Hong Kong's best international fast food

Hong Kong's best international fast food

When you need it hard, heavy and greasy, these delicious quick fixes hit the spot

If anything unites the world’s population, it’s the shared love for a good greasy snack. McDonald’s might have globalized the hamburger, but it doesn’t have a monopoly on all fast food. Most countries have been cranking out their own heart attack specials for years.

Here’s how you can eat your way through the world’s best fast food ... without leaving Hong Kong.

Hong Kong fast food

Poutine

Where it’s from: Quebec.
What it is: Fries covered in gravy and cheese curds.

Poutine was invented in the late 1950s in the Canadian province of Quebec. (“Une poutine” means “a mess” in French.) It quickly became a fast food staple prized for its ability to soak up late-night alcohol.

Great poutine is all about freshness and balance. It is usually served in a shallow dish, the fries are crisp, the gravy is flavorful but not overwhelming, and the cheese curds will melt enough to become stringy while maintaining their naturally firm, squeaky texture.

Where you can get it: Plenty of Hong Kong burger joints have poutine on their menu, but -- horror of all horrors -- they use grated mozzarella instead of cheese curds. With only three ingredients, replacing one with a low-grade substitute is unthinkable.

Luckily, Canadian fast food chain New York Fries serves authentic poutine (HK$35) at its three Hong Kong locations, complete with real cheese curds and excellent, crispy fries.

Tsim Sha Tsui: Shop 2602, 2/F, Gateway Arcade, Harbour City, 17 Canton Road.
Mongkok: Shop F1, 4/F, Langham Place, 8 Argyle Street.
The Peak: Shop 1B, G/F, Peak Galleria, 118 Peak Road.

Hong Kong fast food

Pizza by the slice

Where it’s from: New York.
What it is: Wide, thin and foldable slice of pizza.

Italy gave us pizza, but New York took the concept and transformed it into portable street food. New York-style pizza has its origins in the wave of Italian immigration that took place just over 100 years ago. The first pizzeria opened in New York’s Little Italy in 1905.

True New York pizza has a thin, hand-tossed crust topped with savory tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. It is usually served with a minimal amount of toppings -- pepperoni, mushrooms and anchovies are popular -- and a selection of condiments like garlic sauce and dried chili flakes.

Where you can get it: Paisano’s is the undisputed king of New York-style slices, with locations in Central and Sai Kung and rave reviews all around (HK$25). Longtime favorite Milano’s also sells pizza by the slice from its Lan Kwai Fong shop (HK$30). Quarry Bay’s New York Pizza Delivery, meanwhile, serves good New York-style pizza but no takeaway slices -- at least, not yet.

Paisano’s Central: 9 Lyndhurst Terrace. Tel:+852 2544 4445.
Paisano’s Sai Kung: 27 Chan Man Street. Tel: +852 2791 4445.
Milano’s: 7 Lan Kwai Fong, Central. Tel: +852 2537 6884.
New York Pizza Delivery: 15 Finnie Street, Quarry Bay. Tel: +852 2668 6973.

Hong Kong fast food

Shawarma

Where it’s from: Middle East.
What it is: Marinated lamb, beef or chicken, grilled on a spit, shaved and usually served in a pita sandwich with various condiments.

Believed to have originated in Turkey, shawarma has since become the most popular street food throughout the Middle East and in many other parts of the world. As it spread from one country to the next, shawarma acquired many different variations, from Greece’s tzatziki-slathered gyros to Atlantic Canada’s sweet, garlicky donairs.

Whatever form it takes, though, the process of making shawarma is essentially the same. Strips of meat are layered on a stick with a tomato or onion on the top. As the stick rotates, the meat is roasted for hours and the tomato and onion juice drips down, giving it a full-mouthed zesty tang.

Where you can get it: Feast on Lebanese-style shawarma at Beyrouth (HK$55), a likeable snack bar on Lyndhust Terrace that is popular with Central office workers and the Soho bar crowd. Kowloon snackers can get a good Turkish version at Bismillah, a hole-in-the-wall kebab house in Chungking Mansions (HK$45).

Beyrouth: 39 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central. Tel: +852 2854 1872.
Bismillah: Shop 75, 1/F, Chungking Mansions, 36 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. Tel: +852 2722 5733.

Hong Kong fast food

Fish and chips

Where it’s from: England.
What it is: Battered, deep-fried white fish served with thick-cut slices of fried potatoes.

Deep-fried fish was brought to the United Kingdom by Jewish immigrants, while fried potatoes caught on in the mid-19th century. The first chipper opened in London in 1860. 

Like the best fast food, fish and chips is deceptively simple. Take a thick piece of fish (usually haddock or cod, but any white fish will do), batter it in flour and water, deep fry it in oil or lard and serve it with chips, mushy peas, creamy tartar sauce, a slice of lemon and lots of white vinegar. The trick is to do all of that without making a greasy, stomach-churning mess.

Where to get it: Some of the best fish and chips in Hong Kong can be tasted at The Pawn (HK$180), where everything is perfectly crispy and well seasoned. But there’s always something weird about gourmet fast food, so for a less pretentious experience, head down to Chippy, where you can choose from a range of fish, from sole (HK$80) to cod (HK$120). 

The Pawn: 62 Johnston Road, Wan Chai. Tel: +852 2866 3444.
Chippy: 51A Wellington Street, Central. Tel: +852 2523 1618.

Hong Kong fast food

Samosas

Where it’s from: South Asia
What it is: Deep-fried triangle of dough stuffed with vegetables, spices and sometimes meat.

Like shawarma, samosas and their various incarnations are popular around the world, with as many variations as there are places that serve them.

In North India and Pakistan, samosas are plump and stuffed with potatoes, green peas, onion, green chili and spices. They are usually served hot with an accompaniment of yogurt or chutney. They are surprisingly filling -- eat two and you’ll be good for an entire afternoon.

Where to get it: Make a beeline for Chungking Mansions, where you can snack your way through the many ground-floor chaat stalls serving samosas and other deep-friend snacks. HK$5 is the going rate for a samosa. Big spenders can put down another fiver to wash it down with a hot cup of chai.

Chungking Mansions, 36 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui.
 

Christopher DeWolf is a writer, photographer and self-styled flâneur.
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