As one of the most densely populated places on Earth, it’s unsurprising that Hong Kong has a rich culture of top-quality cuisine. Given that the region is also an archipelago with water all around it, it’s also logical that seafood forms an integral part of Hong Kong gastronomy in particular and the Cantonese culinary landscape in general. A trip to the territory wouldn’t be complete without sampling some fruits of the sea.
Visitors to the city are positively spoiled for choice and those operating on a budget will be glad to learn that you don’t have to frequent high-end restaurants and gourmet bistros to access that haute cuisine. With a thriving market and food stall scene, some of the best seafood in Hong Kong can be picked up for a song, spelling good news for foodies from all backgrounds. Here’s a quick rundown on some of the hotspots for Hong Kong seafood to suit all tastes, expectations and bank balances.
Markets are no-frills affairs where the produce is displayed front of house in buckets or tanks and the tables are surrounded by plastic seating. Don’t be fooled, however; the catch of the day will rank among some of the freshest and tastiest dishes you’ve ever dined upon. At Aberdeen fish market, Hong Kong locals rise before the crack of dawn to sample some five-star seafood before it’s passed on to the restaurants; make the effort to join them and you won’t be disappointed you did.
Elsewhere, the seafood market at the Tai O Fishing Village is a great place to mix in some cultural sightseeing with your lunch or dinner, given that it’s a picturesque hamlet built on stilts over the water. Both gastronomes and budding photographers alike will be delighted at the quaint simplicity of it all. Meanwhile, Lei Yue Mun offers the opportunity for you to buy your seafood fresh from the boat before taking it to a nearby restaurant, where the chefs will cook it for a small supplement.
It’s telling that the Michelin Guide for Hong Kong and Macau felt compelled to introduce a “Street Food” category to their publication in 2016; the city is teeming with excellent locales with exquisite fare at affordable prices. In fact, most markets do offer stalls selling street food as well, so stop by Mongkok or Temple Street in Kowloon to give their wares a whirl. In general, English is at a premium, so take advantage of the pictures displayed outside most stalls or simply eat what your neighbour is having. The chances are you’ll love it all the same.
To the north, the Sham Shui Po district is renowned for two things: cheap electronics and incredible food stalls. Further afield, the area along Graham Street across the water is another bustling hub of good food to go, representing one of the oldest and most established markets in the city. Don’t miss out on some excellent snack options, such as curried fishballs, sui mai (dim sum filled with fish meat), shark fin broth (or imitation shark fin broth if your morals prevent you from trying the real thing) and soy-braised cuttlefish. In Hong Kong, the culinary world is your oyster.
For those who prefer the relaxed setting of a restaurant as opposed to the heady hustle and bustle of a market or street stall, there are also an abundance of options to choose from. The Woo Cow Hotpot is housed inside the China Insurance Building and offers a lengthy menu of almost 200 items, all of them fresh from the sea and cooked to perfection. The Oyster & Wine Bar and Rech by Alain Ducasse are other high-end options on the mainland, while The Ocean by Olivier Berlin offers another gourmet location on Hong Kong Island.
Slightly further afield, Lamma Island is a favourite for those looking to combine a ferry trip and a waterside view with their meal. The prices tend to be slightly higher than in other areas of Hong Kong, but some restaurants (such as the renowned Rainbow Seafood Restaurant) will offer transportation to and from Central at no extra charge, provided a minimum amount is spent onsite. For visitors looking for fusion cooking, Gozen Edo (Japanese), Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. (American) and Amici (Italian) are all attractive propositions.