In a city where luxury shopping malls, Rolls Royces, and 5-star hotels abound, it might not be immediately obvious that Hong Kong is one of the best foodie destinations to visit on a budget. Some of Hong Kong's tastiest food is found in places you wouldn't think to look: in tucked-away side streets, hidden corners of mega malls, and nestled inside bustling train stations. You can easily eat on the cheap in Hong Kong, and without sacrificing taste or even prestige. Among the long list of Hong Kong's Michelin-recognized restaurants, there is an incredible variety, including everything from street stalls with standing-only tables to family-owned duck and noodle houses.
These are the 5 best Michelin-starred and the 5 best Bib Gourmand (Michelin kudos for "exceptional food at moderate prices") restaurants that you can try in Hong Kong for under $15 if you're on a budget, or just saving up for one of the city's notoriously expensive cocktails.
Michelin 1-star Restaurants
Tim Ho Wan
Podium Level 1 (IFC Mall), Shop 12A. $5 USD for 3 pork buns.
Tim Ho Wan is one of the most well-known, and budget-friendly, 1-star restaurants in the world. Though there are several locations serving Tim Ho Wan's infamous dim sum throughout the city and in the greater Pacific region (and as of 2017, an Atlantic-side location in New York City), the one to try is located on the bottom level of the IFC Mall in Wan Chai—not least because upon arriving at Hong Kong Station via the airport express, your first great meal is just a few escalator rides away. There is always a crowd, but you can fill out your order on paper menus while you wait, and once you do sit, a remarkably efficient kitchen staff guarantees a meal in minutes. But you should use that waiting time to decide on your final order; once you sit you won't get much attention. Pork buns—sweet pineapple rolls filled with barbecued shredded pork and baked to chewy perfection—are an absolute must (you might want to go with 2 orders), and also good are shrimp shumai, lotus leaf sticky rice, taro cakes, and braised chicken feet in abalone sauce.
Trick of the trade: order food to go and skip the wait. You can eat your buns in one of IFC's courtyards or on the way back to the airport. I guarantee you'll stop here more than once!
Kam's Roast Goose
226 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai. Roast goose starts at $13 USD.
The Kam family name is known throughout Hong Kong for their unrivaled Cantonese cuisine. The Kams have several acclaimed restaurants under their belt, and Michelin-starred Kam's Roast Goose, run by a third-generation member of the Kam clan, is no exception. There will inevitably be a line outside the 30-seat establishment, but once you make it from the back of the queue to the rows of succulent roast birds suspended behind the restaurant's front windows, you'll know that the wait was well worth it. The roast goose with plum sauce really is the show stopper here: it's everything you want in a roast duck, with a sticky-sweet glaze and the ideal balance of fat-to-crispy skin for a melt-in-your-mouth treat. Adventurous eaters, consider trying the goose neck and head, or even the goose blood pudding served with chives. For a non-poultry dish, the roast suckling pig is the closest meat has ever come to tasting like candy.
Ho Hung Kee Congee and Noodle
Shop 1204-05, Level 12, Hysan Pl., 500 Hennessy Rd., Causeway Bay. $10 USD for a large bowl of noodles with two toppings.
Ho Hung Kee has been around since the 1940s, though since then the dining room has changed locations and undergone renovations. Likewise, in the past few years the menu has increased in price and expanded upon the traditional fare, but it's still the classic dishes—like noodle soup in sweet, onion broth served with thin, springy egg noodles and plump shrimp wontons (or preserved egg, sliced beef, and other add-ons)—that make this a spot worth visiting, again and again. The congee, a traditional rice porridge served with meat and fresh chives, is some of the best in the city. There is congee with liver and intestines or, if you prefer (like I do) congee with pork meatballs, both meats served in a warm base of rice overcooked to creamy goodness that is not unlike eating a homemade bowl of savory rice pudding. The beauty of congee is that it's comfort food for any time of day. Feel try to have some at breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner.
233 Electric Rd., North Point. Under $15 USD for most double-boiled tonic soups.
With two Michelin-starred locations in Hong Kong alone (one on Hong Kong Island and one in Macau), Lei Garden offers traditional Cantonese fare, like roasted baby duck and deep-fried lotus root, alongside an extensive menu of truly unique seafood specialties. The North Point location is the one to try if you're in Hong Kong, which overlooks a pleasant courtyard and serves up to 200 people in a contemporary but frenetic dining room. Lei Garden is one of the more expensive of Hong Kong's 1-star Michelins, so it's worth noting what you should definitely order to get the most bang for your buck. If you can reserve a table (or happen to drop by at at a rare time when you can talk to the maître d'), you should advance order one of their famous double-boiled tonic soups. I'd recommend trying the American sea whelk soup with yam rhizome and wolfberries (don't ask, just order!), which is unlike any soup I've had. The chilled mango with grapefruit and dumplings filled with sesame make for unusually delicious desserts.
34-38 Stanley Street, Central. $15 USD for roast goose drumstick over rice or noodles and broth.
With cramped and shared tables, Yat Lok is not the restaurant to go to for a romantic or rambling dinner, but luckily, you'll want to wolf down the house roast goose in about a quarter of the time it takes you to finally get a table. (A feature on an episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations has secured this modest, family-owned restaurant both fame and a long line in perpetuity.) The restaurant is known for their roast goose, which is only a close second to Kam's but still rich and tender and served with a lovely vinegary-sweet family-recipe plum sauce. The menu is only in Cantonese so know what you'd like to order ahead of time.
Michelin Bib Gourmand Restaurants
Tasty Congee: The best wonton noodles in Hong Kong. Full stop. Order the noodle soup with wontons or topped with house braised brisket. Located at IFC mall and conveniently, the airport.
Joyful Dessert House: One of the most treasured sweet shops among many in Mongkok. The mango Napoleon is light and airy, the perfect end to a night of pork buns or roast goose.
Tsim Chi Kee: One of the dozens of acclaimed noodle shops on Wellington Street in Central, the homemade fish balls distinguish this shop from the crowd. Go during off hours.
Eng Kee Noodles: A trusted stop for Cantonese soup noodles near the Mid-levels. Go for the marinated and braised brisket and the deep-fried wontons.
Mak Man Kee: A 40-year-old Cantonese noodle shop down a meandering side street in Jordan, the wonton soup with duck-egg noodles and pork knuckles in red taro curd are entirely original.
Din Tai Fung: Try the Xiao Long Bao (Shanghainese steamed soup buns bursting with a rich broth of chicken, pork, and cured ham) at either the Tsim Sha Tsui or Causeway Bay locations.