Hong Kong Features in CNBC’s Top 10 Underrated Food Destinations in the World

What position does Hong Kong rank among the world’s most underrated food cities?


Hong Kong: Asia’s World City for Food

Chances are, if you’ve ever lived in Hong Kong, you know that the city is full of amazing eateries. With the moniker of Asia’s World City, Hong Kong boasts a plethora of restaurants serving up regional delights from all across the globe. With over 15,000 eateries ranging from fine dining all the way down to small local diners (cha chaan teng), Hong Kong has something for everyone to enjoy. 


Criteria For Cities on the List

What qualifies a city to be eligible as one of the world’s 10 most underrated food destinations? Essentially, any city that is usually not an immediate pick for those who typically look to travel to food destinations. Cities like Rome, Paris, Tokyo and Barcelona won’t make this list because they represent the usual types of destinations foodies would pick when going on a culinary journey. 


When the list was being curated CNBC used a survey conducted by Chef's Pencil, where “250 chefs and foodies [were interviewed to discuss] which place they thought was the most underrated foodie destination. They were allowed to name countries, cities or regions – no restrictions whatsoever.”


From the responses given, a list was curated that showcases places “just off the beaten foodie traveler track – where you’ll find exquisite food, delicacies to savor or avoid, depending on just how gastronomically adventurous you are, and mouthwatering delights.



Top 10 Underrated Food Cities Around the World


1. Cape Town 

2. Budapest 

3. Chicago

4. Melbourne  

5. Mexico City

6. San Sebastian

7. Bergen (Norway)

8. Hong Kong

9. Montreal 

10. Naples


1. Cape Town

Cape town is the premiere food destination of south Africa with an eclectic mix of eateries due to the wide array of different cultures, ethnicities and races living together.


Haute cuisine, street food to die for, eclectic pop-ups” dot the city at regular intervals and “being a port city and sitting on the Dutch East India’s Spice Route, its food has been flavored by spices and cuisines from around the world.”


2. Budapest

Though Budapest has been on the culinary map for industry experts, the average foodie may not be aware of the gastronomic wonders that await in this beautiful, historic city. “Hungarian cuisine has a long history that goes back to King Matthias in the 15th century and is known for paprika and goulash.” Travelers can find plenty of rustic restaurants with flavorful and fresh home-cooked meals such as “fisherman’s soup, lángos – a deep fried flat bread, mushroom stew with paprika, and főzelék – a vegetable soup-come-stew simmered with sour cream.”


Already, Budapest has acquired six Michelin Stars in 2020, which makes it a city for foodies to keep an eye on. 


3. Chicago

Chicago is a city that has won plenty of accolades when it comes to food. Boasting an impressive list of awards including 24 Michelin starred restaurants, 52 Bib Gourmands and 103 Michelin Plate Awards in 2020, this is a city that offers a hearty blend of fine dining and comfort food. 


4. Melbourne

Sydney may well be the best-known city for travelers in Australia, but Melbourne should not be underestimated when it comes to food (and more). Being an international melting pot, Melbournians are known to have an adventurous appetite enjoying everything “from Chinese dumplings to Russian borsch and strong Italian coffee - the city embraces its diverse cultures.”


Laneway dining is another standout culinary feature of Melbourne where visitors can find quaint hole-in-the-wall “coffee shops, terrace restaurants, late night bites, and hip bars” all congregated together. 


5. Mexico City

Mexico City is a wondrous foodie paradise by default as its street food is so good that it is “UNESCO recognized as cultural heritage.” Aside from delicious Mexican food like tortas and tamales, chilangos, machetes and more, Mexico City also has a growing number of restaurants featuring international cuisines. Some of the more popular international cuisines in Mexico City include Japanese, Korean, and Lebanese food. 


Don’t miss out on the vibrant and colorful food markets, either!


6. San Sebastian

San Sebastian is often overlooked, given the stiff competition it faces from nearby foodie cities like Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona. However, it definitely deserves to be on every foodie’s travel list. The small city boasts three restaurants that have triple Michelin Star ratings, which is a truly special achievement. For context, Chicago only has one restaurant with three Michelin Stars. 


However, it is not just the fine-dining that makes San Sebastian so special as a food paradise. The city has plenty of cheap eats from Basque-style tapas to exquisitely fresh seafood.


7. Bergen

Helping to put Norway on the culinary map, Bergen is known as a “UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy.” Given this title because of its innovative approach to food production, Bergen has “3,000 farmers and 200 artisans supplying a city of little over 270 thousand people.” Since Bergen is located right next to the sea, seafood is the city’s lifeblood and Bergen is known for its organic approach to cuisine and the freshness of its seafood. 


8. Hong Kong

Hong Kong is well-known for its legendary street food and cheap local delights; but many people don’t know that the city is also renowned for its high-quality eateries. Hong Kong has seven restaurants that have been awarded triple Michelin Stars (the highest award possible). 


With a huge selection of local dishes that can be had as cheaply or extravagantly as one likes, Hong Kong can cater to both foodies on the hunt for a bargain meal or those looking for opulent dining experiences. 


With almost every district having some form of unique, amazing food to sample, Hong Kong is a city where no one stays hungry for long. Aside from its local delights like dimsum, Hong Kong has a thriving expat population and a large array of foreign eateries to suit every traveler’s palate. 


9. Montreal

Montreal is a city known for its creative approach to food. Though there are plenty of local classics to sample – like bagels, poutine, and the famed meat sandwich, the city is also embracing finer dining options as its culinary arsenal grows.


Wine bars, European restaurants and delis are popping up with far more regularity and with plenty of open-air markets, Montreal certainly has a wide variety of food that suits even the most discerning of palates. 


10. Naples

Naples has it all: from fine dining to mouth-watering street food and, of course, it may just be one of the best places to enjoy authentic pizza. However, one of  Naples’ greatest claims to culinary fame is the produce that it grows in rich, fertile volcanic soil. With Mount Vesuvius just nearby, it is little wonder Naples grows Marzano tomatoes, which are believed to be the best in the world. They also produce creamy buffalo mozerella and have a thriving seafood market and trade.


For those looking for a high-end culinary experience, Naples has 4 Michelin-starred restaurants and for those with a slightly more adventurous food craving, check out Naples’ famous fried street food. “Look out for couppos, a paper cone filled with tasty fried morsels – pastacresciute, small pieces of fried pizza dough, panzerotti, a potato croquette filled with salami and mozzarella, or arancini, golden and crispy rice balls, and that oh so special treat alici fritte, fresh, deep fried anchovies.” And don’t forget to also sample the polpette - fried meatballs with tomato sauce and cheese.