Dining in dai pai dongs is a quintessential Hong Kong experience, but outdoor institutions are all but a thing of the past. Given the current scorching temperatures, you’ll want to beat the heat and get off the streets anyway, so why not treat yourself to the best of both worlds? Enter Hong Kong’s cooked food markets – normally situated atop the city’s wet markets, they play host to a mixture of local and international cuisine. But not all cooked food centres are born equal, and we’ve put together our top picks, separating the best from the rest.
Java Road Cooked Food Centre
Housed in a seemingly innocuous municipal building on the island’s eastern edge, this cooked food market is a known party place. This is largely, if not completely, due to Tung Po restaurant, which is owned by the ever-eccentric Robby Cheung, who entertains diners with good food and even better dancing. Expect beer in bowls and a party atmosphere, plus a selection of classic Cantonese dishes, as well as a few fusion additions thrown in for good measure. Tung Po is almost always a full-house, so arrive early to grab your table.
Java Road Cooked Food Centre, 99 Java Road, North Point
Bowrington Road Cooked Food Centre
Just a stone’s throw from Times Square and its adjacent luxury shopping malls is a slice of living history and old Hong Kong at its finest. Open all day and well into the night (from 6am until 2am), Bowrington Road Cooked Food Centre houses all manner of restaurants, from seafood specialists to roast meat stalls. One of the more notable is Wai Kee, a Halal restaurant known for its roast duck and lamb dishes. The secret is out about this place and its wallet-friendly prices, so expect hefty queues, especially on a Sunday. Arriving early is always a smart idea.
Bowrington Road Cooked Food Centre, 21 Bowrington Road, Wan Chai
Ap Lei Chau Market and Cooked Food Centre
Ap Lei Chau offers some of the freshest seafood in Hong Kong – quite literally fresh off the boat and still swimming in tanks on the ground floor of the municipal building. A selection of the day’s freshest catches is on offer upstairs. The cooked food market is total carnage – loud, rambunctious, and filled to the brim with tables and stools. One of the more popular restaurants is Pak Kee. Diners can either order off the menu or shop to their heart’s content in the market below, bringing it to the vendor of their choice to plate and serve.
Ap Lei Chau Market and Cooked Food Centre, 8 Hung Shing Street, Ap Lei Chau
Queen Street Cooked Food Market
Though it may have developed a reputation as the French quarter in recent years, Sheung Wan boasts a wide range of cuisines, and the Queen Street Food Market is no exception. From Beijing dumplings to authentic Indian, and Thai cuisine to your classic dai pai dong dishes, the choice is seemingly endless. A popular haunt on Friday nights is ABC Kitchen, an Italian eatery with red checkered table linen and a buzzing atmosphere. It’s a little heftier on the wallet than its market counterparts, but if the packed tables are anything to go by, it’s worth the price tag.
Queen Street Cooked Food Market, 38 Des Voeux Road West, Sheung Wan
Mui Wo Cooked Food Market
Over the sea but not too far away (even by Hong Kong standards), the cooked food market in Mui Wo is within sight of the ferry pier. It’s popular with local residents and hungry hikers and beachgoers who have trekked across Lantau and spent the day outdoors. Though covered and shaded, it’s an open-air market, so you’ll want to try and grab a table near the large ceiling fans where possible. Wah Kee is a favourite, although menus are fairly similar, each focusing heavily on local seafood dishes and starchy staples that go down a treat with hungry patrons.
Mui Wo Cooked Food Market, 3 Ngan Wan Road, Mui Wo, Lantau Island
Kowloon City Market and Cooked Food Centre
Located near the old Kai Tak Airport, Kowloon City has in recent years become known as Little Thailand, thanks to the growing Thai community it plays home to and the plethora of authentic restaurants that have followed suit. In the walls of the city’s cooked food market, you’ll find regional Thai cuisine at restaurants such as Amporn Thaifood. The best part? Without scrimping on flavour, you’ll dine at a fraction of the prices of more central locations. Cheers to that!
Kowloon City Market and Cooked Food Centre, 102 Nga Tsin Wai Road, Kowloon City, Kowloon
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