Tuesday, April 24, 2012

10 Food Not to Miss in Hong Kong

Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Beef Brisket Noodles, Kau Kee
Beef Brisket E-Fu Noodles at Kau Kee

1. Stellar Noodles

I'm not sure why I've been so obsessed with Hong Kong of late. It might have been the Bo Innovation booth at Savour 2012. The thing is, I have so many favourite Hong Kong eats that it would take light years for me to ever list them all. Okay, that might have been a bit of a stretch, but seriously, I adore Hong Kong's food scene. (Pause - This is going to be a long, long post, so unless you're all curled up in bed and ready for a read, I wouldn't fault you for just strolling through the photos. But just in case you're going to Hong Kong any time soon, I also compiled a list of addresses right at the end. Enjoy!) Noodles, in particular, is something this city is utterly expert in. Without a doubt, Wanton Noodles and Beef Brisket Noodles are the top two you absolutely must not miss. What sets this city's noodles apart from all the rest really lie in the depth of their broth and toothy, perfectly al dente noodles. For Wanton Noodles, head to Tsim Chai Kee for a filling bowl of noodles with giant wantons, or the Maks (Mak's, Mak Man Kee and Mak An Kee) for a smaller offering with a more intricate broth. Also, don't forget to order Beef Tendons or Pork Knuckles when you're visiting Mak Man Kee. For Beef Brisket Noodles, I'd strongly recommend Kau Kee - the broth is remarkably flavourful and the beef brisket is as tender as it gets. Kwan Kee and Wai Kee are highly raved noodle joints as well. The former for lip smacking Beef Balls and Pork Knuckles, the latter for their delicious Beef and Pig Liver Noodles.

Roast Duck and Pork Rice, Tai Hing, Hong Kong
Tai Hing's Roast Duck and Pork Rice

2. Succulent Roast Meat

I would never leave the city without clocking some Roast Goose, Duck or Pork. Even in a chain like Tai Hing, the Roast Duck and Pork are excellent. I can certainly find ways to fault them, but that'd be nitpicking. If you're serious about your roasts, make a 4th floor reservation at Yung Kee and order a whole Roast Goose. While you're at that, don't forget an order of their luxuriously soft and flavourful Century Egg. Alternatively, Kimberley Chinese Restaurant does a highly raved Roasted Suckling Pig Stuffed with Glutinous Rice. If you're on a budget, Joy Hing is a good bet - this rustic restaurant is popular with locals and dates back all the way to the Qing Dynasty. Till now, they maintain roasting their pork over a pre-war designed oven. For the Roast Goose fanatic, Sham Tseng in New Territories is an area widely touted to have the best rendition in Hong Kong. Is Chan Kee or Yue Kee the best in Sham Tseng? You decide.

Sheung Hing Sek Ga, 3 am Dim Sum
Ever had Dim Sum during a black out?

3. Dim Sum

Dim sum, as you already must know, is something you really can't miss. These small morsels are so tasty, I can never stop the bamboo steamers from stacking up. Lei Garden is a good bet for moderately priced dim sum and excellent roast pork. For a good budget bet, head to the world's most affordable one michelin star restaurant, Tim Ho Wan. While I wouldn't queue two hours for most of their dishes, their Char Siew Bo Lo Bao ("pineapple" bun with barbecued pork) is pretty much out of this world. Get there before they even open for the shortest wait. If you're thinking of a more luxurious dim sum experience, Fook Lam Moon and Lung King Heen should be at the top of your list (60 HKD and above per steamer). The truth is, there are so many dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong that there is bound to be one that suits your budget. One particular gem that I am seriously fond of is 3 AM dim sum, otherwise known as Shueng Hing Sek Ga. My visit there happens to be my single most unforgettable dim sum experience to date. Ever had dim sum during a black out? I have it on my resume now! Thankfully, that didn't stop them from churning out really rustic, but absolutely delicious grub. Not all their dim sum were fantastic - their Har Gow (Prawn Dumpling) was enveloped in skin a little too thick, but their Quail's Egg Siew Mai was incredibly juicy and might just be the tastiest siew mai I've ever had. You also get to choose the dim sum from a stack in a corner, which is an interesting experience in itself. Their Custard Buns are amazing as well and not to be missed!

4. Salt and Pepper Mantis Prawns

Of all the seafood that Hong Kong has to offer, nothing has quite a firm grip on my affections as Salt and Pepper Mantis Prawns, not even Lobster E-fu Noodles. There is something about mantis prawns - their texture is fantastic, almost akin to that of a lobster, but unlike the latter, they are also the right size for getting thoroughly coated in the spices they are cooked in. While it isn't that easy to get to their meat (most restaurants provide small scissors), it's so darn tasty that the extra bit of effort is completely worth it. Take my word, head to Sai Kung for seafood. It's a perfect opportunity to check out a different side of Hong Kong (or a perfect excuse, depending on how you look at it), and reward yourself at the end of the day with a sumptuous seafood dinner by the sea.

Scrambled Eggs, Australia Dairy Company, Hong Kong
Fluffy Scrambled Eggs at Australia Dairy Company

5. Fluffy Scrambled Eggs and Other Char Chan Teng Grub

Char chan teng culture (casual traditional café) is really what Hong Kong is all about, isn't it? A trip to Hong Kong just wouldn't feel complete without a trip to one of these eateries. At the top of your list should be three names: Australia Dairy Company, Kam Wah and Tsui Wah. No one does Scrambled Eggs like Australia Dairy Company, really. It isn't spectacular, per se, but a fantastic example of how good the simplest things can taste. Their signature eggs are really fluffy and tasty, albeit a little over salted. While you're there, don't forget to try their Double Skin Steamed Milk Pudding as well. Here's a tip: you can swap the fried eggs for scrambled eggs in their value-for-money set menus just by asking! In the category of more traditional Char Chan Teng items, Bo Lo Bao (Bun with Sweet Topping) is a firm favourite of mine and Kam Wah does a really great job with them. The butter slices are chilled right till the moment they're slotted into the warm buns. Forget about staying glam for a second and take a huge bite to get the sweet, crispy top of the bun and iced butter all at once. You'll thank me later. Tsui Wah gets on the list since it's such a dependable place for food, especially at unearthly hours (think: post bar hopping or clubbing). Nothing beats a steaming bowl of Pork Bone Cartilage Noodles after a great but tiring night out.

Double Skin Steamed Milk Pudding (Shuang Pi Nai), Australia Dairy Company, Hong Kong
Double Skin Steamed Milk Pudding at Australia Dairy Company

6. Double Skin Steamed Milk Pudding

If I had to choose just one dessert out of everything in Hong Kong, this is it. Hui Lao Shan's slightly steep but incredibly refreshing Mango Desserts don't count since those are much more common in Singapore. Even the traditional desserts are setting up shops on our sunny shores (Lucky Dessert and Honeymoon Dessert come to mind). If you don't have these in your country, put them back in your list. Otherwise, that leaves us with the glorious Milk Puddings, which are best at specialty stores like Yee Shun Dairy Company (originally from Macau) and Australia Dairy Company. The second layer of skin is what I love best about this dessert - other than providing a lovely contrast against the soft custard beneath, it's also reminiscent of sweet milk candy. Can you resist that? Besides, the skin is so thin you'll never get sick of it. Even if you don't have a sweet tooth, you can still get one to share or order the ginger variant to neutralise the sweetness.

7. Street Snacks

While the street food culture in Hong Kong can hardly be compared to say, Bangkok, there are plenty of great snacks you wouldn't want to miss out on. For one, I'm a big fan of Gai Dan Zai, an egg puff waffle that happens to be ridiculously addictive if you chance upon the right stall. I enjoy it most when the inside of the waffle is just slightly chewy while the outside remains crisp. Ga Li Yu Dan (curry fishballs) is a more contentious one because I've been programmed since young to think that fishballs are meant to be light and bouncy, not tough and compact. It's still worth a try, though. If you've got the guts, go for the Braised Innards and Gizzards at street stalls - they actually taste surprisingly good. Trust me, I had my misgivings. Fei Jie at Dundas Street, Mong Kok, is an all-time favourite. Their Braised Pig's Intestine and Octopus are particularly popular with the crowd.

Cui Cui, Sing Heung Yuen, Hong Kong
Sing Heung Yuen's Signature Cui Cui

8. Crispy Bun (Ju Zai Bao)

I know what you're thinking. Isn't this just toast?? But seriously, you need to taste it to believe it. I had my first Ju Zai Bao at Tsui Wah. Their most popular rendition consist of a crispy bun with butter and condensed milk. It was great, but not fantastic. Then I did the mini hike up to Sing Heung Yuen for theirs. They call it Cui Cui but it's really the same thing. Wait, maybe it's not, since theirs is a hundred times crispier. They also arrange it like a mickey mouse for your amusement, free of charge. Honestly, I have no idea how they achieved this but their cui cui is so crispy it's like biting into crispy air. Except it's also infused with lemon and honey. Who knew something so simple could taste so good? By the way, Sing Heung Yuen also serves up a highly raved Tomato Soup Based Gong Zai Min (instant noodles). I found it a lot less spectacular than their bun but tasty, nonetheless.

Snake Soup, Hong Kong
A Bowl of Snake Soup, Anyone?

9. Snake Soup

This isn't for the faint-hearted. Actually, no, it should be. If this shows up in Fear Factor, the contestants would probably jump for joy. There is absolutely nothing foul about it except the name itself. No bones to navigate, no pungent smell, no weird or foreign taste of any sort and it even looks normal. It looks like fish, right? And it tastes like fish too. Sort of. Like a cross between fish and chicken. The funny thing was my Hong Kong friends were a lot more frightened about the idea of drinking Snake Soup than I was! But being the incredibly nice people they were, they insisted on bringing me there regardless and even tried it along with me. It tasted great, actually, like a special version of mock sharksfin. The condiments at the side included chopped lemon grass, which made the soup taste even better. It's simply the perfect food to drive away winter chills, which happened to be exactly what I needed that day.

Marbled Beef, "For Chang",  火井火鍋海鮮飯店, Hong Kong
Gorgeous Marbled Beef at "For Chang" (火井火鍋海鮮飯店)

10. Hot Pot

And last but not least, you really should give Hot Pot a go in Hong Kong. We get to eat hot pot in Singapore all the time, yes, but over there they bring it to a whole new level. First off, for just a little bit more than what you'd pay for the most budget hot pot in Singapore, you can head to Little Sheep for a relaxed and comfortable restaurant style hot pot experience. Even though it's a chain operation, they have managed to maintain the quality and consistency of their food. Their cuts of meat are decent for the price as well and their Mongolian-style hot pot buffet ends up being extremely satisfying. If you'd like, there's also the option to order premium a la carte items on top of the buffet selection. For a more local experience, seek out "For Chang" at Western District. Their a la carte hot pot boasts a good selection of excellent soup bases and marbled beef. Their minced shrimp glue/paste really stood out as well. Prices are reasonable for the quality of their ingredients. For a really novel experience, head to Megan's Kitchen, which offers soup bases as wildly imaginative as Tomato & Crab Soup in Soufflé Finish and Tom Yum Koong Cappuccino!

Hong Kong Skyline
The Amazing Hong Kong Skyline

And there you have it. Ten food to hunt down on your next trip to Hong Kong! Except, I was sort of cheating... There are hardly just ten in there! But really, I had so much fun writing this - I hope you enjoyed reading!

P.S. I'm thinking of working on a "Tapas Bar Hopping in Barcelona" post for my next travel post! What do you think? I'll also be heading to Australia (Melbourne and Sydney) for my Grad Trip for 13 days starting tomorrow, then Krabi for 5 days after. It's all very exciting and I would love if you have any recommendations to share!


Noodles

Tsim Chai Kee
Shop B, G/F Jade Centre, 98 Wellington Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central
Mon-Sun: 09:00-22:00

Mak's (Branches available at Jordan, Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui, etc)
G/F, 77 Wellington Street, Central
Mon-Sun: 11:00-22:00

Mak Man Kee
G/F, 51 Parkes Street, Jordan
Mon-Sun: 12:00-00:30

Mak An Kee
G/F, 37 Wing Kat Street, Central
Mon-Sun: 08:00-19:00

Kau Kee
G/F, 21 Gough Street, Central
Mon-Sat 12:30-22:30

Kwan Kee
G/F, 5 Luen Cheong Street, Luen Wo Hui, Fanling
Mon-Sun: 11:00-17:45

Wai Kee
G/F, 62 & 67 Fuk Wing Street and Shop D, G/F, 165-167 Pei Ho Street, Sham Shui Po
Mon-Sun: 07:00-20:30

Roast Meat

Tai Hing
Shop 1-3, G/F, Cigna Tower, 470-484 Jaffe Rd., Causeway Bay
Mon-Sun: 07:30-03:30

Yung Kee
32-40 Wellington Street, Central
Mon-Sun: 11:00-23:30

Kimberley Chinese Restaurant
M/F, The Kimberley Hotel, 28 Kimberley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Mon-Sat: 11:00-23:00, Sun: 10:00-23:00

Chan Kee
G/F, 63 Sham Tseng Village, Castle Peak Road , Sham Tseng
Mon-Sun: 11:00-23:00

Yue Kee
9 Sham Hong Road, Sham Tseng
Mon-Sun: 11:00-23:30

Dim Sum

Lei Garden(Branches available at Central, Tsim Sha Tsui, etc.)
1/F,CNT Tower,338 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai
Mon-Sat: 11:30-15:00;18:00-23:30, Sun: 11:00-15:00;18:00-23:30

Tim Ho Wan(Branches available in Central and Sham Shui Po)
Shop 8, Taui Yuen Mansion Phase 2, 2-20 Kwong Wa Street, Mong Kok
Mon-Sun: 10:00-22:00

Fook Lam Moon
Shop 3, G/F, Newman House, 35-45 Johnston Road, Wan Chai
Mon-Sun: 11:30-15:00, 18:00-23:00

Lung King Heen
Podium 4, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central
Mon-Sun: 12:00-14:30, 18:00-22:30

Sheng Hing Sek Ga (3 AM)
G/F, 10 Hau Wor Street, Western District
Mon-Sun: 3am to 3:30pm

Salt and Pepper Mantis Prawns

Chuen Kee
87-89 Man Nin Street, Sai Kung
Mon-Sun: 07:00-23:00

Fluffy Scrambled Eggs and Other Char Chan Teng Grub

Australia Dairy Company
G/F, 47-49 Parkes Street, Jordan
Mon to Wed & Fri to Sun: 07:30-23:00, Closed on Thu

Kam Wah
G/F, 47 Bute Street, Prince Edward
Mon-Sun: 06:30-12:00

Tsui Wah (Plenty of 24h branches)
G-2/F, 15-19 Wellington Street, Central
Website

Double Skin Steamed Milk Pudding

Australia Dairy Company
G/F, 47-49 Parkes Street, Jordan
Mon to Wed & Fri to Sun: 07:30-23:00, Closed on Thu

Yee Shun Dairy Company (Branches available at Prince Edward and Jordan)
G/F., 506 Lockhard Road, Causeway Bay
Mon-Sun: 12:00-00:00

Street Snacks

Fei Jie Snack Shop
Shop 4A, 55 Dundas Street, Mong Kok
Mon-Sun: 15:00 till sold out

Crispy Bun

Tsui Wah (Plenty of 24h branches)
G-2/F, 15-19 Wellington Street, Central
Website

Sing Hueng Yuen
2 Mei Lun Street, Central
Mon-Sat: 08:00-17:30, Sun: Closed

Snake Soup

Se Wong Yee
24 Percival Street, Causeway Bay
Mon-Sun: 11:30-00:00

Hot Pot

Little Sheep (Branches available at Mongkok, Causeway Bay etc)
1/F, 26 Kimberly Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Mon-Fri: 11:00-00:00, Sat-Sun: 10:00-00:00

"For Chang"
G/F, Kam Ling Court, 20 Whitty Street, Sai Ying Pun, Western District
Mon-Sun: 18:00-01:30

Megan's Kitchen
5/F, Lucky Centre,165-171 Wan Chai Road, Wan Chai
Mon-Sun: 12:00-15:00, 18:00-23:30


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Leave a comment (5)

  1. thank u, love the informative posts. Dang, I really missed out on too much good food during my last hongkong trip. I loved the milk pudding and scrambled eggs from australia dairy company. Felt that the milk pudding from yee shun paled in comparison. I only had the chance to try Lin Heung Tea House at wellington street for dim sum. I must say it was quite an experience and I loved dining amongst the auntie and uncles yakking away in their cantonese. It was amazingly affordable too. The bill worked out to be $10 a person.
    Enjoy your grad trip! hope for an itinerary post as I am heading down under in july. :)

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  2. Ame, glad you're enjoying them! I went to Lin Heung too - gotta agree that it was a really interesting experience even if the food wasn't the best. Did you notice how the locals were served individual cups of tea while the "tourists" were given pots? Apparently it's because everyone is charged a fixed price for tea, so if you're in the know, it's actually possible for each of your dining companions to choose a different kind of tea! I just got back from my grad trip today, actually. There is so much to write about that I don't even know where to start!

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  3. i found your blog randomly through google, and your post is so helpful! I'm going in october with family and just wanted to check out the must-eats. thanks :)

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  4. hey anon, glad you found it useful! enjoy your stay in hong kong!(:

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  5. Nice Blog ! I really found so many useful information on your site. Thank you for the information. Keep up the good work! i like your reviews and images of the food i really loved it!! more information , browse through www.tableboy.com

    ReplyDelete

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