A handy guide for night owl foodies

Hong Kong is the city that never sleeps. Even if it’s 1:30 in the morning, you can find somewhere open for a quick bite, a late-night snack, or a ‘mid-morning’ yum-cha session. Perfect for those occasional midnight cravings, post clubbing nights and long work days. And while some may moan the choices are limited, we should still be grateful that we live in almost the only place in the world where we get a choice between brunch, Japanese ramen or a Chinese feast after midnight! And, in a true testament to how much Hong Kong people love and need good food, these places are often still packed in the small hours of the day.

In order to facilitate the palates of our night owl foodies, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite late-night eateries all over town. With this list in hand, you’ll have it covered whether you’re in the mood for a midnight English breakfast, dim sum before dawn or a post-all-nighter plate of Singaporean noodles.

Ichiran - the hottest import from Japan this season

(Photos by permarexics)

Ichiran’s tonkotsu ramen has an illustrious history in its native Fukuoka, and now currently enjoys over 40 branches throughout the country. This is its first overseas branch – for those patient enough to brave the staggering queues, it’s a must-try. Three things are standouts. Firstly, it’s famous for its original red sauce, made from a secret recipe, which gives its concoctions its special spicy kick. Secondly, it’s famous for its unique restaurant layout, which is geared towards solo diners. Upon seating at your individual partitioned cubicle, diners simply need to press a button at their side in order to hand in their order sheet, and the noodles will be promptly served through a window. Thirdly, it’s open 24 hours a day, a first for high-end Japanese ramen shops in Hong Kong. Essentially, though, the formula is simple - a pork-based broth, pork slices, green onion, home-made fresh noodles, a half-cooked egg, original water, and a dash of that magic sauce.

Sylvster_k:‘My friend has never tried the Ichiran in Japan, but she’s positive that in terms of soup base, noodle quality and char siu, this is one of the best dining experiences she has had at a ramen store in Hong Kong. The original red sauce really brought the whole dish to life – in any case, it’s a totally unforgettable experience for her!’

Flying Pan - all-day, all-night brunch for breakfast fanatics

(Photos by JxKYasai and 格斯肥牛牛)

Breakfast at night doesn’t sound as strange when you think of the fact that people rarely have time to have a full, leisurely breakfast in this town, given the hectic work schedule. The obvious solution is to extend breakfast food beyond the breakfast hour! If you’re after some classic brunch options, you’re in luck. Here at this Wanchai branch, you can indulge anytime in various traditional options, including the full English breakfast (with the prerequisite baked beans, bangers and toasties), the Eggs Benedict, the vegetarian omelet, the monster burger, or, for those with a sweet tooth, the French toast and pancakes. Breakfast sets come with a choice of sides, including potatoes and salads, and for extra you get their homemade soup as well. And while we’re at it, who can do without some liquid indulgence? A fresh pot of English breakfast will hit the spot during the wee hours of the day, while lemonade is a sure refresher anytime.

2vonanana: ‘The best Egg Benedict in town is definitely The Flying Pan’s. A half-cooked poached egg topped with Hollandaise cheese, coupled with helpings of smoked salmon, makes a perfectly-layered specimen. For side dishes, I ordered the tomato soup and the roast potatoes. And even if you eat it in the middle of the night, it’ still a perfectly enjoyable breakfast, guaranteed to satisfy that craving. I have always had the occasional urge to go out for breakfast during night-time – this is definitely another one of those days.’

Sun Heung Yuen (Kin Kee)新香園(堅記)- In the pantheon of greasy spoon greats

(Photos by Lawrence Lau and chunggggg)

This neighborhood cha chaan teng tucked away in Sham Shui Pui is a definite find on Hong Kong’s culinary map. Open till around 3, it’s packed full of people during all hours – for a simple breakfast, a working man’s lunch, or a late-night snack. Any introduction of Sun Heung Yuen, however, misses the point if it doesn’t mention its most famous export – the egg and beef sandwich. Unlike other specimens in town, which simply adds layers of egg on top of beef, this greasy spoon fries the egg together with chunks of beef, so it becomes one delicious ‘omelet’. Request the toasted version for extra enjoyment. Besides the sandwich, the store also does a mean pork knuckle noodles in soup (cooked soft and flavorsome), and serves all kinds of noodles even early in the morning. The best place to get a delicious full meal for under $20.

InnInn:‘My favorite beef and egg sandwich (toasted bun) of all time!! What's special about it was the flavor of the minced beef. The first time I tried it 3 years ago, I was in awe because it was a flavor that I've never tasted before—a rich, fragrant, delicate spice that I can’t pinpoint. The beef is not canned like the other restaurant…I really enjoyed it especially when the bread is hot and crispy with all the melting butter.'

Pak Lee Hotpot and Seafood Restaurant 百利火鍋海鮮酒家 - cheerful hotpot spot

(Photos by 515429 and 嘴刁許樂)

Hong Kongers love a good hotpot, and nothing beats an affordable one where you can splurge on any number of ingredients. While this place may not win in terms of fancy trappings, it’s celebrated for offering great value for money – big portions, cheap drinks and huge variety. It’s also currently the only place you can get a hotpot late night and in the early morning. Start the meal off with the famous ‘butterfly beef brisket’ soup base, then move onto a selection of beef, ,prawns, abalones, oysters, clams, offal, deep-fried fish skin, as well as any number of dumplings, meatballs and veggies. Drinks are also cheap – ‘tea and extras’ charge covers an unlimited flow of traditional juices, and its Asahi beers are often on promotion. Of course, one downside is that the atmosphere is a bit hectic and the décor minimal – one diner recalls its like ‘stepping back into a 60s eatery’ - so if you’re squeamish about dining at dai pai dongs, this probably isn’t the place for you.

yiuyiubeauty:‘I’ve always been a fan of Pak Lee – whenever I want to hotpot I will go there; sometimes I even run into stars! Beef is a must-eat item every time – with the right level of thickness and fattiness, it’s an instant appetizer. 15 minutes and you’re ready to pop it into your mouth!'

Big Pizza - a slice of Italia past midnight

(Photos by 熱血冒險王 and 小蓮)

Pizza is the perfect late-night food- it satisfies that craving like nothing else, while still being something of a snack. And for those who love pizzas, nothing is more exciting than pizza that’s double the size of a normal slice! Enter Big Pizza – a takeaway specializing in giant-sized pizza slices. Perfect for sharing between two, it comes in plenty of flavors, from ham & mushroom to chicken tikka and the classic, meat-heavy supreme. Upon ordering, servers will immediately re-heat the fresh-out-of-oven slices in the display window, so that it’s piping hot. However, given its ‘size’ gimmick, there are detractors. While many people appreciated the flavors and cheesiness, others have claimed that it’s nothing special beyond being bigger than your average slice. You have to try to decide! One portion will set you back around $40 – all in all, it’s not a bad deal, considering how much ingredients you’re getting.

我愛聰聰:‘After taking a bite, I know that this is what pizza should taste like. It’s simple – cheese on top, with lots of tomato juice at the bottom, with a taste that spices saltiness with sourness, and with a slight smattering of pepperoni as well. This big pizza is the best “big-sized” pizza I’ve eaten in Hong Kong – if anyone is around please buy me a slice.’

Hung Hing Seafood and Roast Pork Restaurant 洪慶海鮮燒臘飯店 - All-day, all-in-one Canto eatery

(Photos by SMASHING PUMPKINS and 大根)

This celebrated neighborhood restaurant seems to be an emporium for all kinds of Cantonese classics, served in a no-nonsense atmosphere. You want quality char siu, roast goose, or roast meat? They’re famous for it. Dim-sum at 2 a.m.? They do a great post-midnight yum cha service. – especially delish are their har gow, siu mai and rice rolls. You want a proper seafood dinner, with a truly staggering range of authentic, unpretentious dishes? They’ve got it covered. Signature dishes, besides their smooth cuts of roast pork, include seafood items such as prawns in soy sauce, fried clams and mussels, as well as other Canto favorites - pork in preserved vegetables, baked goose intestines in port and pipa beancurd. One thing to note is that some of its seating is placed right on the pavement, so diners get to eat ‘on the street’, a small blessing for smokers. Service seems to be mixed – some diners have commended the waitresses on their friendliness and efficiency, while others have felt underwhelmed – but which such choices to choose from, available at such hours, who genuinely cares?

SMASHING PUMPKINS:‘At 1 a.m....we didn’t go to a bar, but instead headed for Cheung Sha Wan, to Hung Hing. The place was packed, and we almost didn’t manage to find seats. Once everyone was here we headed outside to get our fresh steamers of dim sum. ….the steamers came out constantly, and we were completely spoilt for choice – even the rice rolls were made fresh to order.’

Click here to locate more 24-hour/late-night eateries

(Photos courtesy of OpenRicers)

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