Header image courtesy of FAM 囍公館 (via Facebook)
While many people (ourselves included) get a thrill out of hunting down Hong Kong’s best-kept culinary secrets—sometimes even prizing those that are harder to reach—those who are able-bodied may overlook the fact that these hidden gems often present barriers to those with physical disabilities.
Whether they are located on hilly roads, occupy cramped quarters, or simply have a few wheelchair-proof steps at the entrance, there are myriad reasons why finding a suitable restaurant is much more challenging for a wheelchair user than able-bodied diners. (That being said, one unexpected silver lining of the pandemic is that the government’s restrictions on distance between dining tables has allowed wheelchair users to move around more freely.)
Because restaurants on their own are exempt from many of the Buildings Department’s guidelines for barrier-free design, many accessible eateries can be found within hotels or shopping malls. From casual cafés perfect for large group gatherings to exquisite fine-dining restaurants for your next milestone celebration, here are some of our favourite wheelchair-friendly restaurants and cafés in Hong Kong.
Located on the first floor of The Peninsula hotel (whose common areas are all accessible by wheelchair), Spring Moon is an institution unto itself. Considered one of the finest Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong, this esteemed eatery is famed for its refined Cantonese fare and sumptuous old Shanghai-inspired design—think stained-glass windows and doors, dark woods, brocade chairs, lacquer screens, and antique ceramics.
As a Cantonese restaurant of high standing, the dim sum is predictably excellent, with bites like the honey-glazed baked barbecue pork puffs ($82), crisp golden taro puffs with diced abalone & chicken ($82), and Sicilian red prawn & minced pork xiaolongbao ($100 per piece) being particularly beloved.
Spring Moon (嘉麟樓), 1/F, The Peninsula Hong Kong, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2696 6760
Le Rêve is one of our favourite choices for a special occasion meal, with Michelin star-quality French-Japanese fusion at a comparatively reasonable price tag. Located in a Causeway Bay tower with a ramp leading to the ground-floor lift lobby, getting to Le Rêve is a breeze (or should we say dream?) for the wheelchair user.
The six-course “6 Shades of Flavour” menu ($980) and eight-course signature menu ($1,280) comprise elegant seasonal dishes, most of which—like the caviar “secret”— are plated with an air of theatricality. Presented in a round caviar tin and a cloud of dry ice smoke, the prized black pearls are layered and contrasted with seasonal ingredients designed to play off each other both in flavour and texture—during one winter visit, we tried it with carabinero prawn tartare, burrata, and nutty Japanese pumpkin.
Le Rêve, 10/F, Zing!, 38 Yiu Wa Street, Causeway Bay | (+852) 2866 1010
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We’ve covered plenty of Chinese restaurants before—but how about British-Chinese? This newly opened restaurant in Sheung Wan is an upscale take on the unique fusion food found all over the UK. Chicken balls ($90), crispy shredded chilli beef ($180), and aromatic shredded duck pancakes ($150) are just some of the nostalgic dishes that homesick Britons have sought comfort in since 1908BC opened its doors this summer.
Unlike the food, the décor bears no resemblance to the family-run Chinese takeaways dotted across the UK, with amorphous Tom Dixon lights, marble tabletops, and a well-stocked bar with premium spirits. With that jazzed-up interior comes one of the swankiest disabled bathrooms we have ever seen, with ample room for a wheelchair and lovely Molton Brown toiletries. For step-free access to the restaurant, use the street-level passenger lift instead of the lift inside the ground-floor lobby.
1908BC, The Pemberton, 22–26 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan | (+852) 2116 4668
When it comes to delicious and well-priced fresh pasta, there is perhaps no bigger name in Hong Kong than Pici. With six locations dotted around the city, it’s never been easier to get a taste of this popular Pirata Group concept (which is just as well, because we remember how long the queues were when there was only one small restaurant in Admiralty’s Starstreet Precinct).
Unfortunately, that original Pici (as well as its immediate follow-up in Soho), are both no-gos for wheelchair users, being located on some of the hillier parts of Hong Kong Island. However, the Lai Chi Kok and Sha Tin branches are step-free, with flat entryways wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, while the Tsim Sha Tsui and Kennedy Town branches both have a single step in the front, which can be managed with help.
Thankfully, the food is just as good at all of them—if you have the appetite for it, the three-course tasting menu ($290 per person) is the best bang for your buck by far, with a two-person portion comprising two starters, three mains, and two desserts. We’re big fans of the burrata, while the namesake pici cacio e pepe and signature tiramisù never disappoint.
Given the number of sushi restaurants that populate our city, there are a lot of viable options for wheelchair users, ranging from conveyor belt chains like Genki and Sen-ryo (depending on the individual shops’ locations) to haute once-in-a-lifetyle omakase experiences like Sushi Saito and Sushi Shikon. For an experience that is somewhere in the middle—with pieces that are made to order, but affordable enough to become a regular indulgence—we like Sushi Sho in Tsim Sha Tsui (which ironically used to be a standing sushi bar).
This petite ground-floor shop on Hau Fook Street comprises one long horseshoe-shaped bar, around which customers can sit and watch the chefs deftly forming fresh nigiri and slicing sashimi. During lunch, one of the best deals is the self-selected sushi set (starting from $168), which includes 10 to 12 pieces of sushi of your choosing—for a taste of luxury that won’t break the bank, however, try one of the reasonably priced omakase sets, which range from $380 to $680.
Sushi Sho, Shop 4, G/F, Dorfu Court, 5–6 Hau Fook Street, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2366 7988
If you’re in the mood for an alfresco meal, there is perhaps no more wheelchair-friendly space with scenic views than the West Kowloon Cultural District. There is a smattering of pet-friendly cafés offering pizzas, bagels, and the like, but we are also fond of FAM (which stands for “Food Art Music”), Art Park’s resident Cantonese restaurant. Perhaps inspired by its surroundings, the restaurant is decorated in an outré pop art-esque style, with artsy props and deliberately clashing prints and colours.
Meanwhile, the menu is similarly creative, with traditional recipes given interesting twists and updates, like the whole smoked Peking duck with caviar ($1,288) or charcoal char siu bao ($78). The juxtaposition of delicate dim sum with the brash, bright design, and serene views of palm trees, blue waters, and faraway mountains gives the entire experience a unique feel—and the ample outdoor seating and spacious interior make it eminently wheelchair-friendly.
From now until 14 October, the views have been further enhanced with the giant inflatable FriendsWithYou exhibition situated on Art Park’s lawn, meaning that you don’t have to compete with anyone to enjoy a prime view of the colourful characters.
FAM, Units 01–03, G/F, Art Park, West Kowloon Cultural District, 22 Museum Drive, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2866 3667
While Hong Kong has seen a proliferation of trendy new cafés in recent years, many of them—cute as they are—are often small, hidden in industrial buildings or on ladder streets, or simply have a step at their entrances, rendering them inaccessible. That doesn’t mean that coffee-loving wheelchair users have to resort to lacklustre international chains, however—homegrown coffee brand Sensory Zero’s flagship shop in Wong Chuk Hang is a beautiful and spacious ground-floor café that’s easily reached by MTR.
The wide-ranging food menu offers plenty of options, from Japanese rice bowls to deep-fried snacks, healthy salads, pastas, all-day breakfasts, and desserts. As an artisanal coffee roaster, the coffee menu is both varied and specialised at once, with crowd-pleasing drinks like the homemade ginger latte (starting from $45) and chocolate-laden crazy mocha ($55) as well as single-origin hand-drip coffee (starting from $75). Given the roominess of the store and variety of the menu, Sensory Zero is a great choice for mixed-ability friend groups to catch up over drinks or a meal.
Sensory Zero, Shop G01, One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang
For a relaxed, Japanese-Italian meal in Lok Fu, check out Gochi. With its large doorway, the entrance to this Instagram-popular yoshoku restaurant has ample room for wheelchair users to pass through, while the huge glass windows overlooking the courtyard are great for people-watching.
Tuck into handmade pastas and pizzas—we like the pasta ai ricci de mare ($148) or Margherita pizza ($138) for a simple meal—or come along in the afternoon for their hugely popular tea set for two ($488), which includes savoury bites like Wagyu or crispy fish sliders, smoked salmon blinis, and crab meat avocado tarts alongside sweets such as caramel pudding castella cake, macarons, and canelés. Do note that Gochi’s upper floor is not wheelchair-accessible, so make sure to request a ground-floor table.
Gochi, Unit L104A–L104B & UG2/F Unit L211–L214, Lok Fu Place, 198 Junction Road, Lok Fu | (+852) 2662 2969