When it comes to cha chaan tengs, we all have our own neighborhood favorite. Still, you can’t live in Hong Kong without making a pilgrimage to one of these big-name local cha chaan tengs. Famous they may be, but don’t expect comfortable seating or friendly service.
This Sham Shui Po cha chaan teng is said to serve the best beef and egg sandwich dahn ngou jee ( 蛋牛治). A comfort food for many Hongkongers, the dahn ngou jee at Sun Heung Yuen is made from fresh beef rather than the typical corned beef found at most other CCTs. It comes with a perfectly cooked egg, all inside warm, crispy toasted bread. The neighborhood favorite also offers beloved dishes like pork knuckles noodles, French toast and satay beef noodles.
The Loop recommends: The beef and egg sandwich, of course. Pair it with a cup of rich, soothing milk tea, and you’ve got a quintessential Hong Kong afternoon tea.
38 Kweilin Street, Sham Shui Po.
Affectionately known among Cantonese speakers as “Oh ngou” (澳牛), Australian Dairy Company is probably the sassiest CCT in town: the staff will most definitely mock, rush and scold you if you don’t move along quickly. But everything’s forgiven, because not only does this cha chaan teng serve the smoothest, creamiest scrambled eggs in all of Hong Kong, the staff’s sass effectively ensures a short queuing time despite a seemingly long line. It’s the best and worst of Hong Kong in a nutshell.
The Loop recommends: The regular set meal “seung chaan / 常餐”. It comes with scrambled eggs, two pieces of crispy thick toast, macaroni or spaghetti with ham and soup – and absolute deference to the staff.
47-49 Parkes Street, Jordan.
So blissfully nostalgic that it could serve as the set of a movie, Kam Wah Cafe has been around for over 40 years and is the king of classic Cantonese pastries. The bestsellers are pineapple buns with a slice of cold butter in between, aka bor lor yau (菠蘿油), and the puff pastry egg tarts, so pey dahn tart ( 酥皮蛋撻), which boast 144 layers. Described by many as having an unbeatable “ice and fire” sensation, the bor lor yau at Kam Wah Cafe is an unmissable CCT experience.
The Loop recommends: Pineapple bun with butter, egg tarts and a signature yuanyang, a mix of milk tea and coffee.
47 Bute Street, Prince Edward.
The ground level of Wing Lok Yuen is for takeaways only, but walk downstairs and you’ll find a bing-sutt-like seating area with a seriously nostalgic vibe. While the menu offers everything from rice and noodles to bread and spaghetti, Wing Lok Yuen is best known for hot dogs and classic Cantonese drinks. The signature hot dog features a sausage (or two) from Holland with a secret sauce that’s creamy and satisfying, all sandwiched inside a perfectly toasted bun. Order the classic milk tea or yuanyang, or try out the cafe’s more innovative options like milk tea with red beans.
The Loop recommends: Hot dog with two sausages, milk tea with red beans.
19 Chiu Lung Street, Central.
This is where you can taste Hong Kong’s most famous noodles with tomato soup, aka fahn kei tohng meen (番茄湯麵). A downstairs cafe inside an unassuming Tsim Sha Tsui building, Star Cafe serves a thick and flavorful tomato soup base. Choose your own noodles and toppings, from beef and pork chop to cheese. You can even opt for the tomato soup with egg – it looks quite unappealing to be honest but, trust us, it’s really tasty.
The Loop recommends: Noodles with beef and tomato soup.
Shop 36, Champagne Court, 16-20 Kimberley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui.
With a reputation for its top-notch Chinese pastries, Cheung Heung Tea Restaurant has been around for over 50 years. The most sought-after dishes? Try the creamy cookie crust egg tarts, ngau yau pey dahn tart (牛油皮蛋撻) – apparently this busy Kennedy Town cha chaan teng sells thousands of egg tarts a day. The crispy, fluffy pineapple buns and milk tea also come highly recommended. The milk tea in particular tastes just right: strong but not bitter, milky but not overwhelmingly creamy. The CCT also serves distinctive Cantonese combos like macaroni with ham and egg, as well as noodles with satay beef.
The Loop recommends: If you’re not in the mood for egg tarts, check out the gai mey bao (雞尾包) with shredded coconut filling. It’s a beautiful thing.
107 Belcher’s Street, Kennedy Town, Western District.
Are you as obsessed with pineapple buns as we are? This Yuen Long cafe serves a protein-packed version of the classic Hong Kong pastry: pineapple buns with tomatoes, and egg or pork chop. It may sound weird, but the sweetness and the savory taste of the fillings actually work surprisingly well together. Mrs Tang Cafe’s crispy joo jai bao (豬仔包) is also a favorite among customers, as are the noodles and a rich, thick tomato soup. Originally from Yuen Long, the cafe recently set up shop in Kwun Tong. While it’s more accessible, we’re sad to report that there are equally long lines.
The Loop recommends: Pineapple bun with tomatoes and egg; crispy bun with pork chop.
Shop 1, King Palace Plaza, 55 King Yip Street, Kwun Tong.
Can’t get enough of Hong Kong culture? Read more about cha chaan teng, bing sutt and other traditional HK gems in our book on Hong Kong Food & Culture.