Header image courtesy of Mosay May (via Shutterstock)
Originally published by Jenny Leung. Last updated by Beverly Ngai.
Home to some of the world’s most unusual, delicious, and strange-smelling foods, Hong Kong’s street food culture loved by many the world over. From stewed organs to freshly-made egg waffles, there something to satisfy every kind of foodie. So whether you’re trying to eat within a budget, on the run and don’t have time to sit down for lunch, or just feeling peckish, check out our pick of the best street bites and where to find them. Happy snacking!
Slightly crunchy on the outside with a bouncy texture in the middle, curry fish balls are without a doubt one of the most traditional and iconic street foods in Hong Kong. While it’s questionable how much fish actually goes into these delicious golden balls, you’re guaranteed to find them just about everywhere around town.
For a real authentic flavour, head down to Tsim Sha Tsui and give Lam Cheong Kee (林昌記) a try. Their curry fish balls ($20 for 16 pieces) are freshly fried to each order and strike just the right balance of flavour: a delicate taste of the sea without being overly fishy. What makes them truly stand out, though, is their homemade chilli sauce, which elevates the already delicious snack to the maximum level of decadence!
No, it’s not the smell of garbage, or the stench of an uncleaned bathroom—it’s just your average little fermented friend, the stinky tofu. Aged in a brine mixture of milk, fish, and meat for up to several months before being deep-fried and served with a sweet or chilli sauce, this smelly piece of gold is crispy on the outside, but soft and creamy on the inside.
Not convinced? Check out the stinky tofu ($10) at Delicious Food (美味食店), where its pungent smell became so overpowering that their neighbours had to file a complaint about it to the Food Department! Rest assured, we are not just setting you up for a smelly trap, because its taste is really quite unique, and surprisingly sweet, too. Definitely a must-try—go on...
What are these weird-looking waffles, you say? Magical, eggy delights, that’s what! With its Chinese name directly translating to “mini-eggs,” these little treasures are made by pouring a pancake or egg batter into a hexagon-shaped waffle iron to make sweet-smelling and bobbly waffles. When cooked to perfection, they should ideally be golden brown and crispy on the outside, while remaining light and fluffy on the inside.
There are, of course, variations to this traditional snack that you can find all over the city, and some places offer modern flavours like chocolate, mocha, or cheese, while others add fruits, cookies, or even ice cream to serve alongside. The true king of all egg waffles, however, has to be Master Low-key Food Shop (低調高手大街小食). Serving only the most traditional style of egg waffles with its very own secret recipe, this small and simple stall is loved by many locals and even celebrities—so be prepared to wait in line.
Unique to Hong Kong’s street food culture, the siu mai (燒賣) is an extremely popular snack. Unlike traditional dim sum where siu mai is usually handcrafted with pork and shrimp, the ones you find from street stalls are usually made from a fish and flour paste, mixed with a small portion of pork to bump up the flavour.
For a real tasty treat, check out Lui Jai Kee (呂仔記) in Shau Kei Wan. Its siu mai ($35 for eight pieces) are made with fresh pike conger eels, giving them a solid, bouncy texture and maximum flavour with every bite, which definitely makes up for their expensive price tag (compared to other street food vendors). Oh, and don’t forget to top off your fishy dim sum with their special homemade soy sauce and chilli oil.
Found in bakeries around Hong Kong, egg tarts are delicious little pastry treats that are loved by many. Discerning diners will swear by a few defining criteria for the perfect egg tart—for example, egg tarts made with shortbread pastry should have a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth crust, while those made with puff pastry should be light and airy with defined layers at the crust. Either way, the centre custard filling should be smooth and creamy, with just the right balance of sweetness and egg.
At Hoover Cake Shop (豪華餅店), you can find just that. Baking small batches around the clock, customers can be sure that their egg tarts ($9) are always fresh and hot out of the oven, no matter what time of day. Having been in business for more than 40 years, these folks are most certainly not your typical bakery!
Another one of Hong Kong’s famously popular street foods is cheung fun (腸粉). Made from thin sheets of rice noodles that are steamed and rolled together, this snack is usually served with a choice of three to four sauces: soy, sesame, sweet, or chilli. The combination of sweet and savoury flavours balances out perfectly over the silky-smooth texture of the rice noodle rolls, making this the ideal solution to a grumbling stomach.
For a guaranteed mouth-watering experience, head down to Hop Yik Tai (合益泰小食) in Sham Shui Po, where they make their own rice noodle mixture by hand. With an impressive record of selling over 5,000 rolls of cheung fun a day, it’s no wonder that these guys are recommended by the Michelin guide in Hong Kong.
If you’ve been in Hong Kong long enough, then you’ve probably seen your fair share of steamed chicken feet and beef stomach noodles. If you’re a newbie to Hong Kong, however, we appreciate that eating offal is a hard idea to get past, but really it’s not so bad. You can usually spot them next to the fish balls and siu mai, either stewing in a bubbly pot or in skewered piles, put on display for hungry snackers to choose from.
Whether you’re up for nibbling on some pig ears or chowing down on some fried intestines, Fei Jie (肥姐小食店) is the place to be. Not only do they have a huge variety of organ meats on offer, all pre-infused with their secret homemade sauce, but their portions are also much larger in comparison to other local snack shops. This place opens from 1 pm until everything has been sold, so be sure to get yourself down there early.
Although the name denotes three, there’s actually a whole host of these fried treasures awaiting your enjoyment! This iconic Hong Kong street food comprises an assortment of vegetables and meats stuffed with a carp-based fish paste, deep-fried, and served with a drizzle of soy sauce. While eggplants, green chilli peppers, and tofu are the standard offerings, you’ll also find options like mushrooms, bitter melon, and sausages.
A prime spot to sample this delicacy is Tam Gong Dou Snacks (譚公道小食初記) in To Kwa Wan, who pride themselves on hand-making their fish paste fresh every morning and perking it up with scallions and onions, resulting in an exceptionally fragrant and flavourful bite. In addition to the usual suspects, they also use less common ingredients like taro and lotus as vessels for the tasty fish filling!