Having visited Hong Kong twice in the past few months, I got a chance to sample a number of homegrown restaurants and bars, where I tasted some traditional delicacies and indulged in an array of international flavours. In Hong Kong you’re always spoilt for choice, irrespective of your preferences of cuisine or diet. There are a number of speciality restaurants tucked into alleyways that may require intense Google Maps’ skills to be found, but are worth the hunt with impressive food and ambience. And if sophisticated flavours of fine-dining restaurants catch your fancy, the Michelin-star hunter in you won’t be disappointed here.
Here is a list you need to keep handy on your next business trip to the SAR.
I visited Man Wah on my first day in Hong Kong. This one Michelin-star Cantonese restaurant on the 25th floor of Mandarin Oriental exemplifies opulence with its traditional paintings on silk and a panoramic view of Victoria Harbour. Start with the Shanghainese soup dumpling that is made of minced pork; dip it in soya sauce and throw in some chilli oil for that extra zest. Its organic vegetable, taro, and asparagus dumplings are perfectly crunchy and lip-smacking too. For pork enthusiasts, the parsnip, bacon puff is worth tasting, and seafood lovers can indulge in poached rice in lobster soup. Your visit to Man Wah must finish with its ethnic egg tart that’s sumptuous, creamy and has the right amount of egg content. Price for the Man Wah lunch menu starts at HK$588/₹5,100 per guest. Open daily 12pm-2:30-pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm; 5 Connaught Road Central, Central; tel: +852 28254003; mandarinoriental.com
Honolulu Coffee Shop
This Hong Kong-style cafe is a hidden gem of Central. Situated on Stanley Street, you may almost miss Honolulu Coffee Shop, because of its modest exterior and signboard. Go for the traditional Hong Kong milk tea, and pair it with the generously buttered and crisp pineapple bun that simply melts in your mouth. The egg tarts here are more flaky than usual and could impress unorthodox taste buds. If sweets aren’t your thing, Honolulu’s savouries are delicious too. Being a Cantonese cafe, pork and beef noodles, rice and chops are frequent on the menu; I quite enjoyed the noodle pork broth that balanced the sweetness of the desserts I indulged in. Since the menu is in Cantonese, bring along a local colleague or friend to help communicate with its staff. Dishes start at HK$35/₹305. Open daily 7am-11pm; 33 Stanley Street; tel: +852 25268063; honolulu.com.hk
Keen to eat healthy on my next visit to Hong Kong, I was recommended MANA! Raw by friends. From Central MTR Station, this restaurant is merely a five-minute walk. Upon entering this organic, vegetarian eatery, I was intrigued by its minimal decor that included a tap for water, an idol of Shiva — the Indian god, bare walls and community tables. Its signature flatbreads form most part of the menu with toppings that include zaatar, avocado, fresh tomato, mint and “garlicnaise”. There are also classic burgers, mezze platters and dips to pick from. MANA’s wraps are supposed to be great; however I decided to try a salad. There were four to five freshly prepared salads to pick from, along with toppings such as olives, pickles, chillies and hummus as add-ons. Signature flatbreads start at HK$45/₹390; open daily 10am-10pm; Welley Building, 97 Wellington Street, Central; tel: +852 22595125; mana.hk
BÊP Vietnamese Kitchen
If you’re looking for traditional Vietnamese cuisine in the heart of Hong Kong, head to one of BÊP Vietnamese Kitchen’s outlets in Soho (there is another one in Central). It is easy to draw similarities with street-side eateries in Hanoi, with its community style seating and open kitchen. There is enough seafood and beef on the menu to keep yourself satiated; however I began with the chicken satay skewers (can be ordered in beef or prawn), which were infused with the aroma of lemon grass. Thit ba-roi luoc — five-spiced pork belly served with Vietnamese greens and pickle, and Bo Tai Chanh — Vietnamese style beef carpaccio, marinated in lime juice with a touch of fish sauce are both highly recommended. The pho noodle soup with chicken was delicious too with a dash of lime and red chillies. Starters begin at HK$48/₹417. Open daily 12pm-4.30pm, 6pm-11pm; Lower Ground Floor, 9 – 11 Staunton Street, Soho; tel: +852 25227533; bep.hk
Tim Ho Wan
Having heard about this Hong Kong-based Cantonese restaurant that specialises in dim sum since years, a trip to Tim Ho Wan was long overdue. Skipping the queues at its Sham Shui Po District restaurant, thanks to influential company, I entered this modest looking restaurant with plastic chairs and round tables. It enjoys the status of being one of the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants in the world (three out of five of Tim Ho Wan’s outlets have this rating). Founding chef Mak Kwai-pui, an ex-Four Seasons chef, has expanded his dim sum empire by leaps and bounds with Tim Ho Wan. A visit to this restaurant entails tasting vermicelli rolls, steamed egg cake, baked bun with BBQ pork, beef ball with beancurd skin and spinach dumpling with shrimp amongst a fairly expansive menu consisting of traditional Cantonese-style dishes. Best to visit on an empty stomach. Dim Sum begins at HK$24/₹206. Open daily 10am-10pm; G/F, 9-11 Fuk Wing Street; tel: +852 27881226; timhowan.com
Rainbow Seafood Restaurant
Situated on Lamma Island, my visit to Rainbow Seafood Restaurant came as a pleasant surprise as I waited for the restaurant’s special boat to come pick us up at Central Pier 9. A 45-minute boat ride later, the vessel docked at Lamma Island’s pier directly connecting to a pathway that led to this homely restaurant. It is best to book a table here in advance to avail of the free ferry shuttle service. Huge tanks of sea animals will keep you company on your walk to the restaurant from the pier. Those keen about their fish and crustacean choices have the opportunity of picking their own marine animals from this live display. Its signature dishes include rainbow fish garoupa, baked lobster with butter sauce, fried crab with honey and pepper and spicy prawns. The special set menu for two starts at HK$398/₹3,430. Open daily 10am-11pm; Sok Kwu Wan First Street, Lamma Island; tel: +852 29828100; lammarainbow.com