Cantonese Cuisine in Hong Kong

Chinese Food Photo Hong Kong Dim Sum Photo

Cantonese cuisine in Hong Kong is famous internationally. It dominates the Hong Kong food market. As a Cantonese myself, I would say Cantonese cuisine is the most outstanding among all Chinese foods.

I live in Hong Kong and I'm going to walk you through a day's food tour and let you have some insider's tips on Hong Kong food.

Simple and Fresh

Two distinct features of Cantonese cuisine in Hong Kong are freshness and simple cooking.

Fresh meats of chicken, pork and beef are delivered to restaurant kitchens daily in early morning. Seafood restaurants keep tanks of live fishes for their clients to choose.

Unlike foods in northern China, Cantonese food is mild and seldom spicy. Hot and sour dishes are extremely rare.

Cantonese cuisine in Hong Kong - steam fish

Cantonese is the most skillful in mastering the simplest cooking method of steaming. Hence steaming live fish has become a ‘must eat’ of Cantonese cuisine in Hong Kong.

I would consider the Cantonese way of steaming live fish the best fish cooking method in the world. Chefs have to master accurate timing to steam a fish according to its weight so that it is just cooked. Only a small amount of soy sauce, ginger and spring onion is added to a steamed fish when dishing up. The light seasoning is used only to bring out the natural sweetness of the seafood.

Visit My Hong Kong Food Blog

Do you love Cantonese cuisine in Hong Kong? Do you want to find out where to eat, what to eat and how much to pay? I have listed in my blog, plenty of meals with the actual food photos. Of course, these are my favourite restaurants. You will also see how much I pay for each meal. Interesting. Please enjoy.

Agenda to Enjoy Cantonese Cuisine in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is so dedicated to yummy food. I have set an agenda for you to follow in order to enjoy delicious Cantonese cuisine in Hong Kong at different times of a day.

Breakfast or Lunch – Dim Sum

Hong Kong dim sum pork dumpling

Dim sum breakfast or lunch is a major social life style of Hong Kong residents. Locals and expatriates all love it. I do dim sum lunch once or twice a week. Some people even have it for daily breakfast. My boss is American, but he entertains his guests with dim sum lunch most of the time.

Dim sum is only served at breakfast time through late afternoon. Never try to order dim sum at dinner time.

Dim sum as a representative Cantonese cuisine in Hong Kong is widely available in town. Never do dim sum at a hotel Cantonese restaurant. That is not the authentic style. Look for some noisy however tidy restaurants. There are plenty of quality restaurants in town. Just check with your hotel concierge for a nearby one.

Hong Kong dim sum

Here are some typical ‘must-eat’ items:
• Steamed shrimp dumplings 蝦餃
• Steamed pork dumplings 燒賣
• Steamed BBQ pork buns 叉燒飽
• Glutinous rice chicken 糯米雞
• Dace fish balls 鯪魚球
• Spring rolls 春卷
• Rice rolls, steamed or stir fried 腸粉 - 蒸/煎/炒

If your group is big enough, you might want to order a couple of dishes of rice or noodle. Here are two typical dishes of Cantonese cuisine in Hong Kong. Dim sum restaurants sell thousands of them daily:
• Fried rice – Yeung Chow style 楊洲炒飯
• Fried beef flat noodle with dark soy sauce 干炒牛河

Other chargeable items at a dim sum lunch:
• Tea per head – HK$10-13, depending on the class of the restaurant. Since this is charged per head, you have the right to order different flavours, such as a pot of Pu Er and a pot of Xiang Pian. You can also ask for a pot of plain water which is free of charge.
• Pickles – some restaurant bring this without your ordering, but you would still have to pay – HK$10-20 per dish, again depending on the class of the restaurant.
• 10% service charge. It’s up to you to pay a little more if you appreciate the service.

A dim sum lunch would average HK$50-80 per person depends on the class and location of the restaurant.

Take a look at a classic dim sum lunch that I do recently, with details of cost and photos.

Cha Shao Bao - Hong Kong Dim Sum Video

Tea Time – between 2.30pm and 5.30pm

At this time of a day, foods are sold at reduced rate. If your itinerary makes you miss a regular lunch, don’t worry. Go do a late lunch or enjoy a tea set from tea houses or fast food shops at reduced price.

Tea houses in Hong Kong means casual dining restaurants slightly higher class than self-service fast food shops. They don’t incurred service charges. They are casual but they are another highlight of Cantonese cuisine in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong milk tea

There is one single item from casual dining restaurants that out-performs five-star hotels. It is the Hong Kong milk tea.

Hong Kong milk tea is very strong tea mixed with condensed milk. The tea is also strained through a stocking-like apparatus, making the texture very smooth and silky.

You just need to have at least a cup of it while visiting Hong Kong.

During tea time, a cup of hot milk tea is sold at HK$6 at Café de Coral or most similar class casual restaurants. Iced ones would be around HK$9. Isn’t it attractive? Café de Carol is the largest chain casual restaurant in Hong Kong. You can easily find one everywhere. (As a matter of inflation, the prices quotes are only correct at time of writing.)

Tea Time Snack - Wanton Noodle 雲吞面

Hong Kong wanton noodle

This is another famous Cantonese cuisine in Hong Kong. Cantonese wanton is something similar to dumplings in Beijing. But their shape is more like a small ball. The filling is mainly fresh shrimps mixed with minced pork and mushrooms. With a special type of ‘elastic’ Cantonese noodle in broth, you would have an extremely wonderful feeling in your mouth.

At tea time, a bowl of fresh shrimp wanton noodle might cost less than HK$30.

Wanton noodle shops are easy to find especially in shopping areas. They are causal dining shops usually no service charge incurred.

Dinner Time - Seafood
Preview a Hong Kong Seafood Dinner

Seafood is a typical Cantonese cuisine in Hong Kong, especially during dinner time. Good quality seafood restaurants are everywhere. They are convenient and not too expensive.

I just can’t tell you how Hong Kong people love seafood. But I can guarantee if you want to eat the best cooked seafood with the best ingredients, Hong Kong is the place.

Frankly, live seafood could be expensive, depending on the type and size. A deep sea grouper of one kilogram would cost a few hundred Hong Kong dollars. However, this is a life time experience only available in Hong Kong. There is nowhere else in the world you could have such great seafood dining experience.

Though live seafood is expensive, you do have a choice to have chilled ones. They are also very good. Chilled fishes are usually sold at fixed price. Some restaurants even offer seafood set menu. That would allow you to control your budget more easily.

Here is my suggested dinner menu to combine the typical Cantonese cuisine features of simple and fresh:
• Steamed chicken – plain version 白切鷄
• Steamed grouper 清蒸石斑
• Stir fried Chinese cabbage or your choice of vegetable 清炒小白菜
• Soup of the day 例湯

Hong Kong steam lobster

This menu is good for two people. You might add more dishes if you have more people. Here is some more seafood for your consideration:
• Steeped or steamed prawns – 白灼蝦
• Steamed lobster in halves – with garlic or cheese
• Deep fried oyster 酥炸生蠔
• Stir fried crab with ginger and green onion 葁茺炒蟹

You might want to add some typical Cantonese dishes other than seafood.
• Roast suckling pig or assorted roast meats 乳豬 或 乳豬拼盤
• Stir fried eggs with prawns 蝦仁炒蛋
• Steak Chinese style 中式牛柳
• Sweat and sour pork 咕嚕肉

Roast sucking pig is another highlight of Cantonese cuisine in Hong Kong. It is highly recommended. Like seafood, you should have it at least once in Hong Kong. Its skin is so crispy and meat is so smooth and juicy. If you like Beijing duck, you must love Cantonese roast suckling pig.

Let me elaborate further on the four course dinner.

Steamed chicken can be ordered as a whole, half or just a dish. It requires no seasoning or marinating before cooking. They are just steamed to cook. This is the only best way to keep the natural fresh taste of a chicken. It is served with a special sauce made up of smashed ginger and salt in hot cooking oil. There is no other place in the world you can enjoy such freshly treated yummy chicken. It is a representative dish of Cantonese cuisine in Hong Kong, other than seafood.

Steamed fish has a wide range of choices. While live fishes are expensive, chilled ones are more economic. Most restaurants have them sold at fixed price.

You can choose to have your vegetable fried with or without garlic. Or you can choose steeped vegetable with oyster sauce. 油菜

As Cantonese cuisine in Hong Kong is concerned, slow-cooked soup is a unique specialty. The soup is usually a clear broth prepared by simmering meat and other ingredients for several hours. Soup of the day is usually well prepared with finely chosen ingredients by the executive chef. They are usually delicious with high nutrition value.

Other chargeable items at a seafood dinner are just similar to that of a dim sum lunch.

Price for a seafood dinner very much depends on the seafood you order. Live seafood price goes up and down depends on supply and demand. However base on the two-person four course dinner that I suggest (with chilled fish), it should cost around HK$200 per person in a regular restaurant. Class and location of the restaurant also has a price impact.

Dim sum restaurant usually serve seafood dinner at night.

All Hong Kong Restaurants are Smoke Free

Effective January 1, 2007, Hong Kong restaurants closed their smoking area by law. Hence no smoking in any restaurant, from casual to fine dining. You must enjoy the fresh and comfortable eating environment in Hong Kong.

Anna’s Notes

Though Cantonese cuisine in Hong Kong dominates the culinary market, you could actually enjoy any kind of food from all over the world. Beijing food in Hong Kong has a great market. If for any reason you missed a Beijing duck in Beijing, you can have one here. I can guarantee that they are equally good or even better. However due to the higher living standard in Hong Kong, Beijing duck here is more expensive than in Beijing.

Peking Garden is selling at HK$380 per duck (as of 2010), however it is one of the best Beijing duck restaurants in Hong Kong. Their shop at Alexandra House in Central is often voted by tourists as “best-service restaurant”. Make a booking at 2526 6456.

King Heung Restaurant at 59-65 Paterson Street in Causeway Bay is another famous Beijing duck restaurant. Tel: 2577 1035.

Cantonese cuisine in Hong Kong is so delicious. Please make an effort to enjoy Cantonese food for every meal, everyday.

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