In our Neighbourhood Guides, we chart a culinary path across Hong Kong, tracking down the absolute best eats to be had in every neighbourhood in town.
Welcome to Kowloon City, the local food haven that those across Victoria Harbour (ahem) may have yet to fully discover and explore. With the MTR extension to Kowloon City nearly completed, you’ll want to visit before gentrification ensues: We find Kowloon City particularly charming during the night when the sky gets relit with the neon signs that are reminiscent of the past; however, Sunday mornings are also a great time to visit as you’ll be able to see the orange-robed Theravada Buddhist monks go collect alms on Southwall Road. For those interested in history, the Kowloon Walled City Park has the last remnants of what used to be called “The City of Darkness” and what once used to be described as “densest place in the entire world”. Guided tours are also available free of charge at selected times.
Kowloon City is also dubbed ‘Little Thailand’ so it’s an obvious destination for those seeking out some of the most authentic Thai food in all of Hong Kong. But the good eats don’t just stop there: Kowloon City is filled to the brim with amazing restaurants offering a huge variety of different cuisines. Here are the best places to visit to feed your appetite.
Happy Together Hotpot
An ode to old Hong Kong with its retro interiors and old-school 70s Canto pop blaring from the speakers (think Sam Hui classics), this place lets you experience old-school ‘hole-in-the-walls’ in a more comfortable and clean setting. We love the twists and their take on modernised classics such as the shrimp toast, truffle-infused cuttlefish paste and fish maw dumplings. For those who can take spice, the Thai-style clam soup base is a winner, while the chicken soup base comes in a close second. We love how you can order spam and instant noodles for your hot pot here, but make sure you add it at the end so as not to dilute the flavours of the broth.
Happy Together Hotpot, G/F, 70-72 Tak Ku Ling Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong, +852 9888 1132
Fong Wing Kee Hot Pot Restaurant
The OG hotpot place in Kowloon City. You know it’s good when it’s been popular since openings its doors in 1952! Spanning three storefronts, it’s best if you make reservations, and fear not if you drive as they have valet services available as well. There’s not much concession to modern comforts though as patrons (famous celebrities or not) are seated on small circular stools crowding around one hot pot that’s shared amongst your dinner party.
The soup broth to order is without a doubt, their famous satay broth, which is dubbed as the thickest and most intensely satay-flavoured broth in Hong Kong. We’re not one to contest that claim, but we will say that the satay broth eats almost like a stew — it’s super thick, peanut-y, and is on the sweeter side like the traditional Cantonese-style satay broths. We recommend the lotus root slices, oysters, hand-cut beef slices, deep-fried fish skin and the must-try instant noodles saved for the finale.
Fong Wing Kee Hot Pot Restaurant, G/F, 85-87 Hau Wong Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong, +852 2382 1788
The coffee here is strong and decent enough but let’s not kid ourselves – we really added Rings Coffee onto the list because of their amazing avocado toast. We’re not just talking like a couple slices of avo, we’re talking about at least half of the avocado transformed into an avo flower onto your toast. Honestly, one of the best places in the city for avocado in terms of value for money – quite an ambitious statement but we’ll stand by it. Another great thing about Rings Coffee is that they open as early as 7:30am on weekdays and around 9am on weekends, making it a great venue for any early meeting catch ups.
Rings Coffee, G/F, 8 Nga Tsin Long Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong, +852 9798 3510
Tai Wo Tang
If you’re looking for a new venue for your Instagram photos — you’re in luck! This hipster café is stylish and photogenic from all angles, and it’s got a great history as well. The venue housing this coffee shop used to be a traditional Chinese medicine shop, from 1932 to 2018 — and the coffee shop has kept those roots in tact. Right behind the coffee bar, you’ll see rows of apothecary drawers that cover the entire wall up to the ceiling; previously used to hold the Chinese medicine, they now serve as an iconic design detail of Tai Wo Tang. We like their signature Tai Wo Tang latte, which is infused with light hints of Earl Grey, as well as their all-day breakfast. Make sure to arrive early, or be prepared to queue. One more note: Their tables and cups make for great flatlays as well. Happy eating and Instagramming!
Tai Wo Tang, G/F, 24 Nga Tsin Long Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong, +852 2623 2006
One of actor Chow-yun Fat and his wife’s favourite places to frequent (as evidenced by his photo hanging on the wall), this upstairs wet market cha chaan teng has a lot of big names as customers. Now managed and run by the 3rd generation of the family, the old-school café adds little odd twists to old favourites, such as their milk tea red bean icy and satay beef French toast. It sounds a bit questionable but we can assure you that the flavours absolutely work.
Loyal patrons will lament certain house rules: The shop’s satay beef stir fried vermicelli is only available Monday, Wednesday and Friday, whilst their snow cabbage with pork stir fried vermicelli is only available Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The shop is also closed on Sundays and operates (loosely) from 7am to 3pm the rest of the days. The food is well worth the rules though — just ask veteran food critic Cho Lan, who penned the words “勝過鮑參翅肚” (translating to “better than abalone, sea cucumber, shark fin, and fish maw”), which can be seen hanging below their store front.
Lok Yuen, Shop 6, 3/F, Kowloon City Municipal Services Building, Nga Tsin Wai Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong, +852 2382 3367
Chiu Chow Hop Shing Dessert
Established in 1955, this dessert place is an institution in Kowloon City and one of the few dessert places in Hong Kong specialising in Chiu Chow desserts. Their signatures are lotus seed and something called 清心丸, which is best described as a Chiu Chow dessert jelly that has a slippery and gelatinous texture (it may or may not be everybody’s cup of tea). We love their lotus seed and Chiu Chow dessert jelly in a green bean soup and the bean curd soup with barley. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to witness the insane ability of the shop’s daughters to be able to rattle off the dessert names by rote memory corresponding to the numbers on the menu. There are 90 desserts in total — you do the math.
Chiu Chow Hop Shing Dessert, G/F, 9 Lung Kong Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong, +852 2383 3026
Hoover Cake Shop
Another oldie but goodie in Kowloon City, Hoover Cake Shop is a traditional bakery with a little charming corner store with all their baked goods displayed in the window. Since 1977, their egg tarts have been a crowd favourite, and they make both the puff and cookie crust variety. We like the cookie crust variety as it’s the original crust of the Hong Kong egg tart; however, we know others will fiercely debate that puff is better, so give both a try and be your own judge! Egg tarts are best consumed warm so make sure you eat them on the spot or toast them back up in the oven. Other baked goods that we would recommend are the choco chip cookes (pictured here), walnut and almond cookies, and flower sponge cake.
Hoover Cake Shop, 136 Nga Tsin Wai Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong, +852 2382 0383
Founded in the 1980s, Islam Food now has two branches within a small radius in Kowloon City. Islam Food is halal-certified and one of the few Chinese Islamic Restaurants in Hong Kong. Once you walk into the restaurant, you’ll notice immediately that everybody will have an order of the veal goulash cakes (pan-fried beef bun) so make sure you don’t miss out on those — they’re amazing! They eat a bit like a soup dumpling as there’s an intense amount of soup in the bun, so make sure to take a small bite and let the soup cool down first so you don’t burn yourself. Other highlights include the curry mutton, curry beef brisket, and pan fried beef/mutton dumplings.
Islam Food, 1 Lung Kong Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong, +852 2382 2822
Let me let you in on a little secret: Most people that come into Kowloon City to eat Thai food will choose Lung Jie Thai Restaurant, as that’s the one that’s become famous on social media. However, the majority of local residents in the area prefer Thai Hot instead, citing better service and more flavourful dishes. We like both restaurants but are inclined to favour local residential picks more! We always order shrimp sashimi, pomelo salad and chicken wings, but all the usual Thai favourites are solid in execution and offered at a super affordable price as well.
Thai Hot, G/F, 30-32 Nam Kok Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong, +852 2383 1998
Yu Heung Grilled Fish
This place specialises in a type of Sichuan dish called “grilled fish” which is exactly what it sounds like: a whole grilled fish is served in a pan in the middle of the table luxuriating in the broth of your choice. We like the mala broth but if that’s too spicy, the sour and spicy one is a great alternative as well. Similar to hot pot, you get to pick and choose the different sides that you can cook in the broth alongside the fish. If like us you’re a sucker for carbs and all things al dente, choose the potato noodles (we prefer the thicker variety over the thinner ones), with wood ear black fungus and bean curd as extra sides. As a word of caution for those scared of bones, yes, the fish comes whole with all its bones intact. It’s easiest to filet the top, remove and set aside before breaking off the tail and then flipping up the whole spine of the fish. Don’t forget the fish cheeks, as those are the most tender parts of the fish!
Yu Heung Grilled Fish, G/F, 12 Nga Tsin Long Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong
You can tell how authentic this little kiosk is by the fact that their menu is written in Thai and Chinese only. The skewers are fab, but they are only second to the sauce that you can see them make at the back of the shop. The sauce is the bomb — if they could bottle it up and sell it, we would be first in line. Skewers we would recommend include the full chicken wings, cuttlefish balls, and pork neck skewers with a generous serving of the satay sauce. Their satay sauce has a bit of a kick so go easy on the spice until you know you can handle it.
金泰沙冰, Shop A2, No. 21 Nga Tsin Wai Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong
Patisserie Tony Wong
With numerous accolades and over 40 years of experience under his belt including time spent at the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, Tony Wong is the dessert mastermind behind Cookies Quartet, Smile Yogurt and Dessert Bar, and also Sweet Boutique. We love any of the napoleon varieties at Patisserie Tong Wang, and in particular the mixed berries napoleon; however, what they are most known for is their whole rose cakes. They’re delicate, creamy and incredibly photo-worthy. They’re not cheap, but they’re definitely the cake to get for a loved ones’ birthday!
Patisserie Tony Wang, G/F, 65 Fok Lo Tsun Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong, +852 2382 6639
This no-frills congee and rice roll shop may seem unassuming; however, it’s actually (another) one of Chow Yun Fat’s regular haunts. We’ve heard from the owners that the actor comes around 7am–8am, so if you’re an avid fan, make sure you visit around that time to increase the chances of seeing your idol. There’s usually a queue during the weekends so come early or be prepared to line up. We usually like to get a congee, stir-fried noodles and zhaliang — rice roll wrapped around a Chinese doughnut — to share between two people for a rather hearty local breakfast. Don’t forget to bring your own napkins and be prepared to share your table with other hungry patrons.
添財記, G/F, 35 Lung Kong Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong, +852 2383 9664
Virginia Chan is the founder of Humid with a Chance of Fishballs Tours, which specialises in Hong Kong food tours. The excursions encourage visitors to get a glimpse into the life of a Hong Kong local for an authentic and insightful experience. Using food as the platform, tours delve deeper into Hong Kong’s culture, heritage and traditions. For more information, visit here.