The ultimate guide to Central’s best lunch spots

If you work around Central, the lunch hour can be almost as stressful as working in the office: navigating throngs of hungry lunchgoers on the streets, having to wait for a table, and dealing with sky-high prices for oftentimes less-than-mediocre food. Luckily, not all places are solely interested in making a quick buck.

Whether you have a client meeting, team lunch or casual catch-up with a friend, follow our ultimate guide to Central’s best lunch spots for the best daytime meals for every type of diner in the city’s social hub.

BUSINESS LUNCH

Impress clients with these power lunches that provide excellent food and drink to discuss private matters over, in elegant and intimate settings.

Spiga

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This Italian newcomer is helmed by two-Michelin-starred chef Enrico Bartolini, providing excellent fare from northern Italy in addition to a decent range of pizzas and handmade pastas. The beautiful setting, designed by Joyce Wang, evokes vintage Italy, while the fresh and bountiful ingredients in the antipasto buffet make the lunch set a steal, at HK$188 for the salad buffet, plus HK$60 or HK$90 for an add-on pizza or main dish.

Spiga, 3/F, LHT Tower, 31 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2871 0055, diningconcepts.com/Spiga

Buenos Aires Polo Club 

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Reminiscent of an old Argentinian gentlemen’s club, Buenos Aires Polo Club oozes with intimacy and exclusivity. While away an afternoon discussing business over premium classic cocktails and thick-cut ribeye steaks, surrounded by gold-framed vintage artwork and old polo club memorabilia. With good food and booze, you’ll be landing that deal in no time.

Buenos Aires Polo Club, 7/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2321 8681, bapoloclub.com

Mandarin Grill + Bar

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A classic for a sophisticated and elegant lunch spot, Mandarin Grill + Bar has kept up an exemplary standard in its food and beverage programs over the years. Draped in starched white tablecloths, cushy armchairs and fine tableware, this grill house sets the bar high for impressing clients without an overly stuffy or formal atmosphere. Servers glide along and acquiesce to your needs without being intrusive, allowing for private conversation and negotiations over a memorable meal.

Mandarin Grill + Bar, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road Central, Hong Kong; +852 2825 4004, mandarinoriental.com

Zuma 

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Zuma continues to be one of the most popular lunch spots in Central, with its spacious bar and lounge, floor-to-ceiling windows and outdoor terrace, not to mention the lengthy menu covering premium Japanese snacks, sushi and sashimi and hot foods. With its beautiful interiors and relaxing vibes, it’s easy to sit back with a cocktail or two as you discuss business over a variety of sharing plates and sushi rolls.

Zuma, Landmark, 5/F, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong; +852 3657 6388, zumarestaurant.com

GRAB ‘N’ GO

Looking for a fast and easy option to eat on-the-go? Stop by one of these Central favourites for a healthy and delicious meal you can scarf down in between meetings.

Mana! Fast Slow Food

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The great thing about Mana! is that it’s not just for Hong Kong’s health-conscious crowds. It’s carved out its niche in the market — namely with delicious Middle Eastern-influenced flatbreads, salads, desserts and dips — and everyone, whether vegetarian or not, can appreciate the fresh ingredients, bold flavours and creative recipes including a range of raw and gluten-free desserts. The shop is packed to the rafters most days, so your best bet is to order your wrap for takeaway.

Mana! Fast Slow Food, 92 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2851 1611, mana.hk

Morty’s Delicatessen

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If you’re looking to satisfy sandwich cravings, head over to this New York–style deli for the real deal: a massive pastrami sandwich with beef brisket smoked in-house for 45 days, stacked between housemade rye with mustard and pickles. Add-ons such as poutine fries and apple crumble for dessert are great for turning #saddesklunches into a thing of the past.

Morty’s Delicatessen, Shop 2-14, LG/F, Jardine House 1, Jardine House, 1 Connaught Place, Central, Hong Kong; +852 3665 0900, mortys.hk

R&R Bagels

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There used to be nowhere you could go for a good bagel in Central until this humble shop came along in 2016. Serving everything from fried egg and bacon breakfast bagels to grilled chicken with pesto and BLTs for lunch, R&R transforms bagels from a simple breakfast carb into a substantial all-in-one meal. They’re also collaborating with The Butcher’s Club Burger this month to present the R&R Reuben (HK$120), an Angus beef brisket-stuffed bagel sandwich loaded with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing and a sprinkling of caraway seeds (available at all The Butcher’s Club Burger outlets through 16 February).

R&R Bagels, 28 Li Yuen Street West, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2178 5168, facebook.com/randrbagels

Pololi

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Of all the global food trends that have made their way to our fair shores, we’re probably most thankful for poké bowls, Hawaii’s globetrotting dish which consists of seasoned, cubed raw fish eaten over rice, dressed with sesame seeds, nori strips, cucumber, onion, radish and the like. You can get the original bowl that started it all at Pololi (HK$100 for 180g), with a DIY menu that lets you choose your base (rice or salad), fish (we recommend the spicy Thai-style, wasabi miso or traditional spicy), and add-ons such as poke patties (HK$15 each) or the highly snackable spam musubi (HK$20).

Pololi, 35-39 Graham Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2755 8099, pololikai.com

SOLO DINING

No lunch buddy? No worries. These diners are great for solo dining — just bring along your iPad or a good book to read.

Pho Bar

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Counter seating as the only option makes Pho Bar great for the solo diner — just pull up a stool, check off your preferences on the ordering slip, and wait for your large, steaming bowl of noodles to arrive. With customisable bowls including your choice of beef, condiments and noodles (including zucchini noodles), and a variety of sides such as fried chicken and kombu and rokusuke salt fries, Pho Bar is our go-to spot for a quick and easy Vietnamese lunch.

Pho Bar, G/F, 24 Li Yuen Street West, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2109 2028, facebook.com/pages/Pho-Bar

Ciao Chow

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With open-fronted seating which looks out on the hubbub of LKF and free WiFi, Ciao Chow is a perfect spot for people watching with a glass of vino as you catch up on your morning’s emails. You can create your own personal pizza for around HK$150, or go for a soup-and-salad combo, all made from premium fresh Italian ingredients.

Ciao Chow, G/F, California Tower, 30-32 D’Aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2344 0005, ciaochow.com.hk

Butao Ramen

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There’s nothing that lends itself to dining solo more than slurping a bowl of ramen. Indulge in the solitary act that’s almost a meditative sport in Japan at Butao Ramen, a popular Japanese joint that’s credited with sparking the original ramen craze in Hong Kong back in 2010. The southern, Hakata–style ramen here is characterised by thin al dente noodles and a creamy tonkotsu pork broth slow-simmered overnight. If you’re lucky, you can also try one of the chef’s specials that are served in limited quantities daily.

Butao Ramen, 69 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2530 0600, butaoramen.com

BEST ALL-AROUND

Value for money, atmosphere and a high kitchen standard — these go-to places have it all when we need a boost to our day.

Mercato

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An affordable lunch menu (HK$228 for two courses, HK$278 for three courses) and some of the best Italian fare in Central make chef Jean-Georges’ debut restaurant in Hong Kong an easy pick for a satisfying weekday lunch. We’re always blown away by the quality and freshness of the ingredients here, from the excellent house-made ricotta with cranberry, olive oil and grilled bread, to the light and refreshing chicories salad with fennel and aged balsamic. Neapolitan-style pizzas are puffy, chewy, and bursting with fresh and flavourful ingredients.

Mercato Hong Kong, 8/F, California Tower, 32 D’Aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 3706 8567, mercato-international.com

Mak Mak

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It’s hard to apply the “no dining in a mall” rule when Central’s literally covered in them — but that’s okay when we have restaurants like Mak Mak to seek out. Hidden behind a discreet sliding door in Landmark is this tropical paradise built to resemble a vintage Thai shop, with everything from curry to noodles to satay on offer. Come with a group and order a variety of dishes to share, or cosy up with a table for two — either way, this charming Thai restaurant is always a solid option for a satisfying lunch.

Mak Mak, 217A, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queens Road Central, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2983 1003, makmak.hk

Sichuan House

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This temple to chillies is a longstanding favourite for those with an affinity for spicy foods. With a menu ranging from mapo tofu to poached beef in chilli oil and plump spicy prawns, there’s something to tempt all taste buds at this Sichuan kitchen, which offers customisable spice levels so you can adjust the heat to your liking. An easy-to-read menu showcases the spice level of each dish, in addition to listing out vegetarian-friendly and MSG-free options. The set lunch gives you one appetiser, main and dessert for HK$148 per person.

Sichuan House, 7/F, M88, 2 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2521 6699, sichuanhouse.com.hk

Motorino

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Perfect Neapolitan pies and a hip, NYC–inspired setting make Motorino a perpetual favourite for grabbing a quick lunchtime slice. A lunch set for HK$128 gives you a choice of roasted squash, fennel or mixed green salad, followed by a marinara, margherita, brussels sprout or soppressata picante pizza (we recommend the latter two). Alternatively, order a bunch of antipasti starters and a few pizzas to share between a large group. You can dine in or order delivery straight to the office for a workplace pizza party.

Motorino, 14 Shelley Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2801 6881, motorinopizza.com

BÊP

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This trendy, casual Vietnamese eatery always has a line out the door, but the short wait is more than worth it for cheep and cheery Vietnamese eats in a buzzy setting. The pho is up there with some of the best in the area, while street snacks such as bánh xèo — savoury fried pancakes filled with shrimp and bean sprouts — pandan leaf beef skewers, and chicken on crispy rice crackers provide enough variety for coming back day after day.

BÊP (Wellington), G/F, 88-90 Wellington Street, Central Hong Kong; +852 2581 9992, facebook.com/bephk
BÊP (Soho), Shop 1, LG/F, 9-11 Staunton Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2522 7533, facebook.com/bephk