The essential guide to Hong Kong street food

Fine dining is all well and good, but it's Hong Kong's street food where you'll find the good stuff.

1 July 2019 / Jonny S. / Hong Kong

Hong Kong street food might not have the same kudos as, say, Bangkok. But you can't say you've experienced the city's food scene without eating at one of the dai pai dongs or trying street eats from some of the many street side shophouses.

Some of the best Hong Kong street food is to be found around the streets of Mong Kok, Causeway Bay and Sham Shui Po, many of the areas visited on our highly rated Hong Kong food tour. Here you’ll find a vibrant street full of tempting, surprising and sometimes alarming dishes. Here is our guide for navigating the Hong Kong street food scene.

Curry fish balls

Dundas Street, Mong Kok

Hong Kong street food - curry fish balls
Curry fish balls on the streets of Hong Kong

Curry fish balls are the real icons of the Hong Kong Street food scene. These days though many don’t contain much fish and are more likely to be made from flour. They are typically fried before being drowned in a mildly spicy curry sauce which gives them their signature springy texture. This Hong Kong street food is either skewered on a bamboo stick or ladled into a takeaway container to walk with.

If you find yourself in Mong Kok district, take a way along Dundas Street to Kai Kei Snacks which does an excellent spice-spiked fish ball.

Stinky tofu

30-32 Nullah Road

Hong Kong street food - stinky tofu
Hong Kong stinky tofu

Fancy a Hong Kong street food you can smell before you see it? Stinky tofu is being cooked up everywhere. It gets its special aroma from a fermentation which is usually in a brine of milk, vegetables or meat. Crispy on the outside with a nice creamy centre, this is a pretty tasty bite as long as you can force your nostrils to ignore the scent.

For some of the stinkiest (a good sign of quality), try the aptly named Delicious Food shophouse takeaway along Nullah Road near Prince Edward station. They do several different snacks, but their house special is the stinky tofu.

Egg waffles

17 Yu Chau Street

Hong Kong street food - eggette
Hong Kong eggettes

This hearty way to start the day is this perennial Hong Kong street food favourite. It’s a very simple mix of eggs, flour, sugar and evaporated milk, but the light pleasant texture makes is one of the best popular street snacks in the city. Like regular waffles you can tailor it in all sorts of ways with ice cream or chocolate sauce, jam or peanut butter, but they are good all on their own.

The Mong Kok district in Hong Kong is packed with eggette joints, but you can't do better than the More Eggettes which has an impressive menu of flavours from purple sweet potato to candied pineapple topping a perfectly crisp waffle.

Pineapple buns

41 Spring Garden Lane

Hong Kong street food - pineapple bun
Pineapple buns at a cha chaan teng in Hong Kong

Locals have been gobbling this Hong Kong street food for more than 70 years. Disappointingly, perhaps, they don’t have much in the way of pineapple - they get this name from the crisscross pattern across the top. What they do have, though, is a sumptuous slab of cold butter in between a warm fluffy bun with a perfectly crisp outer crust. Once you get started it can get pretty addictive.

There's lots pineapple buns baking around Hong Kong, but the best have been sold from the cha chaan teng Kam Fung Cafe in Wan Chai since the '50s. Get there before 5pm because they almost always sell out of this Hong Kong street food.

Sui mai

172 Fa Yuen Street

Hong Kong street food - sui mai
Siu mai - a Hong Kong street food favourite

This little dumplings might be found in dim sum houses across the city, but they are also a favourite Hong Kong street food snack. They stand out thanks to its bright yellow wrapper clutching steamed pork and coated in salty soy sauce. A little chilli adds an important kick.

It's easy to find sui mai at most snack stands, but the moist version from Tung Tat Food is particularly good, not to mention cheap.

Cheong fun

Kweilin Street

Hong Kong street food - Cheong Fun
Cheong fun rolled noodles in Hong Kong

This favourite Hong Kong street food are prized for the chewy texture of the rolled rice noodles which are cut into small chunks and slathered in blend of sweet sauce, soy sauce, peanut butter and sesame seeds.

When it comes to cheong fun in Hong Kong, there's only one place you should be going. Hop Yik Tai, in Sham Shui Po, has textural perfect noodles and just the right balance of sauce. That's probably why they got a nod in the Michelin guide. Get there early because this Hong Kong street food sells out fast.

Egg tart

35 Lyndhurst Terrace

Hong Kong street food - egg tart
Baked egg tarts in Hong Kong

Egg tarts aren't just synonymous with nearby Macau - this Hong Kong street food may not have originated in the city, but they have taken it as their own. Dan tat egg tarts should have a flaky crust filled with a creamy, sweet custard. The smell of baked egg tarts is irresistible.

Tai Cheong Bakery (which is now a small chain across the city) was started in the '50s by an egg tart master and the original recipe is still used to this day. Try the branch along Lyndhurst Terrace, but be warned there's often a long queue.

Fried pig intestine

3-7 Cannon Street

Hong Kong street food - pig intestine
Fried pig intestine is a favourite Hong Kong street food

There's some Hong Kong street food that may seem daunting. Ja zu da cheung are deep fried pig intestines which are both crispy and chewy and best eaten with a covering of sweet sauce. Don't worry - the intestines are thoroughly cleaned in hot water and stewed for several hours before being fried. Look past the slightly unappetising thought and you might just find your new favourite Hong Kong street food.

Don't leave this one to chance. The street side snack stall Ying Heong Yuen in Causeway Bay is the place to go for ja zu da cheung.

Three stuffed treasures

43-59 Tai Tsun Street

Hong Kong street food - three stuffed treasures
Fried three stuffed treasures in Hong Kong

Jin yeung saam bo, affectionately named three stuffed treasures, are a not just for dim sum - they are also a favourite Hong Kong street food. Traditionally green chillis, bitter melon and eggplants are stuffed with a fish paste and deep fried, though today there are plenty of other vegetables.

Before you pescatarians get too exciting, unfortunately for you they are often fried in pork lard, though if you ask some are starting to fry their products in vegetable oil.

It's a little tricky to find, but well worth seeking out Dong Hong Snack Food in stall A4 along Tai Tsun Street. They still make their three stuffed treasures they old-school way and they fish paste they use is made in house.

Squid on a stick

Shop 4A, 55 Dundas Street

Hong Kong street food - squid on a stick
Squid on a stick in Hong Kong

Hong Kong street food doesn't get more iconic than cuttlefish and octopus on a stick. While foreigners might be a little squeamish, trust us when we say - it works. These brightly coloured tentacles have been boiled and brushed with a soy sauce marinade and are particularly beloved for their chewy texture.

The long queues at Fei Jie along Dundas Street in Monk Kok is a testament to how good their cuttlefish and octopus are.

Imitation 'shark fin' soup

45 Beech Street

Hong Kong street food - imitation shark fin soup
A bowl of imitation 'shark fin' soup in Hong Kong

Unfortunately, shark fin soup is still popular across Asia. What we can't understand is why when this imitation soup made from glass noodles, black fungus and shredded chicken is so good. Not only do you forgo the cruel practise, you'll also save a bundle - it's vastly cheaper than it's counterpart.

You can try imitation shark fin soup at Bon Bon Cafe along Ivey Street in Tai Kok Tsui. It's not quite Hong Kong street food, but it's certainly worth trying.

Beef offal soup

2 Gutzlaff Street

Hong Kong street food offal
Hong Kong street food offal soup

For those brave enough to dive into the more adventurous Hong Kong street food, try a bowl of beef offal soup. This dish is proper nose-to-tail eating - expect tripe, lungs, intestines and everything in between boiled for hours in a peppery soup. It's tastier than it sounds.

Try tiny Hong Kong street food vendor Shui Kee along 2 Gutzlaff Street in Central. They've been cooking up a fine example of the soup for more than 60 years.

Hong Kong french toast

159 Tung Choi Street

Hong Kong street food - French toast
Hong Kong French toast with condensed milk

If you're on a diet, you should look away now. French toast may not have originated in the city, but it's become a beloved Hong Kong street food and is a main stable of cha chaan tengs. The dish comprises of two slices of bread dipped in egg, but differs from its Western cousin in that it's deep-fried. Slather in maple syrup or condensed milk with a wedge if cold butter and you're good to go.

For some of the most gut-busting, try the French toast at Man Wah restaurant along Tung Choi Street in Mong Kok.

Wife cake

135 Fa Yuen Street

Hong Kong street food - wife cakes
Lo po bang wife cakes

For a traditional Hong Kong street food on the fly, nab yourself a lo po bang wife cake - flaky thin pastries filled with a paste made from wintermelon and sugar. You can find these pastry pockets across the city, but some can be terrible quality.

You won't be disappointed with the wife cakes from Kee Tsui Cake Shop, a tiny bakery along Fa Yuen Street in Mong Kok. This 30-year-old shop still makes cakes by hand and as well as wife cakes they do some excellent egg tarts and red bean cakes.

Beancurd pudding

118 Pei Ho Street

Hong Kong street food - beancurd pudding
Cold beancurd pudding with sugar in Hong Kong

Swing by most dessert shops in the city and you'll find dao fu fa, a soft silky tofu pudding. This Hong Kong street food is best eaten cold in the summer and warm in the cooler months. Either way, it's essential to top with sugar and ginger syrup.

Since the '60s, Kung Wo Beancurd Factory has been selling it's dao fu fa and is popular due to its smooth texture. This old-school dessert joint still uses the same recipe that they opened with more than half a century ago.

Dragon beard candy

2/F Dragon Center, Yen Chow Street

Hong Kong street food - dragon beard candy
Dragon beard candy being made in Hong Kong

Dragon beard candy is so named because of the hundreds of white beard-like sugar strands wrapped around a centre of crushed peanuts and has been sold across China for thousands of years. Unfortunately, like much of Hong Kong's street food it's fading away and you'll usually only find it for sale as festivals. There are a couple of spots still left though. At the Dragon Center in Sham Shui Po look for stall 2/F who still make these rare little treats.

There are other Hong Kong street foods to look out for. You'll easily find roasted chestnuts, sugarcane juice stands and lo mai chi glutinous rice balls. But there are rarer street eats that you should buy if you find. Keep your eyes peeled for the ding ding candy made from maltose with ginger and sesame and named after the noise the vendor makes as they chisel it out, or airplane olives made liquorice and herbs.

Still confused about Hong Kong street food? If you're on a flying visit to the city, why not hop on this daily Hong Kong food tour where you'll discover the city's flavours with the help of an expert local food guide.

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