Insider’s Tip: Eating in Hong Kong

Michelle Loo (middle) with Chef Brandon Foo (left) and Thai Chef Duangporn Songvisava in Hong Kong

There’s so much to eat in the land of feasts – but what are Hong Kong’s best food secrets? Our experts clue us in

Michelle Loo (middle) with Chef Brandon Foo (left) and Thai Chef Duangporn Songvisava in Hong Kong
Michelle Loo (middle) with Chef Brandon Foo (left) and Thai Chef Duangporn Songvisava in Hong Kong

What is the No. 1 die-die must try food in Hong Kong? Dumplings? Bean paste biscuits? Roasted goose? Celebrity host Michelle Loo thinks it’s none of those.

“Food from cha chan teng (tea restaurants) carries true Hong Kong flavour,” said the media personality.

So, if you love the city’s collision of old and new, she said, you have to give cha chan teng fusion food a try.

Michelle is a popular entertainment writer and food critic from Hong Kong, and the host of TLC’s upcoming programme, “My Taste of Hong Kong”.

The three-part series follows Michelle as she introduces Hong Kong’s best culinary corners to renowned chefs, including Singaporean chefs Brandon Foo and Shen Tan.

We can’t wait, so we got Michelle, Chef Shen, and Chef Brandon to serve out some of the best tips for dining in Southeast Asia’s food mecca.

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1. Don’t Pass up Dingy Corners

Great food comes in all packages, not just in Michelin-starred restaurants. Even the smallest, quietest shop hidden behind layers of scaffolding may serve lip-smacking pork cutlet noodles.

“Eat what the locals eat – that’s how you know what’s really good,” Chef Shen said.

Michelle recommends the old district of Sham Shui Po. Don’t be fooled by its worn façade. These streets are home to some of Hong Kong’s best independent eateries and cafes.

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2. Research Hong Kong Food Blogs

Don’t just rely on review and tourism sites. Who knows the city’s offerings better than locals?

Besides covering old favourites, local food bloggers are also in the loop when it comes to new, rising-star establishments. It’s a great way to suss out the best bites before they get too crowded!

3. Visit Local Markets

Wet markets, dry markets, night markets and supermarkets – if you pass them, go in. Among all the dried products and vegetables are some hidden gems unique to the local cuisine.

Chef Shen was especially enamoured of bittersweet jelly-like wong pey (yellow skin) fruits, which she eagerly infused into her drinks.

Michelle added cheekily, “I like to look at the spices and ingredients locals use, then I can ‘steal’ the ideas for myself!”

Some vendors will even cook for you. Chef Brandon shared how he picked fresh scallops at a traditional market, and they cooked it for him on the spot.

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4. Take a Gander at Private Kitchens

If you’re adventurous – and you should be – you can make a stop at one of the many private kitchens in Hong Kong. These are small businesses run by great cooks, held in their homes, that entertain a limited number of guests per day.

You call ahead for a reservation, and they’ll send you an ad-hoc menu of interesting homemade dishes to choose from.

One dish, named “Italian Paint, Chinese Painting”, had Michelle extremely puzzled. It turns out that it was an intriguing fusion of radish cake and squid ink.

It’s an ever-changing culinary experience that you can’t get in Singapore, so it’s got a permanent spot on our bucket list.

5. Don’t Fall Back on Typical Hong Kong Dishes

There’s nothing wrong with a good plate of roasted goose or world-renowned dim sum but there is a lot more to discover.

Catch “My Taste of Hong Kong” for the best of Michelle’s recommendations. And, if you’re ever in doubt, just pick from the many crowded cha chan teng along the streets.

“My Taste of Hong Kong” will premiere on TLC. Stay tuned for more details!

By Pamela Chow

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