starving student soon to be in Hong Kong
I'm a student from San Francisco, and i'm moving to Hong Kong at the end of August, for 9 months. The thing i'm most excited about is the food. What i'm trying to do is compile a list of good cheap-eats all over Hong Kong. I believe i'll be living in Kowloon-Tong (at CityU), but i figure i'll make it around the whole area in those 9 months. I've noticed that many of the recommended places on this list are a bit out of my price range, save for some noodle shop recommendations. I'm living off loans while i'm there, so i can't do any HK$100 meals, as i'll be eating out pretty much every meal of the day. I'm not looking for american food either... i don't eat it here, so i surely won't be craving it there.
If anyone would be willing to give me some tips, they would be much appreciated. Also, if there are any other good english online sources, that would be great too!
Big Thanks in advance,
I am also in the same shoes as you... I am a student who spends his summers in Hong Kong, and I also try to keep the budget to about HK$100 for 3 meals, although I do have the option of eating at home anytime.
In CityU, the FW foodcourt has a great selection, if you want to save money, eat dinner before 6pm, as many of the restaurants there have "tea sets", smaller portions, but much cheaper than regular times. Some of the greatest places to eat for cheap are in seedy, dirty and very local areas.... I frequent a beef noodle place in Sham Shui Po across from Golden Computer Centre, it's $15 or so and it's really good. Buying flavoured buns from bakeries is also a economical choice, I quite frequently buy char siu (roast pork), chicken, etc. buns from Maxim's and fill up on those.
All I can say, is get out there and try those small, cramped restaurants everywhere... you'll be amazed at what you'll find at the prices. Central has the best wonton noodles, and plenty of really good places to eat for cheap (as well as a lot of expensive ones). In HK, it would be ideal if you could splurge on some meals every now and then...
I was in a situation very similar to yours 7 years ago (poor student, living in Kowloon Tong, going to CityU). I managed pretty well.
I often ate at the canteen at CityU, which was actually a Maxims (HK-style fast food place) that was subsidized so it was cheaper than a typical Maxims. The food wasn't bad, and there's a pretty decent variety (char siu and other BBQ, noodle soups, fried rice noodles, etc.).
I also ate at the food court in Festival Walk fairly often as well. There are quite a few places to choose from, and the prices aren't that bad. It's on one of the top floors, overlooking the ice skating rink.
Like Charles Yu suggested, going to Kowloon City is an excellent idea. Wander around and you'll find lots of great stuff.
Another place you might check out is Lok Fu, which is between Kowloon Tong and Kowloon City. It's much more residential than Kowloon City, but I remember there being some decent places around the MTR station, including a semi-indoor foodcourt that's connected to the overpass that goes over Junction Rd. (聯合道). It's probably as close as you're going to get as far as street food goes in that area (or in any part of HK, for that matter). There was a Japanese Dept. store in Lok Fu Center (the mall attached to the MTR station) that had a decent food court as well.
Another idea if, during lunchtime, you find yourself in a place like Central where there are lots of office workers is to go to some of the larger branches of supermarkets like ParknShop and Wellcome. They usually have a counter with a selection of dishes that you can choose from to make a lunch box type thing. It's not the best food in the world, but at least it's not McDonalds.
So, there should be quite a bit of cheap food to be found in the area, but it's been 7 years, so it probably wouldn't be worth giving anything more specific even if I could remember.
In general, the mall food court stuff and the like is probably not going to be mindblowing, but it's not going to be bad either. If you get adventurous and keep exploring and trying new things, I'm sure you'll find some great food for cheap. Good Luck
actual made and sold on the street food in HK is sadly lacking, based on my couple of trips there. Budget wise in that city I've had much better luck with the congee and noodle places, Hong Kong cafes, roast meat restaurants, and bakeries. Every neighborhood should have good versions of these somewhere. If you will be there for a while, any effort spent learning the language pays off in deliciousness and ability to navigate budget menus as well - it's not as tough as it seems; many of these types of shops just have a few things on the menu and you can easily learn to ask the server what is good, or if the food is fresh, etc. And don't miss out on Macau or the international aspects of HK cuisine, which makes it one of the world's most distinct.
Kowloon Tong together with its neighbour Yau Yat Chuen are two of the most prestigeous residential neighbourhood on Kowloon side. You won't find much cheap bargains in these two areas although Kowloon Tong does have one of the best shopping mall ( Festival Walk - above the subway station ) in the city. Eateries in there, particularly the Chinese Cuisine places, are all very good but a bit expensive. For really good 'hole in the wall' local specialties, I would venture over to the other neighbourhood - Kowloon City. There, you'll find tons of great but cheap eating places. Specifically, chui chow, Malay/Thai, noodle joints etc. Mong Kok, which is the next subway station from Kowloon Tong is the busiest spot on Kowloon side. I would suggest you take a stroll at night and take in the scene. Try out things like clay-pot rice, B-B-Q meats and again what ever looks good or interesting when you venture into the busy side streets. Good luck!