Hong Kong's Best Inexpensive Restaurants: Top Food at Affordable Prices



Hong Kong can be expensive, so it pays to watch your budget at mealtimes. Just as cheap food isn't necessarily good food, so good food isn't necessarily cheap. How to strike a balance? The great thing about Hong Kong is that it's a city that loves to eat, and not everyone can afford to dine somewhere fancy three times a day. And so there are many restaurants in Hong Kong that not only provide top-quality menus, they are also very reasonably priced. Visitors looking for good value should start with the city's myriad Chinese restaurants, like Cafe de Coral however there are plenty of international eateries that also cater to the thrifty diner too. Everybody loves Jimmy's Kitchen, and the Jumbo Floating Restaurant is a classic.

One tip that every visitor to Hong Kong should look out for: many restaurants run an "early bird special" at lunchtimes. Arrive before the rush (noon is a typical start time) and finish within a set time, and you can eat for a set price. The food and the surrounds are just as good, but the restaurant benefits as it makes use of the extra seats, while diners get a great meal deal. Early bird specials are usually advertised by a notice outside the restaurant, so keep your eyes peeled as you walk around the city. Note that early bird specials usually only operate on working days. Some restaurants run an afternoon special, quaintly called a Tea Set, as well.



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Beef & Liberty
Photo courtesy of Beef & Liberty


 

Beef & Liberty traces its slightly unusual but highly forthright back to 18th century Great Britain where the leading members of London society gathered in beefsteak clubs to partake of great food, fine booze and entertaining company. The brilliantly named Sublime Society of Beefsteaks was the most famous of all these clubs and its motto was "Let beef and liberty be my reward". It's a great line and fits this highly carnivorous restaurant perfectly. Expect all sort of burgers (including a vegetarian beetroot option) as well as chunky fries and other sides. The beef comes from cattle who are fed on grass and not given hormones which is just one of the reasons why the food here is so darn good.


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Central
La Paloma
Photo courtesy of La Paloma


 

La Paloma, meaning pigeon, is named after one of the oldest nightclubs in Barcelona, Spain. The whole concept of La Paloma is built around a fun, value for money and interactive dining experience. An open kitchen provides a full frontal view of live paella stations and the Asador, a traditional clay oven, cooks dishes such as roast suckling pig, and of course pigeon, to perfection. La Paloma can comfortably seat 85 diners. The design is inspired by Chiringuitos, beach bars in Spain which aim to bring an outdoor atmosphere to an indoor restaurant with plenty of colours in a casual atmosphere.


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Grassroots Pantry
Photo courtesy of Grassroots Pantry


 

Grassroots Pantry is one of the most impressive restaurants to have opened in Hong Kong in years. It's vegetarian, incredibly imaginative, and the food is presented beautifully amid inspiring surrounds. Very much the brainchild of the dynamic and visionary Peggy Chan, the Pantry is open for much of the day, dispensing the likes of coconut kefir yogurt parfait for breakfast, and buckwheat pappardelle Bolognese and kelp and mung bean noodle salad thereafter. Desserts include a stone fruit almond cobbler, and there are some stunning cocktails too like the gin and tonic with grapefruit juice and maple syrup. The prices are reasonable, the service superb, and the clientele charming. What's keeping you?


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Jimmy's Kitchen


 

Jimmy's is, perhaps, Hong Kong's most famous restaurant. Located on Wyndham Street, this Continental-style restaurant has a definite Western atmosphere. Menu options span the globe from New Zealand shellfish to North American beef and Western European corned beef and cabbage. After more than 70 years, Jimmy's is still popular with Hong Kong's expatriate community, especially as a place to meet up for a good lunch. Reservations, therefore, are suggested. MTR: Central. Jimmy's popularity is based on its consistency â€" you know what you're going to get, and it's not overly dressed up. Of course, there is a strong retro appeal too.


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Cafe de Coral
Photo courtesy of Cafe de Coral


 

It's very hard to fault Cafe de Coral. It's by no means gourmet, but for a handful of dollars, you get a full meal that looks and tastes good. No wonder there are lines at all its branches at breakfast, lunch and dinner and quite a lot of the time in between. The (bilingual) menu is predominantly Chinese, with a few international dishes as well. The best deals are the set meals. If you would like extra sauce or pickle or similar, the staff are usually happy to oblige. There's good reason why Cafe de Coral caters to more than 300,000 diners daily.


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Bombay Dreams
Photo courtesy of Bombay Dreams


 

Indian food is quite popular in Hong Kong, given the city's substantial Indian population, so purveyors of the piquant cuisine are a dime a dozen. Bombay Dreams earns high marks, though, for its exceptional cooking. A wide variety of appetizers includes several soups not ordinarily found on Indian restaurant menus, such as Murg Shorba (chicken) and Tamatar Ka Shorba (tomato based). The selection of main courses is extensive as well, with numerous fish and seafood dishes along with vegetable, chicken and lamb based favorites. The buffet lunch is quite popular with local office workers, and really very reasonably priced. MTR: Central.


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Jumbo Floating Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Jumbo Floating Restaurant


 

In operation for decades, the Jumbo has become something of a landmark. Renovated to create a modern and stylish interior, expansions over the years include a tea garden, banquet and party facilities and a museum exhibit of bronze ware. The restaurant offers an extensive menu and is a popular dim sum spot on Sunday morning when it opens early. For lunch and dinner, you can choose from a la carte options, or select from one of about a half dozen set menus in varying degrees of opulence. Opinions differ on the overall quality of the experience, but one thing is for certain: the Jumbo Floating Restaurant is quintessential Hong Kong.


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Eastern District
Mr & Mrs Fox
Photo courtesy of Mr & Mrs Fox


 

Mr & Mrs. Fox is a three-level bar and restaurant in the up-and-coming district of Quarry Bay, which is a mix of new office blocks and traditional residential areas. The Fox menus are equally varied, with an emphasis on European food and great attention to craftsmanship and attention to detail. The topmost floor is a private dining space, while the middle floor offers the best chance to people watch. The restaurant's design reflects the menu, with bespoke furniture pieces and materials including wood and brass, imports a sense of nostalgia and whimsy. Mrs. Fox, on the ground floor, features a keg room dispensing craft beer designed to pair with small plates which pack hearty flavors. While Mr. Fox on the next floor up offers an extensive menu focusing on dry-aged steak and seafood along with seasonal main dishes. The wine list spans an impressive 100 bottles. The Fox is packed with execs at lunch times, but is less busy at weekends. Sunday brunch is a winner.


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New Punjab Club
Photo courtesy of New Punjab Club


 

Put simply, this is one of the most fabulous restaurants to have opened in Hong Kong for years. The location is neat, the decor arresting, the seating inviting, the food Punjabi of course and really surprising and stimulating to boot. But best of all is the staff, a mix of nationalities who glide about the place with every appearance of thoroughly enjoying themselves. It might be a dinner party rather than a restaurant. Who could ask for more? NPC is helmed by Palsah Mitra, a Michelin-starred chef whose previous employer was Gymkhana in London. Everything on the menu is amazing, but the line-caught cobia with dill, carom seeds and tomato chutney is superb. A final note: G&T aficionados will be thrilled to make the acquaintance of the trolley bearing several different brands of gin which makes an appearance shortly after guests have seated themselves.


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Luk Yu Teahouse
Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Tourism Board


 

Luk Yu has the distinction of being Hong Kong's oldest still-operating tea house. It opened back in 1933, and not much about the place has changed since. The setting is still charming, with ceiling fans, wooden booths, marble tabletops, wood paneling and stained-glass windows. During the day it's packed with regulars who swear by the dim sum; in the evening there's a truly vast dinner menu. Service is notoriously indifferent (some might even say a bit rude), but this is a place you come to for an old-school local ambiance. While it's by no means off the beaten track, Luk Yu remains utterly authentic.


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Meet Ed Peters

Ed Peters has been based in Asia for much of his life.

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