The best Hong Kong dim sum

The best Hong Kong dim sum

Dim sum for VIPs. For your cheap relatives. For cabbies. Our best-of list has you -- and Hong Kong -- covered

A Hong Kong dim sum restaurant session once upon a time was about tea appreciation. The baskets of delicate dumplings were a foil for the fragrant drink and considered snacks rather than a full meal.

These days, dim sum itself is a protagonist on the culinary stage. The diversity and sheer number of Hong Kong dim sum restaurants is stunning.

Noisy Cantonese joints where people eat with such determination there's a slight madness in the air; gilded, hushed dining rooms where waiters anticipate your every move; tranquil oases hidden on a mountaintop ... we've got it all here in Hong Kong.

We've picked our favorite Hong Kong dim sum restaurants to make it easy for the food-in-steam-basket fanatics. As we say in Hong Kong, please enjoy!
We've come up with 13 Hong Kong dim sum recommendations and so divided them into 3-4 per page. We've stuck a condensed version of the complete list plus addresses on the last page.

Aiya! Did we miss out your favorite Hong Kong dim sum restaurant ? Let us know which one, and why you love it so much in the comments box below.

Best after hours: San Hing (新興食家)

Hong Kong dim sumCeleb-worthy lau sa bao from San Hing.

A mix of elderly folk, celebrities and drunk people on a last stop before home share tables at San Hing for a Hong Kong dim sum fix at dawn.

Located in Kennedy Town, San Hing technically opens at 3 a.m., though customers will arrive earlier to secure seats. Especially on weekends, the shop is a madhouse in the wee hours.

Staff frantically churn out a wide selection of dim sum, stacked into giant bamboo towers. Customers are perpetually hovering around the food arrival counter, while an unending stream of new customers mill about looking to snatch seats.

Photographs on the wall show Canto-pop star Eason Chan giving props to San Hing's lau sa bao -- signature yellow custard "quicksand buns."

Other San Hing specialities include quail's egg siu mai, deep-fried milk and various seasonal dishes often not listed on the menu, such as osmanthus jelly during the summer.

The cost is a bargain, with dim sum dishes ranging in price from HK$12-$17.

San Hing has been around Kennedy Town for more than 20 years, though it moved to its current location a few years ago.

San Hing 新興食家, 10 Hau Wo St., Kennedy Town, +852 2816 0616.Open daily, 3 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Also on CNNGo: 12 things about tea your dim sum restaurateur won't tell you

 

Best VIP treatment: Fook Lam Moon

Hong Kong dim sumA very literal lau sa bao.

The first thing we encountered at Fook Lam Moon was a Rolls-Royce Phantom pulling up at the main entrance, casually letting out a rotund, weary-looking man and his two hungry, young offspring who bounced noisily to the door of the Hong Kong dim sum restaurant as though they were visiting grandma's house.
It isn't called the "canteen of the wealthy" for nothing.

Even though the joint is frequented by the rich and famous, anyone can rock up to Fook Lam Moon and feel like a billionaire.

The service is six-star-hotel-perfect without the robotic-ness. They don't overservice because, you know, celebrities just want to be left alone.

But staff have real charm that they turn on for every customer that walks through their doors. Not just wealthy regulars.

Compared with San Hing above, if you're willing to pay HK$60 for a basket of siu mai, you may as well be regarded as a high-roller.

Yes, it's expensive, but each dim sum gave our tastebuds an education.

Har gau are succulent and juicy, almost to the point of being soupy; their skins perfectly translucent. A signature shrimp cheung fun has a layer of crisp bean curd sheet to add another dimension of texture to an old standby.

The lau sa bao surpassed our favorites at San Hing. The bread casing was barely a centimeter thick and the custard filling would spill out in an appropriate visual expression of its name "quicksand bun."

Fook Lam Moon, 35-45 Johnston Rd., Wanchai, +852 2866 0663, www.fooklammoon-grp.com. Open daily, 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m., 6 - 11 p.m.

 

Best rural experience: Choi Lung Restaurant (彩龍茶樓)

Hong Kong Dim SumShek Wai Ling (top right) says her customers travel more than an hour to eat dim sum at Choi Lung.

Choi Lung Restaurant is a three-story family-run teahouse on the waist of Hong Kong's highest peak, Tai Mo Shan. It is a great place to recharge after a hike.

Go early to secure the freshest Hong Kong dim sum experience in this self-service teahouse. Diners have to prepare their own tea and rest on simple plastic stools.

Despite the humble set-up, Choi Lung has been running for more than 40 years with a group of dedicated fans.

"People would drive all the way here from Sai Wan for a bowl of black bean ribs with rice. The rice bowls used to be made of porcelain but people kept dropping them so we switched to stainless steel," says waitress Shek Wai Ling.

We recommend the bean curd sheet wraps filled with chicken, taro and fish maw. The taro is cooked just through with a crunchy outer layer, the chicken is very tender and the fish maw is juicy.

A vegetable stall outside Choi Lung's front door is also well known for selling locally grown produce.

In November, the restaurant will serve fresh watercress purchased directly from the farms nearby, which Shek promises to be "very sweet and rarely found."

Visit Choi Lung at weekends as some dim sum are not served on weekdays, such as the black sesame rolls.

Choi Lung Restaurant 彩龍茶樓, 2 Chuen Lung Estate, Route Twisk, Tsuen Wan, +852 2415 5041. Open daily 5 a.m. - 3 p.m.

To get there, take a taxi from Tsuen Wan station for around HK$60 or take minibus 80 at Chuen Lung Street near Tsuen Wan wet market.

Best value: Tim Ho Wan

Hong Kong dim sumTim Ho Wan's inimitable cha siu bo lo bao.

The secret didn’t last long. When former Lung King Heen chef Pui Gor opened this hole-in-the-wall joint in Mong Kok, those in the know flocked here for top-quality Hong Kong dim sum at rock-bottom prices.

Then came a Michelin star. And the masses descended. A two-hour wait became a daily phenomenon. And that's considered short.

The thing is, Tim Ho Wan is still worth it, wait and all.

Saying the quality is high and ingredients are fresh is an understatement. Simply, this is what dim sum is meant to taste like.

The beef balls are firm but tender, with plenty of coriander. The pig liver cheung fun is impeccably earthy. The siu mai is packed with plump shrimp and succulent mushrooms. The radish cake actually tastes like the white radish it is made from.

Be sure to try the cha siu pineapple buns, which are now widely imitated but never matched. Most dishes cost between HK$10 and $20.

In addition to the original location in Mong Kok, there's a second shop in Sham Shui Po, but the quality there is less consistent.

Also on CNNGo: Holy dim sum! Michelin Guide 2010 goes cheap and cheerful?

Tim Ho Wan, original location, 2-20 Kwong Wa Street, Mong Kok, +852 2332 2896
Tim Ho Wan, Sham Shui Po, 9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po, +852 2788 1226

Open daily, 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.


Best way to get fat: Tai Wing Wah

Hong Kong Dim SumStop calorie counting when at Tai Wing Wah.

Sure, we live in a weight-loss obsessed world, but in Yuen Long, Tai Wing Wah is making a killing off of hearty "walled village cuisine" made with lard.

Punti and Hakka villages that were settled in Hong Kong during the Ming and Qing dynasties were protected by high village walls. The food originating from these walled villages are the focus of Tai Wing Wah's menu.

Hugo "To To" Leung is the culinary brains behind the restaurant and he is adamant about maintaining authenticity.

Also on CNNGo: Celebrity chef Hugo Leung's favorite restaurants

That means, apart from Hong Kong dim sum classics, such as excellent har gau, or a bright yellow and delicious Malay sponge cake, Tai Wing Wah also serves a rustic white rice mixed with lard and soy sauce that is impossibly morish.

Leave your diet at home.

Also on CNNGo: Why we love Yuen Long

Try to get a table and order before 11 a.m. when most of the dim sum costs HK$12.

Tai Wing Wah Restaurant, 2/F, Koon Wong Mansion, 2-6 On Ning Road, Yuen Long, +852 2476 9888. Open daily 6:45 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.; dim sum available until 4:15 p.m.

 

Best "hot, noisy" atmosphere: Lin Heung Teahouse

Hong Kong dim sumTesting the cart lady's patience at Lin Heung Teahouse.

Originating in Guangzhou, Lin Heung Teahouse expanded to Hong Kong and opened three branches in the early 20th century.

The one that remains today in Central opened in 1918. Its longevity alone is worth applauding.

Lin Heung's decades-old recipes produce the most traditional Cantonese flavors. Dim sum typical of Lin Heung are siu mai topped with a slab of liver and Chinese sausage rolls -- old-fashioned dishes hard to find anywhere else.

The atmosphere is of classic Cantonese dining. The space hasn't changed much in the past few decades and old ladies push dim sum carts through the dining hall in the traditional manner of hawking.

Diners rush up to the carts to fight over the bamboo baskets of dim sum that just can't seem to come out of the kitchen fast enough.

Service is typically sour, but we find the attitude easy to ignore as we become engulfed in the irrepressibly jovial "hot and noisy" atmosphere (yeet lau) favored by Chinese diners.

Aslo on CNNGo: Lin Heung Teahouse, dim sum elder

Lin Heung Teahouse, 160-164 Wellington St., Central, +852 2544 4556. Open daily 6 a.m. - 4 p.m. for dim sum; 5 - 10:30 p.m. for dinner.

 

Best unpretentiously posh: Lei Garden

Hong Kong dim sumLei Garden's greatest hits of Hong Kong dim sum.

It's Michelin-starred and a haunt for celebrity families, but the atmosphere at this Hong Kong dim sum restaurant is relaxed and unpretentious.

Offering superbly executed Cantonese dishes and very popular for its dim sum, Lei Garden also stands out for warm service. It is rumored the wait staff are trained more vigorously and compensated more handsomely than at any other Cantonese restaurant chain in town.

The plain cheung fun are al dente at first bite and perfectly tender inside; the siu mei is moist and meaty, with a nice crisp snap to the skin of the siu yuk and roasted duck. Lei Garden’s har gau are stuffed with fat shrimp and expertly wrapped.

Essentially, it’s a procession of Hong Kong dim sum hits, with only a few slight misses, like the underwhelming xiaolongbao.

Dishes cost between HK$30 and $50.

Multiple locations. See www.leigarden.hk for details.

Best cinematic backdrop: Luk Yu Teahouse

Hong Kong dim sumTry it at least once: Luk Yu Teahouse.

Central's Luk Yu Teahouse retains an Old Hong Kong glamour with its art deco embellishments, retro menu and urban legends. It's no wonder it regularly appears in movies and literature.

First opened in 1933, Luk Yu Teahouse relocated to its current location in 1976. The building’s colonial façade opens to a three-floor restaurant dripping with nostalgia. Eating at Luk Yu is falling through a time warp.

A dim sum meal easily averages more than HK$100 per person per meal.Some customers are paying for the teahouse’s history and ambiance. Others are long-term patrons who stay all day.

Hard-to-find items harkening back four or five decades make up the menu, such as excellent liver siu mai and deep-fried dumplings in soup.

Service is notoriously bad and wait staff are intimidating to non-regulars. So much so that it has become a signature of the restaurant.

Luk Yu Teahouse, G/F-3/F, 24 Stanley Street, +852 2523 5464.Open daily, 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.; dim sum is available until 4 p.m.

Best hole-in-the-wall: Saam Hui Yaat (叁去壹)

Hong Kong dim sumTiny, dirty and just right.

This tiny pearl of a teahouse is tucked snug into the metaphorical buttcrack of a dilapidated stretch of Pokfulam Road.

Old men without shirts seem to be the primary clientele, squeezing into the grime-covered hovel that hasn't changed an iota since it opened in the late 1970s.

As with most hole-in-the-walls, hygiene is questionable, but the bright flavors of the food draw us back again and again. Besides, we haven't gotten sick yet.

Prices are low, starting at HK$9 per dim sum basket -- “dirt cheap” is a more than appropriate description for Saam Hui Yaat.

Anyone tired of the sanitized chain restaurant dim sum experience should make a visit for the har gau, cheung fun and steamed rice dishes.

Saam Hui Yaat 叁去壹, 11 Pokfulam Road, +852 2547 3917. Open daily, 5 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Best vegetarian for meat-lovers: M Garden Vegetarian

Hong Kong dim sumProving that great vegetarian dim sum is not an oxymoron.

Meat-free dim sum might seem an improbable venture, but at M Garden you won’t even notice the lack of animal on your table.

As with most vegetarian Chinese restaurants, the meat here is replaced with bean curd and mushrooms, but where M Garden stands apart is its emphasis on unusual textures that don’t slavishly try to resemble meat, like the coarsely packed imitation beef balls.

Even more interesting are the standard vegetarian dishes found on every dim sum menu.

Here, the radish cake is made with mushroom and peppers, then diced and stir-fried.

The steamed egg custard buns are made with whole wheat flour, which gives them more heft and a breadier taste than the usual white flour variety.

Prices range from HK$15 to $25 per dish.

Try to get a seat in the sun-drenched atrium, which is much more pleasant than the dreary interior.

Also on CNNGo: Hong Kong's best vegetarian dish

M Garden Vegetarian, shop D, 6/F, Grand Tower, 639 Nathan Road, Mong Kok, +852 2787 3128. Open daily, 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.

 

Best sense of community: Lam Kee (林記點心)

Hong Kong dim sumLam Kee is also a great place to eavesdrop on your neighbor.

There’s something about the tile floors, high ceilings and boisterous atmosphere of a wet market food hall that makes a meal more fun than it might otherwise be.

Lam Kee, located in the Tai Po Hui Market’s food court, is a casual neighborhood Hong Kong dim sum spot with simple, delicious fare.

The portions here are small, but also inexpensive -- mostly less than HK$10 -- which allows for plenty of ordering experimentation.

Particularly memorable are the bean curd wraps, which contain an assortment of ingredients that work together remarkably well, like baby corn, taro, chicken and spam.

The black bean spareribs are fantastic and so are the tiny har gau.

But the best part of any meal is the company. At the Tai Po Hui food court, patrons sit in a communal dining area. Neighbors run into each other as they head to the food stalls for a break during a grocery run.

If it's early morning, grannies fueling up for an afternoon of mahjong make conversation over a pot of tea.

Lam Kee 林記點心, shop 8-9, 2/F, Tai Po Hui Market Cooked Food Centre, Tai Po.

Best taxi driver's pit stop: Yue Fu Kitchen (裕富小廚)

Hong Kong Dim SumNo taxis? They're all at Yue Fu.Dim sum 24 hours a day is taken for granted here in Hong Kong. When we get those midnight cravings, Yue Fu is one of our top choices for getting a Hong Kong dim sum fix.

Taxis are parked outside Yue Fu in Tai Wai every night as the drivers have a meal inside -- it's a sign the food and value are both great.

The most expensive dim sum is only HK$18 at Yue Fu. They only serve steamed dim sum and not every dim sum is perfect (forget about the har gau here). But it is the local way of experiencing dim sum that we are aiming for.

Blend in by sitting outside, washing your utensils in hot water and pouring out the water onto the street.

Dim sum to try are steamed rice with ribs and chicken feet, beancurd beef balls, siu mai with quail eggs.

Go late at night for more choices and don't go in big groups as they usually don't have the space to accommodate all of you.

Yue Fu Kitchen 裕富小廚, 1-3 Chik Shun St., Tai Wai, +852 2698 7278. Open daily9:30 p.m. - 2 p.m.

Best power lunch: Lung King Heen

Hong Kong dim sumIndividual steam baskets -- now that's respect for dim sum.

As one of Hong Kong's few Michelin three-starred restaurants and a Four Seasons Hotel signature, Lung King Heen enjoys an elevated status.

It's the perfect setting for special occasions: harborviews, central location, crease free white tablecloths. Dim sum as fine dining.

The dim sum menu is full of classics that have been given novel twists. Lobster and scallop in a thin wrapper resemble decadent siu mai. Cheung fun is filled with garoupa. Dumplings are stuffed with duck liver.

The hotel-ness of the place can't be dimissed. Service is a bit mechanical and halfway through the meal, we start craving the controlled chaos of a typical Cantonese restaurant.

But Lung King Heen isn't a typical Cantonese restaurant. It's the kind of place where Jack Donaghy would go for an intense round of negotiations over an aged Pu-erh tea.

Book ahead.

Lung King Heen, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central, +852 3196 8888,www.fourseasons.com.Open daily, noon to 2:30 p.m.; 6 - 10:30 p.m.
See over page for the complete list and addresses.

Best Hong Kong dim sum


Best after hours: San Hing (新興食家)
10 Hau Wo St., Kennedy Town, +852 2816 0616. Open daily, 3 a.m.-4 p.m.
Best VIP treatment: Fook Lam Moon
35-45 Johnston Rd., Wanchai, +852 2866 0663. Open daily, 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m., 6 - 11 p.m.
Best rural experience: Choi Lung Restaurant (彩龍茶樓)
2 Chuen Lung Estate, Route Twisk, Tsuen Wan, +852 2415 5041. Open daily, 5 a.m.-3 p.m.

Best value: Tim Ho Wan
9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po, +852 2788 1226. Open daily, 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Best way to get fat: Tai Wing Wah
2/F, Koon Wong Mansion, 2-6 On Ning Road, Yuen Long, +852 2476 9888. Open daily,6:45 a.m.-11:30 p.m.; dim sum till 4:15 p.m.

Best 'hot, noisy' atmosphere: Lin Heung Teahouse
160-164 Wellington St., Central, +852 2544 4556. Open daily 6 a.m. - 4 p.m. for dim sum; 5 -10:30 p.m. for dinner.

Best unpretentiously posh: Lei Garden
Multiple locations. See www.leigarden.hk for details

Best cinematic backdrop: Luk Yu Teahouse
Luk Yu Teahouse, G/F-3/F, 24 Stanley Street, +852 2523 5464.Open daily, 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.; dim sum is available until 4 p.m.

Best hole-in-the-wall: Saam Hui Yaat (叁去壹)
11 Pokfulam Road, +852 2547 3917. Open daily, 5 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Best vegetarian for meat-lovers: M Garden Vegetarian
Shop D, 6/F, Grand Tower, 639 Nathan Road, Mong Kok, +852 2787 3128.Open daily, 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Best sense of community: Lam Kee (林記點心)
Shop 8-9, 2/F, Tai Po Hui Market Cooked Food Centre, Tai Po.

Best taxi driver's pit stop: Yue Fu Kitchen (裕富小廚)
1-3 Chik Shun St., Tai Wai, +852 2698 7278. Open daily, 9:30 p.m. - 2 p.m.

Best power lunch: Lung King Heen
Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central, +852 3196 8888. Open daily, noon to 2:30 p.m.; 6 - 10:30 p.m.

Aiya! Did we miss out your favorite Hong Kong dim sum restaurant ? Let us know which one, and why you love it so much in the comments box below.

After traveling around the world on a fistful of dollars, Zoe returns to Hong Kong, where she grew up, to discover and write about all the inspiring stuff that happens here on a daily basis.

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Hiufu Wong is CNN Travel's staff writer.

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Christopher DeWolf 는 작가 겸 사진가이자 자칭 "한량"이다.

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Doug Meigs 是位以香港為家的自由撰稿人和攝影師。 他對所有事物都充滿好奇(特別是關於藝術、自然、文化以及休閑),各類文章及各國家都可見到他的名字。
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