photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
Investing in a meditation app. Buying lavender oils. Signing up for kitten yoga. There are few things modern Londoners won’t do in our quest to secure a little relaxation amidst the chaos of Being Alive, and having the cortisol levels of a Serengeti herbivore on the run from a leopard every time you receive an email. Life in this city is stressful. A meal at Hong Kong Restaurant, a delightfully peaceful Cantonese spot on Upper Street, is the opposite.
Hong Kong Restaurant is the kind of place you can go in your trackies—you know, the fluffy ones that have never seen the inside of a gym—to eat hypnotically chewy king prawn cheung fun to a healing soundtrack of pan flutes. It's a peaceful, therapeutic-feeling place, as good alone as it is with a similarly cosy-clad best mate. The walls are a crisp white, the banquette seating is perfect for adopting a near-horizontal posture your chiropractor definitely wouldn’t approve of, and you’ll feel as gloriously sedate as the glimmering whole ducks hanging in the front window. The only pops of colour come from the magenta chairs, reminiscent of every beauty campaign that’s tricked us into buying another de-stress serum, liberal splashes of chilli oil, and the fluorescent fish roe on top of the one-bite-wonder crab xiao long bao. This is a relaxing restaurant, but the food is most definitely worth getting excited about.
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For anyone who believes R&R should really stand for Relaxation and Reliability, rest assured that Hong Kong Restaurant rarely puts a foot wrong. The beef ho fun noodles have the chewy elasticity of a trampoline, the fiery dan dan noodles will restore your sinuses to full capacity, and the delightful mango golden floss prawns are the ultimate sweet treat for anyone into crunch ASMR. You absolutely want to save room for the duck, not just because the skin is slick and tender. But for the pride of witnessing the bird being paraded from the window, through the restaurant, to the kitchen. Above all else, you’re here for the dim sum.
From the big pillow energy of the soft chicken and shiitake mushroom buns, to prawn siu mai that glistens like it’s actually trying to wink at you, the dim sum is some of the best in London. And, hot news for anyone who no longer has it in them to rush to lunch, most of the dim sum is served until 9pm. Hong Kong Restaurant is always ready and waiting, usually with same-day availability. Insert monotone meditation voice here: deep breath, now relax.
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King Prawn Cheung Fun
A slippery and satisfying number that will make you question everything you know about physics. How do they load these epic meaty king prawns into such a narrow tube of chewy dough, without gravity causing it to fall apart? We’ll never know. We will however be adding the resident cheung fun specialist to our Christmas card list because this glistening and filling dish is one of the best ways to spend a fiver in London. Know that the cheung fun is only available until 5pm.
This is one of our Best New Dishes Of 2022. Check out the full guide here.
Crab Xiao Long Bao
The ultimate cure for the phrase ‘I’m freezing my tits off’, these contain a salty broth we could consume by the gallon. The near-translucent dough is expertly folded and steamed to the perfect level that still offers a bit of bite.
Prawn Siu Mai
The siu mai at Hong Kong Restaurant leans heavy on filling rather than dough, just the way we like ‘em. From the pop of green through the skin, you’ll get a preview of the diced prawn and zinger chive filling.
Mango Golden Floss Prawn
Crisp and light, salty but blissfully sweet from the mango, served with a liberal portion of soy sauce but fantastic solo. So addictive, so worth the £16 price tag for the portion.
Whole Roast Duck
Ever fought someone you love for the last piece of perfectly roasted duck skin? Well, you’re about to. The meat of the duck is moist and moreish, and the skin has that irresistible, thick meets fatty texture that demands total silence while you chew. A certified contender for one of the best, fuss-free whole roast duck experiences in London.
Dan Dan Noodle
This Sichuan dish will really hit the spot if you’re in need of a rejuvenating and full-throttle dose of chilli oil. Although we’ve had better dan dan noodles elsewhere, and the sauce to noodle ratio is a little off, they’re still worth ordering if you’re in the mood for a wham bam noodle dish.
Beef Ho Fun
These are thick enough to smash any noodle craving. The quality beef is tender, with little pockets of crispiness from the wok.