How do China’s rival food capitals stack up?

Jennifer Flowers

The Noodle Joints

Shanghai: Wei Xiang Zhai (pictured)
Join a communal table and order ma jiang mian, thick wheat noodles covered in a peanut-sesame sauce and spiked with chili oil. 14 Yandang Lu; 86-21/5383-9032. $

Hong Kong: Kau Kee
Beef brisket on noodles (flat, egg, or vermicelli) in a clear, flavor-packed broth is the ultimate Cantonese comfort food. Taste it at this tried-and-true spot. 21 Gough St., Central; 852/2850-5967. $


The Iconic Holes-in-the-Wall

Shanghai: Chun
Gruff owner Qu Minglan serves up homey classics such as soy-sauce duck and crab with sticky-rice rolls, then nags you to finish before it gets cold. 124 Jinxian Lu; 86-21/6256-0301. $$

Hong Kong: Australia Dairy Company
Cha chaan tengs (tea restaurants) are Hong Kong’s version of the breakfast-all-day café: think fluffy scrambled eggs on buttered white toast, and oh-so-creamy steamed milk custard. 47 Parkes St., Jordan; 852/2730-1356. $


The Beloved Local Chains

Shanghai: Yang’s Fry Dumplings
When you’ve had your fill of xiao long bao soup dumplings, seek out this temple to shengjian bao, a breadier version, pan-fried to a crisp. 97 Huanghe Lu; 86-21/5375-1793. $

Hong Kong: Tim Ho Wan
The Kowloon flagship of this dim sum franchise is the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant. Avoid long queues by arriving at 8 a.m. $


The Street Snacks

Shanghai: Jian Bing
This popular breakfast crêpe is filled with eggs, fried youtiao crullers, chili flakes, and hoisin sauce. Get it on Yanqing Road, but hurry: they’re gone by 10 a.m. Xinle/Donghu intersection; no phone. $

Hong Kong: Egg Waffles
This honeycomb-like snack has an addictive cakelike aroma. Lee Keung Kee North Point Egg Waffles perfects the crisp-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside formula. 178 Nathan Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui; no phone. $


The Hotshot Expats

Shanghai: Paul Pairet
Following up his wildly successful Mr. & Mrs. Bund ($$$$), the French-born chef’s Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet ($$$$) is a multisensory experience, with videos, a musical score, and an avant-garde 22-course dinner.

Hong Kong: Matt Abergel
The Calgary native earned his cult cred with Yardbird (33-35 Bridges St., Sheung Wan; $$$), a rambunctious yakitori joint. His latest, Rōnin (8 On Wo Lane, Central; $$$$), is a sexy izakaya with a modern Japanese menu.


Restaurant Pricing Key
$ Less than $25
$$ $25 to $75
$$$ $75 to $150
$$$$ More than $150

Appeared as “95 Places to Eat Like a Local: Shanghai vs. Hong Kong” in T+L Magazine

Related Links:
Best Places to Eat Like a Local
Best Local Specialty Foods
Chefs’ Favorite Hot Spots