Hong Kongers love their food, and the street food scene there is legendary. While there are plenty of restaurants where you can enjoy a more upmarket sit-down meal, the true pleasure of dining in Hong Kong comes from finding the best street vendors and sampling their delicious but inexpensive dishes in the open air.
During a visit to Hong Kong, you’ll come across a breathtaking array of morsels, both sweet and savory, some of them familiar and others more exotic. When you first arrive, the choice can be a little bewildering, so to help, here are our top 29 Hong Kong street food items you should track down and try.
- 1. Curry Fish Balls
- 2. Siu Mai
- 3. Stinky Tofu
- 4. Cheung Fun
- 5. Soy-Braised Cuttlefish
- 6. Roasted Sweet Potato
- 7. Gai Dan Zai – Egg Waffle
- 8. Deep-Fried Pig Intestine
- 9. Faux Shark Fin Soup
- 10. Jeen Yeung Sam Bao (Three Stuffed Treasures)
- 11. Pineapple Buns
- 12. Lung So Tong (Dragon’s Beard Candy)
- 13. Egg Tarts
- 14. Roast Chestnuts
- 15. Hong Kong-Style French Toast
- 16. Wonton Noodle Soup
- 17. Steamed Buns with Barbecued Pork
- 18. Xiao Long Bao – Shanghai Soup Dumplings
- 19. Roast Duck or Goose on Rice
- 20. Pork Belly on Rice
- 21. Red Barbecued Pork on Rice
- 22. Lo Mai Chi (Glutinous Rice Balls)
- 23. Beef Brisket Noodles
- 24. Snake Soup
- 25. Bubble Milk Tea
- 26. Tea Egg
- 27. Sweet Sago Dessert
- 28. Boat Congee
- 29. Doufu Fa
- Be as adventurous as you can
A gentle introduction to the delights of Hong Kong’s street food scene, this delectable snack consists of hot fish balls served on a skewer and covered in delicious curry sauce. This is a snack you’ll find just about anywhere you go and is a perfect inexpensive option any time you need a quick bite to eat.
2. Siu Mai
Hong Kong is rightly famous for its dim sum, and one tasty morsel that’s widely available as a street food option as well as in more fancy dim sum restaurants is siu mai. These are delectable bite-size balls of pork, traditionally mixed with a bit of fish, wrapped in yellow wonton skins and cooked in a steamer. Another irresistible treat that will have you coming back for more.
3. Stinky Tofu
Very much an acquired taste, stinky tofu is widely available in Hong Kong as well as throughout the rest of mainland China. In a way, it can be thought of as a kind of Chinese version of blue cheese – the tofu is left to ferment before being deep-fried and slathered in sauce. As the name suggests, it smells awful – you’ll easily be able to find a portion by following your nose – but when you get used to it, it’s actually surprisingly tasty.
4. Cheung Fun
A street food classic in Hong Kong, cheung fun consists of sheets of rice noodles that are rolled up and served with a generous dose of various sauces. Another version of this that you’ll find in almost any dim sum restaurant comes with a meat filling, but the street version is all about the topping – which can be sweet or savory, depending on the stall you buy it from as well as your preferences!
It’s unsurprising that Hong Kong food is heavily influenced by products from the sea, and this applies equally to the food you’ll find outside. A simple street food favorite you’ll be able to enjoy there is cuttlefish stuck on skewers and barbecued in a delicious soy-based marinade. Another option is octopus, and both versions are worth hunting down and sampling.
An old-school classic, there’s nothing complicated, exotic or elaborate about this one – it’s simply a sweet potato roast over charcoal and handed to you hot and steaming. It doesn’t get cold that often in Hong Kong, but if you find yourself hankering after something hearty and warming, this is always a reliable option to seek out.
Hong Kongers enjoy a wide range of sweet treats along with the array of savory snacks they consume, and one of the most popular is gai dan zai, a type of egg waffle. The batter mixture is poured into a special griddle, and the waffle comes out with a distinctive bobbly look. Traditionally eaten plain but now available with a range of sweet coatings, this is a Hong Kong dessert not to miss.
Some of the delights of Hong Kong street food might not seem quite so appetizing at first sight, but the important thing is to try first before you make up your mind. Deep-fried pig intestine is one that probably falls into this category, but with a texture that is part crispy and part chewy and given a covering of sweet sauce, they’re a lot better than you might first imagine.
Hong Kong is a well-known hub for shark fins, the main ingredient for shark fin soup. However, if you prefer not to contribute to the inhumane practice of shark finning, you might prefer to sample faux shark fin soup. It has a similar taste and texture but costs a lot less and is by far a more ethical choice.
A combination of stuffed eggplant, green pepper and tofu that’s easy to find on the streets of Hong Kong, the ingredients are skewered, deep-fried in oil and served up with soy sauce and chili oil. Other equally delicious variations are also possible, making this a street food snack that you’re likely to keep coming back to.
11. Pineapple Buns
Misleadingly named since there’s no pineapple in sight – rather, these light and fluffy sweetbread buns are served simply with a slice of butter and are ideal to enjoy with a cup of hot milk tea at any time of day.
This is the local take on a kids’ favorite everywhere – cotton candy. Traditionally made from sugar and maltose syrup, this sweet snack has been made in China for centuries. It is crafted into beautiful creations, often containing extra fillings, and sometimes it’s possible to watch the skilled artisans at work making it.
13. Egg Tarts
Egg tarts are perhaps most closely associated with nearby Macau, where this Portuguese-inspired dessert is nothing short of an institution. However, they are beloved of Hong Kongers too, and you’ll be able to find them anywhere in the territory. Sweet and creamy with a flaky pastry crust, egg tarts are a yummy treat you won’t be able to resist.
14. Roast Chestnuts
Like roast sweet potatoes, chestnuts are a simple and healthy option you can always turn to when you feel like a quick snack. Unlike much of the street food you find in Hong Kong, there’s nothing added to them since they’re tasty enough just the way nature made them. Many sweet potato vendors also cook chestnuts, so you’ll be able to sample both at the same time.
Unlike regular French toast, the Hong Kong version is deep-fried. It’s then served with an accompaniment of peanut butter or maple syrup and best enjoyed with a cup of coffee or tea. None of the ingredients is traditionally from Hong Kong – but this is an entirely local creation.
An unmissable Hong Kong classic, this is a dish that is now found around the world but is best savored in the land of its origin. A delicious bowl of egg noodles served in a savory broth along with some juicy stuffed wontons, ordering one of these for breakfast is the perfect start to your day before heading off to explore the city.
Steamed buns are popular throughout China, but in Hong Kong, the best version is stuffed with sweet barbecued pork. They’re popular in sit-down dim sum restaurants, but you can also pick them up from street vendors and are a delicious treat you are likely to want to enjoy as much as you can before you leave.
Other than traditional snacks that originated in Hong Kong, you’ll also find foods from the rest of China represented there. One such delicacy to look out for is Shanghai xiao long bao, a type of dumpling filled with a delicious soup that spills out when you bite into them. Just make sure you let them cool down before you start – or you might end up burning your mouth!
As you explore Hong Kong’s many alleyways and narrow streets crammed with eateries, glazed and roast ducks and geese hanging on hooks in the windows are a common sight. They look delicious, and if anything, they taste even better. Sliced up and served over rice, this is a tasty specialty not to be missed.
Just like the roast duck or goose you see hanging in windows, another common sight is pieces of crispy pork belly dangling in windows. The fat is crunchy and delicious while the meat itself is succulent and tender. Again, this is served simply chopped into slices and served over rice, making an inexpensive but filling meal.
Another option to have over rice is red barbecued pork. It’s the same type of meat as you find in the steamed pork buns in #17, and this is another local delicacy you can enjoy simply served over a bowl of steamed rice.
Glutinous rice balls are a common dessert in China where they are traditionally eaten to celebrate the Lantern Festival, the last day of the Chinese New Year. However, you can also eat them at any time of year, and in Hong Kong, you can buy a bowl to sample traditional flavors like red bean or sesame paste – along with more modern versions like chocolate.
There are lots of noodle dishes to try in Hong Kong, but one that should be near the top of your list is the version with beef brisket. Served with slow-cooked pieces of beef in a hearty and warming broth, this is a typical inexpensive Hong Kong favorite that everyone should sample at least once during their visit.
24. Snake Soup
For more adventurous foodie types, you might want to look out for this particular Hong Kong delicacy. The name tells you exactly what it is – although you probably wouldn’t guess from the flavor or the texture of the meat that you’re eating snake. This dish is less common nowadays, but there are still some places that serve it if you know where to look.
25. Bubble Milk Tea
Don’t leave Hong Kong without trying a cup of bubble milk tea at least once. Either hot or over ice, it consists of a sweet milky tea filled with balls of tapioca and other ingredients. Originally from Taiwan but now an established Hong Kong favorite.
26. Tea Egg
Popular in Hong Kong as well as in the rest of mainland China, tea eggs are boiled eggs that are cracked and then soaked in a tea and soy sauce mixture to give them extra flavor as well as a distinctive mottled appearance. You’ll see them being prepared in large pots, and they cost next to nothing, making them a nutritious and affordable snack for any time of the day or night.
Although originally a Southeast Asian creation, Hong Kongers have adopted sweet sago dessert with great enthusiasm. Chilled and creamy and often with pieces of juicy fruit like mango or pomelo, this is another tasty option for anyone with even a slightly sweet tooth.
28. Boat Congee
Rice porridge – or congee – is a popular breakfast food across Asia, and in Hong Kong, you can order boat congee, a version that was originally created by local fishermen. Unsurprisingly, it contains pieces of fish along with other ingredients – to complete the meal, enjoy it with a traditional Chinese dough stick, a deep-fried puffed-up piece of dough that’s popular in Hong Kong as well as on the mainland.
29. Doufu Fa
A hot or cold snack made from soft tofu, the texture is smooth and silky. Although it doesn’t have much flavor itself, this tasty treat is usually paired with a sweet ginger sauce or sometimes with black sesame paste. It’s a great example of simple local ingredients being combined to make a popular Hong Kong favorite.
Be as adventurous as you can
When you arrive in Hong Kong, try not to be overwhelmed by the vast array of food that’s available – the best thing is just to jump in and try as much as you can. You might find there are some things you’re not quite so keen on – but at least you’ll have a story to tell when you go home.