From luxury hotels to street vendors, the city’s vibrant food scene has embraced al fresco dining culture. So we’re here with a guide on where to get the freshest fare dished out in the fresh air. In this list, we have chosen to stay away from rooftop bars and most hotel-linked restaurants, opting to focus on local joints and affordable menus.
Very local delicacies
Bing KeeOrmsby Street, Tai Hang
This gem draws queues even on regular weekdays, but the wait is well worth it. Bing Kee is a cooked food hawker stall perched between buildings in Tai Hang, serving up Hong Kong’s special brand of breakfast foods. And since the government stopped issuing cooked food hawker licenses decades ago, Bing Kee is a dying breed.
Roughly a dozen tables line the pavement, extending into the alleyway. The seating is loosely covered by a tarp. Cooking is done in a small shed. After a short wait (queues may be long, but the table turnover is extremely high), customers are then ushered to seats at shared tables. Here you will order from a menu of toasts, Hong Kong-style sandwiches, instant noodles in broth, and their famed “yin-yeung” (half tea, half coffee) — a must-try Hong Kong drink.
Bing Kee is also known for their marinated pork with instant noodles in broth, as well as their toasts topped with butter and marmalade, or peanut butter and condensed milk. You can also get the usual sandwich combos of ham and egg, corned beef and egg, with options of toasted and non-toasted bread. A hawker breakfast meal is not complete without the Hong Kong-style teas. So remember to order the aforementioned yin-yeung or a milktea to go with your meal.
Their opening hours can be a bit unpredictable, so remember to check their Instagram for updates.
Sai Kung Cafe and Bakery6-7 Kam Po Court, 2 Hoi Pong Square, Sai Kung
+852 2792 3861
The seating to this neighbourhood institution is technically an extension of its bakery shop. In a neighbourhood where almost all restaurants have some sort of outdoor seating, Sai Kung Cafe and Bakery‘s isn’t the most comfortable. However, they do serve arguably the city’s best “boh loh bao”, or pineapple bun, which is a Hong Kong-style bun made with enriched dough and topped with craquelin. The craquelin breaks when baked, which makes it look like the skin of the pineapple, giving this pastry its name. Their creamy Portuguese egg tarts are also a crowd favourite. Many people queue up just to buy these pastries to go. But if you get to sit down in their marquee, order the pineapple bun slightly toasted, with a wedge of butter in the middle.
Sing Kee Dai Pai Dong63 Stanley St, Central
+852 2541 5678
Dai Pai Dongs are traditional outdoor eateries in Hong Kong, and have served wok-and-toss dishes to the masses for over half a century. Similar to Bing Kee, Sing Kee is one of the last of its kind. Dai pai dongs, with their sometimes questionable hygienic conditions, are headed for extinction as food and street hygiene become more important in an increasingly crowded environment. But wedged between tall high rises in Central, you can still sample some of the most authentic tastes at Sing Kee, which are quintessentially Hong Kong.
At Sing Kee, suited-up office workers rub shoulders with old grandpas in white wife beeters and plastic slippers. Everyone is hunched around the tables, digging into fragrant dishes like the salt-and-pepper fried squid and chili crab, best washed down with a cold glass of Tsingtao beer. If you’re looking for an authentic local food experience, this place will not disappoint.
Woosung Street Temporary Cooked Food Hawker Bazaar29-39 Woosung St, Yau Ma Tei
+852 2302 1322
This slightly odd, barrell-shaped building opened in 1984, and houses food stalls touting typical Hong Kong fare. Rice dishes, soup noodles and toasts are served for lunch, but it is in the evenings that the Woosung Street Hawker Bazaar truly comes alive. Tables spill out onto the streets around the market. You’ll see people tucking into Cantonese-style stir fries, steamed seafood dishes, Chiuchow-style cold cuts and more.
The market is also next to the famed Temple Street and market selling everything imaginable — a perfect after-dinner stroll to walk off those extra pieces of ribs you’ve consumed.
Cafes, bars, lounges
Lounge HakubaUnit 302, Tower 535, No. 535 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay
+852 2111 1707
With a slightly strange entrance inside a commercial building in Causeway Bay, Lounge Hakuba functions as a cafe, lunch spot, cocktail and shisha lounge all rolled into one. Enter via an escalator up commercial office building Tower 535, Lounge Hakuba has spacious indoor and outdoor sitting areas. Both the decor and the menu are inspired by ski lodges in the mountains of Japan. Lounge Hakuba is a chill spot in the usually frenetic Causeway Bay, and perfect for a late afternoon cocktail.
Common Ground19 Shing Wong St, Central
+852 2818 8318
Common Ground occupies a space on the picturesque Shing Wong Street, which takes a little trek up the steps to get to (it’s just below Caine Road). Here you will find a quaint cafe well-known in the coffee-lover community as one of the early pioneers of third-wave coffee culture in Hong Kong.
Grab your favourite caffeinated drink and head to the tables outside or to the cushions set around the steep steps under the trees. Bring your favourite book, or you can just people watch. If you’re feeling hungry, there is a menu of typical cafe food of cakes, avocado on toast, sandwiches and more.
Solo86-88 Kat Hing St, Tai O
+852 9153 7453
Tai O gem Solo sits at the back of a storefront selling quirky knick-knacks. Tai O Village itself, with its houses built on wooden stilts above the sea, is a popular tourist spot, and home to the Tanka people of Hong Kong. The shop and cafe are housed in one such house on stilts, with a wooden patio opening up to the the water. Solo specialises in artisnal coffees, which you can sip on the patio, while watching boats chug by on their daily business.
Terrible Baby4/F, Eaton HK, 380 Nathan Rd, Jordan
+852 2710 1866
Terrible Baby is located inside the Eaton Hotel in Jordan. The name is a translation of the French phrase “L’Enfant Terrible”, referring to a group of young artists from the Dadaist art movement, known for their non-conformist and risk-taking work.
The bar is accessed through a neon-lit escalator tunnel. Apart from its terrace garden, the bar also boasts a music room, a gallery room and is connected with the hotel’s co-working space, with an interesting mix of events throughout the year. The terrace itself is occupied by large and comfortable sofas and low tables and decorated with lush plants and ambiant lighting.
RuamJ residence, 60 johnston road, Wan Chai (entrance on ship street)
+852 3160 8535
Wanchai’s Ship Street has never been short of restaurants. But Thai eatery Ruam has proven its popularity with its flavourful dishes in generous portions, as well as its excellent al fresco area. Wooden furniture fills out the place, while large potted plants give it a secluded sort of vibe. The menu is extensive, with staple rice and noodle dishes, curries, as well as a fantastic charred pork neck. Customers can choose from the a la carte or opt for a tasting or brunch menu.
Maison Libanaise10 Shelley Street, SoHo, Hong Kong
+852 2111 2284
Climb to the rooftop of Maison Libanaise for its delicious hummus, fattoush, halloumi with honey, chargrilled meats and homemade labneh all served under the twinkling fairy lights. With friendly staff and dishes designed for sharing, the restaurant gives off a connvival air, perfect for get togethers. Also available are a selection of Lebanese wines, as well as cocktail classics with a Lebanese twist.
The Peak Lookout121 Peak Rd, The Peak
+852 2849 1000
Housed in a Grade II Listed building, the Peak Lookout is located at the Peak with one of the most iconic views of Hong Kong. Just the view from it’s beautiful terrace is worth the trek to the Peak. Stepping through the stone cottage-converted restaurant and past it’s glass doors, you’re greated by beautiful old trees, and a spectacular panoramic view of the hills, the city and the Victoria Harbour beyond. On a clear day, you can see the islands dotted in the distance.
The food is a mix of Chinese and Western — aptly representative of Hong Kong’s colonial past — and while it cannot compare to the many other scrumptious offerings the city is known for, the Peak Lookout is a restaurant with historical significance, and with one of the best al fresco views in town.