By Iris Van Kerckhove
With three episodes under our belt about dim sum, you can probably tell we’re a little dim sum obsessed here at Feast Meets West. And as I have been living in Hong Kong for the past four years, the city most associated with this Cantonese cuisine, I want to share some of my favorite dim sum spots in the city with you.
While there are some very excellent high-end dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong, I’ve decided to focus on the more affordable options for budget-travellers. After all, Hong Kong has one of the highest restaurants per capita in the world, so you’re going to have to save your dollars for the five meals you’ll eat every day!
And If you haven’t heard our interviews with Tony Chan of Tim Ho Wan, Wilson Tang of Nom Wah Tea Parlor, and Alex Chau of Ding Dim 1968, go check them out now!
Dim Sum Square
I’m not usually a fan of hyperboles or having strong opinions in general. But I’m not afraid to say Dim Sum Square is the best. Or at least, it’s my personal favorite dim sum spot in Hong Kong. It’s clean, and foreigner-friendly, yet very local in terms of its excellent dim sum - which is still made in-house in this day and age where most dim sum restaurants outsource the work. Plus it wouldn’t be a local joint without the grumpy servers. Everything is good here, but you absolutely must get the crispy BBQ pork buns. They are to die for.
G/F., Fu Fai Commercial Centre, 27 Hillier Street, Sheung Wan. +852 2851 8088
Lin Heung Tea House
One could argue whether it’s the “best” dim sum in the city, but Lin Heung Tea House is worth a visit if you want to step back in time and see a slice of old school Hong Kong. It’s been around since 1926 and is one of the few places where you can still order your food from old women pushing carts around the restaurant. It’s loud and chaotic, but a dim sum experience like no other. If you want to enjoy the traditional dim sum Lin Heung makes without the stress of having to hunt for your food, check out their much calmer, newer branch, Lin Heung Kui, in Sheung Wan. Order the old school dim sum items you can’t get at more modern dim sum spots, like the quail egg siu mai.
Lin Heung Tea House: 160-164 Wellington Street, Central. +852 2544 4556
Lin Heung Kui: 2-3/F, 46-50 Des Voeux Road West, Sheung Wan. +852 2156 9328
One Dim Sum
I actually don’t frequent One Dim Sum so often because it’s on Kowloon-side, or “the Dark Side”, as we Hong Kong-Islanders call it. After ten years of living in Queens and complaining that no one visited me from Manhattan or Brooklyn, I finally understand that the struggle is real. But if you’re visiting Hong Kong, you absolutely must spend time on Kowloon-side. In a sense, Kowloon is much more “Hong Kong” than Hong Kong Island, with its gritty character, truly local Cantonese culture, and Asian immigrant communities. One Dim Sum is a favorite in the city, and this cheap all-day dim sum restaurant has a Michelin Star. I love that the menu has specials and less common dim sum dishes.
Shop 1 & 2, G/F, Kenwood Mansion, 15 Playing Field Road, Prince Edward. +852 2789 2280
Tim Ho Wan
Well, you didn’t think I was going to make a Hong Kong dim sum list without mentioning Tim Ho Wan, did you? Tim Ho Wan was created because Chef Mak Kwai Pui, formerly of the prestigious three Michelin starred Lung King Heen restaurant in Four Seasons Hotel, wanted to make excellent dim sum at affordable prices that everyone can enjoy. He partnered with Chef Leung Fai Keung and opened their first 20-seater top dim sum restaurant in Mongkok in 2009. They received one Michelin star a year later, and the rest is history. Some argue the quality of food has gone down since they opened so many branches, but it is still some of the most consistent restaurant groups in Hong Kong and continues to achieve its mission of creating delicious, cheap eats. Be prepared to queue up, but do go visit. And get the famous pork buns.