HONG KONG IS unfortunately becoming increasingly expensive, but the best food is the cheap stuff that can be found in little, street corner dives. These are my favourite scuzzy, little joints in Hong Kong.
Chungking Mansion is said to be the dodgiest place in Hong Kong, and who knows, maybe it is.
But it definitely isn’t dodgy compared to most European countries and I’ve had no problems going in there on my own. Just be strong and don’t let the pushy men force you into buying a handbag or watch. The first two floors are shops that sell pretty much everything under the sun, including some incredible food.
My favourite little hole-in-the-wall there is Butt Food Centre, and not just for its name. It’s not much to look at, but I have never had a finer curry than in this little joint. And it’s dead cheap too. Whatever you order, make sure you get a marsala chai with it.
Butt Food Centre Shop 21G/F
36-44 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, MTR exit D.
Hau Fook Street is a non-descript street in Tsim Sha Tsui that happens to host a whole slew of cheap, Asian restaurants with Vietnamese, Thai, Cantonese, Japanese and Taiwanese fare to choose from.
Surely the cheapest sushi in HK, this conveyor belt restaurant offers $15HKD ($1.93 USD) sashimi. And no, you will not get food poisoning.
Ichiban, 3 Hau Fook Street
This is a dessert parlour that whips up crazy ice cream creations that look a bit like driftwood.
China Town, 11 Hau Fook Street
Ok, so I’m cheating here because it’s not technically on Hau Fook Street, but it joins onto it with another street. It’s easiest to just walk down to the end of Hau Fook Street and badda bing, badda boom, yummy bubble tea on your lefthand side.
Easy Drink Easy Go, the end of Hau Fook Street on the left (just after 9 Hau Fook Street).
Hau Fook Street – MTR Tsim Sha Tsui, exit B2
Nothing warms you up better on a cold winter day than a steaming bowl of snake soup- yum yum yum. At $60 ($7.72 USD) a bowl, it’s not that cheap, but how many opportunities do you get to try snake? Plus, this place is eternally packed, which is always a good sign.
Ser Wong Fun Restaurant, 30 Cochrane Street, Central, MTR Central exit D2
Street Food Stalls- xiao shi dian (小食店)
I love this place. They do all the usuals and they make the best milkshakes ever,
and at only $9 ($1.16) what’s not to love? Sadly they shut at about 11PM, which means it’s not an option for a post-Lockhart Road drunken snack.
Ada Snacks, 2 O’Brien Road with Lockhart Road, MTR Wan Chai, exit C.
This place’s specialty is the best deep fried squid I’ve ever had.
$15 ($1.93 USD) might seem a bit steep for street food, but it is worth every greasy, spicy penny. This is oily, deep-fried goodness at its finest. Get served in the true HK fashion, with wonderfully brash staff, ever ready to scream at you in Cantonese. Expect lots of shouting and gestures and woe betide anyone who tries to take a photo.
Chez Jia – 佳記 (jiā jì), corner of Sai Yeung Choi Street South with Dundas Street, Mong Kok, MTR Mong Kok exit D3
This venue’s greatness is due to its location on goldfish street. Oh the irony- it’s delicious!
Prosperous – 生財 (shēng cái), 30-32A Tung Choi Street with Nullah Road, MTR Prince Edward, exit B2
One last thing
While writing this I discovered that two of my favourite xiao shi dians had closed down, one in Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) and the other in Central. They were both always full, so I have no idea how they went under, but the one in TST is now a Swatch shop. Disgusting. We need to work together to save the crappy food stall! Take to the streets and eat!
yut goh (I want one)…
siu mai (烧卖) – steamed dumplings of pork, fish and vegetables, in yellow noodlle, usually five on a stick
yu dan (鱼蛋) – fish balls, often curried, served on a wooden stick
zha you yu si (炸鱿鱼丝) – deep fried squid with spices
ji dan zai (鸡蛋仔) – Hong Kong’s answer to the waffle
la (辣) – spicy
géi chín a? (幾錢呀?) – how much does it cost?
uum goi sai (唔該) – thank you very much
*The Chinese I’ve given you is a mixture of Cantonese and Mandarin. I know that Hong Kong is technically Cantonese only, but if you say it in Mandarin you will have no problems.
Thinking of going to China? Be prepared by boning up on the Chinese Government Manual: How to Beat up Street Vendors, How to Learn Chinese: Student Versus Teacher, and be ready for love when you least expect it by checking out Matador Classic I Was on the Rebound With a Chinese Clown.
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Asia Lindsay has had an interesting year: after deciding to move to Peru she fled after a particularly terrifying encounter involving bricks, jenga and flimsy safety helmets. She went onto Chile where she wrote for The Santiago Times and Revolver Santiago Magazine and then onto Hong Kong where she did a stint at HK Mag. Asia currently resides in Russia.