Food and Drink

Restaurant review: A not-so-secret success, Hong Kong Spirit Food soars with authentic flavors

I love discovering a city’s culinary secrets — a nightclub hidden behind a laundromat, a restaurant’s secret menu or a speakeasy with a peephole and a members-only password. But in a city as compact as Anchorage, finding an actual hidden gem in an unexplored neighborhood is a rarity. And that’s a shame because who doesn’t like to feel smugly in-the-know once in a while? In this review, I would love to reveal a murky, magical “tell-them-I-sent-you” kind of place. But I can’t. Because I appear to be the last person in Anchorage to have discovered Hong Kong Spirit Food.

I almost didn’t trust Siri when she instructed me to turn down an unremarkable Midtown street toward an unremarkable Midtown office building. The area is industrial and, on a Sunday, was all but deserted. My daughter and trusted dining companion was losing confidence in my lunch plan but was reassured when she saw the parking lot, which, for the time and place, was hopping. Weekends at Hong Kong Spirit Food mean dim sum in a town where dim sum is thin on the ground.

Walking from the darkened shared office lobby into the bright and cheerful dining room with its tempting bakery displays, boba bar, sparkly chandeliers and friendly servers is a lovely surprise. It makes you feel almost conspiratorial with the other guests, as if you’re all part of the club.

The dim sum is first come, first served and routinely sells out, so plan accordingly if you have your heart set on rice noodle shrimp rolls, sesame balls or egg tarts. We missed out on all three and won’t make that mistake again. But we were content with our order of steamed BBQ pork buns (2 pieces for $5.50), steamed Chinese sausage buns (2 pieces for $5.50) and xiu mai (4 pieces for $6). In addition, we ordered two non-dim sum entrees — stir-fried rice noodles with beef and spicy shrimp with rice — from the lunch specials menu, which is available throughout the week.

It made for a funny, meandering kind of meal with the entrees coming out first and the dim sum arriving in a bamboo tower as we ate. But then a 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon meal doesn’t really come with a roadmap. The haphazard and leisurely paced meal added to our sense of adventure. (Speaking of dining adventures, Hong Kong Spirit Food’s Facebook page documented the family’s recent travels around Hong Kong — a chronicle that will give you a bit of wanderlust and a bit of an appetite.)

There is something so beautiful about a well-executed pork bun sitting in its bamboo steamer. And these are well-executed. The dough is forced to rise quickly so the top of the snowy white bun breaks open ever so slightly to reveal the delicious filling within. However, despite their beauty, I found the dough mixture a bit too sweet. It overwhelmed the nicely balanced pork with its sweet-salty marinade. Full disclosure: My daughter wholeheartedly disagreed.

But we both loved the Chinese pork sausage bun, an elevated pig-in-a-blanket. A salty and savory link of spicy-sweet, cured sausage is wrapped, mummy-like, in a fluffy jacket of steamed mantou. These disappeared quickly and we made a mental note to double up our order on our next visit.


We also loved the xiu mai — a classic pork, shrimp and mushroom dumpling wrapped in a wonton-type wrapper. These are beautiful to look at with their crimped edges and the little orange dab of sweet puree — carrot perhaps? I was too busy eating to ask.

[Everest adds to the growing variety of Indian culinary options in Anchorage]

The entrees, from a spare and well-curated blackboard menu of Chinese classics, were both standouts. The spicy shrimp with rice ($19) is an example of that mysterious alchemy wherein some dishes can maintain crispness while blanketed in a sauce. These plump shrimp practically crackled under a sweet and spicy glaze with just the right amount of heat. But the stir-fried rice noodles with beef ($19), we agreed, was the MVP of the meal. Wide, silky noodles and perfectly cooked, tender bites of beef are sauteed with tender-crisp green onions and bean sprouts. The sauce is beautifully balanced with just the right amount of salt, sweet and smoke. It’s a simple, savory, homey dish — the kind of dish I could eat every day.

There’s a confidence to running your restaurant in a neighborhood that doesn’t rely on tourists, window shoppers or drive-by traffic. And while I love to send new customers to deserving businesses, I’m not sure Hong Kong Spirit Food needs my help. Between the humming dining room and the brisk takeout business that they appeared to be doing, I felt late to the party.

So, if you’re not a member of the choir, allow me to preach. Travel off the beaten track, trust Siri and treat yourself.

No password required.

If you go

Hong Kong Spirit Food

570 W. 53rd Ave., Anchorage, AK 99518


Thursday-Friday: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Saturday-Sunday: 8 a.m.-7 p.m.

(Closed Monday-Wednesday)



Mara Severin | Eating out

Mara Severin is a food writer who writes about restaurants in Southcentral Alaska. Want to respond to a column or suggest a restaurant for review? Reach her at