Eat like a local
As a quintessential Hong Kong experience, to me, Dai Pai Dongs embody so much of our city’s spirit. Unfortunately, though, due to new licencing, many of these old school eateries have had to pack up and shut their doors for good. Luckily, there are still some out there – but the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department reports there are only 25 in existence across HK.
Serving up much-loved and delicious locals dishes, there’s often no better place in the city to grab a quick bite. So, next time you’re deciding what to eat (and don’t want to part with too much cash!), head no further than one of our favourite open-air food stalls…
If you’re after some flavoursome pork noodle soup, and want to sit in a relaxed and casual space, head to Bing Kee. There’s a reason why the pork noodle soup is the best-selling dish, as it’s some of the tastiest I’ve tried anywhere. With juicy, peppery pork, greens, noodles and a flavoursome broth, it was a delicious start to our day. Along with the food, Ping Kee’s hygiene standards are also above average compared to many Dai Pai Dongs, so its cleanliness, along with its friendly service, makes it a real winner in our books. It’s worth noting that Bing Kee doesn’t offer an English menu, but we managed to order a bowl of noodles and some milk tea without too much trouble.
Must try dish: Pork noodle soup
Average price per person: $30 to $40 per person (pork noodle soup priced at $35)
Opening Times: 7am to 3:30pm
Bing Kee, 5 Shepherd Street, Tai Hang, Hong Kong
Located right by the escalator in Central, Sing Kee is constantly buzzing with patrons chowing down on its famous grub night and day. Although hygiene standards may be a little lacking here for some, try to look past this, and focus on the flavoursome food and energetic atmosphere! I love pitching up here after a few drinks on a Friday night, ordering a plethora of dishes to share (and a few Tsing Tao’s for good measure!).
Must try dish: We loved the garlicky prawn dish, along with the classic beef in oyster sauce, although Sing King is also known to serve up a stellar clam dish
Average price per person: Between $100 to $180 (including beers)
Opening Times: 11am to 3pm; and 5pm to 11pm
Sing Kee, 9-10 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong
For some it may be bending the rules a little to include Tong Po in our roundup, as it’s located in a Cooked Food Centre and not strictly a true roadside Dai Pai Dong. But, the food here speaks for itself, and the infamous beer bowls are something of an HK legend – and something you most definitely need to tick of your bucket list! The food here is classic Chinese, and we enjoyed tucking into garlicky morning glory, fried rice, crispy skin chicken, sweet and sour pork and so much more. The service is efficient and friendly, and the party atmosphere definitely makes this a great place to come with a crowd – just be prepared for old school hits to start blaring out of the speakers from around 9pm.
Must try dish: Beer in a bowl! I also loved the salt and pepper fried squid.
Average price per person: Between $250 to $300 (including beers)
Opening Times: 5:30pm to 12:30am
Tong Po, 2/F Java Road Municipal Services Building, 99 Java Road, North Point, Hong Kong
Read more: Things to Do: Your Ultimate Hong Kong Bucket List
Sing Heung Yuen
Recognisable for its queues that snake down Gough Street at lunchtime, Sing Heung Yuen is known for its simple, home-style Hong Kong dishes. Although the menu is in both English and Cantonese, it’s obvious what to order here, as almost everyone is eating the same thing. Noodles in Tomato Soup. Top yours off with your choice of a selection of meats, or a fried egg, and dine like a local at this old-school Dai Pai Dong. And don’t forget to order a side of crispy buns, topped with either butter, condensed milk, peanut butter, or lemon jam to wash it all down. Be warned though, if you’re heading here at lunchtime, try to get there a little earlier to beat the rush, as it can be tricky to get a table and some dishes do sell out!
Must try dish: Sing Heung Yuen’s signature noodles in tomato soup, with a side order of crispy buns
Average price per person: Around $40-50 per person (buns are priced from $14, with noodle soup priced at $35)
Opening Times: 8am to 5:30pm
Sing Heung Yuen, 2 Mee Lun Street, (at Gough Street intersection), Central, Hong Kong
If you find yourself exploring down in Stanley, make sure to try out this little Dai Pai Dong. Hidden slightly behind a fruit stall, it can usually be spotted by the queues forming outside. Open early every morning, Si Yik is known for serving up classic HK style milk tea and French toast. The toast is filled with either Kaya (a sweet coconut jam), or peanut butter, and is then deep-fried to ensure it’s super fluffy inside, but nicely crisp on the outside. Wash it all down with a milk tea, or a bowl of noodles (if you’re still feeling hungry!), and work it off with a stroll through the market, a walk on the boardwalk, or just enjoy a snooze on the beach.
Must try dish: French toast
Average price per person: Around $40 for French toast and a tea
Opening Times: 6am to 4pm (closed Tuesdays)
Si Yik, 2 Stanley Market Street, Stanley, Hong Kong