Here’s an amazing fact. In Hong Kong, McDonald’s is judged to be a cool spot for a first date. Air-conditioned, inexpensive, it’s neutral territory yet slightly exotic. Do you want first base, er, fries with that?
Take out is a way of life in Hong Kong, especially as many people live in small apartments with kitchens not much bigger than a closet. And to make things easy, there are numerous web-based services such as Foodpanda and Deliveroo who’ll bring a meal to your door. Even the more humble restaurants have a stack of boxes and a guy who’ll deliver in response to a phone call — they do a roaring trade at lunchtime.
For anyone fancying eating al fresco, there is a slight problem in that public seating is sometimes hard to find in Hong Kong. In Central, the roof of the IFC mall is a good spot, while there are shady corners in Kowloon Park in Tsim Sha Tsui.
So whether you want to splash out, at somewhere like Bombay Dreams or simply pick up something cheap and cheerful from the likes of Cafe de Coral or Jaspa’s, there’s always a restaurant in Hong Kong glad to save on washing dishes and laundering table cloths.
Photo courtesy of New Punjab Club
Put simply, this is one of the most fabulous restaurants to have opened in Hong Kong for years.
The location is neat, the decor arresting, the seating inviting, the food Punjabi of course and really surprising and stimulating to boot. But best of all are the staff, a mix of nationalities who glide about the place with every appearance of thoroughly enjoying themselves. It might be a dinner party rather than a restaurant.
NPC is helmed by Palsah Mitra, a Michelin-starred chef whose previous employer was Gymkhana in London. Everything on the menu is amazing, but the line-caught cobia with dill, carom seeds and tomato chutney is superb.
Recommended for Take Out because: Wander where you wish around the menu, everything is not far short of perfect.
Ed’s expert tip: Punjabi cuisine is very different to the standard Indian restaurant menu, and very well worth trying.
Photo courtesy of Orange Tree
This intimate little Dutch restaurant thrives in the heart of Lan Kwai Fong. The owner imports much of his seafood from Holland, and maintains a dedicated hands-on attitude in the kitchen. The restaurant is light and cheery, and lunches start with a hearty buffet of appetizers. Fish and seafood play a prominent role on the menu, the roasted organic chicken is naturally popular, as are steak and chops. The french fries, beautifully crisp and packed with flavor, are served in a distinctive stainless steel basket, while desserts include farm-ripened cheese. The staff are endlessly cheery and enthusiastic; if only all Hong Kong restaurants were such fun, good value and thoroughly delicious.
Recommended for Take Out because: The steak frites, or ‘fries’ to the uninitiated,are worth trekking across town for.
Ed’s expert tip: Orange Tree also runs catered cruises aboard a teak Chinese junk.
Photo courtesy of Jaspas
Whether you’re headed out to hike or surf in the country park, going on a boat trip, or simply exploring Sai Kung town (one of the most characterful in the New Territories) the place to pick up your take away breakfast, lunch or dinner is Jaspa’s, which local residents have been patronizing for years. The menu is pretty international — Asian dishes as well as European staples — and you can be sure of fresh produce and a lot of taste. Incidentally, there are several other Jaspa’s outlets around town, and they even have their own (fully catered) junk for hire.
Recommended for Take Out because: Jaspa’s is part of the landscape in Sai Kung, and has got the ‘cheery menu at cheerful prices’ recipe just right.
Ed’s expert tip: Sai Kung seafront is tailor-made for al fresco meals.
Photo courtesy of 22 Ships
22 Ships, a project by Michelin star chef Jason Atherton, has a hip ambiance and comfortable neighborhood attitude. It is set to bring a unique flavor and vibe to Hong Kong, complementing Ship Street’s casual and easy-going nature. The buzz focuses on Atherton’s modern tapas menu, created especially for 22 Ships, representing the modern face of dining – outstanding food that is reasonably priced. The team at 22 Ships also provide a friendly experience, going the extra mile to suggest choices and explain dishes. The 1,500 square foot eatery adds a fresh and convivial atmosphere to the metropolitan culinary scene, intimately seating 35. Blending into the neighborhood with a balance of vintage touches and modern charm, the venue offers inside table and communal bar seating, as well as relaxed al fresco dining and drinking.
Recommended for Take Out because: Tapas are a very traditional bar food, but also work well for dining on the run.
Tracy You’s expert tip: As well as tapas, 22 Ships does a fine line in desserts.
Photo courtesy of Isola
Hong Kong is not lacking when it comes to restaurants with a view, so a place needs to be truly exceptional in some other way to distinguish itself from the pack. But its food is stellar from appetizer to dessert. Start with baked mozzarella in walnut bread with sweet cherry tomatoes, a layering of flavors and textures that is simply brilliant. Main course dishes are just as impressive — grilled sirloin with red onion and anchovy sauce, and salt-crusted sea bass, in particular, stand out. The clientele here tends to be trendy and well-coiffed though take away customers can wear pretty much what they want!
Recommended for Take Out because: An escalator ride above Isola leads to one of the great harbor views of the world.
Ed’s expert tip: Hop up onto the roof of IFC where there is plenty of seating and good harbor views.
Photo courtesy of Classified
Classified is part of a chain that has rapidly spread across the city and is a classic Hong Kong success story. Founded by three friends who had studied abroad and reckoned that their native HK needed a slightly more sophisticated yet casual sort of eatery, Classified’s a winner. The menu is wide-ranging and fun, the clientele pretty much the same, and both are matched by the decor. On weekdays, nobody lingers for very long, but on Saturday and Sunday this is where the neighborhood comes to chill, fill and say hi to friends and family members. Classified, if it’s not too simplistic to say so, is pure class.
Recommended for Take Out because: While there is other food on the menu, the cheese selection is superb.
Ed’s expert tip: There are nine other Classified outlets around the city.
Photo courtesy of Bombay Dreams
Indian food is very popular in Hong Kong, given the city’s substantial Indian population, so purveyors of the piquant cuisine are a dime a dozen. Bombay Dreams earns high marks, though, for its exceptional cooking. A wide variety of appetizers includes several soups not ordinarily found on Indian restaurant menus, such as Murg Shorba (chicken) and Tamatar Ka Shorba (tomato based). The selection of main courses is extensive as well, with numerous fish and seafood dishes along with vegetable, chicken and lamb based favorites. The buffet lunch is quite popular with local office workers, and really very reasonably priced. MTR: Central.
Recommended for Take Out because: Indian food is one of Hong Kong’s favorites, and Bombay Dreams is one of the best.
Ed’s expert tip: If your youngsters are not used to spicy food, check with your server for mild dishes.
Photo courtesy of Delaney’s
Ireland’s colonized the world with its pubs, serving up good cheer as well as good food and drink. Delaney’s has been going in Hong Kong for the best part of two decades (there is another branch in Pok Fu Lam) and its popularity is as much down to its breakfasts, with plates brimming with eggs, bacon and all the good things in life, as its rip-roaring evening singalongs. Another reason for the success of Delaney’s is the staff: matey, sympathetic, efficient and good humored, in fact, little short of perfect. The coffee here is excellent as well.
Recommended for Take Out because: Delaney’s has prospered in a tough business climate due to the excellence of both its food and drink.
Ed’s expert tip: Obvious though it may sound, fish and chips are the standout take-out.
Photo courtesy of The Flying Pan
Eggs Benedict, Eggs Florentine, Eggs Maharajah, Eggs Oscar, Eggs Norwegian, Eggs Nantucket … you get the idea. Just about every breakfast combo is up for grabs here, in significant portions in relaxing surrounds. They serve alcohol, there’s a kids’ menu, they roll out special stuff at teatime — basically, whatever the time of day, and pretty much whatever you feel like eating, they’ve got it covered. There’s a second branch in Wan Chai, which is practically a carbon copy. The clientele is largely expat, often trying to recover from a fairly large celebration the previous night. All in all, this is a very cheery and hearty eatery.
Recommended for Take Out because: If you like comfort food, this is definitely Comfort Central.
Ed’s expert tip: Whatever the time, you’re never too late (or early) for breakfast here. In other words, it’s open 24/7.
Photo courtesy of Cafe de Coral
It’s very hard to fault Cafe de Coral. It’s by no means gourmet, but for a handful of dollars you get a full meal that looks and tastes good. No wonder there are lines at all its branches at breakfast, lunch and dinner and quite a lot of the time in between. The (bilingual) menu is predominantly Chinese, with a few international dishes as well. The best deals are the set meals. If you would like extra sauce or pickle or similar, the staff are usually happy to oblige. There’s good reason why Cafe de Coral caters to more than 300,000 diners daily.
Recommended for Take Out because: This is Hong Kong’s answer to McDonald’s, but some might say it is a lot tastier.
Ed’s expert tip: There are more than 100 Cafe de Coral outlets in the city.