Eight Best Cha Chaan Tengs in Hong Kong: Swiss Cafe, Kam Wah, Lan Fong Yuen
May 11, 2023
Before cha chaan teng’s became synonymous with Hong Kong’s daily diets, Western cuisine was only seen as a delicacy for the taste and tongues of the upper-class British at serviced restaurants.
Local ingredients and seasonings were used in the 20th century to imitate Western cooking methods for cheap and fast “Western” food with local Cantonese characteristics, including favourites such as silk-sock milk tea, egg, ham and corned beef sandwiches, creamy soup with macaroni and sliced ham, and Hong Kong-style French toast.
As people became richer in Hong Kong, their appetite for the food served at cha chaan tengs grew, making these establishments a staple in almost every neighbourhood in the city. Nowadays, Hong Kongers share a great taste for affordable fast-serving Western-inspired meals. Here are our best picks!
Australia Dairy Company
The frenetic street-side cha chaa teng Australia Dairy Company is a stalwart figure in Jordan’s food scene and a synonymous restaurant with Hong Kong’s booming cha chaan teng industry, serving up residents and tourists since the 1950s. Breakfast sets and single main items are famous here, especially the fluffy, moist, bright yellow scrambled eggs plopped onto buttery thick toast, macaroni and ham slices drowned in chicken broth.
Where: Australia Dairy Company, 47 Parkes Street, Jordan, Kowloon
Lan Fong Yuen
Earmarked as one of the oldest existing Hong Kong milk tea shops in Hong Kong, Lan Fong Yuen on Gage Street is a terribly kept hidden secret of a cha chaan teng store, serving hybrid milk tea-coffee concoctions, called yuen yeung,and “silk stocking milk tea”. Beyond the silky smooth caffeinated drinks, expect to taste crunchy Hong Kong-style French toast, crispy piggy bun, pork chop sandwich, grilled chicken and scallion noodles, and buns drenched in condensed milk.
Where: Lan Fong Yuen, 2 Gage Street, Central, Hong Kong
This cha chaan teng is hidden deep in the Central “Lanes” does not share any affiliation with the mountainous European nation, but it shares a name with the infamous Hong Kong dish “Swiss sweet-sauce-marinated chicken wings”. Service is unbelievably efficient and fast with orders pushed in seconds and food delivered minutes later. Don’t be upset with the speediness of the restaurant as food is prepared fresh though. Order the French Toast for a guaranteed classic and the fluffy omelette with ham as a solid choice.
Where: Swiss Café,12 Li Yuen W Street, Central, Hong Kong
Honolulu Coffee Shop
Many set to claim that Honolulu Coffee Shop in Wan Chai is Hong Kong’s oldest cha chaan teng, and whilst the jury is still out on this, the Hennessy Road café is famed for their milk tea-mixed-coffee, egg tarts and pineapple buns. Order them with a slab of butter sandwiched in the middle for maximum velvety and sugary flavour. Standard cha chaan teng fare can be found here too: corned beef, egg, and cow tongue sandwiches, macaroni soup, stir-fry rice and noodle dishes, and baked rice bowls. Head here for the kitch interior, it’s so Hong Kong!
Where: Honolulu Coffee Shop, 176-178 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Ma Sa Restaurant
With Sheung Wan’s white collar worker lunch crowd, Ma Sa is your old-school cha chaan teng option for quick, easy, and savoury plates. Expect classic cha chaan teng style in food, interior, and ambiencewith strangers crowding around tables, the charcoal waft of wokhei emanating from the kitchen, and the classics on the menu. Ma Sa is famous for their sunny-side up eggs drizzled in sweet soy sauce and either BBQ pork, satay beef, fried fish cutlets, or veggies hidden underneath!
Where: Ma Sa Restaurant, 23 Hillier Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Kwong Ming Restaurant
This no-frills cha chaan teng located deep in Kowloon’s factory neighbourhoodof San Po Kong may be a long way for most reading this article, but we promise it’s well worth it for their funky menu that plays with the classic dishes we can expect at most other cha chaan tengs. Homestyle noodles wok-fried in soy sauce is a dish that brings flocking crowds over to consume, that too with American pancakes the size of your face with dollops of soft butter and honey dripped on top.
Where: Kwong Ming Restaurant, 9 Kam Wing Street, San Po Kong, Kowloon
Kam Wah Café & Bakery
Mong Kok’s Kam Wah has held a local fandom for more than four decades as Hong Kong’s top cha chaan teng, with their pineapple bun production envied by other competing local restaurants. It’s the star of the show: pillowy, honey-tasting, and crunchy with the crumbly shell. We recommend ordering not only the pineapple bun with a slab of butter, but also pork chop or grilled chicken with rice, Yangzhou fried rice, and chicken soup with instant noodles.
Where: Kam Wah Café & Bakery, 45-47 Bute Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon
Kam Fung Restaurant
Located opposite the towering Hopewell Centre, Kam Fung Restaurant is an old school cha chaan teng that performs well with its milk tea, golden shiny pineapple bun (with butter if you want the whole package), and satay beef noodles. Dark in colour and silky with its lush coating of shacha sauce, the noodles have defined Kam Fung as a leader for decades in the city. Equally, the macaroni with ham is a star too on the menu. We recommend trying the fruitcake and egg tarts, prepared in the authentic recipe.
Where: Kam Fung Restaurant, 41 Spring Garden Lane, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
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