Sweet and sour pork is an infinitely classic Cantonese dish of deep-fried pork doused in a bright orange sauce. With so many places in Hong Kong offering it, we know it can be difficult to narrow down your choices. See our top picks of the best places to try sweet and sour pork in Hong Kong.
Like many beloved classic Hong Kong dishes, sweet and sour pork is an unpretentious creation. In this case, it includes a short list of ingredients — usually pork collar — fresh pineapple and bell peppers. The real secret of the dish is the bright, near-fluorescent shade of orange sweet and sour sauce that glazes, coats and glides over each component on the plate to tie together a perfectly sticky, tangy, crispy, crunchy bite.
It’s a dish that’s not difficult to find, being a long-time city-wide favourite. In fact, your neighbourhood Cantonese ‘stir-fry king’ probably already does some version of it, not to mention the dish is a regular order on most daily menus. But to really judge a good sweet and sour pork, there’s a laundry list of standards when it’s tossed in a roaring hot wok: the deep-fried batter must be light and airy and the pork tender. Pineapples are tested for freshness and bell peppers for their crunchiness. As for the sauce, it should be a balanced mixture of sweet-yet-tangy, sticky but not overly heavy. And if it seems like a tricky checklist to master, the restaurants below have already perfected it.
Hong Kong’s best sweet and sour pork
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The luxurious one-Michelin star Man Wah is certainly not too distinguished for the humble Cantonese favourite. Executive Chinese chef Wing-Keung Wong sticks to a classic, hard-to-fault recipe with a refined list of ingredients: tender chunks of pork fried to a crisp, fresh pineapple cubes and crunchy red and green bell peppers all tossed in a signature bright orange sweet and sour sauce.
Mott 32’s take on the familiar sweet and sour pork is more elegant than you’d typically expect, but the signature sweet and sour flavours are all there. Closely following a traditional recipe, Mott 32 infuses aged black vinegar into its tangy sauce for extra zing and swaps in dragonfruit for extra sweetness. As per standard of its Cantonese fine-dining reputation, the dish is a photogenic creation of symmetrical shapes: stripes of golden-fried pork, cubes of dragonfruit and clean-cut lozenges of yellow bell peppers.
Image credit: mott32hk/Instagram
Man Ho Chinese Restaurant’s offering of this classic dish is a playful take, while still capturing its essence. Instead of the usual crispy pork, executive Chinese chef Jayson Tang opts for pork belly. Being a Michelin-starred restaurant, you already know the serving is great as it comes with pieces of shrimp mousse stuffed in a deep-fried dough stick. This imitates pork and surprises diners with a range of flavours and textures. The pork belly is also deep-fried which locks in the sweet flavour and juiciness of the meat. The dish comes with pickled ginger on the side to refresh your palate.
Nestled in the quiet, residential lanes of Happy Valley is Pang’s Kitchen. It’s an intimate Chinese kitchen recognised with one Michelin star for 11 consecutive years. The modest, home-style cooking is what won over legions of loyal fans, many of whom make the special journey for the sweet and sour pork —touted as possibly the best in Hong Kong — sautéed exclusively with green bell peppers and strawberries (instead of pineapples) for a jammier rendition.
Image credit: PangsKitchen/Facebook
Wan Chai’s Sang Kee Restaurant is a well-known institution. Established in 1978, the 40-year-run restaurant specialises in rustic Cantonese cooking, serving a menu of nostalgic Hong Kong-style dishes, including sweet and sour pork. The chef here insists on maintaining a truly authentic make — deep-fried pork finished in a well-balanced, evenly coated glaze and tossed together with green bell peppers and fresh pineapple chunks.
Image credit: SangKeeSeafoodRestaurant/Facebook
The refurbished The Pawn — now named as Woo Cheong Tea House — has ditched its previous western menu for a contemporary Chinese one, led by chef Edmond Ip. Cuisine favourites that you already know, and love are remade in interesting new riffs, like the classic sweet and sour pork. It’s a familiar first-bite; crispy on the outside, tender within and coated with the signature tangy sweet-sticky glaze that’s been naturally coloured with red rice grains. You can enjoy it as per tradition — in between bites of fresh pineapple and vegetal green bell peppers — or the renewed Woo Cheong way: with a dip of the accompanying popping candy for extra crackle and crunch.
Image credit: woocheongteahousehk/Instagram
Located in an assuming corner of Prince Edward is Zaap Zung Restaurant, a rustic dai pai dong with an aromatic, “wok-hey”-filled menu of well-executed Cantonese classics. The sweet and sour pork here is more than just a must-order signature, it has become somewhat of a consummate standard for dishes across the city. Bite-size pork pieces are deep-fried in a light, airy batter, then finished in the iconic sweet-sticky sauce of perfect consistency — put it to the pull test to find out.
Image credit: 集眾菜館/Facebook
Don’t visit Juxing Home expecting anything plush or fancy as this Michelin-recommended spot is anything but that. It’s loved for its unpretentious dining experience, and even more so for its plates of authentic Cantonese fare fragrant with “wok hei” (“wok” flavour). Amongst many top favourites is the sweet and sour pork, a gleaming, glistening order of deep-fried pork ribs doused in a homemade, sweet and tangy hawthorn sauce and served with fresh pineapples and green peppers.
Image credit: 聚興家Juxing-Home/Facebook
Tung Po Kitchen’s well-known reputation is usually less about the Cantonese-style stir-fry, and more about the boisterous ambience and the very animated shopkeeper. But they do a very extensive menu of classic dishes well. It includes sweet and sour pork, a straightforward make of deep-fried pork with green and red bell peppers, pineapple, and only at Tung Po, onions. The dish is a simple, near-authentic interpretation — even more so if you wash it all down with the classic beer in a bowl.
Image credit: Fuyuhiko/Flickr
Featured and hero image credit: woocheongteahousehk/Instagram
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What are the main ingredients in sweet and sour pork?
The main ingredients of sweet and sour pork are crispy pork, pineapple, bell peppers, and onions.
- What is the other name for sweet and sour pork?
Sweet and sour pork is called 咕嚕肉 (gu lou yuk) colloquially in Cantonese. It roughly translates to “ancient pork”.
- Why is sweet and sour pork famous in Hong Kong?
It’s known for its unique combination of sweet, sour, and tangy flavours.