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Must-try dai pai dongs and their essential dishes

Time Out Hong Kong
  • Written by Time Out Hong Kong
Must-try dai pai dongs and their essential dishes

Visiting a dai pai dong is a quintessential Hong Kong food experience, like going for yum cha or to a cha chaan teng or snacking on street food. The traditional open-air restaurants used to also be synonymous with good cheap eats in Hong Kong, but the no-frills eateries have become an increasingly rare sight in recent years. Given that the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department is not renewing any dai pai dong licenses, it’s a decline that seems destined to continue. But grandfather laws are keeping them alive, and as long as this generation is passing down their licence to the next you’ll still be able to enjoy a slice of old Hong Kong. So in support of good and cheap eating, we’ve compiled this list of the best of the city’s remaining dai pai dongs.

Chan Kun Kee

Chan Kun Kee

Formerly in Sha Tin’s Wo Che Estate, Chan Kun Kee has moved across the Shing Mun River to new digs in On Kwan Street. It may not be outdoors anymore – disqualifying it from being a dai pai dong – but the spirit and cuisine remains the same, so we’ll include it. As busy as ever, this packed eatery plates up various stir-fried, roasted, steamed and braised dishes. Everything is designed to be beer-friendly, especially the cumin spareribs and mantis prawns in spicy salt.

Cheung Fat Noodles

Cheung Fat Noodles

The large colourful menu on the wall here only shows a few options: noodles, noodles with pork knuckle, fish balls, and fish balls with noodles. But that’s okay — because Cheung Fat is famous for these classic dishes. Order the homemade cuttlefish and fish balls over ribbons of flat rice or egg noodles. For those who want to go soupless, gorge on a bowl of thin egg noodles tossed in soy sauce and tack on a helping of Cheung Fat’s signature pork knuckle.

Sing Heung Yuen

Sing Heung Yuen

Tucked away on secluded Mee Lun Street, Sing Heung Yuen Get me there {{title}} {{taRatingLabel}} Address {{address}} Website {{website}} More info is Central’s most famous dai pai dong. Businessmen, tourists and day labourers line up during lunch hour for the stall’s well-known tomato broth dishes. Served with a side of tender beef, sausage and eggs or a thick slice of spam, the bowl of noodles isn’t anything particularly fancy but it’s one of the cheapest and most comforting meals you can get in the area. Be sure to also try the crispy, toasted buns drizzled with condensed milk and the velvety smooth milk tea.

So Kee

So Kee

The Hong Kong tradition of serving yuen yeung (a mixture of coffee and Hong Kong-style milk tea) probably originated in a joint like this one. And while tea and coffee drinks can be found across the city, stalls like So Kee are still one of the best ‘cafes’ around. The eatery prides itself on its pork chop — a fluffy slab that can be enjoyed over a bowl of instant noodles together with an egg or as a sandwich filling. For a real treat, order the French toast and a glass of that yuen yeung.

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