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Concrete Playground - Local Restaurateurs Alex and Danielle Malouf on Their Favourite Hong Kong Restaurants

Eat your way around Hong Kong, one vibrant local neighbourhood at a time.

Hong Kong is brimming with a diverse range of places to eat. Thanks to its status as a global hub for commerce and travel, the food scene is made up of cuisines from the world over — with a big focus on countries around Asia.

And while the city’s fine-dining game is strong, so are its options for cheap eats. You can easily try some of Hong Kong’s best food on a budget.

But the sheer quantity of options can be overwhelming for even the most seasoned traveller. That’s why we teamed up with Alex and Danielle Malouf, local Hong Kong Restaurateurs, to hear all about the best areas — and specific restaurants and cafes — to eat at.

Danielle is a born and raised Hongkonger, intimately knowing the city inside and out. And Alex has lived in Hong Kong since 2010, first working in his uncle’s restaurant before meeting Danielle and eventually starting their own restaurant group, Catch Concepts.

They are experts on the local food scene, which is exactly why we tasked them with providing us with this comprehensive guide to all their favourite places to eat in Hong Kong.

Try to hit up a few of these haunts next time you visit the city — which shouldn’t be too far in the future, especially now that the buzzy streets have reopened to international tourists.

Get lost on these narrow, pedestrian-friendly streets lined with independent shops, art galleries and restaurants.


Located on Hong Kong Island, the neighbourhood of Wan Chai is known for its eclectic architectural, dining and shopping offerings. It’s also a cultural hub — home to both the Hong Kong Arts Centre and world-class street art.

Both the Maloufs are a big fans of this area, especially the Star Street Precinct. Perfectly exemplifying the diversity of Wan Chai, Star Street is home to a mix of Vietnamese, Italian, Japanese and New York-style deli eateries and bars.

The first stop? For Alex and Danielle, it has to be 22 Ships. This small tapas joint serves up a series of rustic (but still innovative) multi-regional dishes alongside Spanish wines, sangrias and street-social styled drinks — think sherry and vermouth paired with homemade sodas. Malouf recommends grabbing a seat with a view of the kitchen, watching Madrid-born head chef Antonio Oviedo plate up dishes at lightning speed.

Ruam is another of their favourites. Come for traditional Thai cuisine served for both lunch and dinner, as well as the gorgeous outdoor area hidden upstairs. It’s a casual spot where you’re best placed to order a bunch of dishes for the table and get sharing. Thai-inspired cocktails (some coming in buckets) also make this a great destination for those in need of a break when exploring the Ship Street Precinct.

Any fan of French cuisine (that best be all of you) should also give Jean May a visit. The little bistro is tucked down a side street in Wan Chai, easily found because it is entirely painted in green. Head inside for modern French fare served up in humble surrounds. The decor and art are all simple, but the food is next level. Malouf recommends this joint for a date night or casual lunch.

Discover this increasingly popular neighbourhood.


Alex Malouf says that “Kowloon is all about the local experience. You can go to the Ladies’ Market or eat crab on the road at Temple Street, then you can head over to the nearby Tsim Sha Tsui to see all the luxury brand boutiques and fancy hotels. It’s a big place and it’s easy to get lost in — but that’s the fun of it.”

“It’s definitely a great day trip destination,” he continues. “Just grab the star ferry from Central and get exploring!”

As mentioned above, Alex suggests spending time eating super-fresh seafood on Temple Street. He doesn’t have a specific spot to hit up, simply sharing: “Go to any place you see live seafood in tanks”. Easy instructions. Danielle also suggests ordering mud crab cooked in onion and ginger — a fairly classic option — and notes that razor clams here are an absolute must-try.

The West Kowloon neighbourhood is also a big up-and-comer. Be sure to hit up the Art Park (home to new exhibits and installations) where you’ll also find stacks of food trucks most days.

Pineapple Canteen has given the locally loved sweet treat a twist by adding ice-cold fillings such as whipped cream and fresh pineapples. The Book Brothers food truck is the place to go for alternative guo baos. Chinese and Western meat fillings are wrapped up in soft, pillowy steamed buns. The Pan Chun Saucy Truck is also incredibly popular. This heritage brand founded in 1932 makes use of locally produced traditional sauces to cook its rendition of authentic Hong Kong dishes. Don’t miss this one.

Where fine dining restaurants sit beside local hole-in-the-wall haunts.


Central has a bit (or a whole lot) of everything. You’ve got a booming nightlife scene and a diverse range of restaurants and bars on every corner. But for Danielle, “the best part of central is the copious amounts of local places — especially noodle soup shops.”

Get authentic ramen from Nagahama No.1, pho from Brass Spoon, wonton soup from Mak’s Noodle and the famed beef brisket brothy delight from Shui Kee.

But if you’re after something fancier, you best try Toritama. Alex and Danielle both use the word ‘amazing’ a lot when describing this yakitori restaurant. They’re obsessed with all the food — telling us to order both the chicken crown and liver. The service is outstanding. And the setting is ultra luxe. It is an expensive place to dine, but they note that it’s worth every cent.

Cha Cha Wan is another of their favourite places to eat in Central Hong Kong. This modern Thai restaurant serves up truly innovative food alongside a few traditional dishes. You can expect fun vibes too, thanks to the loud music and colourful interiors.

Want something Euro-centric? Escape to The Med by visiting LPM Restaurant & Bar. Here, there’s a mix of Italian, French and Spanish dishes served up in fresh white surrounds. Come for great pasta made with only the tip-top ingredients and one of the best antipasto plates in Hong Kong. Add a spritz and a dozen freshly shucked oysters to the experience for good measure — because, why not?

Escape the crowds in this laidback Hong Kong neighbourhood.


Alex notes how Tai Hang “is a rare find in Hong Kong because it has a lot of indie shops that are quite cool. You’ll find great coffee shops and spots to eat, as well as quirky little knick-knack stores.” As a neighbourhood, it feels entirely unique and significantly quieter than other parts of the city. Come here for more local hangs.

If you’re visiting Hong Kong and miss the Western brunch and coffee experience, the Maloufs recommend a trip to Elementary. They share how it’s “very Melbourne” when it comes to its food and drinks offerings. Designed as a sharing menu, it’s also great for a group of mates looking to feast — from breakfast up until evening drinks and snacks.

Juliette’s Wine Bar may not be a food spot, but Alex and Danielle adore it — so we had to include it. Head to this somewhat-secret bar after dinner for a few night caps or to have a chill night out. Although it’s a wine bar, the whisky collection is one of its greatest selling points for the duo — that and the dart board.

Find chic boutique stores and Melbourne-style cafes in these parts.


These two neighbourhoods are located right next to each other and can easily be explored one right after the other. Malouf recommends walking here from Central, heading down Hollywood Road. You can check out all the antique shops along the way and stop by Man Mo Temple for a hit of the traditional. Then, spend the rest of your time dining out at coffee shops, independent restaurants and fun local bars.

Of course, Alex and Danielle also think you should stop by their own restaurant, Catch. And we wholeheartedly agree with this recommendation. This is the place to go for both standout brunch and great coffee in the morning, and fresh oysters and seafood for lunch or dinner. Don’t miss the happy hour from 4–8pm, Tuesday to Sunday — expect to get a few rounds of cocktails and some snacks at a decent discount.

One of the couple’s other favourite local spots is BBQ. It’s a cheap and cheerful barbecue restaurant serving up a variety of skewered meat and seafood alongside local beers. This haunt has been around for many years and can get very busy. Malouf recommends getting there early before it fills up, as they frequently sell out of their most popular dishes.

Lastly, there’s Bun Cha. This is a must-try Vietnamese cafe that’s best known for its traditional pho. Alex and Danielles’ joint favourite is the beef and ginger, but you won’t go wrong with any of the menu options here. It’s also great for those on the go, thanks to its dollar-saving Vietnamese spring rolls, fried chicken wings and sandwiches.


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