As an expat living in Kowloon, I am often asked why I have chosen to live on the so-called “Dark Side” as opposed to Hong Kong Island. My answer is simple: the food. Don’t get me wrong – incredible and diverse flavours can be found all over Hong Kong and, sure, some of HK’s most renowned restaurants are located Island-side. However, Kowloon is where I believe you’ll find the real gems.
These are just a few of the best-priced and tastiest spots on the other side of the harbour:
Manakamana Nepali Restaurant
What: truly authentic and incredibly flavourful Nepalese cuisine can be found at Manakamana. This tiny restaurant with an even tinier serving and kitchen team (who are always friendly and reliable) offers a large selection of mouth-watering Nepalese and Indian curries, tandoori, momos and more. Rated as one of the top 50 restaurants in HK on TripAdvisor, this restaurant remains a firm favourite amongst locals and tourists. You may wait a little while for a table and for your food to arrive, but trust me – there are few restaurants that compare.
Must-orders: start with a crunchy, tangy and minty samosa chaat ($68) and crisp fried chicken momos ($65) with spicy sauce before getting curried away with baingan aloo ($75), a potato and aubergine curry, and lamb sagwala ($88), a creamy, spinach-based curry.
Where: 165 Temple Street, Jordan
Hing Noodle (慶麵)
What: seriously well-priced Sichuan- and Shanghai-style eats in the form of glorious eggy noodles, crispy buns and soupy bao. Hing Noodle can be tricky to find and there’s no English signage, so keep your eyes peeled for sleek wooden tables just beyond the glass doors adorned with newspaper clippings and enticing pictures of bao. Once you find it, you’ll see a couple of cool local bars and other restaurants on the same street – hey, you may just find the next hidden gem!
Must-orders: we love the super-spicy dry-rub dan dan noodle toss ($36), indulgent pan-fried BBQ pork buns ($24/2) and traditional xiao long bao ($36/4).
Where: 2J Kok Cheung Street, Tai Kok Tsui
What: no frills or fuss, homestyle and authentically Italian pasta. How exactly did some of the best pasta in HK end up tucked away in an industrial building in Kwun Tong? Owner Gianluca Ambrosi from Verona has lived and worked in Asia for over two decades – but not as a restaurateur. Pasta Zone is his passion project. He does not wish to open up on HK Island, where many restaurants have to charge upwards of $200 for a pasta dish just to make rent. He simply wishes to serve up reliable, comforting Italian food at reasonable prices. Open from 11:30am–5pm, Monday–Saturday, the restaurant is jam-packed with the office crowds at lunchtime, and with such high-quality ingredients at unbeatable prices, we can see why.
Must-orders: our favourites are the trofie with pesto and Parma ham, spaghetti with bacon carbonara and orecchiette with ‘nduja spicy sauce and salami. All are priced at a very reasonable $68 and include bread and a drink!
Where: Unit J, 1/F, Block 3, Camel Paint Building, 60 Hoi Yuen Road, Kwun Tong
Yau Yuen Siu Tsui (有緣小敍)
What: the most delectable Shanxi-style noodles, dumplings and assorted snacks. They’re best known for their biang biang noodles – essentially one long, hand-kneaded noodle that fills an entire bowl and is then topped with a highly addictive spicy sauce, seaweed and veggies. The LKF branch was named our Foodie Forks 2017 Editors’ Choice Hidden Gem, but the OG branch sits comfortably on Kowloon side – and thanks to rent costs, it’s slightly cheaper. The food at Yau Yuen Siu Tsui is special as it showcases a type of Chinese cuisine that is not often found outside mainland China. Adventurous eaters can even order their noods with a side of sliced donkey meat, a traditional Shanxi dish (we prefer to stick to the chicken wings). If you’re sensitive to spice, you can choose little spice (siu la) or no spice (mo la). Be warned – their spicy is very spicy.
Must-orders: obviously, the biang biang noodles ($40). You can also get them with a variety of sides; we recommend the biang biang noodles with deep-fried chicken wings ($50) or spare ribs ($42). Don’t stop there though – be sure to try the Shanxi-style pitta bread with stewed pork ($24) and the Sichuan-spiced fried eggplant and green beans ($50).
Where: 36 Man Yuen Street, Jordan
What: ultra-fresh sushi and sashimi bowls. If you’re looking for generous portions of sashimi that won’t break the bank, look no further than 鉄火堂 (no English name, but some English menus are available). While their dinner prices are good, their lunch prices are unbeatable. We’re talking $59 for four types of sashimi with rice! Top tip: they also have special deals after 9:30pm.
Must-orders: the premium tuna bowl is usually priced at $268, but go at 5pm or after 9:30pm and you can get it for $158 – it boasts five different types of succulent tuna. Take your pick from the long list of sashimi options and create your own bowl (starting at around $59 at lunchtime or $64 at dinnertime) or choose from their selection of bowls (starting from $88).
Where: Mongkok – Shop 1–2, G/F, Hanway Commercial Centre, 36 Dundas Street; TST – 10 Hau Fook Street