Michelin-starred restaurants are typically thought of as ultra-exclusive, innovative, expensive—and sometimes pretentious—dining. But the winds of the foodie world are now blowing in a different direction. Michelin just bestowed one star upon a no-frills street stall: Singapore’s Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle, which serves up delectable braised chicken to ever-growing lines.

But this fresh appreciation for affordable dining is actually old news in Hong Kong. While there’s no shortage of expensive restaurants, locals revere great food regardless of how simple or how cheap. As a foodie so aptly put it: As long as the food is great, Hong Kongers “don’t care about whether a restaurant has chandeliers.” And an abundance of cheap, delicious dining options seems to validate this claim.

One of Hong Kong’s best-kept budget culinary secrets is Wellington Street, where a cluster of low-key, cheap noodle and dumpling restaurants either have Michelin stars or have been Michelin recommended. This little culinary oasis in central Hong Kong Island is just down the street from an Isabel Marant boutique and the one-stop luxury shopping at Harvey Nichols. At each of these places, you can find super-cheap, ultra-casual places to hobnob (often literally elbow to elbow) with food-loving locals. In fact, Wellington Street (and a couple of places just around the corner) might offer the world’s only opportunity for a “Michelin crawl” that isn’t a bank-breaking splurge.

Mak’s Noodle


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Wonton noodle soup might be one of the most ubiquitous dishes in the world—it’s served almost everywhere, from buffets in American suburbs to Jerusalem’s few Chinese restaurants. But there’s a world of difference between those wontons and the ones served at Mak’s Noodle. This diner-style restaurant—complete with small booths—arguably dishes up the best shrimp-stuffed wontons in what can only be described as a very competitive market. The plump wontons burst with perfectly seasoned and tender shrimp, straining against thin flour wrappers. They’re typically served in small, overstuffed bowls full of umami-rich soup and thin noodles. Take some time to watch the action in the open, permanently steamy kitchen, where old pros in white paper hats make dish after dish of the good stuff.

77 Wellington Street, Central

Yat Lok


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When you visit Yat Lok, which consists of a single, small cramped room, you can expect to be jostled, elbowed, scowled at, and maybe even yelled at by one of the many middle-aged, no-nonsense, apron-wearing waitresses. But the fabulous food makes any aggravation—including an often lengthy wait—worthwhile. Yat Lok’s mirrored walls are covered with pink menus that itemize the choices in large red and black Chinese characters, but the culinary star here is clear: Tender chunks of roast goose with delectably crispy skin marinated in ingredients like soy sauce and wine, and typically served with sweet plum sauce. Try the goose atop a bowl of thick rice noodles in a fragrant scallion-thick broth.

34-38 Stanley Street, Central

Tsim Chai Kee


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Tsim Chai Kee has a more traditional vibe, with Chinese lanterns strung from the ceiling and heavy carved wooden furniture. This restaurant has a limited menu but is famous for plump homemade minced fishballs. (Gefilte fish–like in appearance but certainly not taste.) Michelin inspectors have recommended going all-out on the deluxe dish: fishballs, massive shrimp wontons, and sliced beef on top of hand-pulled noodles. Grab a seat at one of the long communal tables and marvel at the Hong Kongers hopping in for a generous bowl of soup and then returning to the streets in what seems like record time.

98 Wellington Street, Central

Wang Fu


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If you’re looking to make a meal of dumplings, this is the place. While most of the other Michelin options around Wellington offer Cantonese cuisine, Wang Fu specializes in Beijing-style dumplings that are advertised as “100 percent homemade.” Dumplings come steamed or pan-fried in either five or 10 pieces, and there are a variety of options, including pork and chive; pork, sea cucumber, and shrimp; and green onion with mutton. Beijing cuisine is more reliant on wheat (compared to rice, which is the staple crop in the south), so these dumplings are bigger, fatter, and more filling than most of their Cantonese counterparts. Brace yourself for a post-dumpling siesta.

65 Wellington Street, Central

Luk Yu Tea House


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This place—the priciest on the list but still affordable—is simultaneously low-key and iconic, a legendary institution where you might catch a glimpse of a local celebrity or bank chairman chowing down on fat shrimp dumplings. Luk Yu is an ornate traditional teahouse—complete with white tablecloths—that serves dim sum day and night. Michelin inspectors noted the “animated atmosphere and subtle colonial decoration,” not to mention “the serving team in white jackets [who] have seen it all before.” Michelin recommendations include fried prawns on toast and fried noodles with sliced beef, but you’ll find all kinds of dim sum staples here, including sweet barbecue pork buns and xiao long bao (soup dumplings) in traditional bamboo steamer baskets.

24-26 Stanley Street, Central