Header images courtesy of @onethirtyone.hk (via Instagram)
Hiking and eating are by far the two most popular pastimes among Hongkongers. So, what happens when you combine the two? Even in the most far-flung edges of the city—scenic upper reaches closer to Shenzhen than they are to Central, rural enclaves in lush foliage, and idyllic seaside coves—it’s easy to see why Hong Kong is called the restaurant capital of the world. Here’s our list of the top restaurants that are worth going the (literal) extra mile.
From the humbling chaos of bamboo baskets carted around in traditional trolleys, to the pork-free stylings of the city’s only halal yum cha spot within a mosque, Hong Kong is home to unique and lively dim sum experiences for every kind of diner. For the avid hikers, there’s Duen Kee, a self-service dim sum restaurant inside a village house on the slopes of Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong’s tallest peak.
Duen Kee is well-known for their tub tofu pudding and char siu cheung fan (腸粉)—slippery rice rolls encasing tender barbecue pork—but it’s the greens, grown in the nearby fields, that might surprise you most. Duen Kee’s blanched watercress, bright and peppery, is one of the highlights of the meal—as long as you get there early enough to snag a serving.
Duen Kee (端記), 57–58 Chuen Lung Estate, Route Twisk, Tsuen Wan
Hakka cooking, acclaimed for its sensitivity to texture, is equal parts cuisine and cartography. Whether it’s Indo-Chinese stir-fried noodles in Kolkata or sweet, pistachio-green boules of wormwood sold as a street snack in Ratchaburi, you can draw up a map of Hakka migration by studying how Hakka technique and flavours have shaped cuisines around the world.
At Green Villa in Sam A Tsuen, accessed by hiking through Plover Cove Country Park, Hakka classics abound. Dishes like braised pork, stewed pork with pickled vegetables, and beancurd stuffed with minced meat & mushrooms make for an ample meal to sustain you—whether you’re strolling the serene Pat Sin Leng Nature Trail or traversing more rugged terrain with the sprawling, 18 kilometre-long Plover Cove Reservoir Country Trail.
Green Villa, Sam A Tsuen, Sha Tau Kok, Fanling
Yin Yang Coastal, a private kitchen at a beach-side house in Ting Kau Village, creatively reimagines fishing village-style cooking for a new audience. Helmed by chef Margaret Xu Yuan, the kitchen sources fresh, organically grown produce from local farms in the area, paying tribute to the cuisine’s rural roots.
This Cantonese farm-to-table concept is best experienced omakase-style: Just pick how many courses you want, and let the evening unfold. But don’t miss the signature yellow earth chicken—the bird is made succulent by roasting in terracotta earthenware. As far as indulgent post-hike meals go, Yin Yang Coastal is among the best in Hong Kong—perhaps suitable for rewarding yourself after tackling the Yuen Tsuen Ancient Trail or Sham Tseng to Yau Kom Tau trail.
Yin Yang Coastal, House 117, Ting Kau Village, Ting Kau Beach, Tsuen Wan
Tai O is not, as you may have heard, the Venice of Hong Kong. With stilt houses, elusive dolphin sightings, and the funkiest, most umami-rich shrimp pastes in town, Tai O is unabashedly itself—a picturesque fishing village that tells a part of the story of Hong Kong.
Although it’s not the most Instagram-ready of hikes, a more stimulating way to get to Tai O, rather than taking the bus, is by treading the Tung O Ancient Trail from Tung Chung. After completing the 15 kilometre-long path, head to Tai O Lookout at the Tai O Heritage Hotel, where dishes—such as fried rice enriched with shrimp paste, and the signature dessert of cheesecake flavoured with mountain begonia—trace the distinctive gastronomic heritage of the area.
Tai O Lookout, Shek Tsai Po Street, Tai O, Lantau Island
What does an island retreat taste like? Deep-fried salt and pepper calamari, and cold, cold beer. With only a handful of ferries plying from Aberdeen and Stanley on weekends, Po Toi is one of the harder isles to get to in Hong Kong. But once at the pier and with a quick peek at the map, it’s obvious that the sparse island is actually abundant with sights to see: curious rock formations, prehistoric rock carvings, towering cacti, and a craggy coastline. And to fuel up for your adventure, there’s only one place to go: Ming Kee Seafood, the 30-year-old seafood institution mooring the only village on Po Toi.
Ming Kee Seafood (明記海鮮), Tai Wan, Po Toi
It’s no surprise that OmniPork, Asia’s premier plant-based meat brand, is based in Hong Kong—after all, far from being a radical new invention, faux meats have a long and storied history in our city. While a number of restaurants have begun offering alternative meats, there’s no denying the ingenuity of time-honoured mock meats, fashioned from inventive combinations of tofu, mushrooms, and more.
At Fung Ying Seen Koon, an imposing, gold-gilded Taoist temple in Fanling renowned for its exemplary architecture, the canteen offers many an opportunity to dive into Taoist vegan and vegetarian food. Stop by for a monastic meal free from dairy, alliums, and meat on your way back from Hong Kong’s “sky mirror.”
Fung Ying Seen Koon (蓬瀛仙館), 66 Pak Wo Road, Fanling | (+852) 2669 3033
From Michelin-rated Nordic restaurants to Italian trattoria par excellence, Hong Kong is no stranger to European cuisines done well. At One Thirty-One in Sai Kung’s Three Fathoms Cove, chef Gary Cheuk whips up a European-style set menu in a convivial atmosphere. Right on the seafront and surrounded by trees, Shap Sze Heung village opens up to reveal a three-storey bungalow designed to evoke the Mediterranean. Make sure to book in advance—walk-ins are not permitted.
One Thirty-One, 131 Tseung Tau Village, Shap Sze Heung, Sai Kung | (+852) 2791 2684
There’s more than one way to eat a pineapple bun: with a slab of butter wedged inside, a smear of brown sugar kaya, or even as a croissant. Mrs Tang’s Café, however, is the purveyor of one deceptively simple variety: a pineapple bun sandwich, stuffed with tomato and oozy egg.
Branches of the cafe can be found in Kwun Tong, Tsim Sha Tsui and elsewhere, but the original is nestled deep in the New Territories—and many say it’s the best one. With its former location along the Ping Shan Heritage Trail, it was a little too convenient to stop by the humble store while taking in the Tang clan sights. Now, the cha chaan teng has moved further afield into Tin Shui Wai, but can still be easily reached following an amble through one of Hong Kong’s most offbeat heritage trails.
Mrs Tang’s Café (華嫂冰室), G/F, 121 Ha Mei San Tsuen, Tin Shui Wai
We don’t need an excuse to hop on a speedboat. And we certainly don’t need an excuse to hop on a speedboat headed for Destination Delicious. A family-run seafood spot, Yau Ley has been keeping hikers and visitors happy with its super fresh seafood since 1999. It’s all too easy to fritter away an entire afternoon here—there are no surprises on the menu, just fresh, wild-caught seafood humbly prepared.
While Simon, the owner, can help you book a ride to the venue, you can also reach Yau Ley through Stage 1 of the MacLehose Trail. Walk or catch a taxi to marker 12, and keep an eye out for a signpost on your right and stairs leading downhill. When you see “Tung A,” turn left and follow the path. You’ll cross a bridge and pass a temple; keep following the path around a small cove until you see a dark green house. Yau Ley Seafood Restaurant should be on your right!
Yau Ley Seafood Restaurant, Lot 359, Sha Kiu Tsuen, Leung Shuen Wan, Sai Kung
Genuine Lamma Hilton has been around for more than half a century. Located on the quieter, less gentrified side of Lamma Island overlooking the water, you can expect reliably tasty fishing village offerings—among them, the deep-fried squid laced with chilli and spring onions is a firm favourite. However, the fresh catch of the day decides the rest of the menu, so make sure to inquire. Whether you’re opting for the uncomplicated Sok Kwu Wan circular route or thinking of going turtle-spotting at Sham Wan (off-limits from 1 April to 31 October), a languid feast at Genuine Lamma Hilton is the best way to round off your trip.
Genuine Lamma Hilton Fishing Village Restaurant, Lot 584 DD. 10, Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island