Despite being the heart of Hong Kong’s tourist district, Kowloon is often cast as the dowdy sister to Hong Kong Island’s glitz and glamor. This is certainly true in the restaurant business. While Hong Kong Island and its swanky five-star hotels are home to much of the Michelin-starred glitterati and many of the best western restaurants, it’s Kowloon that largely powers Hong Kong’s well-deserved reputation as a capital of food.
Here the restaurants may not be refined but the food is often fantastic. Hong Kongers are food obsessed and the fact that discerning locals regularly pack out the neighborhood haunts on Kowloon Island is a testament to the quality of the cooking.
Below we’ve picked out some top Kowloon restaurants – Cantonese and international. You can also check out our where to eat in Kowloon which covers some of the foodie districts and specific ethnic cuisines in the area.
Often overlooked by guidebooks, Spring Deer is a mid-priced neighborhood restaurant that has been pulling in crowds of local families and raucous groups of suits for 40 years. Sat amidst a sea of other reasonably priced restaurants on Mody Road, the quality of the food and cooking here is the reason for the crowds. Up a dodgy looking stairwell and inside a strip light dining room, expert chefs cook up superb editions of classic Pekinese and North Chinese dishes, including excellent roasted pork and duck – the Peking Duck is a specialty. These are the sort of unassuming restaurants local food critics lambasted the boys from Michelin for missing out in their inaugural guide. Reservations are recommended and as far in advance as is possible.
Nathan's Congee and Noodles
Congee and Noodles are Hong Kong’s answer to comfort food and restaurants serving them are the closest the city has to a diner. The food is filling rather than finessed but that certainly doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious and much of the best of Cantonese food can be mixed in with a bowl of noodles.
Above and Beyond
High-class Cantonese dining in a high-class venue with 28th-floor views back onto the Hong Kong skyline. Slightly less formal than most of the other upmarket Cantonese options in Hong Kong, the lack of starch in the atmosphere is welcome while Above and Beyond maintains first class service, a stellar wine list and very well executed Cantonese classics.
Harbourside Restaurant - Intercontinental
It wouldn’t be a Hong Kong food list if we didn’t sneak in at least one hotel restaurant. The Harbourside restaurant at the Intercontinental does great international food but the stand out attraction here is the buffet. Hong Kong loves a buffet and nowhere is more popular than the Intercon. The buckets of food at buffets usually mean the quality is unconvincing; not here – despite the fabulous display of Chinese, Asian and Western cuisine on offer – each dish tastes as good as if it was cooked for you. The buffet is very popular so make sure you book in advance.
Tim Ho Wan
While it can no longer claim to be the world’s cheapest Michelin star – it’s since been undercut by another Hong Kong restaurant – Tim Ho Wan is still a fantastic place to pick up very cheap, very, very good Dim Sum. Served inside a basic café, the first class quality dishes garner rave reviews, reviews that are only more emphatic when you get hold of the receipt – prices are little more than pocket change. Inevitably there is a catch since Tim Ho Wan earned its Michelin Star the restaurant has hit the headlines and the queues every day are legendary. There are no reservations, instead, you’ll be given a number and an estimated time to return – waits of an hour or more are not uncommon. Their success has already given rise to some new branches but heads to Mongkok for the real experience.