The Last 25 Dai Pai Dong in Hong Kong

Although Hong Kong is renowned for offering a wide variety of food genre and that it has attracted thousands of gourmets to visit the city, it is gradually losing one of its local dining culture – Dai Pai Dong. The name Dai Pai Dong means “restaurant with a big licence plate”, referring to the size of the licences, which are bigger than those of other licensed street vendors. Totally opposite to the Michelins, Dai Pai Dong are outdoor food stalls where you sit on a plastic tools, hearing people around you chatting and laughing. We should not over criticize the quality of the food but Dai Pai Dong definitely represents the spirit of Hong Kong. It is a place where people social, especially in mid-nights when most restaurants are closed, Dai Pai Dong are still full of people. Here is a short clip showing what Dai Pai Dong looks like nowadays:

The History of Dai Pai Dong

Indeed, the origin of Dai Pai Dong embedded a rather miserable history. The first licences were issued after the second world war to relatives of civil servants who had been killed or disabled in the war, allowing them to open small restaurants on the street and make a living. In the 1950s, Dai Pai Dong became a trend and you can find them almost in every corner of the street. People would gather and social until midnight. Soon, noise, hygiene and traffic led to complaints from the nearby residents. Since then Government decided to buy back some of the licenses and some cost over one million dollars. As at today, there are only 25 Dai Pai Dong left in Hong Kong: 11 in Sham Shui Po, 10 in Central, three in Wan Chai and 1 in Tai O, according to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, which manages the licences.

Recommendation

Since the number of Dai Pai Dong in Hong Kong is gradually diminishing, you should at least visit one of them no matter you live or visit Hong Kong in order to feel this unique local culture. In the next 10, 20 or 30 years, we may not even recall what Dai Pai Dong is.

If you are in doubt of which one to go to, you must try Sing Heung Yuen 2 Mei Lun St, Central, tel: 2544 8368

This definitely top the list because of its reasonable price, convenient location, together with its renowned tomato broth that is claimed to have been slowly boiled for 24 hours.During lunch hours, you will see a long queue of white collars so avoid visiting the store at those hours. The must-try menu is instant noodles or macaroni in tomato broth, lemon and honey crispy bun, milk tea.

Marco, 7 November, 2011 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

Marco, 7 November, 2011 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

Indeed, Hong Kong citizens now demand better quality of food, as well as dining environment; that is why these traditional Dai Pai Dong are disappearing one by one. They are certainly an important cultural heritage of Hong Kong and embedded plenty of stories of the locals. Should they vanish within the city, it will be a pity.

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    Why is Hong Kong renowned for its fascinating nightlife activities? The answer is because the city's lights are never off. To relieve stress after long working hours, Hongkongnese enjoys meeting friends after dinner at bars for cocktail as well as meeting new friends. The spectacular night view on skyscrapers gives Hong Kong bars a unique experience…
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Asia’s World City x its best rooftop bars

Why is Hong Kong renowned for its fascinating nightlife activities? The answer is because the city’s lights are never off. To relieve stress after long working hours, Hongkongnese enjoys meeting friends after dinner at bars for cocktail as well as meeting new friends. The spectacular night view on skyscrapers gives Hong Kong bars a unique experience that no other cities can give. There are several rooftop bars in Hong Kong that you must go to if you live or visit the city.

1. Sevva (Address: Prince’s Building 25th Floor 10 Chater Road Central, Hong Kong, 10 Chater Road, Hong Kong)

Although it might not be the tallest, it is definitely one of the most swankiest in town. It boasts an absolutely spectacular wraparound terrace with amazing views of the skyline, particularly of Norman Foster’s HSBC building and I.M. Pei’s distinctive China Bank. A variety of cocktails are offered. If you visit the bar, you must try the Kama Sultra cocktail, this is a rum-laced mix of passion fruit, mango and lime. Not just offering amazing night view, music together with cocktail in the evening, Sevva serves one of the best cakes in town during tea time as well!

2. Ozone (Address: Level 118 The Ritz-Carlton, 1 Austin Road West, Hong Kong)

This is the highest bar on the planet – level 118 at a 5 stars hotel. As you are travelling up by an elevator, you begin to feel the height. The interior is designed by Japanese architect agency Wonderwall, a company with a reputation for creating cool spaces (most notably the Bape stores). To make the most out of your time with Ozone, do drink their signature Dragontinis or a flute or two of champagne. You will soon be lost within the wonderful atmosphere and might find some difficulties in making way down to the Ground.

Adrian R. Tan, 30 January, 2013 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

Adrian R. Tan, 30 January, 2013 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

3. RED (Address: 2 IFC, 8 Finance Street, Hong Kong)

A combination of outdoor and indoor rooftop settings at IFC mall that immediately grabs your heart because of breathtaking views of Kowloon Peninsula and Victoria Habour and the Hong Kong skyline. It really offers an astonishing panorama view of the city with DJs playing house and funk music. The crowd is usually composed of professionals who work in Central and nearby areas so it is a good opportunity to meet some new, interesting friends. The bar offers variety cocktails a friendly prices. For ladies, I highly recommend Strawberry Blond, which is lemon vodka with fresh strawberries and ginger. A sip and you would be completely in love.

Andrew Kippen, 22 May 2008 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

Andrew Kippen, 22 May, 2008 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

I hope that you will like one of these recommendations. Please feel the vibe and energy of this Asia’s world city!