Go on a quest to uncover the soul of Hong Kong at its best dai pai dongs, where authentic flavours and time-honoured traditions unite at beloved food stalls.
Hong Kong may be a haven for fine dining, but nothing entices our taste buds quite like the city’s iconic dai pai dongs. These open-air cooked food stalls are the original street food joints, serving up classic Cantonese fare that harks back to the 1950s and 60s. But nowadays, a mere 21 licensed dai pai dongs remain. Since the government has ceased issuing new licences, these cherished food spots are facing an uncertain future, with their survival hinging on nothing short of a miracle. It’s imperative that we savour these slices of local heritage before they disappear! While cha chaan tengs and street markets certainly have their allure, they just can’t compete with the joy of slurping noodles at a roadside dai pai dong. To ensure you don’t miss out, we’ve scouted the very best dai pai dongs in Hong Kong and compiled an exclusive hit list.
Get your fill of classic Cantonese cuisine at the best dai pai dongs in Hong Kong
1. Sing Heung Yuen
With its bustling alleyways and mouth-watering aromas, Sing Heung Yuen offers a taste of old-school Hong Kong. This dai pai dong in Sheung Wan has catered to food-loving locals since 1959 with its comforting, homemade flavours. You must try the legendary tomato and macaroni soup – it’s absolutely delish! And you can’t overlook the crispy buns either, topped with zesty lemon curd and sweet honey. Fresh from the oven, these treats are a dream when paired with rich butter or a drizzle of sweet condensed milk – pure bliss! While the no-frills setting won’t win any design awards, the fast service and finger-licking food make up for it.
Sing Heung Yuen, G/F, 2 Mei Lun Street, Central, Hong Kong, p. 2544 8368
2. Oi Man Sang
A true gem in Sham Shui Po, Oi Man Sang has been dishing out irresistible dai pai dong delights since 1956. This cherished eatery keeps the spirit alive with menu staples, such as the salty crispy squid, razor clams, and the signature salted egg yolk prawns. Don’t miss out on the sizzling black pepper beef paired with potatoes, too – it’s a winning combination that’ll have you coming back for more! In addition to these dishes, you’ll find a variety of seafood specialties and vegetarian dishes to satisfy all palates. Yes, this open-air joint may get a bit crowded, but trust us, securing a table is well worth the effort! You’ll be treated to recipes that have been honed to perfection over decades, with flavours that truly pop.
Oi Man Sang, Shop B-C, G/F, 1 Shek Kip Mei Street, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong, p. 2393 9315
3. So Kee Cha Dong
In search of the quintessential retro dining destination? Look no further than So Kee Cha Dong in Sham Shui Po, a beloved spot that’s been dishing out comforting delights for over four decades. This dai pai dong churns out nostalgic bites from pork chop noodles to classic HK-style French toast. Don’t forget to wash it all down with a cup of its smooth milk tea – its brew is bang on the money! Plus, the outdoor seating area whisks you away to bygone days with its charming throwback vibes. When an evening calls for straightforward local flavours in the company of good friends, So Kee is the ticket.
So Kee Cha Dong, 15-16 Yiu Tung Street, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong, p. 2779 1182
4. Bing Kee
After wandering around the trendy streets of Tai Hang, pop over to Bing Kee to fuel up while taking in some old-school Hong Kong charm. This stall has been rustling up comfort food classics since the 50s, and its iconic pork chop noodles, swimming in a punchy peppery broth, have reached legendary status. And let’s not breeze past the toasts and sandwiches with their oozy eggs and succulent pork – they’re absolute must-tries! Oh, and the milk tea? It’s velvety smooth and robustly creamy, hitting all the right notes as a potent brew. Granted, this joint might get a tad packed, but any grumbles will vanish with just one slurp of those divine noods.
Make sure to check out our Tai Hang neighbourhood guide to uncover more hidden gems.
Bing Kee, G/F, 5 Shepherd Street, Tai Hang, Hong Kong, p. 2577 3117
5. Sun Tai Yuen
Take up the ultimate foodie pilgrimage to Sun Tai Yuen, a hidden jewel nestled in Fo Tan. It’s a trek, but trust us, it’s absolutely worth the extra miles! This spot elevates Cantonese classics to new heights, from succulent roast pigeon to the perfectly seasoned salt and pepper tofu. Be sure to save some space for the seafood offerings, too – the garlic vermicelli scallops and the black bean clam dishes are simply heavenly. And while the menu is enough to make you salivate, the seating arrangements add a cherry on top; choose from air-conditioned indoor tables or embrace the semi-outdoor tented area, all without forgoing the nostalgic vibe.
Sun Tai Yuen, Shop 10-12, Cooked Food Stalls, Fo Tan (West), Fo Tan, Hong Kong, p. 2690 2271
6. Temple Spice Crabs
Temple Spice Crabs has become legendary for its namesake dish – spicy crabs smothered in an addictive chilli sauce. But don’t stop there – feel free to dive into a feast of all the classics, spanning from noodles to stir-fries, whilst soaking in the vibrant local scene.
Grab a plastic stool outside for the full experience – it’s the prime spot for some people-watching! Fancy a more interactive dining adventure? Simply point out your choice of fresh seafood from the tanks and watch as it’s cooked to perfection. Merging the best elements of outdoor dai pai dong dining – from killer seafood and buzzing energy to the relaxed ambiance – Temple Spice Crabs delivers a quintessential dai pai dong experience in Hong Kong.
Temple Spice Crabs, G/F, 210 Temple Street, Jordan, Hong Kong
7. Sing Kee
Located on the lively Stanley Street, Sing Kee serves up drool-worthy Cantonese cuisine that keeps locals coming back for more. This iconic joint is famed for its no-nonsense fabulous flavours. You must try the signature dishes, like garlic shrimp, chilli squid, and black bean clams; the sizzling pots and aromatic curry dishes are guaranteed to hit the spot, too. As one of the few original dai pai dongs left, Sing Kee offers an atmosphere that harkens back to the good old days. Take it from us, Honeys – this unassuming hole-in-the-wall is an authentic slice of Hong Kong that’s absolutely worth checking out.
Sing Kee, G/F, 82 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong, p. 2541 5678
8. Hong Kee Restaurant
Take your taste buds on a tasty adventure to the tucked-away treasure of Kowloon Bay – Hong Kee Restaurant. This dai pai dong is a centrepiece for locals, serving up a delicious array of seafood and meat dishes that have stood the test of time. From the aroma of garlic-infused prawns to the crunch of crispy Bombay duck, right through to the sizzle of a lamb hot pot, the menu brims with comforting classics, each dish crafted to perfection. Beyond the grub, the ambiance here is welcoming and warm. Relax with your mates, a cold beer in hand, and just let the banter flow as you have a taste of Hong Kong’s culinary past.
Hong Kee Restaurant, Food Market, 8 Kai Yip Street, Kai Yip Estate, Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong, p. 2799 3428