(CNN) — From late night street food to five-star restaurants, you can find the most delicious, mouth-watering food almost anywhere in Hong Kong. If you eat around the popular areas of Central, Causeway Bay, or Tsim Sha Tsui, many restaurants will be on the more expensive side.
But there are some places in Hong Kong with food that tastes just as good as, if not better than the fancy restaurants, minus the high price tag.
Let me introduce one of my favorite eating spots in Hong Kong: Tai Po. It is located in the New Territories, around 40 minutes by MTR from Central, but it is well worth the visit because it has some of the most delicious food in Hong Kong.
It's not the most luxurious of areas, but the food is incredible. Tai Po has an old, rustic feel to it -- a much different vibe than Hong Kong Island. Buildings are old and stuffy, most restaurant names can only be read in Cantonese, and bamboo scaffolding is still used for construction.
Yet this old-school style brings about a certain warmth and welcoming feeling, one that makes you feel completely comfortable as you wander around the area.
Since most of the eateries in Tai Po are small hole-in-the-wall shops, it's fun to hop from one place to another and try a little bit of everything. There is such a wide variety of food, but one thing is for sure: you will leave with a very satisfied stomach.
1. Yat Lok Barbeque Restaurant
Everything's tasty at Yat Lok Barbecue Restaurant.
Courtesy Nayuki/Creative Commons/Flickr
After eating the char siu and roast goose at Yat Lok, nothing else will ever compare in taste. Take one bite into the char siu and it melts in your mouth. It is so soft and tender, oozing with marbleized flavor.
I've eaten char siu at restaurants in Central for $35 (HK$250) a plate, as well as other places in Hong Kong, but I've yet to taste anything remotely as delicious as Yat Lok. Plus, you can't beat the price. The lunch plate with rice and char siu costs $4.50 (HK$35), a bargain for what you get.
Not only that, but their roast goose is to-die for. It is barbecued to absolute perfection.
Many people rave about the famous roast goose at Yung Kee in Central, but Yat Lok's goose is more tender and flavorsome. Not to mention it's a fraction of the price at only $4.50 (HK$35) for a generous portion of roast goose on a bed of rice.
The menu is entirely in Chinese, but the owner speaks English and he is so friendly and helpful. Don't be afraid to ask him what to order because he knows exactly what you should eat.
2. Brisket Specialist (群記清湯腩)
A trip to Tai Po wouldn't be complete without beef brisket noodles.
Courtesy T.Tseng/Creative Commons/Flickr
You've heard the old phrase "don't judge a book by its cover." Well, if we're talking about restaurants rather than books, don't be fooled by the looks of 群記清湯腩.
It's a small hole-in-the-wall shop filled with nothing more than four wooden tables and plastic stools to sit on. Their specialty is the beef brisket noodles. For $4.50 (HK$35), you'll get a bowl of tender beef brisket chunks and fresh homemade noodles in a simmering, flavorful soup broth.
It sounds simple, yet the beef is exceptionally tender and the broth brings out a savory taste. Every day, they open at around noon and stay open until they sell out of noodles. Sometimes they run out as early as 7 or 8 p.m. so arrive early if you're making the long trek to Tai Po.
3. Sun Ming Fat Restaurant (新明發食家)
Don't miss a takeaway selection of Chinese spare ribs.
Courtesy Father.Jack/Creative Commons/Flickr
There are several places that sell dim-sum dishes right in front of their restaurant so people can take the food to-go. 新明發食家's most popular item is the Chinese spare ribs (pai gwat). They're steamed with a splash of black bean and garlic sauce which makes it exceptionally tender and juicy.
The best part? It only costs $1.90 (HK$15). Often times, you'll see people lined up outside 新明發食家 for the spare ribs, even though three or four neighboring shops sell the same thing. Nothing can compete with 新明發食家 because they've nailed down their recipe to perfection.
4. Dumpling King (君滬鍋貼大王)
Delicious dumplings are on offer throughout Tai Po.
Courtesy TheDeliciousLife/Creative Commons/Flickr
If you're looking for an inexpensive yet delicious snack, I'd head over to Dumpling King. Their pan-fried dumplings are slightly crispy on the outside but quite juicy inside. They go for $0.25 (HK$2) a piece, but they're quite filling so you don't need many to fill your stomach.
I wouldn't recommend eating their slower food since Dumpling King is more of a fast-food, cafeteria-style eatery, but their dumplings are absolutely delicious. Grab a few dumplings to-go, then head over to 群記清湯腩 for a hearty bowl of noodles. The perfect combination.
5. Chan Hon Kee (陳漢記)
You'll eat the most delicious rice noodle dishes (chung fun) at Chan Hon Kee. Their fresh rice noodles have such a delicate and smooth texture. A popular dish here is the Chinese donut (yau ja gwai) wrapped in thin slices of rice noodles with a sweet soy sauce dressing.
Another favorite is the rolled-up rice noodles with dried shrimp and onions sprinkled throughout. It's crispy on the outside, but soft and chewy inside. If you're looking for something simpler, you can always eat the rice noodles with char siu or shrimp topped with the sweet soy sauce. The dishes vary in prices, most around $3.80 (HK$30).
Lauren Lee is a journalist born and raised in Los Angeles.
Editor's note: This article was previously published in 2010. It was reformatted and republished in 2017.