Travel

Chef Dan Hong’s guide to Hong Kong for food lovers

The acclaimed Sydney chef speaks to GT ahead of his exciting new series, The Streets Hong Kong, premiering on SBS Food June 3.
SBS Food

Most people travel for pleasure or sightseeing, but Australian chef and television host Dan Hong travels for culinary inspiration.

“I usually go to Hong Kong once a year for a bit of inspiration. And because I love the city so much,” the executive chef behind Sydney’s Mr. Wong, Ms. G’s and MuMu tells Gourmet Traveller

Most recently, Hong visited the city to film his upcoming TV show, called The Streets Hong Kong. The SBS Food series, launching 3 June 2024, follows Hong as he explores the city’s iconic street food dishes and prepares them himself. 

Here, the celebrity chef reveals his go-to restaurants, bars, and places to visit in the culinary capital of Asia.

What do you love most about Hong Kong?

It’s the mecca for Cantonese cuisine. It’s arguable that when Australians think of Chinese food, especially my generation who grew up in the 80s, they think of Cantonese food — yum cha, barbecued meats, congee, wonton noodles and so on.

Hong Kong is the mecca for all those dishes. And no matter how good a version is that you’ve had anywhere in the world, it just doesn’t compare to the quality of Cantonese food in Hong Kong.

But also, in the past 10 years, the whole cooking scene [in Hong Kong] has become so diverse — from fine-dining French restaurants to Latin American restaurants to amazing Japanese places.

“Every time I’m in Hong Kong I must get wonton noodles,” Hong says. (Credit: HKTB / Ho Hung Kee)

Do you have a go-to local gem or must-order dish in Hong Kong?

There are so many places to get wonton noodles, from Mak’s Noodles to other places like Ho Hung Kee and Tasty Noodle.

There are different forms of Mak’s Noodles that are part of that lineage, but my favourite is one called Mak An Kee [on Wing Kut Street] in the Sheung Wan side of Central. It’s a very small wonton noodle eatery; they make amazing wontons. Their broth is absolutely stunning, made from dried flounder, a bit of pork bone and dried shrimp, and their wontons are 100 per cent prawn.

I love to get the dry egg noodles with oyster sauce and shrimp roe and then a bowl of wonton soup on the side. For me, the noodles in Hong Kong — the egg noodles especially —  are unbeatable.

What fine-dining restaurants do you recommend in Hong Kong?

For traditional Chinese, I like Moon Bay. Moon Bay is a relatively new restaurant. I feel like it has taken the crown for the best suckling pig in Hong Kong, as well as its other barbecue dishes such as cha sui pork, crispy-skin chicken, and soy sauce chicken. And they have amazing dim sum as well.

I recently went to WING last year which is [chef] Vicky Cheng’s version of a fine-dining Chinese restaurant. The whole experience, from the service to the technical skill of the food and how original the food is, really blew me away.

Opulence reigns supreme at WING. (Credit: HKTB)

What about a restaurant or bar with the best views?

It’s got to be the new bar on top of Landmark, Cardinal Point. It obviously has an amazing view, and I’m surprised they only found that space to put a bar there because the building has been there the whole time. The cocktails were really nice. Delicious.

What about the best dumpling spot in Hong Kong?

In terms of dim sum, the Forum. Forum is a three-Michelin-star Chinese restaurant in Causeway Bay. I feel like its dim sum is some of the best in Hong Kong. Either there or Lung King Heen in the Four Seasons. Those two are my top two [spots] for dim sum.

How about your favourite Cantonese dessert?

I’m a simple guy, so I like to have a Hong Kong egg waffle. I go to Lee Keung Kee. They’re very simple, just an egg waffle, but I love how they’re freshly cooked — the smell is intoxicating.

Are there any local or Hong Kong-based chefs you admire?

Of course. There’s Matt Abergel of Yardbird. He’s been a close friend of mine and I would say he’s one of the innovators of Hong Kong. [Yardbird has] got great tunes, it’s good for drinking Highballs and sake, and has the best yakitori in Hong Kong.

I’ve always admired Danny Yip from The Chairman. He just knows what amazing, extraordinary Chinese food can be. I’ve been amazed at how he operates The Chairman, not even as the chef, and how he’s developed and evolved it, keeping it innovative without being too modern.

“The Chairman is probably the best restaurant in Hong Kong,” says Hong. (Credit: HKTB)

Where’s your favourite place to stay in Hong Kong?

The last time I stayed in Hong Kong, I was put up in The Peninsula Hong Kong Hotel. It was quite possibly the best hotel I’ve ever stayed in. The rooms are timeless and classic, and then the service is unbelievable — it’s more than five-star. They go above and beyond for you.

Do you have a favourite neighbourhood?

I love visiting Mong Kok and around that area, because there’s really good street food markets, some good sneaker shops and cool stores. Also, Jordan because that‘s kind of the real Hong Kong around that Kowloon side, a bit further on from TST (Tsim Sha Tsui).

I visit Sham Shui Po as well for its food — the local food. I also love Ap Lei Chau for going to the markets and getting seafood. There, you can go to a neighbouring restaurant, and they’ll cook the seafood that you bought. And then Causeway Bay is a good place for shopping and some good food, too.

A visit to the market in Mong Kok, Kowloon, is a must-do. (Credit: HKTB)

Finally, what are your top recommendations for people visiting Hong Kong for the first time?

There are so many good places to go to for certain dishes, so what I do is have a bucket list of dishes — not specific restaurants. You’ve got to have proper wonton noodles, dim sum or yum cha somewhere, and barbecue.

You’ve got to try roast goose — there’s this place called Kamcentre that’s in a bowling alley and, for me, they have the best roast goose. 

And you have to try dai pai dongs — those kitchens that are on the streets with wok burners where you sit in their open shopfronts. The best dai pai dongs are located in Sham Shui Po in Kowloon.

You’ve also got to have a fine-dining Chinese meal — a three-Michelin-star meal — because in Australia we don’t know what constitutes a Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant. There aren’t many around the world and many people consider Chinese food to be quite casual and cheap. So, it’s really cool to experience these Michelin-star restaurants with that level of service and attention to detail, especially in the food.

The Streets Hong Kong will premiere on Monday 3 June at 7.30pm on SBS Food and SBS on Demand.

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