Hong Kong's dai pai dong outdoor dining culture is fading with air-conditioned restaurants being the preferred and sanitary way of eating nowadays. These restaurants are famous for stir-fried seafood where you can feel the wok's power. Other than calamari, only dead seafood should be fried to hide its lack of freshness. Fresh fish should be steamed.
Cart noodles used to be a cheap snack sold on the street in the 1950s. They have moved into restaurants today, allowing the diner to choose the toppings, noodle type, and soup base.
Imitation shark fin soup doesn't contain the real thing of course, but just a richly-flavoured soup with other more middle class ingredients. Despite the name, it is actually a street food dish popular in the 1950s and 60s for the lower classes who could not afford the real thing. Concerns over shark poaching have prompted local banquets to re-consider serving real shark's fin in recent years.
Wonton noodles can be eaten in either soup or dried form. Wontons originated in Guangzhou during the Qing Dynasty and came to Hong Kong in the 50s. This one has sprinkled dried shrimp roe on top to enhance the flavour.
This is a more typical soup noodle. You can choose from yellow noodles, rice noodles, vermicelli, or more.
Beef brisket goes well in a noodle soup form or with rice, such as at this famous restaurant in Tin Hau where long queues outside are typical.
This dish is from a more modest local cha chan teng restaurant.
A good cha chan teng should be able to stir fry its dishes to serve steaming hot.
For lunch and dinner sets, hot drinks are usually included, while cold drinks would cost a few dollars more.
Fish balls are also a good ingredient to add to a noodle soup, either in a mix with other toppings in a cart noodle or as a sole topping.
In addition to having it in noodle soup, some shops offer it drenched in curry sauce on a stick.
Barbecue meats are also popular, with several types placed on top of a rice for a simple meal. The roast pork version typically is red and the most delicious type is a mix of fatty and lean meat.
Fried rice is a common dish for everyone, but add some fancy ingredients and it turns upscale very quickly. This one was made with sea urchin alongside the more typical items such as eggs, shrimp, and onions.
During cooler months, locals consume snake soup to keep the body warm.
Egg and ham on toast is a typical breakfast dish, coupled with a cup of hot milk tea.
It can also be combined with a satay beef noodle into a more filling set.
When hiking, a simple processed meat noodle along with a cold drink are a great relief after a sweaty workout. In these outskirts, a restaurant is simply a metal roof over your heads with a few fans to keep you less hot in the middle of the day.
Egg puffs are a popular local street food, made in these hotplates fresh and dried quickly so they arch and turn crispy.
Tea-marinated eggs are frequently made in a rice cooker.
Rice noodle rolls may look plain, but a good snack would include a mix of soy, seafood, sesame, and chili sauces.