Street food has a colorful history in Hong Kong. In the 1950s and 60s, vendors began to set up shop on the streets, offering grab-and-go snacks sold from hawker trolleys. Fish balls, siu mai, egg waffles and other quick bites became synonymous with local dining culture. Hawkers gradually disappeared since the 80s because of hygiene concerns, but the delicious snacks remain readily available today at some stalls and dai pai dongs. Here are a few of our favorite spots to find classic street food in Hong Kong:
Fish Balls and Siu Mai
Ah, the kings of Hong Kong street food — springy fish balls with curry, and siu mai with a splash of chili oil. Served on a stick, or together in a styrofoam bowl, these beloved street snacks are popular with office workers and students on the go. Fish balls, made of cornstarch and fish, became popular back when the streets of Hong Kong were lined with hawkers that dished up tasty, deep-fried snacks. Meanwhile, siu mai from a street stall differ from those you’d find in a dim sum restaurant — made from pork and fish and steamed in a rice cooker, they’re best consumed drenched in soy sauce. While you can get these ubiquitous Hong Kong snacks at almost any street food stall, Fai Kee’s (輝記小食, 9-17 Tin Lok Lane, Wan Chai) offerings are especially worth a try.
A crunchy, fluffy egg waffles take any Hong Kong kid right back to their childhoods. Made with eggs, sugar and flour, egg waffles are cooked between two hot plates with round cells. You can enjoy these sweet treats with fruit and various sauces, but purists know that the best egg waffles are served plain, eaten out of a paper bag while piping hot. Check out Lee Keung Kee North Point Egg Waffles (利強記北角雞蛋仔, 492 King’s Road, North Point). There’s no English sign — follow the smell and you’ll find yourself at a stall lined with countless press clippings and photos of local celebrities who’ve paid a visit.
Like fellow street snack staple siu mai, stall-style cheung fun varies slightly from the guilty pleasure you’d find at dim sum. Made with rice noodle sheets and served in bite-sized chunks, street-style cheung fun morsels are normally drizzled in lashings of sweet sauce or peanut sauce — or both. Traditionally paired with congee, they can also be eaten on the go. Congee specialist Fat Kee (發記腸粉粥品, 67 Kin Yip Street, Yuen Long, 2474-2201) does these pretty well.
Stinky Tofu and Tofu Fa
Let’s face it — stinky tofu is an acquired taste, whichever way you look at it. It’s basically tofu that’s first fermented then deep-fried, resulting in a unique, pungent smell and a surprisingly mild taste of slightly sweet soybean. You can usually smell stinky tofu from a mile away — and fans love it. Kai Kei Snack (42 Dundas Street, Mong Kok), a well-known Mong Kok street stall, whips up a great stinky tofu. Can’t quite stomach it? Try the much more agreeable sweet dessert tofu fa. While there are regional varieties, the Cantonese style consists of uber-smooth tofu that’s usually served in melted rock sugar syrup, sometimes with ginger. Try the famous Kin Hing Ah Por Tofu Dessert (建興亞婆豆腐花,1 Yung Shue Wan, Lamma) on Lamma Island.
The name might not sound immediately appealing, but for adventurous foodies, pig intestines are worth your time. As part of the preparation process, pig intestines are rigorously cleaned, before being soaked in hot water, ginger and spring onions — then it’s either deep fried, or stewed. It’s a savory snack that goes particularly well with noodles, both fried or in soup. Sang Kee (新記美食, 501-515 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay, 2836-3198), which offers street snacks and cart noodles, is one of the best in Hong Kong.
Bowl pudding is a bit of a misnomer. The dessert is made from white- or brown-sugar gelatinous cakes with red bean filling, which are then steamed in a bowl to create a round shape — thus the name. While traditionally served hot, you can also have them cold in the wake of Hong Kong summertime. In both cases, bowl puddings are usually served stuck on top of bamboo sticks, making for a quick and convenient afternoon snack or post-lunch treat. Bowl pudding snacks are becoming increasingly hard to find, but Kwan Kee Store (坤記糕品專家, 115-117 Fuk Wa Street, Sham Shui Po, 2360-0328) is one of the best options, having been churning out bowl puddings since 1965.
An Instagram-friendly street snack, fried squid never gets old. It’s a pretty straight-forward process: seafood is battered then deep-fried, served with plenty of pepper to balance out its briny, fishy flavors. Every bite is crunchy and incredibly satisfying. Kai Kei Snack (41 Dundas Street, Mong Kok) makes an appearance again on our list, this time as one of the best street snack stalls for fried squid.