Is Hong Kong losing its culinary identity?

hong kong style snack shops restaurant hk causeway bay

One of the many Hong Kong style snack shops that may soon close

The last few years have seen closing after closing of cherished local restaurants and snack shops that have been driven out of business by the city’s high rents.

Simple, affordable food that people grew up on, an important part of Hong Kong’s unique history, is quickly disappearing, and not being replaced.

Maintaining traditional Hong Kong-style eateries is a quality of life issue and a part of preserving Hong Kong’s distinct culture.

The H.K. government is great with massive infrastructure projects, but not as in tune with cultural issues. As a city, we have a huge surplus of financial reserves and very little in the way of innovative ideas on how to spend them. Why not put some of that money to good use in subsidizing rents for restaurants that provide a link to the city’s cultural heritage? Or, at the very least, provide tax incentives?

Other international cities, such as New York have experimented with rent control over the years, and this seems like an even more clear and urgent problem.

To those who cry “free market”, in defense of the closings, Hong Kong isn’t a free market by any means. This is a city that thrives off of monopolies and unfair business practices, so the idea that small, family-owned restaurants can compete and survive on their own is completely naive and absurd.

Although it may be tough for some of you to realize, Hong Kong is rapidly losing its identity and becoming dominated by a handful of restaurant groups and soul-less chains. (For example, how boring is it that most dim sum places in Hong Kong now taste the same?)

There is little incentive to start a small H.K. style restaurant in today’s climate. Unlike in previous years, treasured family-owned restaurants that close today are not being replaced by newer ones tomorrow.

Part of the appeal of Hong Kong as a tourist destination is the lure of a distinct local cuisine, yet the number of places that you can visit for authentic food is getting smaller and smaller.

It may not be apparent to everyone just yet, but an important aspect of Hong Kong’s way of life is being erased with each well regarded institution that shutters its doors.

hk style cha chaan teng restaurant dai pai dong

It’s getting harder to find true Hong Kong style snacks these days

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