Hong Kong can be expensive, so it pays to watch your budget at mealtimes. Just as cheap food isn’t necessarily good food, so good food isn’t necessarily cheap. How to strike a balance? The great thing about Hong Kong is that it’s a city that loves to eat, and not everyone can afford to dine somewhere fancy three times a day. And so there are many restaurants in Hong Kong that not only provide top-quality menus, they are also very reasonably priced. Visitors looking for good value should start with the city’s myriad Chinese restaurants, like Cafe de Coral however there are plenty of international eateries that also cater to the thrifty diner too. Everybody loves Jimmy’s Kitchen, and the Jumbo Floating Restaurant is a classic.
One tip that every visitor to Hong Kong should look out for: many restaurants run an “early bird special” at lunchtimes. Arrive before the rush (noon is a typical start time) and finish within a set time, and you can eat for a set price. The food and the surrounds are just as good, but the restaurant benefits as it makes use of the extra seats, while diners get a great meal deal. Early bird specials are usually advertised by a notice outside the restaurant, so keep your eyes peeled as you walk around the city. Note that early bird specials usually only operate on working days. Some restaurants run an afternoon special, quaintly called a Tea Set, as well.
Beef & Liberty traces its slightly unusual but highly forthright back to 18th century Great Britain where the leading members of London society gathered in beefsteak clubs to partake of great food, fine booze and entertaining company. The brilliantly named Sublime Society of Beefsteaks was the most famous of all these clubs and its motto was “Let beef and liberty be my reward”. It’s a great line and fits this highly carnivorous restaurant perfectly. Expect all sort of burgers (including a vegetarian beetroot option) as well as chunky fries and other sides. The beef comes from cattle who are fed on grass and not given hormones which is just one of the reasons why the food here is so darn good.
Recommended for Best Value because: Beef & Liberty’s food created with both expertise and real passion.
Ed’s expert tip: Lunch sets, starting at HK$128, make for a tasty deal.
La Paloma, meaning pigeon, is named after one of the oldest nightclubs in Barcelona, Spain. The whole concept of La Paloma is built around a fun, value for money and interactive dining experience. An open kitchen provides a full frontal view of live paella stations and the Asador, a traditional clay oven, cooks dishes such as roast suckling pig, and of course pigeon, to perfection. La Paloma can comfortably seat 85 diners. The design is inspired by Chiringuitos, beach bars in Spain which aim to bring an outdoor atmosphere to an indoor restaurant with plenty of colours in a casual atmosphere.
Recommended for Best Value because: Dining should be about good food and fun, which are two things La Paloma does really well.
Ed’s expert tip: Drop by on Wednesday for HK$45 tapas and drinks special deals.
Grassroots Pantry is one of the most impressive restaurants to have opened in Hong Kong in years. It’s vegetarian, incredibly imaginative, and the food is presented beautifully amid inspiring surrounds.
Very much the brainchild of the dynamic and visionary Peggy Chan, the Pantry is open for much of the day, dispensing the likes of coconut kefir yogurt parfait for breakfast, and buckwheat pappardelle Bolognese and kelp and mung bean noodle salad thereafter. Desserts include a stone fruit almond cobbler, and there are some stunning cocktails too like the gin and tonic with grapefruit juice and maple syrup.
The prices are reasonable, the service superb, and the clientele charming. What’s keeping you?
Recommended for Best Value because: This is a great concept and delivered at a very reasonable price.
Ed’s expert tip: Grassroots can also arrange delivery if you want to eat where you’re staying.
Jimmy’s is, perhaps, Hong Kong’s most famous restaurant. Located on Wyndham Street, this Continental-style restaurant has a definite Western atmosphere. Menu options span the globe from New Zealand shellfish to North American beef and Western European corned beef and cabbage. After more than 70 years, Jimmy’s is still popular with Hong Kong’s expatriate community, especially as a place to meet up for a good lunch. Reservations, therefore, are suggested. MTR: Central. Jimmy’s popularity is based on its consistency â” you know what you’re going to get, and it’s not overly dressed up. Of course, there is a strong retro appeal too.
Recommended for Best Value because: This is another classic Hong Kong restaurant, but still charging everyday prices despite its fame.
Ed’s expert tip: The menu is extensive, to put it mildly. Order a drink and enjoy your time browsing.
It’s very hard to fault Cafe de Coral. It’s by no means gourmet, but for a handful of dollars, you get a full meal that looks and tastes good. No wonder there are lines at all its branches at breakfast, lunch and dinner and quite a lot of the time in between. The (bilingual) menu is predominantly Chinese, with a few international dishes as well. The best deals are the set meals. If you would like extra sauce or pickle or similar, the staff are usually happy to oblige. There’s good reason why Cafe de Coral caters to more than 300,000 diners daily.
Recommended for Best Value because: Super Star serves crisp, fresh seafood, perfectly cooked in atmospheric surrounds.
Ed’s expert tip: There are more than 100 Cafe de Coral outlets in the city.
Indian food is quite popular in Hong Kong, given the city’s substantial Indian population, so purveyors of the piquant cuisine are a dime a dozen. Bombay Dreams earns high marks, though, for its exceptional cooking. A wide variety of appetizers includes several soups not ordinarily found on Indian restaurant menus, such as Murg Shorba (chicken) and Tamatar Ka Shorba (tomato based). The selection of main courses is extensive as well, with numerous fish and seafood dishes along with vegetable, chicken and lamb based favorites. The buffet lunch is quite popular with local office workers, and really very reasonably priced. MTR: Central.
Recommended for Best Value because: Really excellent Indian fare, yet still at affordable prices in the center of town.
Ed’s expert tip: If your youngsters are not used to spicy food, check with your server for mild dishes.
In operation for decades, the Jumbo has become something of a landmark. Renovated to create a modern and stylish interior, expansions over the years include a tea garden, banquet and party facilities and a museum exhibit of bronze ware. The restaurant offers an extensive menu and is a popular dim sum spot on Sunday morning when it opens early. For lunch and dinner, you can choose from a la carte options, or select from one of about a half dozen set menus in varying degrees of opulence. Opinions differ on the overall quality of the experience, but one thing is for certain: the Jumbo Floating Restaurant is quintessential Hong Kong.
Recommended for Best Value because: This is essentially dining as theater and it’s a great deal all around.
Ed’s expert tip: Bring your camera as Jumbo Floating Restaurant is moored in one of the most scenic parts of Hong Kong.
Mr & Mrs. Fox is a three-level bar and restaurant in the up-and-coming district of Quarry Bay, which is a mix of new office blocks and traditional residential areas. The Fox menus are equally varied, with an emphasis on European food and great attention to craftsmanship and attention to detail. The topmost floor is a private dining space, while the middle floor offers the best chance to people watch. The restaurant’s design reflects the menu, with bespoke furniture pieces and materials including wood and brass, imports a sense of nostalgia and whimsy. Mrs. Fox, on the ground floor, features a keg room dispensing craft beer designed to pair with small plates which pack hearty flavors. While Mr. Fox on the next floor up offers an extensive menu focusing on dry-aged steak and seafood along with seasonal main dishes. The wine list spans an impressive 100 bottles. The Fox is packed with execs at lunch times, but is less busy at weekends. Sunday brunch is a winner.
Recommended for Best Value because: Not only is the food reasonably priced, but it’s also well presented and tastes great.
Ed’s expert tip: Planning a party? The top floor space is like a private room and has a neat balcony.
Put simply, this is one of the most fabulous restaurants to have opened in Hong Kong for years.
The location is neat, the decor arresting, the seating inviting, the food Punjabi of course and really surprising and stimulating to boot. But best of all is the staff, a mix of nationalities who glide about the place with every appearance of thoroughly enjoying themselves. It might be a dinner party rather than a restaurant. Who could ask for more?
NPC is helmed by Palsah Mitra, a Michelin-starred chef whose previous employer was Gymkhana in London. Everything on the menu is amazing, but the line-caught cobia with dill, carom seeds and tomato chutney is superb.
A final note: G&T aficionados will be thrilled to make the acquaintance of the trolley bearing several different brands of gin which makes an appearance shortly after guests have seated themselves.
Recommended for Best Value because: The Spring Deer has been going for years, and yet prices and quality have barely shifted.
Ed’s expert tip: Punjabi cuisine is very different from the standard Indian restaurant menu, and very well worth trying.
Luk Yu has the distinction of being Hong Kong’s oldest still-operating tea house. It opened back in 1933, and not much about the place has changed since. The setting is still charming, with ceiling fans, wooden booths, marble tabletops, wood paneling and stained-glass windows. During the day it’s packed with regulars who swear by the dim sum; in the evening there’s a truly vast dinner menu. Service is notoriously indifferent (some might even say a bit rude), but this is a place you come to for an old-school local ambiance. While it’s by no means off the beaten track, Luk Yu remains utterly authentic.
Recommended for Best Value because: This is almost like eating in a museum, making it a unique Hong Kong experience.
Ed’s expert tip: Luk Yu’s dim sum menu rotates weekly. Make sure to order the pig liver Siu mai and steamed chicken buns if they are available.