The land of investment bankers, politicians and lunchin’ tai tai (well-off wives)—Central isn’t the first place that comes to mind for affordable dim sum.

“$150 for lunch is reasonable for Central” has become a self-deluding saying for those who work in Hong Kong’s busiest central business district.

But not anymore! We’ve put together a list of truly affordable yum cha lunches in Central without leaving a dent in your wallet.

Tim Ho Wan

Average meal cost: HK$70.00

Cheap Central dim sum Tim Ho Wan
Photo by Hiufu Wong

Once a local secret hidden in the alley of Mong Kok, Tim Ho Wan—which opened its doors in 2009—has expanded into an international franchise across 10 cities after it was hailed as the “world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant”.

One of the founders Mak Kwai Pui was a former chef of the three-Michelin Lung King Heen restaurant. The news got out and the hole-in-the-wall soon attracted hours-long queues for Michelin-approved, bite-size Chinese dishes going for as little as HK$16.00.

Cheap Central dim sum
Tim Ho Wan’s dim sum | Photo by Hiufu Wong

As all sequels to great movies, the new branches of Tim Ho Wan don’t have the same quality. But while it may not be as good as the original Shum Shui Po branch, Tim Ho Wan Central offers a pretty decent selection for a shop inside a train station. It’s also one of the cheapest lunch options inside the IFC Mall.

One tip to beat the queue is to order takeaway dim sum, head to the public area on the rooftop of the mall and enjoy your cheap dim sum with the views of the Victoria Harbour.

Tim Ho Wan charges only HK$3.00 for tea per person (a common cover charge for most dim sum restaurants).

Tim Ho Wan char siu bao
Tim Ho Wan’s char siu bao (barbecued pork bun) | Photo by Hiufu Wong

Price list:

  • har gow (shrimp dumplings): HK$33.00
  • siu mai (pork and shrimp dumplings): HK$33.00
  • char siu bao (honey-glazed barbecued pork in bun): HK$21.00
  • cheung fun (steamed rice rolls with fillings): HK$25.00
  • tea: HK$3.00 per head

Shop 12A, Hong Kong Station Podium Level 1, IFC Mall Central

Take Homemade

Average meal cost: HK$70.00

Take Homemade dim sum in Central
Photo by Hiufu Wong

The fast food–style shop front may not be reassuring—and its menu a mishmash of Asian snacks. But if you can look past its exterior, Take Homemade serves rustic and cheap dim sum that can rival its posher counterparts in Central.

The dim sum selection is limited but sufficient for a decent lunch. Pan-fried turnip cakes and plain Hong Kong–style rice noodles (or rice rolls) in sweet hoi sin sauce and sesame sauce are some cheapo favourites. But most of its fans come for its comforting bowl of healthy Cantonese soup.

The shop provides disposable utensils and can serve your meal in your BYO lunch box.

Prices:

  • siu mai: HK$28.00
  • pan-fried turnip cake: HK$20.00
  • Hong Kong–style rice noodles: HK$20.00

Shop 3, 1/F, Two Chinachem Plaza, 68 Connaught Road Central, Central

Lei Heung Tea House

Average meal cost: HK$50.00

Lei Heung Teahouse dim sum making
Photo by Hiufu Wong

A no-frill neighbourhood eatery inside a cooked food centre in Sheung Wan Municipal Building, Lei Heung Teahouse dishes out fresh traditional dim sum at a bargain.

Once you enter from the escalator side, head to the other end of the centre and look for a small store with columns of dim sum baskets.

It’s technically in Sheung Wan but is only a stone’s throw away from Central. Unlike most chained dim sum restaurants that get dim sum premade from a factory, Lei Heung’s dim sum are made in house. Dim sum ranges from HK$18.00 to HK$30.00 for a jung faan (steamed rice bowl)—it could very well be the cheapest dim sum you can get in the area.

Try the classic dim sum that are hard to find elsewhere these days, including the chicken bun and the Chinese sausage bun (a Chinese version of sausage roll with Chinese salami).

Lei Heung Teahouse
Photo by Hiufu Wong

Some of the prices:

  • char siu bao: HK$18.00
  • Chinese sausage bun: HK$18.00
  • siu mai: HK$22.00
  • har gow: HK$22.00
  • jung faan: HK$30.00
  • tea: HK$3.00 per head for Mondays to Saturdays, HK$1.00 per head for Sundays

Shop CF4, Cooked Food Centre, 2/F, Sheung Wan Municipal Services Building And Civic Centre, 345 Queen’s Road Central, Sheung Wan

Ming Bistro

Average meal cost: HK$98.00 for the dim sum buffet (weekday)

Cheap dim sum buffet at Mings Bistro Central
Photo by courtesy Tim Cheung

With its prime location (on Lynhurst Terrace) and its chic contemporary setting, Ming Bistro is an innovative mid-range Chinese restaurant. So it may be surprising to know that it offers one of the best-value dim sum buffets in Central.

If you don’t mind having a late lunch, Ming Bistro offers a HK$98.00 (Monday to Friday) or HK$128.00 (weekend and public holidays) dim sum tea buffet. Chefs at Ming Bistro have given traditional dim sum a creative twist. The playful dim sum highlights include shrimp spring rolls that look like cigars and desserts that look like mahjong tiles.

The deal is a special discount for an unknown period of time. Make sure you call and check before heading there.

Mings Bistro Central xiaolongbao
Photo by Tim Cheung

Some of the prices (à la carte)

  • har gow: HK$58.00
  • char siu bao: HK$48.00
  • xiaolongbao: HK$78.00

1/F, Lyndhurst Tower, 1-7 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central

Lin Heung Tea House

Average meal cost: HK$80.00

Central dim sum Lin Heung Teahouse
Photo by Hiufu Wong

Lin Heung Tea House may not be known for serving the best dim sum, but it’s an attraction in its own right. Its staircase entrance, red and green neon sign and ceiling fans are some of the most popular Instagram shots of Hong Kong. So iconic that director Wong Kar-wai hired the venue for the press conference for the 2000 film In the Mood for Love.

Originating from Guangzhou, Lin Heung Tea House Hong Kong has a history that can be traced back to 1927. It’s one of the few places that have old-school dim sum trolley—where customers pick dim sum from a pushcart. Fighting for dim sum with fierce Cantonese grandmas and grandpas is both fun and stressful.

Lin Heung Teahouse Central
Photo by Hiufu Wong

Dim sum is categorised in different price brackets (ranging from HK$20.00HK$34.00). After choosing the dim sum you want, the dim sum auntie/uncle will stamp on your dim sum card to indicate which category it belongs to.

Its third-generation owners sparked a family feud when a family member opened Lin Heung Kui, a branch in Sheung Wan. Lin Heung Tea House VS Lin Heung Kui has become one of the most heated debates in town.

The original family decided to close down the shop in February 2019. A few long-term employees, reluctant to see it go, took over and reopened in March.

The price categories:

  • Small: HK$20.00
  • Medium: HK$26.00
  • Large: HK$30.00
  • Deluxe: HK$32.00
  • Premium: HK$34.00

160-164 Wellington Street, Central

Note: Prices are for reference only. Subject to change.