Hongkongers have lost many of the city’s dining institutions in recent months. The Post and food lovers share the spots they love that are still operating today, including Duen Kee, located on the side of Tai Mo Shan. Photo: Charmaine Mok
On the Menu
by Charmaine Mok
On the Menu
by Charmaine Mok

Hong Kong’s best loved local restaurants that deserve more attention – go now in case they meet the same fate as Tung Po Kitchen, Happy Cake Shop

  • The worrying trend of beloved dining institutions closing down has seen the likes of Hoover Bakery, Mido Cafe and Tung Po Kitchen disappear in recent months
  • We asked food lovers to share the local spots they love that are still operating today, from Luk Yu Tea House to Yee Shun Milk Company to Kwan Kee Claypot Rice

Another week, another loss of a long-time institution – and I’m not talking about the late Queen Elizabeth.

It was Saturday night when friends texted me the news of Hoover Bakery in Kowloon City announcing its closure at the end of this month – and, quite honestly, I felt an overwhelming surge of despair.

It had only been two weeks since we lost the likes of Tung Po Kitchen and just a month since Lin Heung Tea House and Happy Cake Shop shut their doors. Mido Cafe quietly slipped away back in July. All join a throng of beloved local spots that have disappeared in recent years.

Even before the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve known how precarious Hong Kong’s food and beverage industry was. So when Covid-19 hit, we bought the gift cards to help our favourites stay afloat, we bigged them up on social media and bought our takeaways directly from the restaurants – but nearly three years on, it’s becoming clear that the chances of survival for many are becoming slimmer and slimmer.

The nostalgia-inducing menu at Luk Yu Tea House. Photo: Charmaine Mok
Employees of Lin Heung Tea House were allegedly owed months of pay before the restaurant’s sudden closure in August. Huge bakery chain Crostini, which folded just last week, has also been accused of withholding employee salaries, and is in hot water for having sold thousands of dollars worth of gift vouchers to unwitting customers in the months preceding their closure.
Just last week, the Post reported that more than 8,000 restaurant businesses are now back in a vulnerable position, after the end of a government protection scheme that prevented landlords from terminating tenancy leases, cutting services or taking legal action against them for late or unpaid rent.

Affordable fine dining in Hong Kong? Yes, if you know where to look

The expiry of the three-month rent-protection scheme, which was meant to relieve some pressure on struggling businesses, coupled with continuing social distancing measures, are putting even more pressure on the food and hospitality sector.

Yes, there is a continuous flow of big restaurant openings and overseas chefs arriving on our shores, but the sad reality is that no number of fancy steakhouses, new shiny hotels or fine dining restaurants helmed by big names will offset the loss of the traditional eateries and decades-old institutions that truly make the city one of a kind.

What else is there to do? Any small thing. On Instagram, I asked followers for their favourite local Hong Kong eateries that deserve more love. I’ve included them, as well as a few of my own go-tos, below. It’s by no means an exhaustive list – and I welcome you to share your own favourites to the wider audience.

Sun King Yuen Curry Restaurant

This curry pork chop rice specialist, open since 1979, holds a special place in my heart. The soothing curry sauce and tender potatoes are matched with the laughably massive portions of deep-fried pork, served with fast but friendly service.

For Hongkongers who have moved to the United Kingdom, you’ll be glad to know that this summer, it opened its first overseas outpost in Manchester called Popchop Curry House.

G/F, 20 Spring Garden Lane, Wan Chai

Luk Yu Tea House

Traditional dim sum at Luk Yu Tea House. Photo: Charmaine Mok

Another classic that is still worth mentioning. Open since 1933, this teahouse remains a slice of history with its nostalgia-inducing menu and ageing yet sprightly waitstaff. I love the intimate wooden booths on the ground floor and its comforting din.

24-26 Stanley Street, Central

Sze Sun Hamburger

It might be strange to find a hamburger shop on this list but Whampoa’s Sze Sun, founded in the 1960s, is one of Hong Kong’s original burger bars and a beloved local name among those who grew up with it – McDonald's didn’t open its first branch in the city until 1975.

When the original shop closed in 2017, regulars were bereft – but thankfully it found a new space nearby and has been going strong since.

Shop G22-23, Site 12, Tak Hong Street, Whampoa Garden, Hung Hom

Yee Shun Milk Company

Steamed milk pudding from Yee Shun Milk Company. Photo: Joshua Lee

It can be so easy to forget about places like Yee Shun that have been around for so long we tend to take them for granted. But don’t: after suffering rising rents in 2021, the company has scaled down to just a single branch in Causeway Bay. The simple, gleaming bowls of steamed milk pudding are the definition of comfort.

506 Lockhart Rd, Causeway Bay

Joy Hing Roasted Meat

Back when my office was in Wan Chai, I’d get the char siu rice box from Joy Hing at least once a week, for the princely sum of HK$30 (it has gone up slightly since). A long-standing roast meats shop that has survived the odds.

G/F, Flat C, Cheung Hing Building, 265 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai

Duen Kee

Steamed buns, tripe and rice at Duen Kee. Photo: Charmaine Mok

If you love dim sum, then make a special journey to this mountainside gem where the steamers are piled high and hot, and you’re required to pick your own bamboo baskets. Old school treats like steamed sausage rolls are on offer, and don’t forget to ask for a plate of stir-fried watercress, which is farmed right next to the restaurant, which counts actor Chow Yun-fat among its fans.

Perhaps its relatively remote location halfway up Tai Mo Shan, in the New Territories, will mean that rents will be the least of its problems, so this should survive some time yet.

57-58 Chuen Lung Estate, Route Twisk, Tsuen Wan

Other honourable mentions from the community:

Hing Kee

This typhoon-shelter-style restaurant that I’ve mentioned in this column before is a favourite for bold seafood dishes.

1/F Po Wah Comm Building, 180 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Kwan Kee Claypot Rice

Eel claypot rice from Kwan Kee Claypot Rice in Sai Ying Pun. Photo: SCMP

A winter staple that often has a lengthy wait list. Its eel claypot is excellent.

Shop 1, Wo Yick Mansion, 263 Queen’s Road West, Sai Ying Pun

Sun Hing Restaurant

Sun Hing Restaurant is a dim sum essential. Photo: SCMP
A Kennedy Town dim sum essential. Many miss the early morning sessions it used to have, when the restaurant was able to open even at 4am.

Shop C, G/F, 8 Smithfield Road, Kennedy Town

Genuine Lamma Hilton Fishing Village Restaurant

A family-owned restaurant on the quieter side of Lamma Island known for epic seafood feasts and nostalgic items such as “paper-wrapped prawns”.

Lot 584, G/F, Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island

Why does everyone hate Chinese dessert soups? They’re actually very complex

Shanghai Mei Wah

Formica tables and melamine plates galore, this old-school Shanghainese restaurant in To Kwa Wan is a favourite for breakfast items like sticky rice rolls (chifan) and salty soybean pudding.

13 Maidstone Lane, To Kwa Wan

For Kee Restaurant

A classic for one dish: “gold medal” pork chop rice, where the meat is marinated in a slightly sweet soy before being pan-fried.

200 Hollywood Rd, Sheung Wan