Ho Lee Fook
G/F, 1-5 Elgin Street, Central HK
+852 2810 0860
Ask any local foodie for restaurant recommendations for out-of-towners, and chances are, Ho Lee Fook will make the list. Headed up by Jowett Yu, this modern Chinese eatery embraces everything that Hong Kong is about – fusing elements of East and West to create a fun, unpretentious dining experience that captures the best of both worlds.
Taiwanese-born chef, Jowett first made waves with his restaurants Ms. G’s and Mr. Wong in Sydney, before Black Sheep Restaurants co-founders, Christopher Mark and Syed Asim Hussain scouted him out during a trip to Australia. In a stroke of luck, Jowett agreed to relocate to Hong Kong to open a restaurant here, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Translating to ‘good fortune for your mouth’ in Cantonese, Ho Lee Fook is a funky, irreverent kitchen that showcases Jowett’s innovative cooking style, reinterpreting classic Chinese dishes with influences from Asian and Western cuisines.
Start your meal with a cocktail from the nostalgic drinks menu: there’s the Midnight in Mongkok, where the popular yogurt drink Yakult is mixed with bourbon and kaffir lime; or the Pocari Spritz-o made with gin, lager, Pocari and ginger.
When it comes to the food, the most popular starter is Mom’s ‘mostly cabbage, a little bit of pork’ dumplings – a tribute to Jowett’s mom, who also flew in to help open the restaurant. Also worth sampling is the Yunnan-style steak tartare and the drunken clams, which come swimming in an aromatic broth of beer, Shaoxing wing, garlic and Thai basil.
The roast meat platters are a must (this is Hong Kong after all), with the kitchen mastering the traditional methods of Cantonese barbecue meats with their own take on roast goose, Kurobuta pork char-siu and crispy skin chicken. To pair, Jowett’s mastery of the wok shines with the vegetable dishes, from Typhoon shelter corn with garlic, black beans and chillies, to garlic chive flowers stir-fried with chorizo, cashews and shiitake mushrooms.
As for the interiors, they’re decidedly cool. Latticed screens with punched-out Chinese characters pay homage to famed graffiti artist, The King of Kowloon, while local paintings by Hong Kong artist, Jonathan Jay Lee help bring the space to life with colourful scenes of the local Gage Street Market.
Meanwhile, the staircase is lined with rows of maneki neko cats – hundreds of plastic paws wave in synchronization in a cheeky nod to typical Chinese restaurant decor.
You’ll have to speak up to hear your neighbour, but that’s what Ho Lee Fook is all about – recreating the high-energy buzz of old-school Hong Kong cha chaan tengs (tea restaurants), in an environment that feels fresh and modern. After a few drinks, you’ll become just as much a part of the restaurant’s dynamic atmosphere as an observer of it.
Be sure to cap off the night with dessert, which offers another peek into Jowett’s childhood. The most popular is the Breakfast 2.0, a mix of Horlicks ice cream, honeyjoy cornflakes, oats, dried longan and cocoa coffee crumbs. It’s pure happiness in a bowl, and sure to put a smile on your face as you step back out onto the busy streets of Hong Kong.