In a city of more than seven million, the South Asian population of Hong Kong is small at 45,000, but the community has an outsized historical importance. As early as the 1800s, Indian merchants were trading in Hong Kong alongside the British.
Because of Britain’s colonial interests in both India and Hong Kong, there was even a large contingent of the Indian army stationed in the city in the early days of colonial Hong Kong, which also defended the city during World War II.
Today’s Hongkongers might have forgotten much of that history, but the delicious flavours of the subcontinent still waft along the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui, Central and up to the Peak. Follow our lead to the best Indian restaurants Hong Kong has to offer, satisfying modern, classic and casual tastes.
New Punjab Club
Showered with critical acclaim since opening its doors in 2017, New Punjab Club is the first Punjabi restaurant to be honoured with a Michelin star. Much of the credit goes to executive chef Palash Mitra, whose contemporary cooking is inspired by post-colonial Pakistan and India. Reverence for the region’s culinary traditions comes through in the expert tandoori dishes and an ever-changing menu that reflects the Punjabi seasons. You’re encouraged to wash it all down with a gin and tonic from the quaint drinks cart. It’s a tiny space, done up in a clubby, colonial style, and fills up quickly, so book well ahead.
34 Wyndham Street, Central; +852 2368 1223
Whimsical and lively, Chaiwala looks like a series of movie sets strung together. First, to get there, enter through the attached bar, called Hugger Mugger, and you’ll find yourself in what looks like a grandma’s dining room – followed by a ’60s diner, a colonial-era pub and finally a hippie courtyard party. All of these are distinct dining areas, and the food is as vibrant as the interiors suggest. The menu takes you across India, from the hearty tandoor dishes of Punjab in the north to the scallops and fish of Kerala down south.
Basement 43, 55 Wyndham St, Central; +852 2362 8988
Rajasthan Rifles in the revamped Peak Galleria resembles a 1920s Anglo-Indian mess hall, complete with paraphenalia from colonial troops dotted all over the dining room. Try historic fusion dishes, from chicken tikka chaat on bloomer bread to smoky plates of goat seekh kebabs. On weekends, fuel up on a masala omelette or stuffed naan rolls. (You could always assuage some of that caloric guilt by hiking up to the Peak before you chow down.) In clement weather, pick a perch on the alfresco terrace, from which you can glimpse Victoria Harbour.
G/F, The Peak Galleria; +852 2388 8874
On the first floor above ever-busy Hollywood Road, Jashan has been serving hungry Central-ites since 2003. Considering that local restaurants open and close like lift doors, its longevity is a testament to its consistent quality. Chilli fiends can’t get enough of the junglee maas, a Rajasthaniani recipe of lamb slow-cooked with whole chillis, reflective of executive chef Harpal Singh’s north Indian training. Fret not if you’re afraid of the heat, as there are plenty of milder dishes too, from black dal to white butter chicken, a Singh invention.
1/F, Amber Lodge, 23 Hollywood Road, Central; + 852 3105 5300
Loved for its generous lunch buffet, Bombay Dreams is one of the more popular mid-range Indian restaurants in Hong Kong, and also happens to be halal. The decor eschews the bright colours often associated with the country; the food is where you’ll find pops of colour, from the confetti-like palak patta chaat (deep-fried spinach drizzled with chutney and yogurt) to the creamy terracotta of murgh makhan palak (a style of chicken curry with cream and spinach) to the retina-searing orange of gajar ka halwa (sweet grated carrot) for dessert. Don’t miss the tandoori dishes, which come to you straight out of the oven.
4/F, Carfield Building, 77 Wyndham Street, Central; +852 2971 0001
Opened in 1981, Woodlands is well known among Hong Kong foodies for its giant dosas and South Indian vegetarian dishes cooked with care. Now with a vegan menu and colourful revamped interiors, it continues to draw in customers from far and wide. Start with some fluffy fried idli (rice flour cakes), followed by the classic paper dosa – so named for being impossibly thin – or perhaps uttapam or Indian ‘pizza,’ a thick, pancake-like dosa with toppings. If you’re a salt fiend, opt for a salt lassi, an old-school favourite.
UG Shop 16 and 17, Wing On Plaza, 62 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon; +852 2369 3718
Although it’s one of the largest Indian chain restaurants in the world, Saravanaa Bhavan is fast food at its best. The spick-and-span refectory specialises in the South Indian staples of dosas and idli, all made fresh to order, although it also sells dishes from the all over the country, from naan to rogan josh, and even some Indian-Chinese choices. The menu is entirely lacto-ovo vegetarian, with some vegan options.
1st Floor, Katherine House, 53-55 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 2736 1127
The Delhi Club
The labyrinthine Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui is a hub of South Asian activity, filled with tailors, guesthouses, traders and informal restaurants. One of the best-loved Indian spots is The Delhi Club. Legions of fans stream into the dining room (a little dreary, but you’re not here for the decor) for punchy curries and fiery tandoori dishes. It’s one of the few places in the building that has a liquor license, so if you asked for “extra spicy,” quench your thirst with a beer or three.
Room 3, 3/F, Block C, Chungking Mansions, 38-44 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 2368 1682
You won’t see many dai pai dong, or street food vendors, in Hong Kong these days, as most of them have gradually moved into cooked food centres – government-built food courts. That’s also where you’ll find the likes of Chautari – which serves generous, scrumptious, affordable food designed to be shared. Unlike most of its cooked food centre peers, who sell Chinese food, Chautari sticks to north Indian and Nepalese favourites: chicken tikka, lamb korma and saag aloo, all perfect with an order of fluffy naan and ice-cold beers.
1/F, CF6, Queen Street Cooked Food Market, 1 Queen Street, 38 Des Voeux Road West, Sheung Wan; +852 2600 4408