October 16, 2016

The Best Budget Restaurants in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the most eclectic and cosmopolitan cities in Asia. It is also one of the most-visited food capitals, a certified foodie’s playground. With thousands of restaurants scattered all over the territory, from the most upscale Michelin-starred restaurants to the most humble hole-in-the-walls, it is every food-lover’s dream destination.

What people love about Hong Kong is that you don’t have to dip into your life savings to enjoy good Chinese food. It is that place on earth where mom and pop eateries attract long queues because they serve great-tasting food using the freshest ingredients. The locals don’t really care whether a restaurant is bereft of décor or seriously lacks in service as long as it serves delicious food.

So if you’re travelling in Hong Kong on a budget, be delighted in the fact that there’s an abundance of cheap eats because Hongkongers appreciate affordable dining options. You will be spoilt for choices during your stay. Below are 20 of the best budget restaurants in Hong Kong.

1. Kau Kee

Popular for their succulent and tender beef brisket slow-cooked in delicious, refreshing broth, Kau Kee has a loyal following of patrons who are crazy about their signature noodle soup. Located in 21 Gough Street in Central, restaurant is plain and simple, just tables and stools, and no decors to speak of. Just a note, though, that the place is always packed during lunchtime and dinnertime so expect to wait in line before you can grab a seat. Furthermore, this is not the restaurant for you if you’re after excellence in customer service as the staff can be quite grumpy, but if you fancy a steaming bowl of affordable delicious beef brisket or curry beef tendon noodles, Kau Kee is a must. A bowl of noodles costs around 5 USD.

2. Australian Dairy Company

A favourite among locals for their cheap and delicious breakfast fare is the Australian Dairy Company, one of the best tea restaurants in Hong Kong. Known for providing extremely fast, no-frills service, the restaurant serves the best-tasting scrambled eggs and toast in town. Other bestsellers include the creamy macaroni noodle soup, milk tea, and the steamed milk and egg custard pudding. The Australian Dairy Company is located on Parkes Street and accessible via Jordan MTR. A meal costs around 5 USD per person.

3. Tim Ho Wan

top-20-budget-restaurants-in-hong-kong

If you think that all Michelin-starred restaurants are expensive and high-end, you couldn’t be more wrong. Because Tim Ho Wan, a one Michelin star food joint owned by dim sum chef Mak Kwai Pui, is definitely one of the most affordable restaurants in Hong Kong. In fact, it is one of the most affordable restaurants included in any Michelin guide worldwide, second only to the recently awarded Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle, a food hawker in Singapore.

Featuring a limited menu comprising of all-time favourites like the baked pork buns, beef balls, radish cake, and steamed egg cake, and other cheap, fine dim sum, Tim Ho Wan has been attracting a huge daily crowd since it opened in 2009. All Tim Ho Wan stores (they currently have 4) in Hong Kong are usually filled to the brim, and with a long queue outside to boot, so it is best that you visit during off-peak hours. Tim Ho Wan opens daily at 8am to 10pm and a meal will set you back around 10 USD. For diners who want to dine at a Tim Ho Wan store that still has a Michelin star, head to their branches in Sham Shui Po and North Point because the one in Tai Kok Tsui lost its star this year.

4. Yat Lok Roast Goose

Another affordable Michelin-starred restaurant in Hong Kong is Yat Lok Roast Goose, a mom and pop eatery on Stanley Street, Hong Kong. Popular for its crisp and tender roast goose drumstick served on top of a bowl of rice noodles swimming in flavourful broth, this cheap food joint is a big favourite among locals and tourists.

And just like Kau Kee, this hole-in-the-wall is also notorious for its grumpy, often loud wait staff but don’t let that hinder you from having a superb meal. An order of roast goose with noodles or rice typically costs 15 USD.

5. Mak’s Noodle

One of the oldest family-run noodle places in Hong Kong is Mak’s Noodle. Now managed by third-generation Mak Chi-ming, Mak’s Noodle was founded before the second world war.

Located on Wellington Street, Mak’s Noodle is known far and wide for its shrimp wonton noodle soup. Each serving is small, containing only four pieces of wonton, but the dumplings are perfectly cooked and taste so good that customers just keep coming back. What makes their version of the ubiquitous noodle soup extra special is that they use fresh, firm shrimp with the dumplings, dried shrimp, ground fish and pork bones for their soup, and duck eggs for their noodles. The result? Wonton noodle soup like no other, that even the world famous celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain is a huge fan. A bowl of wonton noodles costs around 6 USD.

6. Ho Hung Kee Congee and Noodle Wonton Shop

A congee and noodle place that has been serving good food since 1973, Ho Hung Kee is not only one of the most affordable restaurants in Hong Kong, it also has a Michelin star. The congee at Hong Hung Kee is made from rice and it is as filling as it is flavourful. Equally delicious is the wonton noodles, and while the serving is quite small, it is still value for money in most people’s book considering the quality of the food – the dumplings are flavourful, the broth perfectly seasoned, and the noodles are firm and chewy.

Once located on Sharp Street East, Ho Hung Kee transferred to Hysan Place on Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay. A bowl of congee will set you back 3.5 USD while the wonton noodle soup is around 5 USD.

7. Lin Heung Teahouse

Chicken Feet

Another gem on Wellington Street is Lin Heung Teahouse, a restaurant that’s been serving fine dim sum for 70 years. Because of its glowing reputation, the restaurant is always packed, so arrive early, especially during lunchtime. When you get there, survey the area for diners who are almost done with their meal and patiently stand behind them so you’ll grab the seat/table as soon as it’s vacated.

The best thing about Lin Heung is that is that they still use the traditional metal trolleys to serve the dim sum. The staff members are quite old and have been working there for ages so expect them to be curt and grumpy. Must-trys at Lin Heung include the spare ribs, chicken feet, and sweet and sour ribs but take note that dim sum is only served until 3pm. Allot at least 6 USD for a meal.

8. Wang Fu

Still on the busy Wellington Street is yet another popular hole-in-the-wall. But instead of the usual Cantonese dumplings, this one does dumplings Beijing-style. Studded with meat and other different fillings, and bigger and juicier than those found in Cantonese restaurants, Wang Fu’s handmade dumplings are a big hit among locals and tourists alike. Served with a bowl of soup, a meal of steamed or fried Pekingese dumplings in Wang Fu should be around 4 USD.

9. Din Tai Fung

They say you’ve never really been to Hong Kong if you’ve never had a meal or two at Din Tai Fung, one of the best restaurant chains in the territory. Originating in Taiwan and famous worldwide for their xiao long bao (dumplings filled with broth), two of Din Tai Fung’s restaurants in Hong Kong earned a Michelin star in 2010. Other bestsellers in the restaurant include spicy wontons and sticky rice dumplings. While not as cheap as the other restaurants included in this list, a meal at Din Tai Fung costs around 10 to 15 USD, and still fits most people’s budget.

10. Good Hope Noodle

If you are hankering for a cheap yet savoury bowl of noodles, you will never go wrong with Good Hope Noodle. Situated on Yuen Street in Mong Kok, the restaurant has been serving delicious wonton noodle soup since 1971. Priced at 4 USD per bowl, you get the best bang for your buck with Good Hope’s wonton noodles. The wonton is tasty and stuffed with a generous amount of filling while the clear broth tastes just as good. Aside from the delicious soups, the restaurant also serves really good congee, beef brisket, and fish skin. Great food, fast service, friendly staff, and a store that’s roomy compared to other restaurants are the things you’ll appreciate about Good Hope Noodle – all in all, a must-try when you are in Hong Kong.

11. Tsui Wah

Travellers who find themselves suddenly craving for comfort food while in Hong Kong only need to head to Tsui Wah restaurant on Wellington Street. Open 24/7, Tsui Wah’s menu items are an interesting mix of Asian, Indian, and Western fare, making it top of mind among expats who need to have a huge meal after a big night out. Bestsellers in Tsui Wah’s long list of menu offerings include savoury meat-based dishes, curries, Hainanese chicken rice, and an assortment of noodle soups at affordable prices. A meal should set you back a measly 6 USD or so. Started in 1967, Tsui Wah has more than twelve branches in Hong Kong so you just might find one near your hotel if the one in Wellington is a bit out of the way.

12. Maxim’s Palace

Maxim’s Palace, specifically the branch in City Hall, is a classic dim sum place and a must-visit when in Hong Kong. Aside from the fact that it’s huge and comes with a lovely view of the harbour, the restaurant provides for an authentic Hong Kong style dining experience – from the tasty dim sum to the grumpy servers pushing traditional metal trolleys, and down to the noisy local customers.

Just a note, however, that although the restaurant can receive 500 guests at a time, it is extremely popular among locals and tourists so you still have to wait in line to get a table. Don’t worry, the food, ambiance, and the total experience more than makes up for the inconvenience.

13. Wing Nah Noodle Soup

One of the less heralded restaurants in Hong Kong that serves really good wonton noodles is Wing Nah Noodle Soup on Hennessy Road, Wan Chai. Priced at more than 5 USD per bowl, Wing Nah’s hearty signature soup does not disappoint. The egg noodles are firm and chewy, the broth flavourful, and the shrimp-and-pork wontons are plump and delicious.

14. Tung Po Seafood Restaurant

Bamboo Clams

If you’re a huge fan of seafood, one restaurant that should be included in your list of can’t-miss places is Tung Po Seafood Restaurant. One of Hong Kong’s most iconic seafood restaurants, Tung Po is located in an old government building in a wet market at North Point. The restaurant’s extensive menu features many different seafood dishes (order the spicy crabs and bamboo clams!), including all-time favorites like fried or roast chicken, barbecue, fried burger patties, and pig’s trotters. Aside from the amazing food, what makes Tung Po highly popular among patrons is the great atmosphere, thanks to the owner Robby Cheung who never fails to cheer people up with his wacky hairstyle and exceptional brand of customer service. The restaurant opens at 5pm daily and a full meal of mouthwatering seafood dishes plus beer costs around 20 USD per person.

15. Sun Hing Restaurant

Another restaurant in Hong Kong with extended business hours is Sun Hing Restaurant along Smithfield Road, Kennedy town. Open starting 3am everyday, Sun Hing is well known among locals for their tasty siew mai and the liu sha bao or the egg yolk custard bun. Another great thing about Sun Hing is that there are specials every hour during weekends. Fret not even if you don’t know any Cantonese, just stick around and grab the new arrivals as soon as the staff brings them out from the kitchen. Meals are really affordable at Sun Hing and dim sums are priced at 2.5 USD per serving.

16. Tsim Chai Kee

Fronting Mak’s Noodles on Wellington Street, Tsim Chai Kee is a restaurant known for serving supersized wonton noodle soups. If you want to have a taste of the real deal, order a bowl with mixed toppings of sliced beef, fish balls, and shrimp wontons. Just a reminder, we were not joking when we said that Tsim Chai Kee’s portions are huge, so prepare to be wowed by the ping pong-sized wontons.To be safe, bring a friend to share the food with. Also, the restaurant offers faster service and significantly more elbowroom than most noodle places in Hong Kong. A huge bowl of wonton noodle soup at Tsim Chai Kee costs more or less 5 USD.

17. Kwan Kee Bamboo Noodle

Kwan Kee Bamboo Noodle may not be in the business for a very long time but the restaurant in Cheung Sha Wan has built a solid reputation for itself in the local food and restaurant scene. Boasting of good food at affordable prices, Kwan Kee specialises in wonton noodle soups made from bamboo-kneaded egg noodles and plump, moderately sized wantons. The process of making noodles using a bamboo stick is tedious but the owners of Kwan Kee values tradition, hence the use of the original recipe which go back a few generations. A bowl of noodles at Kwan Kee is between 4 USD to 8 USD.

18. Luk Yu Tea House

Established in 1933, Luk Yu Tea House is an institution in Hong Kong, frequented by local celebrities and other clients who could very well be amongst the who’s who of the local community. Located on Stanley Street, Luk Yu is known for their succulent dim sum, lively atmosphere, and tasteful décor. A trip to Luk Yu Tea House is a must-try if you are keen on having dim sum and tea at a traditional tea house.

19. Tak Fat Beef Ball

Tucked within the Haiphong Road Temporary Market in Tsim Sha Tsui is a gem of a noodle stall that has been selling the most delicious beef ball noodles for decades. Started some 30 years ago, Tak Fat Beef Ball has been serving beef balls to new and longtime customers who keep coming back to the dingy stall for the insanely good beef balls. If you’re adventurous when it comes to food, order a bowl of beef ball noodles with an extra topping of beef entrails. You can get a bowl of noodles at Tak Fat for 3 USD.

20. Mr. Wong’s

Another must-visit restaurant when travelling to Hong Kong is the one on Shamchun Street, Mong Kok that’s fondly called Mr. Wong’s by its patrons. Mr. Wong’s serves unlimited food and overflowing beer at a very reasonable price of 8 USD. A favourite chill out place among expats and foreign students, the food served is an assortment of hot and tasty Chinese dishes. Think comforting and delicious food that would remind you of your favorite home-cooked meal that really warms the heart. And you know what’s even better? The food just keeps on coming! Another plus about this restaurant is that the owner, Mr. Wong, is very accommodating and takes time to interact with the guests. His friendliness is infectious and even if you are having dinner by your lonesome, you’ll soon find yourself making friends with the other customers.

Ready to embark on your Hong Kong Food Crawl? Start with this culinary adventure tour for tailor-made for foodies like you.

By: Brendelyn Balaga

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