Header image courtesy of Red Pocket Cafe 利是豐 (via Facebook).
Originally published by Catharina Cheung. Last updated by Celia Lee.
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 $120.
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-glaze burger omurice ($102), which is the perfect combination of savoury, sweet, slightly spicy, and hearty comfort food. The pork curry tomato beef ($88) 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
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 (starting from $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 $60, $50, or $40 for a large, medium, or small size, respectively, such a steal as well. We also really like their wraps, especially The Bacon ($58) and The Bolognese ($68), 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
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 ($115) 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 ($115) 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 and pork dumplings ($33 for five and $53 for ten), though the watercress and beef dumplings ($33 for five and $53 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 and pork neck with rice ($64) 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 ($61) as it comes with two portions of chicken. Those itching to go to Taiwan can satisfy their food cravings with the salted-fried chicken rice with minced pork sauce ($60), as both are well-loved Taiwanese dishes.
Wing’s Catering, Shop 7, G/F, Rialto Building, 2 Landale Street, Wan Chai | (+852) 2823 8388
If you’re craving sushi for lunch, head over to Chotto Maki for something hearty, delicious, and wallet-friendly. Sushi rolls are the speciality, and patrons are spoilt for choice with 12 different fillings. Signature recipes include the Beef-iyaki ($75) of teriyaki beef rolled together with cucumber, tofu skin, and avocado, and the Sea Monster ($75), which is tempura prawn rolled with shredded crabstick, cucumber, and sakura shrimps. If these rolls are not enough to satisfy your hunger, add on an extra mini udon for $25 or five pieces of chicken karaage for $38 to complete your meal.
Chotto Maki, G/F, 33 Amoy Street, Wan Chai
Get away from the hustle and bustle of Wan Chai and lounge back at Red Pocket Café for a chill lunch. Its relaxed interiors are complemented with ample greenery scattered around the shop—a welcoming change to cold office environments. Patrons can enjoy its lunch set options which include a wide variety of cuisines, including Angus beef burger with sweet potato fries priced at $96, kimchi katsudon at $75, and Hungarian beef stew at $73. You will feel refreshed and ready for the rest of your day after dining here.
Red Pocket Café, Shop F, G/F, Kam Sing Mansion, 151–161 Jaffe Road, Wan Chai
In the mood for some Korean food? Kelly’s Cape Bop is your best choice. Every food item in the shop goes for $100—a little on the high end, but you will definitely feel full and satisfied after your meal. The kimbop (Korean sushi) has a choice of seven different fillings, including beef, spicy squid, and chicken salad without rice. If rice rolls are not appealing, Kelly’s also offers bibimbap with kimchi pork, vegetables, or marinated beef, tteokbokki, egg rolls, seaweed dumplings, and Korean pancakes.
Kelly’s Cape Bop, G/F, 57 Johnston Road, Wan Chai
Nothing beats Thai food when you need a pick-me-up to get you through your workday. Kin Kao offers a diverse range of curries, rice, and noodles on the à la carte menu, while its set lunch ($80) offers a choice of six mains plus a choice of drinks between longan juice, iced lemon tea, and iced milk tea. Our favourite recipes include the boat noodle with pork ball and sliced pork ($80) and khao soi (curry soup with egg noodle and stewed chicken, $80), while its Thai-style Hainanese chicken rice ($80) is another crowd-pleaser.
Kin Kao, G/F, Tai Wong Building, 3 Tai Wong Street East, Wan Chai