling wine glasses.
Our table faced the butcher booth, where chefs prepared their famous Applewood-smoked Peking duck.
Our salad, which was tossed with truffle oil and fantastic.
Wagyu beef, served with asparagus and leeks.
4. Frantzén’s Kitchen
Björn Frantzén’s legendary Swedish restaurant is crazy hard to get into, but those who really want the experience might find they have better luck in Hong Kong. We scored a reservation and sat right at the bar, where the restaurant manager introduced every dish to us with the full story behind it. He even gave us some Swedish whisky shots at the end of our meal, ensuring we left just sleepy enough to skip the bar we planned to go to afterward. This meal was one of the most unforgettable parts of our whole trip—despite the cocktails!
This salad features dozens of ingredients picked from Hong Kong’s New Territories, expertly blended together.
The beef tenderloin was topped with smoked shiitake and wood garlic.
The turbot was clean and pristine, topped with seaweed and lemon butter.
We rolled into this very quaint restaurant straight from a very long day of sightseeing, meaning we were clearly underdressed, and also starving. Being the Americans we are, we accidentally ordered nothing but meat dishes and booze, but it was still picturesque and succulent.
More sweet and sour pork. And more flower petals.
Their cocktail names read like New Yorker story titles. It’s definitely worth doing a literary reading of the Duddell’s menu.
6. Grassroots Pantry
Those wanting vegetarian or vegan fare in Hong Kong will probably make Grassroots Pantry a regular stop. We dropped in for breakfast and shared an açaí bowl with oat milk lattes on the side. I felt like we were in L.A. all over again.
These are everywhere in Hong Kong, and they are delicious. I don’t even like pastries and I loved these.
These fluffy waffles stuffed with various goodies were a perfect treat whenever we started to feel our energy dip. This particular eggette is the Disney version.
9. A Bao from Little Bao
Little Bao, a chain by the same chef behind Happy Paradise, is its own legend in Hong Kong. To get our hands on one of their delectable baos, we went to the bigger location in Causeway Bay. The pork belly bao was perfect.
Are you hungry yet? Hong Kong will fix that.