Header image courtesy of @yewwooi (Instagram)
Though the neighbourhood of Wan Chai is packed to the brim with eateries, not all of them are made equal, and those that are already famous usually have the price point to match. We can’t always splurge for lunch, for Pete’s sake! Here are 10 of Wan Chai’s most affordable lunch options, featuring an inclusive range of cuisines both local and international, and all at under $100.
If you simply peek down Swatow Street, nothing will particularly catch the eye, but this alley is actually home to quite a few eateries, and Cats’ Eye is one of the gems. This little restaurant does one of the best omelette rice—or omurice, as the Japanese call it—dishes we’ve had around town, with silky smooth eggs and a choice of four main flavours to mix and match with. Our top pick is the Pork Curry + Demi-glace Burger Omurice ($96), which is the perfect combination of savoury, sweet, slightly spicy, and hearty comfort food. The Pork Curry + Tomato Beef ($82) is great for those who prefer a tangier taste. This is only a small eatery, so be prepared to queue!
Cats’ Eye Bistro, G/F, 24 Swatow Street, Wan Chai | (+852) 2891 8986
Fans of Japanese dumplings shouldn’t miss trying out Chao Chao’s offerings. Their lunch sets are priced very reasonably, ranging between $65 and $88. You get a vegetable starter, eight pieces of their signature gyoza dumplings, and a mains of either Curry Rice, Beef Gristle Stewed with Tofu, Udon, Udon in Curry Soup, or Grilled Eel Rice. The set also comes with a soft drink or green tea, so it’s absolutely value for money. We usually add $5 to upgrade to the Mushroom Gyoza with Rice Wrapper for that chewy mochi mouthfeel, but if you’re really hungry, we’d recommend springing $12 more for 16 pieces of signature gyoza instead.
Chao Chao Gyoza, G/F, 31 Amoy Street, Wan Chai | (+852) 2735 5360
We haven’t quite gotten over the demise of The Flying Pan in Central, but luckily every night owl’s favourite 24/7 diner can still be found in Wan Chai. Their menu is so extensive it makes your head spin, but our go-to is usually their staggeringly wide range of omelettes. The Club ($99) is made with turkey, bacon, tomato, and cheddar cheese, while Le Cordon Bleu ($90) is lighter with chicken, ham, and swiss cheese. While we find it a bit too much for lunch, The Flying Pan fry-up ($99) is also great for getting your money’s worth. But don’t order too much, because need we remind you that all these also come with two side dishes, toast, and a juice?
The Flying Pan, 1/F, David House, 37–39 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2528 9997
The epitome of no-frills cha chaan teng dining with a Western spin, Bread Tree Express does a huge array of dishes that average around the $50 mark—just don’t expect anything fancy. The Pork Chop in Italian Style Bacon Sauce lounge lunch set only costs $46, and you can choose to have it with rice, linguine, fusilli, angel hair pasta, penne, spaghetti, or mashed potatoes. They also have decent choices for baked pasta sets, all of which are priced no higher than $60. Do note that the restaurant itself is rather small, so it’s much better to order take away with Bread Tree and enjoy somewhere more quiet.
Bread Tree Express, G/F, 134 Jaffe Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2529 8848
There are tons of ramen joints in Wan Chai, but we particularly like Koku Ryu because it’s cosy, intimate, and located on a relatively less busy road. That said, like all ramen restaurants in Hong Kong, there’s no escaping queuing up a little while, unless you make a point of going early to beat the lunch crowds. Fans of ramen should order the Kokugyu Pork Rib Ramen ($88) while tsukemen lovers need to try the Spicy Pork Belly Tsukemen ($98). Circle your preferences on the order sheet, such as noodle texture, noodle temperature, and any add-ons, then slurp away!
Koku Ryu Ramen, G/F, 29 Swatow Street, Wan Chai | (+852) 2217 6883
We love Tallore for their healthy and hearty soups, especially during the colder months. Inspired by Belgium’s ubiquitous soup kitchens, Tallore’s regularly rotating soups are homemade, free of MSG, and perfectly hit the spot every time—and at $58, $48, or $38 for a large, medium, or small size, respectively, such a steal as well. We also really like their wraps, especially The Bacon ($53) and The Bolognese ($63), which they very generously pack to the brim with fillings. Tallore is takeaway-only, but that hasn’t stopped us from returning time and time again.
Tallore, 7–17 Amoy Street, Wan Chai | (+852) 2327 8630
Hay Hay Kitchen on Lockhart Road may attract the crowds, but true char siu aficionados will be able to tell from the first bite that Mei Garden does it better. The char siu they have is succulent, juicy, and roasted to perfection. Take away rice boxes with any one type of roast meat only costs $40, while a combination of any two types of meat will set you back by $42. We usually fork out an extra $10 for the Char siu and Roast Goose Rice ($52) to take back to the office. Pro tip: Catch the staff on a good day and they’ll give you extra geung yung if you ask nicely. Should you choose to dine in instead, go for their dim sum menu, especially their Whole Abalone Siu Mai ($45) and Rice Rolls with Shrimp & Crispy Rice Net ($37).
Mei Garden, G/F, 128 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2880 0112
You know when a restaurant has a well-curated short menu that whatever you end up choosing will usually be exceptional because the chefs’ full attention is on those select few dishes. Rempah Noodles is definitely one such restaurant specialising in Malaysian cuisine. We’re absolute suckers for their Nonya Laksa Lemak ($98) with its aromatic and spicy coconut milk-based soup.
If you already consider yourself well-versed in the world of normal laksa, go for the Dry Laksa ($98) instead, an interesting take on this classic dish with silver needle rice noodles in a rempah gravy, garnished with your usual assortment of fish cakes, prawns, bean sprouts, egg, and more. They will also gladly bring you more noodles on the house if you’re still hungry, so go easy on the soup slurping!
Rempah Noodles, G/F, 18 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 3618 4863
Apart from its bright yellow signage, this restaurant looks very unassuming but it actually serves up some of the best dumplings we’ve had in Hong Kong. These are northern Chinese-style dumplings, with a thick skin and generous fillings, that you dunk into black vinegar with some chilli sauce. With 14 different types of filling on offer, you’re absolutely spoilt for choice.
Call us dumpling elitists, but we will always go for the classic Leek & Pork Dumplings ($29 for five and $48 for ten), though the Watercress & Beef Dumplings ($31 for five and $51 for ten) is also a good—albeit lesser-seen—option. Pro tip: Get a bowl of minced fresh garlic for a mere $3 that you mix into your vinegar dipping sauce for that extra oomph.
北方餃子源, G/F, 259 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai | (+852) 2838 8486
Landale Street is always packed during lunch hours, and for good reason: half the shop fronts are F&B outlets. It was hard picking one out of the various options, but Wing’s Catering just pips the other local restaurants to the spot, simply because of how good their chicken chops are. Their famous chicken chops are peppery, slightly crunchy on the outside but not dry on the inside, and are not deep-fried (so you can comfort yourself that this is a healthy-ish lunch).
Their Grilled Chicken & Pork Neck with Rice ($53) comes highly recommended, though if you’re just here for the chicken as the star of the show, then order the Grilled Chicken with Rice ($56) as it comes with two portions of chicken. Those itching to go to Taiwan can satisfy their food cravings with the Deep-fried Chicken Rice with Minced Pork Sauce ($56), as both are well-loved Taiwanese dishes.
Wing’s Catering, Shop 7, G/F, Rialto Building, 2 Landale Street, Wan Chai | (+852) 2823 8388