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To dine for: 14 of Hong Kong's top culinary hotspots to savour (including the Qantas Lounge)

Make your tastebuds happy on a Hong Kong culinary odyssey. From Michelin-starred fine dining to must-try casual bites, Karryon sampled Hong Kong's gastronomic delights to mark 75 years of Qantas flights from Australia to the city state.

Make your tastebuds happy on a Hong Kong culinary odyssey. From Michelin-starred fine dining to must-try casual bites, Karryon sampled Hong Kong’s gastronomic delights to mark 75 years of Qantas flights from Australia to the city state.

When the invitation to go back to Hong Kong landed on my desk, my tastebuds did a happy dance. It had only been a year since I’d been there but the excitement of being reunited with Hong Kong food was real. I had so many great memories of Hong Kong food from street stalls to Michelin-starred restaurants and I couldn’t wait to try new places and revisit old favourites.

Our trip with Qantas and Hong Kong Tourism Board was timed to celebrate 75 years of Qantas flying between Australia and Hong Kong with time for our group to either reconnect with the destination or get to know it for the first time.

After our direct Sydney-Hong Kong flight, we headed to the first Mandarin Oriental hotel in the world, the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong. It had been 10 years since I’d last stayed in this historic hotel and while some things have changed, the thrill of walking through those doors and checking in certainly hasn’t.

HKTB The Aubrey Hong Kong image Amanda Woods
The Aubrey. Image: Amanda Woods

For our first and last meals in the city we don’t leave our hotel but instead head to the 25th floor where both Japanese izakaya The Aubrey and Michelin-starred Man Wah can be found. After a quick freshen up after our flight, we meet at The Aubrey, which opened in February 2021 and was named 17 on the latest Asia’s 50 Best Bars list.

HKTB Aubrey Mori cocktail at the Aubrey image The Aubrey
Aubrey Mori cocktail. Image: The Aubrey

The Aubrey has sweeping views over Victoria Harbour with a main bar, a Champagne and sake bar, a private dining room and a curio lounge, which is where we gather and sip cocktails including the mezcal- and awamori-based Aubrey Mori with pear, honey and citrus that’s been inspired by the Ryukyu region.

HKTB Wagyu sandwiches The Aubrey Hong Kong image Amanda Woods
Wagyu sandwiches at The Aubrey. Image: Amanda Woods

At The Aubrey, the food has a traditional Japanese focus and includes edomae sushi, sashimi, robata and tempura. While we could have sat down to a meal instead we mingle over platters of sumptuous bites, including A4 Miyazaki Wagyu sandos and sustainable miso-glazed black cod, before making our way downstairs to slip into our soft king-size beds.

Pineapple buns to fine dining

HKTB Pineapple Bun photos at Sai Kung Cafe Bakery image Amanda Woods
Pineapple bun at Sai Kung Café & Bakery. Image: Amanda Woods

The next day we head to Sai Kung, also known as the ‘back garden of Hong Kong’, thanks to its hiking trails, beaches, islands and fishing villages. Sai Kung is only around 30 minutes’ drive from Hong Kong Central and feels like stepping back to a simpler Hong Kong time.

First stop is the Sai Kung Café & Bakery to try a piece of Hong Kong’s culinary heritage – the pineapple bun. Signs of a good pineapple bun include a golden crispy crust and a little bounce back when you touch it. The pineapple buns here have all of the above and come with an optional hunk of butter for extra decadence and deliciousness. If you want to dine in, you’ll also need to buy a drink or you can just do as we did and eat them on the street or by the sea.

HKTB Sai Kung seafood tanks image Amanda Woods
Tiered seafood tanks at Sai Kung’s waterfront restaurants. Image: Amanda Woods

After a visit to the historic Tin Hau Temple and a cruise around some of the islands, we stroll along the waterfront where seafood restaurants have tiered tanks of live sea creatures, including fish, crabs, lobsters and molluscs.

HKTB Scallops at Chuen Kee Seafood Restaurant image Amanda Woods
Steamed scallops at Chuen Kee Seafood Restaurant. Image: Amanda Woods

At Chuen Kee Seafood Restaurant, we sit upstairs in air-conditioned comfort around a huge lazy Susan for a fresh seafood feast that includes steamed scallops with soy sauce, garlic and spring onion; baked lobster on noodles and a whole freshly steamed grouper.  

That night back in the city, we head to Soho to check out the latest bar by Jay Khan and Ajit Gurung. Best known as the team behind Coa, which holds the top spot on Asia’s 50 Best Bars list, Khan and Gurung have added The Savoury Project to their lineup.

HKTB Pre dinner snacks at VEA image Amada Woods
Pre-dinner snacks at VEA restaurant. Image: Amanda Woods

Here, the focus is more on umami-forward savoury drinks and I try a Pepper+Corn with charred corn husk, cumin, peppers, tomato, mezcal and MSG and discover I quite like cocktails with a barbecue and warm spice vibe. The zesty Gari Gari with whisky, passionfruit, ponzu and seltzer is another winner in my book.

The Savoury Project is a small bar that doesn’t accept bookings, so get in early to get a seat. You can also enjoy an impressive list of mocktails with friends.

HKTB VEA Roasted Sea Cucumber image VEA
Roasted sea cucumber. Image: VEA

From The Savoury Project, it’s a 10-minute walk to VEA where chef Vicky Cheng has created a fine dining restaurant with a Chinese x French concept. Book well ahead to secure one of the 25 counter seats that look straight into the open kitchen where we’re taken on a culinary ride with insights into Hong Kong’s food culture and Cheng’s childhood memories.

Our eight-course tasting menu starts with pretty snacks on music boxes that play a classic Cantonese song by George Lam as we open tiny scrolls that read: “As long as I’m with you even salted fish and bok choy would taste good.”

HKTB Traditional Candy and Coconut Wrap box at VEA image Amanda Woods
Traditional candy and coconut wrap box with ice-cream treats. Image: Amanda Woods

After being introduced to the stories behind ingredients in every dish, including seeing how sea cucumbers change with time before we bite into our own, our dinner ends with a Michelin-starred restaurant’s take on a childhood ice-cream treat, served from a traditional candy and coconut wrap box. 

As well as receiving a long list of awards for VEA, Cheng was recently awarded number 34 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list for Wing, his restaurant one floor directly below VEA where he splits his time throughout the night.

Market snacks to Michelin stars

HKTB Liu Ma Kee salted bean cubes image Amanda Woods
Liu Ma Kee salted bean curd cubes. Image: Amanda Woods

The next day, we embrace a taste of classic Hong Kong in the vibrant Yau Tsim Mong district. Here, visitors can wander through markets, including the Jade Market and Ladies’ Market, and go bar-hopping down neon-lit streets at night.

We start our day with a visit to Liu Ma Kee where we meet Jay Liu, the fourth-generation owner of the store where his family has sold preserved bean curd products since 1905. There’s a lot of history on the walls around us and as Liu explains that he uses the same handmade methods as his great-grandfather, I have a greater appreciation for the flavour-packed bean cubes I’m tasting.

HKTB Mrs Fong Dessert traditional yellow sugar cake image Amanda Woods
Traditional yellow sugar cake at Mrs Fong Dessert. Image: Amanda Woods

From here, it’s less than a five-minute walk to Mrs Fong Dessert on Temple Street where traditional Chinese sweets are made daily from scratch. Later in the day, you can join a long queue to try the treats that earned Mrs Fong Dessert a mention in the 2022 Michelin Guide.

As we’re here mid-morning the street is still quiet and there’s no waiting to order red bean cakes, black sesame rolls, matcha cakes and more. My traditional yellow sugar cake isn’t nearly as sweet as I thought it would be and I can almost tell myself it’s a healthy choice as I enjoy its flavour and texture. 

HKTB Rice Noodle Rolls image Amanda Woods
A plate of rice noodle rolls. Image: Amanda Woods

Our next stop doesn’t have a name in English so instead I can only share the address and recommend you add it to your Hong Kong food list. At 163 Shanghai Street in Yau Ma Tei, we watch traditional rice noodle rolls being prepared in front of us before tucking into those super fresh noodles on our plates. I love watching the mixture being spread on a tray before it’s popped in to cook. And at just HKD$23 (AUD$4.45) for noodles with fillings, including prawns and pork, it’s a bargain, too.

HKTB Noodle wih cantonese wonton in soup at Good Hope Noodle image Amanda Woods
Cantonese wonton noodle soup at Good Hope Noodle. Image: Amanda Woods

Another top spot to try in the neighbourhood, Good Hope Noodle recently won three awards in the 2024 Golden Horse Awards of China Cultural Tourism, including the Famous Chinese Cuisine award for its Wonton Bamboo Noodles.

Here, they make their noodles a little differently by sitting on bamboo poles to roll them for some extra weight and bounce. It’s a strange visual to have in your head as you eat said noodles but whatever they’ve done, it works. So much so, they make around 1,000 wontons a day to keep up with demand for their noodles with Cantonese wontons in soup.

That evening back in Central, we head to a new addition to the Hong Kong bar scene, the Cardinal Point Rooftop Bar, for pre-dinner cocktails. Perched up on the rooftop of Forty-Five in Landmark’s Gloucester Tower, the bar and sky terrace has birds-eye views of the Hong Kong skyline and Victoria Harbour.

Beverage director John Nugent’s travel-inspired cocktails include Love & Thunder with Absolut vodka, pisco, beetroot, dill, cacao and makrut lime leaf and Pandan Highballs with gin, mandarin and pandan; at HKD$160 (AUD$31) each.

From our Cardinal Point cocktails, it’s less than five minutes’ walk to Arcane where Australian chef Shane Osborn has retained his Michelin star every year since 2017. Fans of Netflix’s The Final Table will know Osborn from the first cooking competition in 2018 and at Arcane, you can experience his seasonal menus using ingredients from Australia, Japan, France and the UK.

It’s the first time I’ve dined on so many Australian ingredients, including Humpty Doo barramundi, Manjimup black truffle and chocolate-fed wagyu from Mayura station in South Australia, while listening to classic Aussie songs in the middle of Hong Kong, and it’s easy to see why the 36-seat dining room and 20-seat outdoor terrace is such a good place to be.

Dumplings with harbour and airside views

HKTB Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong Michelin Starred Man Wah Private Dining image mandarin oriental
Man Wah Private Dining area. Image: Mandarin Oriental

The next day, after packing my bags I have one more meal in the city to enjoy and all I need to do is leave my room and take the elevator up to the 25th floor for Michelin-starred Cantonese fine dining at Man Wah.

When I first dined in this stunning restaurant with Victoria Harbour views a decade ago, it was a vision in pink. Since reopening in February 2021, it’s somehow even more beautiful in blue. The cyan-blue lacquered panels, gold birdcages and azure and gold layers in the handwoven carpet set the scene for a spectacular lunch where executive Chinese chef Wing-Keung Wong creates refined classics and introduces diners to some forgotten culinary gems.

HKTB Har Gau wagyu beef puff and barbecued iberian pork loin with longan honey at Man Wah image Amanda Woods
Har gau, wagyu beef puff and barbecued Iberian pork loin with longan honey at Man Wah. Image: Amanda Woods

Our lunch includes a next-level har gau with shrimp and bamboo shoot, crab meat and vegetarian dumplings, wagyu beef puff and a whole abalone with chicken tart. Then, after six courses of deliciousness, heads turn as the Chinese Chess dessert arrives with dry ice steam flowing around pineapple and sweet yam with lotus cookies on a chess board.

HKTB Chinese Chess Dessert at Man Wah image Amanda Woods
Chinese Chess dessert at Man Wah restaurant. Image: Amanda Woods

Then it’s time to say goodbye to Hong Kong Central and head for the airport for the Qantas 75th-anniversary celebrations.

It’s great to be back in the lounge after the reopening event last year and thankfully there’s enough time before our flight to make room in our stomachs for some of those Qantas Hong Kong Lounge dumplings from the dim sum cart and one last char siu pork and wonton noodle soup before flying home.

Amanda was a guest of Qantas and Hong Kong Tourism Board.