Hong Kong is renowned for bringing together cuisines from all over the world with its buzzing, innovative restaurant scene. While some of the most acclaimed spots feature starred chefs and eye-watering price tags, some of the best bites in the city can be found at the opposite end of the spectrum. Local cooked food centres are an institution, forming an integral part of Hong Kong’s dining culture, and indeed culinary identity, for more than a century. Below are our favourites that demand a visit or several.
Java Road Cooked Food Centre
Java Road has risen in public consciousness (both local and Western, and also, increasingly, among the tourist population) to become a household name, thanks to the iconic Tung Po. Celebrated for its classic Canton dishes, the market serves a squid ink pasta that reels in the hordes. Our go-to, however, is the pork knuckle with red fermented bean which is both traditional and great for sharing, and is a failsafe option when entertaining out-of-town friends who want to experience the real deal.
Java Road Municipal Services Building, 99 Java Rd, North Point.
Kowloon City Cooked Food Centre
With the reputable moniker of “Little Thailand”, Kowloon City Cooked Food Centre is a diamond in the rough of overdone, over-MSGd imitations of Thai cuisine that are unfortunately ubiquitous across the globe. Moreover, even to particularly discerning Thai taste buds, the centre offers the most authentic Thai you can find without having to leave the time zone. The schlep is well worth the effort, and deserves rewarding with an ice-cold Singha and Amporn Thai’s classics. The green chicken curry, pad Thai and beef satays are consistently good, but the aromatic salt-crusted lemongrass grilled fish reigns supreme.
100 Nga Tsin Wai Road, Kowloon City
Tai Po Hui Market and Cooked Food Centre
Schlep becomes trek with the Tai Po Hui Market and Cooked Food Centre, nestled all the way out in the New Territories. What is convenient, though, is the bounty of cycling trails nearby, so make a day of it and bike up an appetite before hitting the market. Here you can find some of the best dim sum, clay pot dishes and wonton noodles in the city. Classic Canto fare is served all day, and the centre is packed from early morning with seniors enjoying a breakfast of congee and youtiao, whilst the evenings see a livelier crowd squabbling over the last piece of sweet and sour pork. Check it out.
2/F, 8 Heung Sze Wui St, Tai Po
Queen Street Cooked Food Market
Queen Street has the double bonus of incorporating a decent selection of cuisines and being right on the doorstep. While the aforementioned options each offer a singular, well-executed cuisine, Queen Street manages to encompass a diverse range including Indian, Italian, Vietnamese and Chinese, and does each justice. ABC Kitchen pleasantly surprises with its presentation and quality, and the suckling pig there is unbeatable.
1/F, 38 Des Voeux Rd W, Sheung Wan
Photo credit: SCMP
Now that you’ve explored all that the cooked food centres have to offer, take a look at our ultimate guide to Hong Kong hotpot, or if you’re done with local food and want something a little different, try our piece on Vietnam’s blue collar lunches.