e_ting's Hong Kong list

The best restaurants in Hong Kong are sometimes inside closet-like spaces...
If you've ever called/emailed/tweeted me about where to eat in Hong Kong, here's more or less the list you would've seen. I've copied and pasted it here, with a little more detail added. I'll try to update as often as possible/relevant. Note that I've tried to keep my notes short to keep it an easy to read 'list', but if you want more details, just ask. Links will take you to addresses either in Openrice, one of my previous posts, or to my Facebook photos (usually with notes of some sort). (And I haven't had time to link everything, so please do a search on Openrice).

As this list is intended for visitors, most places are easy to get to, though not all are on an average visitor's trail. One day I will split them up into "easy/not so easy to get to", but until then...

For the hot spanking new (but not necessarily wow), you might also like to check out the Heatmaps I did for Eater in January, April and December 2012, July and December 2013, June 2014.

To reiterate: this is a work in progress. Am I an idiot for having left something out? Tell me - comment away!

Traditional Cantonese
Seventh Son - top Fook Lam Moon alumni. Cantonese perfection.
One Harbour Road - all round favourite for service, food and views.
Lung King Heen - the only 3-Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant in the world etc. but the hype has real substance - food, service, ambiance, view - all tops! Book way ahead.
Yan Toh Heen - textbook good, and plus it has a great view
Kin's Kitchen - family-run with hard-to-find Cantonese specialties. Protip: they can do gluten-free with prior arrangement.
Sang Kee - rough n' ready but so delish. Fried cuttlefish! (Not to be confused with the congee place in Sheung Wan)
The Chairman - MSG-free, careful sourcing, traditional techniques. I haven't been back in a while. Worryingly, I keep hearing mixed reports.
Celebrity Cuisine - quality, skillful Cantonese fare.
Kimberley Chinese Restaurant - that pig!

Dim Sum
Seventh Son - see above
Duddell's - they do more than dim sum, but dim sum is the best part. Pricey but classy. Beautiful space.
Lin Heung (this links to a post from my early days of food blogging, so please excuse the other random crap on that blog...) - it's old school, and the food is rough n' ready. Some people prefer the newer carbon copy Lin Heung Kui on the corner of Queens St. Each to their own, but either way, go at breakfast-time.
Fu Sing - a lot of people like this place and swear by its char siu. It's ok all-round. Have the baked char siu buns. One gripe - they don't (always) do steamed rice paper rolls.
West Villa - Fairly consistent, above average, very busy, great char siu. Increasingly expensive though.

A note on Tim Ho Wan - it's not the "best dim sum ever" and the Michelin star is a joke, but for those lower-than-low prices, it's very good, as long as you don't mind waiting for about an hour for a table. There's a branch above Hong Kong Station - nice initiation for new arrivals, or a great snack for the wait at the airport (protip: get takeaway to avoid the queue). The crispy baked char siu bun *is* indeed good. Loads of branches around town and internationally, even. Side note: Sham Shui Po branch is not the original - the original was in Mong Kok but it's since closed.

Organic/Slow food/New Chinese
The Chairman - not exactly organic but back to basics - farm-to-table, locavore, no MSG, traditional ingredients and recipes (to an extent). Pre-order the gum chin gai.
Ho Lee Fook & Little Bao - see Modern Asian below.
Mott 32 - Sichuan, Cantonese, Pekingese and a bit of Taiwanese thrown in. It has the kind of achingly hip setting that foodies love to hate, except the food is legit. (And the cocktails are pretty darned good too)

Tai Fung Lau Peking Restaurant - Tsim Sha Tsui, enter on Hart Ave - traditional hot pot (shua yang rou) - i.e. pots with chimneys. They do duck here too but it's not their forte
Kowloon Tang - Elements (the mall above Kowloon Airport Express Station). The best Peking duck I've probably ever had (including in Beijing). The other dishes are Canto though.
Spring Deer - old school fatty Peking duck with ancient, grumpy waiters
Peking Garden - The Alexandra House branch is still my best bet in HK for a leaner, super-crisp Peking duck
American Restaurant - Funny name; old school duck destination. A bit greasy and rough around the edges but I still love their wok hei.

Shanghainese/Suzhou/Hangzhou/Ningbo (sorry if I've offended anyone by clumping these together - forgive me, I'm an ignorant Cantonese person. No, seriously, Chinese provincial fare is so bastardised here, they're almost the same thing)
Zhe Jiang Heen - The story goes - some rich dudes got sick of the traffic jams in Central just to get to the Shanghai Fraternity (see above) and decided to open their own place in Wanchai with chefs they trust. The food here is consistently excellent. Pre-order the hongshao rou with squid.
Snow Garden - old school Shanghainese done well. Many of HK's Shanghainese chefs trained there.
Shanghai Garden - nothing too exciting, reliable and relatively easy to book on weekends. My family are regulars.
Hong Zhou - super old school, a bit grubby but very likeable.
Shanghai Fraternity Association - private kitchen/club. Best you know someone or have a good concierge to secure a table.
Xiao Nan Guo - cheap and cheerful with good xiaolongbao - not quite as amazing as Din Tai Fung's but half the wait (at least). Cute desserts too.

San Xi Lou - Central/Mid-levels - mala (numbingly hot) hot pot and trad Sichuan dishes, don't order from non-Sichuan menu.
Sijie - private kitchen run by Sichuanese, near Times Square in Causeway Bay. Owner (Sijie) is a hoot - I dare you to down a (BYO) beer with her at the end of service!
Yun Yan - modern Sichuan done well
Qi House of Sichuan - super duper nuclear strength chilli
Da Ping Huo is a private kitchen for those who want atmos and hospitality. The chef (wife) usually comes out and sings opera at the end; the husband is the maitre d' of sorts and is a painter. You're generally well looked after by jovial staff. Just don't go expecting "real" Sichuan food. It's been modernised, or (HK-ised?) but still very tasty.

Chiu chow (or Teochew to Singaporeans/Malaysians)
Sheung Hing (or Shung Hing)
Chan Kan Kee - more like a quick lunch spot or takeaway joint than a restaurant, but they do pretty decent poached goose.

Hot Pot (aka steamboat)
There are plenty around town for every budget. The main thing for me is the quality of ingredients.
Da Hong Pao
Megan's Kitchen (they have a decent English menu, and therefore (maybe) you'll bump into a few expats)
San Xi Lou (see Sichuan)

Classic French
Gaddi's - Peninsula Hotel TST - very trad, some would even say it's camp, with its frills, gilding and all. Best for the very reasonably priced set lunch. As far as I know Robuchon and Caprice also do reasonably-priced lunch sets. I've personally been to Robuchon and find it to be very good, but for the price, I'd still go to Gaddi's for the whole hog (sterling service). Anyway, L'Atelier discussions shouldn't go under classic French...

Contemporary European and/or French
Amber - Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Central - I've had some truly awesome meals there. One of the first places in HK to cook contemporary European to an international level.
NUR - sort of but not really new Nordic, well-executed with a firm vision for sustainable & local ingredients. (Also in my SCMP feature)
Serge et Le Phoque - super fun, casual vibe and sophisticated food in the middle of Wanchai market. There's nothing quite like it in HK.
Arcane - Shane Osborn's take on non-fussy fine dining. A lot of his ingredients are top notch, direct from Japan.
ON - cheese and excellent fine French fare.
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon - JR needs no introduction, but I must say that his Salon de The downstairs (and now at IFC and Elements) does one of the best sandwich deals in town.
Caprice - (edit Oct 2014:) we're all waiting with baited breath to see if the stars will stay this year.
Mandarin Grill - a classic. Some say it's changed for the worse since molecular influences by Exec Chef Uwe Opocensky came on board, but I still quite like it - usually nothing to fault from a technical level, and the service is tops. Since the crazy inflation our city's been seeing, The Grill is actually now a good deal for fine dining.

"On a lower budget" Western (nothing is "cheap" in Hong Kong anymore, especially not Western food)
Neighborhood - whether or not you're on a budget, you need to go here. David Lai's (On Lot 10) new place is spectacular and the pricing is ridiculously reasonable. I wish I lived next door.
Serge et Le Phoque - see contemp French above.
Stone Nullah Tavern - "New American" food on small sharing plates - from chicken fried steak to fennel salad, and beyond. Operated by the same group as Linguini Fini, not quite as cheap, but still cheerful and relatively light on the wallet. Same focus on local, organic, produce, so menu changes sseasonally. Cool vibe.
TAP - local and international craft beers, well though-out bar food. Excellent pitstop if you find yourself in Mong Kok.
Linguini Fini - fun, modern American-Italian with a locavore focus.
Bistro du Vin - cliched but not less comforting French bistro classics. No corkage is always a plus.
Le Bistro Winebeast - excellent value wines, very solid French-ish bistro food. The secret regulars don't want you to know. (It's already always busy)
Caprice Bar - at lunch on weekdays only. The Four Seasons' fine diner has a separate bar, and it serves proper meals at lunchtime. Excellent bistro food at that - image bistro dishes cooked with fine dining precision. Walk-in only.

Otto e Mezzo Bombana - expensive but delicious, especially the pasta and that ribeye for two. Book well ahead, especially now that it has 3 tyres.
Carbone - Italian American - yes, the one from New York. No one expected it to be good, but it has delivered and then some. Mark ups on the wine list are ridiculous though. The $500 corkage is actually probably worth it.
Bellavita - kinda under-the-radar, reliable Italian restaurant - not cheap-cheap, but not sky high fine dining either.

Miscellaneous Western
Ta Pantry - a private kitchen. Not entirely western - Esther, the chef, has a few menus, they're all comfort/fusion-ish, with great flavour combinations.
Steak House at the InterContinental Hotel - Probably the best steaks in town, but I hope you're not paying!

Bar food
If you like to drink and eat...
Ronin - even if you don't drink, the modern Japanese food is sublime. If you do drink, then all the better! Huge range of whiskies, great cocktails. Not really fair to call it a "bar" as dinner would easily run you HK$1k.
Caprice Bar - brilliant cheeses, wines and ultra-knowledgeable staff (and yes, that's Caprice, the fine diner at the Four Seasons).
121BC - Italian-via-Sydney wine bar and bistro
Ted's Lookout - drinks are so-so, the American bar food is pretty good if you're in the mood for sliders and the like. Be prepared to fight for seats with hipsters.
Butler - Japanese precision. (See bars) Ok, the food isn't great - it's sort of Japanese western, think spaghetti with cream and mentaiko - but they also always have very good jamon.

Modern Asian
Ronin - modern Japanese, not strictly sushi/sashimi, by the crew behind Yardbird. (see Bars with food)
Little Bao - bao-based menu, but don't think Momofuku, because LB is so much more in tune with the Asian palate.
Ho Lee Fook - You could call it Modern Chinese, but it got plenty of Southeast Asian touches too. Forget the label, it's just damn good food. The Wagyu short ribs are killer.

Chachawan - The only Thai that isn't Chinese-ified and that I can heartily recommend in HK. It's Isaan food - so be prepared for lots of extremely spicy dishes.

Won Pung Won - one of many little Korean-owned and run restaurant in TST, but I like that their food is fresh and not over-sauced, and that they have everything from BBQ to shabu-shabu (sorry I don't know what the Korean name for it is - the servers here call it that too!) to standard, hearty dishes like galbi jim.
Jun-Ko - family-style and one of my favourites. A handy pre-theatre dinner spot as it's close to the Arts Centre etc. Ask for the "raw" kimchi.
Lee's Family Chicken (also known as Chicken Hof & Soju) - three words: Korean Fried Chicken.
Fairyland - also very good Korean Fried Chicken, better than Lee's even, but doesn't take bookings and only has about 30 seats. Go as off peak as possible.
Kaya - Russell St, Causeway Bay - BBQ.
Myeongdong Express - looks like a student canteen, and probably is, given its relative proximity to the Polytechnic University. Cheap and cheerful.
Go Koong - [link goes to photos on FB page] fancy menu with a gazillion things, all pretty decent.
Cheong-Jin Dong - both CJD and Go Koong are decent go-tos for Korean, CJD is probably slightly cheaper.

Viet Kitchen - modern Vietnamese, very good pho.
Le Garçon Saigon - modern Vietnamese bistro. Hip and happening.
Brass Spoon - I haven't been yet but I hear the pho is legit. Lunch to early evening only.

Sushi & Sashimi
Sushi Mori Tomoaki
Sushi Tokami - import from Tokyo. Known for their tuna.
Kenjo - omakase is super pricey ($1000+ per head), but if you're not too hungry and order from the menu you can come out only $400 lighter
Sushi Sase - top of my "high end Japanese to go to" list, I've not been yet, but have only heard good things.
Sushi Kuu - "No, OMG, I cannot leave Central!" sushi place. Decently priced for the location and quality (above average).
Sushi Shota for decent sushi and kushiyaki for $200-300 per head (not incl. drinks), Causeway Bay
Sushi Shikon (ex-Sushi Yoshitake) - I've yet to blow HK$3k on a meal here, but reports have been stellar.

Ramen Jo
Ichiran - 24h, heavy Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen, perfect post-party nosh.
Ippudo - cheap and cheerful chain.

Inaniwa Udon Nabe - at Elements. When you need a quickish meal of proper food (and popcorn at the cinema does not count). Very decent, silky, "al dente" udon.

Izakaya / yakiniku / yakitori / kushiyaki
Kusuya Rakuen - izakaya/sake bar. Very casual Okinawan fare, large awamori and sake selection. The bar is the reason I go - it's probably my favourite place to sit in the whole of Hong Kong. Serious. I've never put it on the blog because they're packed as hell already and to make matters worse, have recently shortened their opening hours (1am weekdays, midnight Sat - go figure). Boo.
Yardbird - yakitori (mostly chicken). House-infused sakes, etc., a neighbourhood hang turned the hottest opening of 2011, by ex-Zuma chef Matt Abergel.
Nantei - before yakitori was hip, there was Nantei. Don't think it's not going to be crowded though, the place only sits about 20 people tops. Book.
Hokahoka - if you ever find yourself in a back alley of TST East (I won't judge), hungry for some Japanese bar food and sake - here you go. Full of Japanese businessmen.

Old School HK style
Tai Ping Koon - east-meets-west, kitschy 1950s style. This was considered 'western' food to HKers in the 40's. They're most famous for their chicken wings poached in sweet soy sauce and huge souffles. Several branches, I like the ones on Pak Sha Rd, Causeway Bay, and Granville Rd, TST. Decor at Granville is more interesting - 50s timewarp.
Australian Dairy Company - not for everyone, and nothing to do with Australia! (See my very old Openrice review via link)
Kung Wo - tofu paradise, if you're venturing out to Sham Shui Po.

Grassroots Pantry - one of the cutest restaurants in HK, helmed by a passionate team who use local organic produce as much as possible and are very committed to sustainability. They've opened Prune Deli & Workshop next door too. Love the sweet treats in particular.
Lok Cha Teahouse - in Hong Kong Park (walk up from Pacific Place, Admiralty) for tea and dim sum in a quaint setting. The dim sum is passable
Three Virtues - bustling, very "local" veg dim sum place. Things get a bit oily, but pretty tasty. North Point (and branches)
Harvester - pay-by-weight lunch spot in Sheung Wan
Amy's Vegetarian - private kitchen if you can ever get a booking
Veggie Palace - also a private kitchen, less difficult to book, in Wanchai.
Vegelink - another veg private kitchen that comes highly recommended. North Point.
Cafe Causette - not a veg restaurant, but a nice selection of perfectly executed and interesting enough vegetarian food, at the Mandarin Oriental
Mana! - a newer "fast food" joint by the folks behind Life Cafe.

Private Kitchens
Some are mentioned above under their respective cuisines - just grouping them all together again...
Ta Pantry - see Miscellaneous Western
Seema's Private Kitchen
Sijie - see Sichuan
Amy's Vegetarian - see Vegetarian
Veggie Palace - see Vegetarian
The Butchers Club - exactly the meatfest they sound like, specialising in dry-aged beef.

Brunch (this has stayed pretty empty, because honestly, I prefer dim sum for brunch with friends!)
Amber - I always get sick after their weekend wine lunch, but I always go back. I think that tells you something.
Common Ground - simple cafe food in a hipster PoHo.
teakha - see Patisseries

Patisseries/Sweet things 
teakha - scones, Asian teas, and the cutest terrace. Now there's the bigger, calmer teakha II near HKU.
Via Tokyo - hojicha soft serve! (Hopefully it'll be on the permanent menu!)
Lab Made - nitrogen ice cream place. Nothing new tech-wise anymore, but I like that they go for very "Hong Kong" flavours like beancurd skin and gingko sweet soup, and condensed milk toast. Some misses though, like lemon Ribena (too milky).
Po's Atelier - Japanese-French-ish
Sift - dessert bar, cake shop and probably Hong Kong's best cupcakes. Sit-down in Graham St original, cafe in Princes Building (both Central), and takeaway in Wan Chai.
Mandarin Cake shop (not Landmark Mandarin) - you can also sit in now. Gobstopping sugar art on show; great cakes, pastries and bread; rose petal jam makes a great souvenir.
Xiao Tian Gu - Hokkaido milk puddings!

Coffee - an expanded version here, but even that is out of date now. So many cafes have opened recently, even I can't keep up, which is a very good thing.
The Cupping Room - the best. Barista champions and all that. A few branches on HK island.
Peel Street Espresso Bar by Redback Coffee - excellent value for money, local roasters. Cool spot that turns into a bar at night.
Knockbox - in Mong Kok, helmed by barista champs, "serious" new wave coffee.
18 Grams - Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui, Causeway Bay and more.
Unar Coffee - hipsters unite! Tai Hang, and cute outlet in the Star Ferry Pier on Tsim Sha Tsui side.
Coco Espresso - Sheung Wan, Wanchai, Central
Crema - one of HK's first 'real' coffee places, but due to hidden/inconvenient location in TST East, lack of PR and coffee knowledge of the public, has never had as much great press as the likes of Fuel Espresso. They only use 1 blend.
Xen - specialises in siphon coffee, a bit out of the way in Quarry Bay (bad rhyme unintentional).
Espresso Alchemy - also in Quarry Bay, and the only place for a proper espresso-based drink out there at the moment.

Afternoon Tea
Clipper Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental
InterContinental Lobby Lounge - the view! The view! And good food too.
teakha (see Patisseries)

Probably not as much of a concern to visitors, but we are definitely seeing the rise of artisanal breads here and it's worth noting. I don't know about you, but I rely very much on bakeries when I'm travelling alone for a quick carby snack.
Levain - one of the only homegrown, independent bakeries in town (another is Tufei Pain Pain but their selection is too small).
Po's Atelier (see Patisseries)
Salon de The de Joel Robuchon - as mentioned above, best sandwich deal in town, but also great cakes and baguettes
Mandarin Cake Shop - if you need a large loaf, like a sourdough rye, call ahead so they can hold one for you because by the afternoon they're sold out. I like their wholewheat croissants too. They have seats if you want to stop for a coffee (but go regular/brewed, not espresso-based)
Bread Elements - ex-Four Seasons pastry chefs, dedicated to their craft. Buy retail from Chez Patrick Deli.

Misc local eats
Wonton noodles
Mak's on Wing Kut St, Sheung Wan (nb. this is different to the Mak's that most people go to and that you may already be familiar with, which is on Wellington St). This Mak's is the "original" Mak's son; the famous Mak's is his son-in-law and grandson.
Chee Kei - a very reliable chain.

Cha Chaan Teng - ie. local-style cafes
Honolulu - my vote for best egg tarts in HK at their Wanchai branch.
Capital Cafe - for a less gritty CCT experience, full of Cantopop posters, also in Wanchai
Australia Dairy Company - see Old School HK
Hoi On Cafe
Lan Fong Yuen - junky (but SO tasty) instant noodles with pan-fried chicken, also famed for HK-style milk tea, but it isn't as good as For Kee's, imo. Whatever weird stuff they do with chicken thigh, I love.
For Kee - (old: Part I / Part II [n.b. Part I links to an old, short round-up, in which I say the Sheung Wan ain't worth the good rep it's got for good, cheap food. Okay, so SW's not the best, but I take the "not so great" comment back. I've now grown to love SW, especially For Kee - evident in Part II, in which I call For Kee a "gem". Sheesh, inconsistent bloggers.]) For Kee shouldn't really go under the CCT section, but then again, they do a great milk tea. Their claim to fame is pork chop - it's simply marinated in soy sauce, sugar etc., home style, and pan-fried. Have it on rice, soup noodles or soup macaroni, with choi sum (vegetables), eggs, tomato (and/or - you're the boss!). After about 2pm, they also do pork chop burgers (chop, tomato and mayo - I usually tell them not to put mayo in - personal pref).  

Dai Pai Dong - eating at sit-down street stalls (read more about the evolution of dai pai dong here)
Ball Kee - 'Western' fried rice and other fried rice and noodles. Excellent 'wok hei' (breath of the wok). In a tiny alley off Hollywood Rd, diagonally opposite Lin Heung. Woks right next to you, barking waitress lady, brilliant.
Sing Heung Yuen - macaroni in tinned tomato soup and beef omelet? Yep. It's not for everyone. Australia Dairy (see Old School, above) does macaroni in clear soup with processed ham. It's a HK thing.
Chan Sei Kee - classic DPD experience, better at dinner when they cook individual family-style dishes (usually at lunch it's just spam and eggs on rice)
So Kee - the "French" toast is ridic. Another Sham Shui Po gem.

Roasted meats
Yat Lok - roast goose!
Kam's Roast Goose - also roast goose! Part of the family that left the (in)famous Yung Kee.
Joy Hing - char siu and siu yuk (crispy roast pork) are my faves here. Ask for fatty char siu ("fei cha") if you like it, otherwise the default is lean.

Beef brisket noodles
Sister Wah - clear soup brisket. Better than the famous Kau Kee in my opinion. KK's too fatty and their powdery curry makes me choke.

Law Fu Kee - several outlets in Central, and they do deep-fried wontons! (It's a real Chinese thing!)
Sang Kee - Sheung Wan, not to be confused with the Cantonese restaurant in Wan Chai.

Street food
Gai daan zai - I don't really like street food at the stalls on street corners in HK, except for this waffle thing that has protruding oval/egg shapes instead of the standard square/checks. Called 'gai daan zai' and it's a dying art - they just don't make them like they used to. But there are a couple of places that are decent. Note that the Granville guy has moved a little across the street, down towards Chatham Rd - (do check the comments too for more suggestions from more gai daan zai lovers!). And this one, if you're heading to the eastern part of the island, is quite consistently good.

Egg Tarts
Honolulu - my pick for best puff pastry egg tarts in HK is the Wanchai branch.
Tai Cheong - shortcrust egg tarts. Also try their version of donuts - "sa yoong"
Saint Honore - a local bakery chain. Shops with ovens in-house will have warmed shortcrust tarts all day. So easy, so good.

The Woods
Butler - Japanese bar - precision cocktails like the well-known Executive Bar but a slightly younger, less scary atmos. You'll still pay through your nose for a drink, but it's the only place to get a proper cocktail on Kowloon side and for that alone it deserves triple-choc-brownie points.
Artesian at The Langham Hong Kong - ignore, for now, the "world's best bar" accolade with which the London original has been showered. It's still quite new (as at Nov 2014), so give it some time. So far, the classics are very good and thank goodness for another good Kowloon-side bar.
Wyndham the 4th
Nocturne - little Japanese bar in Central with a neat whisky list.
L'etage - Another Japanese bar in Causeway Bay, to replace Yu-zen (gone downhill since Butler - see below) and Executive Bar (so serious it can be scary). Could have a larger (a higher quality) selection of pours though.
The Chinnery - a true classic at the (original) Mandarin Oriental. Think pub crossed with cigar room in a fancy private club, with brilliant, hearty food (think Brit curry) as well as an awesome single malt collection.
Mandarin Grill + Bar - don't mistake the lounge outside the restaurant for a mere waiting room. Their dry martinis are spot-on, and the warmed, spiced nuts don't hurt either(that sounds kind of weird - anyway). Usually has space when other Central spots are full.
001 - speakeasy owned by a liquor store. Love their whisky sour and grilled cheese sandwiches. No photos, and increasingly, an attitude, sigh.
Lobby Lounge at the InterContinental - if you don't mind the lobby atmos (though it's recently been renovated and has a more demure tone) and live band - it's one of the best places for a eye-level, front-row harbour view (like being on a ferry without the wind, humidity and sea sickness) and the food & drink ain't too shabby either.
The Globe - a proper pub and the place to go for craft beers.
TAP - local and imported craft beers, and beer-themed food. Best place to go if you find yourself in Mong Kok.