From dainty Dim Sum to sweetly innovative concoctions, travel the culinary world in this food-loving city.
Sample this well-travelled pork platter in its hometown
Sweet and Sour Pork
Just the right mix of sticky-sweet, tangy and savoury, this combination appeals to both ends of the taste spectrum — the world over. Fried pork chunks, cooked with onions and tomato, conjure up sweetness. Pineapple, orange juice and white wine vinegar set this all off with a sharp tang.
Layered meat, fish and vegetables creating a blowout in a bowl
Taking almost a day to prepare, this is a serious spread of premium treats that symbolise prosperity — all tucked into one dish. Pork knuckles are braised with cucumber and mushroom, before being adorned with layers encasing whole prawns, scallops, duck, fish maw, garlic and spring onion. Splashes of soy and oyster sauce flood this seemingly endless banquet of flavours.
A pot of rice baked till it’s sizzling with sweetness
A solid clay pot that’s just enough for one diner arrives at your table steaming hot and piping with tasty ingredients. Lift the lid to reveal a meat mix of pork, chicken, beef and Chinese sausage, sliced and diced above a bed of rice that’s heated until it has a crispy edge.
Local tip: Once the pot lands on your table, crack open the sweet soy sauce and let it sizzle inside. The bottom of the pot’s said to be the tastiest bit.
Chicken whipped up into a frenzy of flavours
Wind Sand Chicken
Crispy meat is doused in cumin to give the illusion that it’s been stranded in a windstorm, hence this dish’s quirky name. Roasted, the whole chicken is scattered generously with fried garlic to create a lively mix of flavours. Simply presented, it’s usually served on its own.
Local tip: Head to a ‘dai pai dong’ open-air food stall, where you can order a whole, or half chicken.
Choose the toppings on this noodle-based, street-cart staple
A pool of noodles swirls with chunks of meat, fish or offal. Garlic flavours the broth, while wedges of mushroom, curls of cabbage and slices of pickled vegetables can be fished out with your chopsticks. Toppings and sauces are numerous and plentiful, ranging from Chinese chives to squid, soaked in curry or satay.
Local tips: The list of ingredients is long but diners tend to select two to four ingredients to sample in their soup.
Aromatic and simple, a rice dish that pops up everywhere
Steamed Lotus Leaf Rice
Shrimps, scallops and Chinese sausage accompany these tasty grains. Seasoned with sesame, oyster and soy sauce, the sweet meats are chopped and blended with the rice, before they’re tucked neatly into a lotus leaf and steamed.
A sweet ball full of fruity flavours
Soft and doughy, these buns have a crunchy sugary top in contrast to the fluffy filling inside. Scone-like in look, they’re often filled with butter to create a blend of salty sweetness.
Local tip: The buns sometimes come scattered with red beans, custard or chunks of fresh juicy pineapple.
A tea blend stewed to perfection
Hong Kong Style Milk Tea
A strong cha variety is combined with evaporated milk to make for a full-flavoured beverage that’s thick in consistency. Smooth and sweeter than your average cuppa, it’s creamy and best poured into a small glass to savour the taste.
Local tip: The tea is sometimes served chilled for a refreshing change.
Wonton noodle soup, upgraded
Starchy parcels of dumplings sit in a salty blend of chewy noodles. Cut into one of the little bundles to find shrimp and pollock, mixed in with ginger, soy sauce, pepper, sugar and salt. A scattering of spring onions adds greenery to the bowl.
Local tip: You can order the noodles ‘dry’ — without soup and drizzled with oyster sauce. Chinese vinegar is added for an extra touch of tang.
A unique style of porridge
A late-night snack, or the perfect meal to start the day, this bowl of rice and water is stewed until it’s thick and creamy. A clay pot containing the mixture can also include chunks of pork, slithers of baby oyster, or a medley of vegetables.
Local tip: Locals like to add chunks of doughy youtiao bread to soak up the soup-like helping.
A cheap and cheerful savoury-sweet pudding
Put Chai Ko
Red beans are sweetened with brown sugar and moulded into palm-sized pudding pots to make this popular treat. They’re steamed into soft, wobbly circles, topped with a scattering of beans and often placed on a stick.
Local tip: Red beans are sometimes replaced with taro root, pineapple or chocolate.
A spherical spin on a traditional waffle
Mini Egg Puffs
A mesh of circles, these lattices of puffed-up batter are light and simply delicious. Break the bubble-like blobs apart to reveal a fluffy filling that can be plain, or sweetened with chocolate, strawberry, or coconut.
Local tip: These little puffs can be eaten any time of day. Grab them from a street-food stall, where you’ll find more savoury takes, like fish-based fillings.
Sweet and smooth, a tasty tart with European flavour
Resembling the famed Portuguese pudding, these pastry-encased tartlets are pint-sized and compulsive. Filled with a glossy egg custard with a hint of vanilla, the casing crumbles like buttery shortbread. The flavours are equally good, whether the dessert is served hot or cold.
Local tip: You’ll find these tiny treats in bakeries, shops and in dim sum houses, where they’re served with tea.
A street-food snack sourced straight from the sea
Curry Fish Ball
A seafood blend, these battered spheres are flavoured with shallots and a curry sauce. A selection of three or four are placed on a stick, so you can grab a helping while you’re passing through a wet market — or opt to stop and snack on a bowlful, accompanied by noodles.
Local tip: Street stalls often sell skewers of the fish bundles, interlaced with chunks of radish and slathered in sauce.
Bite-sized and varied — a selection of nibbles with something for everyone
A real experience of a meal, a trolley of treats will pass by your table, ready for you to take your pick from shrimp topped with avocado, slithers of shellfish, jam-packed dumplings and radish cakes — amongst many, many other choices. Dainty and delicious, the morsels are neatly placed in bamboo baskets, making for a visual treat.
Local tip: This selection is usually enjoyed with tea in the morning, although you may see some restaurants opening in the afternoon.
Goose roasted and dripping with flavour
Slices of this succulent meat are plated up piping hot with a layer of crispy fat remaining on the top. A generous portion of sweet plum sauce drenches the dish in flavour. Alongside rice, it proves the perfect side to this classic meal.
Local tip: For a more economical option, some restaurants serve duck instead of goose.
A dessert and drink combination to cool off in the heat
A contrast of colours and tastes, this fizzy treat is topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The creamy helping bobs and swirls on the surface bubbling into the sweet liquid below. Make sure you grab a spoon — and a straw!
Local tip: A similar concoction made from lemonade and coconut ice cream is known as ‘white bull’.
A contrast of red and white, a sweet liquid treat
Red Bean Ice
Raw red beans are softened and blended with sugar, then chilled before they’re chucked in with evaporated and coconut milk. Crushed ice fills a glass, then the silky, tasty brew is poured over and scattered with more beans.
Local tip: Some people scoop out the ingredients from the bottom of the glass to the top, while others give it a good stir and take a spoonful.
Lemonade with a twist
Salted Lemon 7-up
Believed to ward off the cold and throat troubles, this is a somewhat unusual take on an everyday soft drink. Salted lemon is mixed in with the fizzy beverage to create a hazy, cloudy-hued concoction that’s sweet and a little bit sour.