American Peking Restaurant
The name is misleading to say the least. The fare here is authentic Peking: plump duck with crispy brown skin accompanied by all the trappings—plum sauce, slivers of scallions and thin pancakes. Delicious. The sizzling-plate dishes are another specialty—try the shrimp, or beef—and don’t forget a side order of dumplings, onion cakes, minced pigeon and hot-and-sour soup. This is a restaurant where the menu has been road tested over the years by tens of thousands of diners, evidenced by the well-thumbed menus. It is a particular favorite of local expatriates; reservations are essential and names are chalked up on a board near the entranceway. Upstairs is best, although the downstairs section did once have an impromptu visit by Britain’s Prince Andrew, who clearly did not make enough of an impact for the name to change to the British Peking Restaurant.
A favorite of David Tang.
“Eat at Hutong. It’s a spectacular restaurant with Hong Kong’s best view. Afterwards, go upstairs to Aqua for a drink.”
Editors’ notes: Old World China in decorative touches like Chinese silk curtains and carved antique wooden screens faces modern Hong Kong with walls of glass facing a harbor view. Expect Chinese food prepared with a light touch and no MSG.
One Harbour Road
People argue constantly about which is the finest Cantonese restaurant in town—and which place does the best dim sum. Expect to find One Harbour Road in the top five of discerning diners. The Grand Hyatt restaurant has an open-plan, near-European feel, not to mention a 180-degree view of the harbor. Specialties are stewed pigeon with lemon sauce, wok-fried lobster with garlic and chili, bean curd with egg-white scallops and wok-fried prawns with salty duck-egg yolk.
From an Indagare Insider who lives in Hong Kong: “A fabulous place to try Peking duck, this restaurant is located in the basement of the Alexandra House, across the street from the Prince’s Building and Sevva. It’s your typical glinting Chinese-style dining room, with round tables and white tablecloths. It feels very local and is a great place to take out-of-town visitors.”
Shui Hu Ju
A favorite of Louise Kou.
“At Shui Hu Ju, you’ll find simple, elegant Chinese style with mouthwatering food. It’s hard to find as it has just its name in Chinese over an ornate door. Once found, though, you will take it into your heart.”
The Grand Stage
Occupying a massive space on the second floor of the historic Western Market, this Chinese restaurant does dim sum at its most grand. The setting teeters on the verge of tacky, with chandeliers and a dance floor (they host a lot of functions here), but the dim sum is some of the city’s best, and the wait staff is friendly and tries hard to help you navigate the massive menu.
Tim Ho Wan
The world’s least-expensive Michelin -starred restaurant, Tim Ho Wan is a hole-in-the-wall and one of the city’s top spots for dim sum. The fact that it’s in deep Mong Kok (Kowloon) and that you have to line up at least 45 minutes before they open to get a table may deter some. It’s an excursion for committed foodies.
Tung Po Sea Food Restaurant
Picture a huge fish market, its floors tiled, that is lit by bright, unromantic halogen and filled with large round tables that have little shelves underneath for diners to store their purses and bags (the floors are usually still wet from the day’s fish-selling activities). Now add to that large groups of rowdy Hong Kong locals, waitresses dressed in cheerleading outfits and an impresario-maitre d’ who occasionally moonwalks to Michael Jackson and you have the jovial ambience of this dai pai dong, known locally only as the Cooked Food Center. And surprisingly the food is excellent, especially the ultra-fresh seafood dishes, like salt-and-pepper shrimp and stir-fried prawns. For foodies who want to be part of a real local, and somewhat hidden, dining scene (you take an escalator up to the second floor of a nondescript building in North point), the Cooked Food Center is not to be missed.
Under the Bridge Spicy Crab
This place has four locations, all in Wanchai, and all are fabulous for trying the city’s famous chili crab. Expect a messy, fun meal, and if you are going on a Wednesday evening, head to the Happy Valley horse racing afterwards. It’s just a short taxi ride away.
Victoria Harbour Seafood Restaurant
Delicious dim sum is served in this restaurant, which overlooks the harbor. There’s nothing charming about the dining room (large round tables, fluorescent lighting), but the food lures crowds, especially during lunch, so come early or reserve.
This hole-in-the-wall on busy Wellington Road serves incredible Beijing dumplings (and not much else). Folded into paper-thin dough, the little parcels are stuffed with a variety of vegetarian and meat options and topped with black vinegar. You can order small sides (bok choi, bowls of flavorful broth etc), but this little spot is really the place to come for your dumpling fix. Don’t expect to linger over a meal (not that you would want to, seeing as you’re sitting on rickety tables in an unadorned room). There’s always a long line of locals waiting to get a quick lunch here.