Header image courtesy of Ming Court
Every year before the arrival of the energetic Dragon Boat Festival, both classic and newfangled flavours of rice dumplings—zongzi (粽子) in Mandarin or zung (糭) in Cantonese—pop up across Hong Kong. Parcels of glutinous rice wrapped in reed leaves dangle in bundles across shopfronts, oscillating lightly in the wind.
Rice dumplings are not only a staple food of the festival, but also a reminder of Hong Kong’s deep-rooted Chinese character. The types of rice dumplings differ between regions of China with different fillings, textures, and cooking methods. Northern styles are often sweet and dessert-like, while southern styles are savoury and salty.
From beloved Cantonese renditions to Shanghainese varieties, head to these shops and restaurants where you can find authentic rice dumplings to celebrate this traditional festival.
Old San Yang (老三陽) is a time-honoured name that has been passed on from one generation to the next. For 40 years, Old San Yang has stood on Pak Sha Road as a Southern variety store (南貨店, naam4 fo3 dim3), an establishment that specialises in selling delicacies from the south of China.
Months before the Dragon Boat Festival, the storefront is piled with 24 distinct flavours of Jia Hu rice dumplings (嘉湖糭, gaa1 wu4 zung2)—Shanghainese rice dumplings with origins from the Hangzhou–Jiaxing–Huzhou Plain in Zhejiang. Old San Yang’s ham & egg yolks rice dumplings ($138) are a popular option with the right ingredients in the right proportion in every single bite. On the other hand, the purple rice & red beans rice dumplings ($50) are a local favourite, famed for its chewy, glutinous texture.
Old San Yang (老三陽), 4 Pak Sha Road, Causeway Bay | (+852) 2890 2534
Just around the corner from Portland Street in Prince Edward, Dai Kee (大記) is a humble establishment that specialises in Zhongshan cuisine. It is one of the few places across the city that makes screw pine rice dumplings (蘆兜糭, lou4 dau1 zung2), in which the rice and fillings are wrapped with leaves from “fake pineapple” trees.
Traditional screw pine rice dumplings can weigh up to three kilogrammes each, but Dai Kee has transformed the mouth-watering treat into a convenient household size, tailored for small families in Hong Kong. Stuffed with whole red beans, salted egg yolks, and pork belly, the small screw pine rice dumpling ($48) is a much more aromatic variety compared to other Cantonese renditions.
Dai Kee (大記), 10 Ki Lung Street, Prince Edward | (+852) 6296 7251
If you’re a fan of savoury sensations, you will want to try the Shanghai sticky rice dumpling with ham & egg yolks ($60) served at Xia Fei Society (霞飛會館). Made with cured ham from China’s Jinhua region and cooked egg yolks, the medley gives off an intense yet pleasurable flavour that’s bound to satisfy those looking for authentic, traditional options. Meanwhile, the Shanghai sticky rice dumpling with egg yolks & soy sauce-stewed pork ($60) is prepared with meat that has been marinated in an unforgettably fragrant soy sauce recipe.
Xia Fei Society (霞飛會館), 4/F, Century Square, 1–13 D’Aguilar Street, Central | (+852) 2522 7611
The Legacy House at the Rosewood Hotel is serving up a glutinous rice dumpling set ($558) this year for those who yearn for a good balance between sweet and salty. The sweet glutinous rice dumpling is stuffed with white lotus paste and whole chestnuts, while the savoury glutinous rice dumpling contains a six-headed South African abalone, dried scallop, and slow-cooked pork belly. What’s more is that every ingredient on the list is seasoned with Shao Hsing Hua Diao wine, a secret ingredient that brings forward a tantalising aroma.
The Legacy House, 5/F, Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 3891 8732
Michelin-starred restaurant Ming Court has elevated classical flavours of the traditional rice dumplings with a delectable range of gourmet ingredients. For those yearning for a meatless option, the Eight Treasures vegetarian glutinous rice dumpling ($138) presents an aromatic blend of wild mushrooms, such as morel, porcini, and vegetarian roasted “pork” to mimic the traditional texture. Also worth mentioning is the second savoury option—the glutinous rice dumpling with whole abalone, conpoy, roasted duck meat, Jinhua ham, salted egg yolk & shiitake mushroom ($328)—which substitutes pork with roasted duck meat.
Ming Court, Level 6, Cordis, 555 Shanghai Street, Mong Kok | (+852) 3552 3301
While people across Hong Kong love to embrace old flavours, Lung King Heen continues to evolve the tradition with elevated takes on classic foods year after year. For 2021, the acclaimed restaurant embarked on a new culinary journey, giving its savoury rice dumplings a French-meets-Chinese twist.
Elegantly presented in an eco-friendly basket, the glutinous rice dumpling gift set ($328) includes two modestly-sized rice dumplings. You will find a sweet osmanthus and chestnut classic in the set, plus an unconventional savoury variation that makes use of foie gras as the primary filling. The set also includes Tieguanyin tea leaves, which will aid digestion after you have overindulged in these delicious festive treats.
Lung King Heen, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central | (+852) 3196 8888
Over at K11 Musea, Yung’s Bistro is presenting an authentic rendition from Guangdong this year. The roasted goose rice dumpling ($288) features Yung Kee’s signature charcoal-grilled goose and is jam-packed with Japanese dried scallops, dried shiitake mushroom, salted egg yolks, and roasted pork belly to create tempting flavours for those looking to add to their celebratory feast this year.
Yung’s Bistro, Shop 701, 7/F, K11 Musea, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2321 3800
For conservative diners, you will want to track down this dai pai dong in Mong Kok, characterised by its green-painted steel coverings. Located on Canton Road, Cheong Fat Coconut (昌發椰子檔) is a famous Thai coconut vendor who has also mastered the art of making traditional Cantonese rice dumplings.
Here, three flavours of salted meat rice dumpling (鹹肉糭, haam4 juk6 zung2)—mung bean paste, peanuts, and mixed beans—are available for purchase. Each tetrahedron parcel ($30) is packed with a sizeable salted egg yolk, mung beans, and braised pork. It’s a bargain for a heavenly mix of fragrant rice and marinated meat!
Cheong Fat Coconut (昌發椰子檔), 1032 Canton Road, Mong Kok | (+852) 2396 0418
Plant-based restaurant and grocery concept store Green Common perpetuates its ingenuity with two culinary-forward rice dumpling creations. The Omnipork Strip rice dumpling with porcini & vegan salted egg ($69) is a low-fat twist on the traditional rendition, where salted egg yolk is replaced with mashed pumpkin.
Looking for a dietary fibre-filled option? The Omnipork rice dumpling with quinoa ($69) is made with a mix of glutinous rice, mung bean, and red quinoa, which wraps around a filling made from chestnuts, shiitake mushrooms, lotus seeds, and a splash of five-spice powder. Did we mention it’s all vegan-friendly?
For those with exquisite taste buds, you will want to dive head-first into the Dragon Boat dumplings gift set ($498) at Sexy Crab. As part of a culinary crossover with Korean brand Baekmidang, the crab roe lava sticky rice dumpling contains a crab roe filling, which oozes out as you take deep bites.
Alongside that, you will find Baekmidang’s sweet sticky rice dumpling, which features a filling of red bean paste, an authentic recipe from Jeju Island. There is also a secret Korean XO sauce made from oceanic delights such as dried scallop, dried shrimp, dried shrimp roe, and Jinhua ham to complement the delectable creations.
Sexy Crab, Shop 401A, 4/F, K11 Musea, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 6655 7629