Cover Samsen Sheung Wan's signature khao soi (Photo: Samsen)

The list of high-quality budget eateries includes Samsen Sheung Wan and Mongkok stalwarts Good Hope Noodle

In Michelin tradition, the list of Bib Gourmands—i.e. highlighted eateries that “offer high quality food at budget-friendly prices”—is released shortly prior to the unveiling of the big guns and, on 18 January 2021, the red guide unveiled its selections ahead of the star announcements on 27 January 2021. For a city known for presenting incredibly high quality food at low prices, Hong Kong’s list includes 63 venues (including seven newcomers for 2021) while Macau clocks in with just seven awarded venues.

The criteria for a Bib Gourmand is that diners should be able to enjoy a three-course meal excluding drinks for a maximum price of HK$400 in Hong Kong and MOP400 in Macau. Previous entrants to the list include the likes of Ciak, the diffusion restaurant by Italian chef Umberto Bombana (where a meal can definitely run upwards of HK$400, but we’re not arguing with the quality), Cornerstone by Shane Osborn, late-night chef favourite Ju Xing Home in Prince Edward, and Kwan Kee Clay Pot Rice (one of our favourites for the eponymous dish). Chains such as Shugetsu Ramen, Putien, Din Tai Fung and Tim Ho Wan also feature in the list, as well as regional specialties such as Yau Yuen Siu Tsui in Jordan, known for their thick, spicy biang biang noodles. 

For 2021, Michelin have named seven new entrants including the second branch of Adam Cliff’s Samsen—an excellent follow-up to the Wan Chai original, which already has a Bib Gourmand—as well as a number of noodle bars. Good Hope Noodle in Mongkok, established in 1971 is known for its bamboo-kneaded duck egg noodles and this year regained its Bib Gourmand distinction. Tai Wai’s Hao Tang Hao Mian (literally translating into “good soup, good noodles”), which commands lengthy queues on the regular and has a reputation for richly flavoured noodle soups—one of their signatures includes the “good head, good tail”, which plays off the fact that it includes Sichuan spicy stewed wagyu beef cheek and braised oxtail in a beef broth.

The list also highlights noodle specialist Eight Treasures in Tin Hau, whose claim to fame is their nourishing beef broth that incorporates eight medicinal herbs; Shun Tak restaurants Fung Shing in North Point and Eton in Mongkok; and Yuan Is Here, a Taiwanese street food eatery in Kennedy Town.

For a city with literally thousands of incredible eateries available at budget prices, it’s a list that is unsurprising but curiously lean, and a reminder that we can all do more to spotlight the real treasures in Hong Kong that are still putting in the work day in, day out, during one of the toughest eras for the F&B industry.

See also: The United We Dine Campaign To Support Hong Kong Restaurants

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