15 great places to eat free food in Hong Kong ... providing you’ve bought a drink
Tasty Italian morsels, quality sandwiches, Asian specialities and decadent desserts – there’s something for everyone wanting a free appetiser to accompany their tipple
There are no free lunches, they say, and they’re probably right. One way or another, you’re going to end up paying. But we don’t completely subscribe to that idea, because if you’re absolutely forced to fork out, it might as well be for a decadent cocktail that pairs perfectly with that free buffet.
Hong Kong’s free bar snacks are often limited to questionable pieces of meat on soggy bread, but search hard enough, and you find the true gratis gold – the proper sandwiches, the posh tapas, and the endless aperitivo buffets. Here, we dish out on our favourite free bar food delights.
NOM – Not Only Meatballs
NOM – we’ll admit, we are not a fan of that name – it’s an overused hipster expression of eating. Fortunately, the restaurant is mostly about the second subtitled part: Not Only Meatballs, with the laid-back Italian joint dishing out some of the best pizza in town. And come Tuesday, they appeal to carb-loving gluttons, they generously serve them up completely for free.
That’s something to be celebrated, because back in the good old days as chef at Goccia on Wyndham Street, Fabrizio Napolitano’s surname was incredibly appropriate: he made fantastic Neapolitan-style pizzas. And now, at his own restaurant, all you have to do is mosey on over on Tuesday, hunker down on a comfortable bar stool, order up just one cocktail or a glass of wine, and you’re treated to a limitless supply of bready, cheesy, meaty goodness, from 6pm to 7.30pm. Almost makes us want to “nom”.
1-5 Elgin Street, Central, tel: 2540 7988
As a true Hong Kong pastime, the hotel buffet is a bit of an art form, one of refusing any and all carbs, and gorging on as much fine meat and seafood as you can over the allotted hours. But what do you do when it’s all free? Come night after night, we say, and indulge in it all – which is exactly what you can do at the Blue Bar at the Four Seasons.
Appropriately decked out in a variety of shades – aqua, cyan, indigo, navy and others we didn’t have time to Google – their free all-you-can-eat offering runs every day including weekends, from 5.30pm-7.30pm. It’s a popular spot for IFC workers, who show up after clocking off to down their perfectly made cocktails. The selection is ever-changing, but as it’s the Four Seasons, you’re guaranteed an assortment of quality sandwiches, Asian specialities and decadent desserts.
Lobby Level, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central, tel: 3196 8830
Among the many European countries that vie for your culinary attention, Belgium is incredibly underrated. A little bit Dutch, a little bit French, its mix of beer, chocolates and stews might often warrant mocking, but you have to admit, they sure know how to booze. Take de België, a SoHo spot that has one of the biggest Belgian beer selections in Hong Kong: more than 160 varieties available on tap and in bottles, with everything from regular Belgian blondes to HK$598 rare Trappist tipples.
Drop by during daily happy hour and you’re treated to a two-for-one on selected draft beers – and if you’re worried about the Belgian beers’ notoriously high alcohol content going to your head, despair not, as they also dish out an unlimited, free supply of frites. These aren’t your standard stringy fast-food fries. These are thick-cut chunks of potato, double-fried for extra crunch. The free fries are served up from 3pm to 8pm on weekdays, and noon to 8pm on weekends.
21 Elgin Street, Central, tel: 2869 8388
Like the Italians and their aperitivo (see below), the Spanish have a longstanding tradition of complimentary tapas – it’s really a clever marketing move, with each salty snack drying out your mouth and keeping you thirsting for more.
Catalunya’s high-end brand of contemporary small bites might jar with the idea of old-fashioned drinks and snacks, but plant yourself at the bar and order up any drink after 6pm, and you’ll be treated to free tapas, including suchcreative favourites as sweet potato chips, black paella crunch, and bacon and dates. OK, it’s not as great as some of the other deals on this list, but we’re hoping its inclusion here forces other Spanish spots in town to get into the free tapas groove.
Guardian House, 32 Oi Kwan Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2866 7900
Ah, aperitivo – that Italian tradition of knocking off work early, slinking down to the nearest bar, ordering an aperol or negroni, and indulging in a constantly replenished buffet of cold cuts, frittata, cheese, olives, grapes and more.
What sounds like a debauched deleted scene from Caligula is in fact a regular reality in Hong Kong. DiVino was the first, and while they still dish it out daily at their Patio location in Wan Chai, numerous other pretenders to the throne have jumped into the game.
Anyway, here’s a full list of some of our favourite aperitivo spots.
121 BC, 42-44 Peel Street, SoHo, tel: 2395 0200, 5pm-7pm.
8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Shop 202, 2/F, Alexandra House, 16-20 Chater Road, Central, tel: 2537 8859, 5pm-8pm.
Aqua, 29/F & Penthouse, 1 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 3427 2288, 5pm-7pm.
Artesian, Lobby, The Langham Hong Kong, 8 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2132 7898,
Ciak In the Kitchen, Shop 327-333, 3/F, The Landmark, 15 Queen’s Road Central, tel: 2522 8869, 5pm-8pm.
DiVino Patio, Shop 11, Brim 28, 1/F, Causeway Centre, 28 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2877 3552, 5.30pm-7.45pm.
Oolaa, Centre Stage, 108 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, tel: 2803 2083, 5pm-7pm.
Osteria Felice, Shop 16-21, Hutchison House, 10 Harcourt Road, Central, tel: 2516 6166, 5pm-8pm.
Pirata, 29/F-30/F, 239 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2887 0270, 5pm-7pm.
Stazione Novella, 52-56 Staunton Street, SoHo, tel: 2559 0559, 5pm-7pm.
Tivo, 43-45 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2116 8055, 5pm-7pm.