Cover Ming Kee Seafood Restaurant on Po Toi Island.

Whether you get there by hiking or kayaking, these are the restaurants worth the journey

Hong Kong boasts of an incredible variety of landscapes, and invariably, tucked in the fold of a valley or on the escarpment of a beach, one will find a bare-knuckle eatery that has, against all odds, managed to piece together a full menu—and excelled—despite the lack of creature comforts offered by their surroundings. 

With these establishments, the difficulty in getting there—whether by hiking or on a rickety sampan ride—is all part of the fun; and with international travel still out of the equation, who doesn't love a day trip based on the premise of food? Here are five restaurants scattered around Hong Kong's fringes that are worth the journey.

See also: 5 Family-Owned Chinese Restaurants In Hong Kong

Duen Kee Tea House, Tai Mo Shan

 
 
 
 
 
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Housed in an unassuming village house on the slopes of Hong Kong's tallest peak, Duen Kee serves authentic dim sum completely sans frills. Harking back to a different era, every aspect of Duen Kee is self-service: from procuring utensils and pouring tea, and snatching Duen Kee's signature steamed char siu rice rolls and wu gok (fried taro dumplings) from a gargantuan bamboo steamer, to scooping a dessert of tofu fa (tofu custard) from a large tub.

The restaurant opens from 6am to 2pm, though most customers arrive early to order the blanched watercress—grown in the surrounding fields—and a serving of siu mei (roast meats) while taking in the views and crisp mountain air. Thanks to its location, a meal at Duen Kee is often followed by a hike to Tai Mo Shan—though we recommend taking some time to digest before embarking on a post-prandial ramble.

The scenic route: From Tsuen Wan MTR Station, Chuen Lung Village is a winding 12-minute taxi ride away. Duen Kee is located just a short walk into the village proper. After your meal, continue uphill on Route Twisk and look for the Rotary Park Nature Trail, which will lead you to the beginning of Maclehose Trail Section 8.

Duen Kee Tea House, Chuen Lung Village, Tai Mo Shan, Tsuen Wan, +852 2490 5246

Ming Kee Seafood Restaurant, Po Toi

 
 
 
 
 
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Don't let Po Toi's nickname, "the South Pole of Hong Kong", put you off from making the hour-long kaito ride to this windswept gem and its abundance of hiking trails and quirkily named rock formations. The island has a long history of fishing, and the best place to sample the produce of the surrounding waters is Ming Kee, a 30-year-old seafood restaurant that anchors the only village on Po Toi.

See also: 10 Secret Islands To Visit In Hong Kong

Despite its remoteness, Ming Kee is often the first port of call for hungry partygoers arriving by junk boat to seek out the restaurant's freshly caught white boiled shrimp, the signature seaweed soup with egg and dried shrimp, and deep-fried salt-and-pepper calamari—just make sure to book ahead for large groups. The restaurant's location right on the beach is also a major draw, with the gentle waters of the cove making for a great afternoon dip.

The scenic route: A handful of ferries depart on Saturdays and Sundays from Aberdeen and Stanley. The ferry pier is the staging ground for two paved circular hiking paths that cover the island's attractions, including Tin Hau Temple, Kwoon Yat Pagoda, prehistoric rock carvings and a number of rock formations.

Ming Kee Seafood Restaurant, Po Toi, Hong Kong; +852 2849 7038

Sea Urchin Breeding Centre Seafood Restaurant, Leung Shuen Wan

 
 
 
 
 
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Hong Kong's uni enthusiasts will be pleasantly surprised to learn that these spiny shellfish can be found right in our own backyard. The Sea Urchin Breeding Centre in Sai Kung's Leung Shuen Wan is a rather official name for a typical dai pai dong built on a concrete platform that juts into the sea, though its wares are some of the freshest possible sea urchins found anywhere in the city.

Offered only between the months of March and May, the sea urchins are hand-harvested by a diver from nearby rock pools and served individually for HK$38 per piece, or as part of 10-person set lunch (HK$400 up). The latter includes dishes like sea urchin in steamed egg white, sea urchin and seaweed spring rolls, and sea urchin fried rice, alongside Cantonese classics like stir-fried clams with black bean sauce, and 'sand ginger' chicken.

The restaurant also offers group tour packages that combine a meal with a speedboat trip to a neighbouring beach, or a guided tour of Sai Kung's UNESCO Global Geopark. A feast for the eyes and the stomach indeed.

See also: 6 Seaside Towns To Explore In Hong Kong

The scenic route: From Sai Kung Ferry Pier, take a taxi the entrance to Pak A Village and walk along the paved concrete path for approximately half an hour until you reach Leung Shuen Wan. After your meal, continue along the path for another half-hour to the white sands of Pak Lap Wan, and the East Dam of High Island Reservoir beyond, where a taxi queue can take you back to Sai Kung Town Centre. Alternatively, a speedboat pick-up and drop-off service from Sai Kung Ferry Pier is included with every group meal booking.

Sea Urchin Breeding Centre Seafood Restaurant, Leung Shuen Wan, Sai Kung, Hong Kong; +852 9379 9051, seaurchin.com.hk

Chung Kee Store, Sha Tau Kok

Hidden in the far north of Hong Kong is Chung Kee, an eatery in Kuk Po village that has been serving hikers Hakka cuisine for more than 10 years. Don't miss their signature duck with a lemon-tinged vinaigrette and pork belly cooked with preserved vegetables and black bean. The steamed oysters and fried oyster omelette are also a house specialty, made using rock oysters harvested from the nearby Starling Inlet that separates Hong Kong from Shenzhen.

The scenic route: Chung Kee is best reached at the end of an hour-long trail from the village of Luk Keng, taking you past one of the most biodiverse areas in Hong Kong that is home to mangroves, egrets, abandoned farmland and idyllic stone villages. To get to Luk Keng, take the 56K minibus from Fanling MTR Station.

Chung Kee Store, Kuk Po Old Village, Sha Tau Kok, Hong Kong; +852 2679 9148

Leisure Kiosk, Yim Tin Tsai

 
 
 
 
 
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For a taste of rustic island life and a glimpse into history, only a visit to the Sai Kung islet of Yim Tin Tsai will do. Originally settled by the Chan clan from Guangdong in the 18th century, Yim Tin Tsai (which translates to 'small salt field') saw its heyday farming and producing salt for the region. In the late 19th century, an Italian priest converted the island's population to Roman Catholicism, and to this day a Romanesque chapel stands in the village. However, Yim Tin Tsai's salt industry went bust in the 1990s with Hong Kong's globalisation, leading to its gradual abandonment, although it has seen a revival in recent years thanks to efforts to promote the island as a historical and cultural destination.

See also: Hong Kong Hikes—Plus Where To Eat And Drink After

While the island's abandoned attractions are plenty, you'll want to punctuate your day trip with a lunch at Leisure Kiosk, which overlooks the old salt flats in the heart of Yim Tin Tsai. This restaurant offers wood-fire roasted chicken cooked to perfection in a home-made kiln, using wood from the local longan tree . The tender bird has a wonderful wood-fire flavour to it which is rare to find anywhere else in Hong Kong, made possible thanks to the owner's efforts in experimenting with chicken size and cooking time. Another specialty is their succulent pork neck, which is slow-cooked in the same kiln. Do note that this restaurant is only open on weekends and public holidays, and visitors are advised to call ahead to secure a table.

The scenic route: Yim Tin Tsai can be reached by a 15-minute ferry ride from Sai Kung Ferry pier. Many adventurers also choose to arrive by kayak, using the islet as a rest stop.

Leisure Kiosk, 3 Yim Tin Tsai Village, Sai Kung, Hong Kong; +852 9467 4448