Archive for the Hong Kong Island Category

Hong Kong – Hong Kong Island – Modern Architecture

Posted in Causeway Bay, Central, China, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Island, Sheung Wan with tags on December 8, 2017 by gannet39

The skyscrapers of Central are one of the must sees of any trip to HK, not that you can really miss them. The night time view is particularly impressive.

The Kowloon scrapers are quite imposing too, but they are less tightly packed. I’ve given them their own post called ‘Food with a View’. In the post I recommend Eye Bar as a great spot to view the Central buildings at night.

One thing you may hear about is the Symphony of Lights, a daily light show at 8pm each evening where the scrapers on both sides flash their lights in time to music.

The best places to watch the show are from the promenade outside Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai or the Avenue of Stars on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, or you could do what I did and catch a special sightseeing ferry across Victoria Harbour from the Star Ferry pier in Tsim Sha Tsui.

The Symphony of Lights Harbour Cruise cost HK$205 in 2017. More info here.

Sadly though I have to say I was less than impressed by the experience. The music was tinny and failed to move me in any way, and the lights on each skyscraper seemed to be doing their own thing rather than linking up. You do get a good view of the buildings though. Video here.

My favourite skyscraper as I mentioned before is the ICT (more pics in the ‘Food with a View’ post).

How well you can see everything depends on how lucky you are with the weather.

You can count on a few pea-soupers every now and then, although this can sometimes add to the atmosphere.

These pics are of The Center, which is the fifth highest building in HK.

Not sure where in Central I took this random shot.

Elsewhere, the flashing lights on this skyscraper in Causeway Bay were quite fun. Video here.

These residential buildings are in Sheung Wan, near Man Mo temple.

I stumbled across a couple of older buildings in Central that I liked.

Please also see my previous post on Innovation Tower which is a very special building indeed.

And that was Hong Kong! Off to catch the ferry to Macau next…

Hong Kong – out and about on Hong Kong Island

Posted in Causeway Bay, Central, China, Happy Valley, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Island with tags , on December 6, 2017 by gannet39

Please see my other posts on Architecture, Markets , Bars and Restaurants (Chinese, Asian, Noodles, Dim Sum) for more places to check out on Hong Kong Island. Here’s some more stuff to do that doesn’t fit into any of the other posts. Everywhere mentioned is on this Google map.

Each time I’ve been to HK one of the highlights has been a visit to Happy Valley racecourse. The course is set against a magnificent backdrop of tall buildings which must themselves have a fantastic view of the races and the impressive grandstand.

I like to go down to the paddock to choose my horses. Video here.

In 2006 I picked several winners and went home buzzing with a few hundred dollars. No such luck in 2016 when every nag I bet on lost by several lengths. Not a single horse came in for me and I soon lost all my allotted budget of a few hundred dollars (I’m no big timer). Video here.

But you can always console yourself with snacks and beer.

Another fun thing to do is take a ride on the trams. Video here.

It’s only $2.30 (exact change only) and they also accept Octopus cards. You get on at the back and then pay at the front when you’re getting off.

Tram

There are special 1930s open top sightseeing trams and you can even hire a party tram!

 

A walk down Hollywood Road provides a few sights. Frommer’s self-guided walking tours are quite informative if you want to know more about the places you are passing.

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It might not look it but this guy is actually going backwards.

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Push carts are definitely still a thing here.

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Towards the end at 124-126 Hollywood Road is Man Mo Temple (open daily from 8am to 6pm) which pays tribute to ‘Man’, the God of Literature and ‘Mo’ the God of War. Built in the 1840s it’s Hong Kong’s oldest temple. Click on the pics for a full screen slideshow.

Video here.

This fun automaton was outside when I was there.

Video here.

There’s a smaller shrine on the stairs at the top of Peel Street.

The huge incense coils are purchased by people who want their wishes to be granted. They can take as long as three weeks to burn.

Of course The Peak is a must do. I went up in 2006 but have lost the photos sorry. I recommend taking the funicular up and then doing the Peak Circular Walk on the way down.

Next time I go I’d like to walk the Dragon’s Back in Shek O country park.

Architecture next!

Hong Kong – the markets

Posted in Central, China, Hong Kong, Jordan, Jordan, Mongkok, Yau Ma Tei with tags , , , , , , , on December 4, 2017 by gannet39

As regular readers will know, I love markets, especially food markets, and Hong Kong has heaps of them. Here are a few I’ve been to.

MONGKOK

Fa Yuen Street Market

Fa Yuen Street Market sells clothes, bags and electrical items as well as fruit and veg and other foodstuffs.

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The stalls are open from 10am to midnight at the northern end of the street.

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This lady is deseeding a Jackfruit or Bōluómì (菠萝蜜).

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Fa Yuen is also known as ‘sneaker street’ as there are lots of shops along the southern section selling sports shoes. They’re a bit cheaper than at home but good luck telling the snide from the real.

Fa Yuen Street Wet Market

Located at 123A Fa Yuen Street, this is a very typical Chinese food market. As such some of the sights captured in these photos are not for the faint-hearted. You have been warned!

Freshness is very important for the Chinese shopper and this market is one of the few places you can still select a chicken while it’s still alive and have it butchered in front of you. The same goes for fish which are kept in tanks ready for purchase.

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You can click on these pictures to go to full-screen slideshow mode.

 

 

Not sure what the white fungus is but…

…the bright orange things are pigs’ fallopian tubes, or Shēng Cháng (生肠), a common street food delicacy that I’m still plucking up the courage to try.

The cucumber shaped with the ridges is Sin Qua (絲瓜 or 勝瓜), or in English, amongst many other names; Angled or Ridged Luffa, Silk Gourd, Chinese Okra, or formally Luffa Acutangula. Originally from India, it tastes similar to okra and courgette.

The plant with the green leaves and white stems is called Pak Choi or Bok Choy (上海青). I tend to call it Pak Choi as the translation ‘Chinese Cabbage’ is highly ambiguous.

Cantonese wind-dried sausages  are called Laap Cheung (臘腸). They’re a slightly-sweet mix of pork fat and meat and sometimes include offal like liver. Other ingredients are light soy sauce, salt, sugar and rose wine (Mei Kwei Lu). Spices such as Chinese Five Spice, Sichuan Pepper Powder and chilli powder might also be added to create different flavours.

Goldfish Market

The northern end of Tung Choi Street (between Mongkok Road and Prince Edward Road West) is lined with pet shops.

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Goldfish and other exotic aquatic species are available to buy here. One shop proprietor wasn’t keen on me taking photos of the turtles and puppies so I laid off but I got a few of the fish.

 

 

Flower Market

If you like your blooms you should take a stroll along Flower Market Street which has over fifty flower vendors.

 

 

JORDAN

Temple Street Market

The legendary night market, running from 4am to midnight. It’s definitely worth a wander but it’s full of rip-off merchants so be careful what you buy. I bought several novelty cigarette lighters back in 2006, but they stopped working pretty much straight away. The street food is probably fantastic but I can’t take the risk of eating it due to my job. Bonne chance!

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YAU MA TEI

Yau Ma Tei Wholesale Fruit Market

A dingy but atmospheric old market that’s good for photo ops. It starts at 4am so it was pretty quiet when I arrived around lunchtime after working nearby.

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Apparently it’s disputed territory between Triad clans and gang fights have occurred, although tourists don’t have anything to worry about. The most action I saw was an animated game of Mah Jong.

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There are lots of strange fruits and veggies on display. Click to go big.

 

 

The long green beans, Dau Gok (豇豆), have many names in English, including Long-Podded Cowpea, Yardlong, Snake, Pea, Asparagus or Chinese Long Bean. The photo shows both types; the light green ones are known as ‘baak dau gok’ or literally ‘white long beans’, and the dark green are known as ‘cheng dau gok’ or ‘green long beans’.

The warty green vegetable is I think is a fatter than usual variety of Bitter Melon aka Bitter Gourd, or Kǔguā (苦瓜) in Chinese.

No idea what the long brown things are.

The pink and yellow gnarly fruits are two kinds of Dragon Fruit or ‘Huǒlóngguǒ’ (火龍果), whereas the squarish orange ones are upside down Persimmon or ‘Shizi’ (柿子).

The red fruits are called ‘Lián wù’ (蓮霧) in Chinese and in English they’re known as ‘Roseapples’ or ‘Lillypillies’, or more formally as Syzygium Cumini. and can be eaten fresh or used for jams and jellies. Cloves are the dried flower buds of it’s relative Syzygium Aromaticum.

On sunny Autumn days, everywhere you go you’ll see green mandarins being peeled and their skins being dried. ‘Chenpi‘, prized for it’s bitter flavour, is used as a cooking ingredient as well as a medicine. It’s easy to make but you have to wait at least three years for the flavour to develop.

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CENTRAL

Pottinger Street Costume Market

Pottinger Street also known as Stone Slabs Street due to its granite steps on the section between Hollywood Road and Stanley Street.

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It’s the place to come when you’re shopping for angel wings…

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…as well as Father Christmas outfits, feather boas, multi-coloured wigs and all other kinds of party supplies.

Graham Street Market

Further up the hill, the Graham Street fruit and veg market has been operating for 160 years making it Hong Kong’s oldest street market.

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Sadly the area is under threat due to redevelopment so go while you can.

You can click on these pics to enlarge them.

 

 

The segmented brown vegetable at top left is Lian Ou (莲藕) or Lotus Root.

There are a few things I’ve been unable to name. Can you help me out?

Hong Kong – bars and pubs

Posted in Central, China, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, Mongkok, Tsim Sha Tsui with tags , , , , , , , , on December 3, 2017 by gannet39

Here are a few bars I liked in 2017.They’re all on this Google map.

CENTRAL

Quinary (Advanced B+),56-58 Hollywood Road, Central, quinary.hk

Top notch mixology with prices to match. This sleek bar could double as a science lab with such exotic kit as a centrifuge, a rotary evaporator, a sous vide and vacuum machine all being used to assemble the exotic creations on the menu.

This is the home of Hong Kong’s most famous cocktail, the Earl Grey Martini. Earl Grey tea infused ‘pearls’ of sodium alginate (a seaweed extract used as a food stabliser) float in a pool of cucumber, elderflower, Ketel One citrus vodka, Cointreau, lemon and lime, topped with a foam crown made using an aquarium air pump.

It’s massively poncey and a bit difficult to drink, but I liked it (B+). The bill came to a hefty HK$143.

Recommendations from others include the Touch of Rose and the Oolong Tea Collins.

Little L.A.B. (Intermediate B+), 48-50 Staunton St, Central, www.facebook.com/littlelab50

A smaller, less pretentious bar around the corner from Quinary but also selling original and inventive cocktails. I had a decent Dark ‘n’ Stormy (spiced rum, ginger beer, bitters) and a nice chat with the barman. As it was happy hour the bill only came to around HK$100.

Aberdeen Street Social (Advanced B+),G/F, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen St, Central, www.aberdeenstreetsocial.hk

Also around the corner from the above, their outdoor terrace is a nice spot for a drink. The setting is the outdoor gardens of the PMQ, formerly a housing complex for married policemen and their families, now a centre for creative industries. It’s also a Michelin star restaurant (untried).

Club Feather Boa (Advanced ?), 36 Staunton St, Central, Hong Kong

This speakeasy type place was recommended by a friend but, although I tried a couple of times, I couldn’t get in as you have to be outside at a certain time to be inspected for admission. Their entrance policy is quite controversial, see the negative reviews on TA, but I wanted to try it for myself. Next time.

Other nearby bars reviewed on the Gannet:

Ronin (Advanced B+), 8 On Wo Lane, Ground floor, Sheung Wan, www.roninhk.com

High end food and drink with a Japanese slant.

Edition (Intermediate B), 37 Peel St, Central

Cosy neighbourhood bar selling American-Korean fusion food.

Reviews of both here.

KOWLOON

TAP aka The Ale Project (Intermediate B+), G/F, 15 Hak Po Street, Mongkok, www.thealeproject.com

Of course the craft beer revolution has reached Hong Kong as well. I came with my friend Kelvin, a beer aficionado who gave it a good rating. I had a glass of IPA which was fine but more expensive (about HK$45 a half pint) than what I’m used to paying back at home in Sheffield (the beer capital of the UK) but then this is Hong Kong. We liked it though as it has a good atmosphere. You can even stand outside and simultaneously drink and smoke if that is your want, which is impossible to do in the UK now.

Eyebar (Intermediate +), 63 Nathan Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui

Roof top bar with a fantastic view. Review here.

On this trip I deliberately avoided the three main drinking areas for Westerners, although I have passed through them on occasion so I know what they’re like. If you want frenetic townie action it can be found at Knutsford Terrace in Kowloon and Lan Kwai Fong and Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island.

Hong Kong – Asian restaurants

Posted in Causeway Bay, China, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, Sheung Wan, Tai Ping Shan, Tsim Sha Tsui with tags , , , , , on November 29, 2017 by gannet39

Here are my thoughts on the Japanese, Korean and Thai restaurants I’ve been to in Hong Kong. They’re all on this Google map.

JAPANESE RESTAURANTS

Yardbird (High Intermediate A-) 33 Bridges St, Tai Ping Shan, www.yardbirdrestaurant.com

This hipster Japanese-style yakitori and cocktail joint was the talk of the town when I was in HK in 2017. It took me two attempts to get in as they are very popular and it’s not possible to reserve so I went early one evening and got told to come back in half an hour. After a drink up the road and another short wait, I finally managed to get a seat at the bar.

As usual I began with some Edamame (steamed fresh soya beans) while I read the menu (A).

The friendly bartenders plied me with Sake (rice wine), Shōchū (stronger rice wine) and Umeshu (shōchū steeped sour plum and sugar rice wine), the last of which I’d never fully appreciated until I came here, despite having lived in Japan for a few years.

The grading kind of went out of the window as I got to taste a fair few varieties, all good (A/B).

The best was the house shōchū which I just couldn’t get enough of. They’d been experimenting with steeping the plums for longer and longer periods and the results were excellent (A+).

Yakitori are chicken parts on skewers that are grilled on a small barbeque. I had the Liver with sansho and tare dipping sauce (B) and the Meatball with tare and egg yolk (A).

I enjoyed the Cucumber Salad with sesame, miso and pine nuts B+).

And I loved the Scotch Egg with cabbage, tonkatsu sauce and Kewpie mayonnaise (A).

The Rice Cakes with furikake seasoning and sesame were good too (A).

Everything was excellent and I loved it, but it’s really expensive! I waxed over HK$1,000 in here so not somewhere you could go every day of the week, unlike this next place I went to in 2006 which also does great Japanese food.

Kyozasa (Intermediate A), 20 Ashley Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Open 12-2.30pm and 6-12pm

This is a very authentic Izakaya, the nearest equivalent to a pub in Japan, except that it serves a very wide variety of foods. This was just like going back to Japan for me; all the food was excellent and absolutely the real thing.

My friend Ethel and I started with edamame followed by sukiyaki (beef simmered in sweet sauce and dipped in raw egg), grilled fish, miso soup, sushi and sashimi and finishing with sake onigiri (salmon in balls of warm rice). Absolute heaven.

Ronin (Advanced B+), 8 On Wo Lane, G/F, Sheung Wan www.roninhk.com

This is the sister business of trendy Yardbird above. It’s a speakeasy type of affair with an unmarked door and no sign, so it took me a couple of attempts to find it. It’s not as busy as Yardbird, which is a good thing as it’s smaller with seats at a single long bar.

The food is very good apparently, they do a tasting menu, but I’d already eaten and was only here to feed my newly attained shōchū addiction.

They have the same house shōchū as in Yardbird, but it’s even more expensive here. I had three Chikusen Junmai; a handmade umeshu using junmaishu (premium sake with no added alcohol), which cost me HK$630. I loved every droplet (A+) but it was hard to justify spending that amount.

A great place, but sadly one for people who get paid a lot more than I do.

I’ve also been to a couple of Ramen shops, Yokozuna Japanese Noodle Shop and Ippei-an Ramen, reviews for which you’ll find in my post on famous noodle shops in HK.

KOREAN RESTAURANTS

I’m a massive fan of Korean food and I can’t get it in my home town, so I filled my boots while I was here. Hong Kong has a big Korean community and their restaurants and other businesses are centered around Kimberley Street, and the streets around it, in Tsim Sha Tsui.

The area is called Korea Town but that makes it sound more exciting than it is. By day scrap dealing seems to be the main activity on Kimberley Street.

 

Chung Gye Chon (Intermediate C+), 1J Kimberley Street, Tsim Sha Tsui

I came to this place on the off chance, after wandering around Korea town with nowhere in particular in mind. I’d just tried to get in to another very popular Korean place a few doors down but it was packed out. Know where you’re going and arrive early is the lesson.

As usual, the meal started with Panch’an (or Banchan); a host of little vegetable dishes. These included classics such as Kimchi (fermented napa cabbage), Kongnamul (cold boiled bean sprouts with sesame oil) Sigeumchi Namul (lightly parboiled spinach dressed with sesame oil, garlic, and soy sauce), Gaji Namul (boiled aubergine), Musaengchae or Muchae (julienned white radish in a sweet vinegar sauce), and Oi Sobagi (cucumber kimchi, stuffed with chili, spring onions and buchu (Asian chives)), plus a couple of others I didn’t recognize.

For my main I had Beef Bibimbap, another favourite. Literally meaning ‘mixed rice’, bibimbap is warm white rice topped with more Namul (sautéed and seasoned vegetables), Gochujang (chili pepper paste), soy sauce, or Doenjang (a fermented soybean paste), and typically Bulgogi (marinated and grilled sliced beef). It’s usually served in a hot stone or metal bowl with a raw egg and the whole dish is stirred together thoroughly just before eating. It was okay here but not amazing (B).

To drink I tried OB Premier Pilsner, a Korean beer masquerading as a German pilsner which, just like all the other Korean beers I’ve ever tried, is absolute piss water (C-). Shame they can’t sort this out.

The service was fine but I found the dining room to be very smoky and unattractive. The food here is okay but there are better places to be found. The search continues…

Mr. Korea BBQ (Intermediate B), 1/F, Surson Comm. Bldg., 140-142 Austin Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, www.mrkoreabbq.com

I love Korean BBQ restaurants and according to Time Out, this is one of the best ones. It’s quite modern with individual smoke vents for each circular table grill. Once again, the Panch’an was the first thing to arrive.

As it was relatively quiet I got excellent personal service from the waitress who sat and chatted with me while she grilled the food. She taught me that you should start with the fatty meat to oil the grill, and also that it’s quite okay to grill the Kimchi as well.

The food was good (B/B+) but the draught beer was completely flat and I sent it back (D). I later switched to Soju (Korean shōchū) but that wasn’t much better (too sweet, C-).

The final bill came to HK$583. So, an okay place, but I know it can be better. More research required.

Edition (Intermediate B), 37 Peel St, Central, edition37peel.wix.com

This is a Korean-American gastropub that serves fusion bar snacks from both countries.

I had the Bulgogi Sliced Beef Steak Slider with onion, garlic and jalapenos, and the Kimchi Fries with mozzarella and the spicy house sauce, and another side of Kimchi for good measure (all B).

Lots of soju drinks here as you’d imagine, many of which have been infused with fruits in-house. I had the Soju Margarita which was nice (B).

With a bottle of Tsing Tao the bill came to HK$358.

A cosy, unpretentious place with a friendly welcome.

THAI RESTAURANTS

I didn’t get to as many Thai places as I’d like to although there is a large community of Thais in HK. According to my friend Tom, Kowloon City is the area to go to but I didn’t have time. However I did go to this place in Causeway Bay for lunch…

Thai Shing (Low Intermediate B), G/F, Tang Fai Building, 36 Tung Lung Street, Causeway Bay

I came here as it was just around the block from where I’m working, but it got on my map due to its inclusion in CNN’s list of ‘ 40 dishes we can’t live without’.

The dish in question is the Shrimp Sashimi; raw prawns served with raw garlic and chilli on a bed of ice. It was a first for me, but I can’t say I was that impressed (B) as they don’t taste of much. I’m sure other things on the menu are good though.

I’ve since discovered that there is an excellent ramen shop called Kanada-ya right next door at 36 Tung Lung Street. One for next time…

So that’s it for the food. Bars and boozing next!

Hong Kong – Chinese restaurants on Hong Kong Island

Posted in Causeway Bay, Central, China, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Island, North Point, Sheung Wan with tags , , , , , on November 27, 2017 by gannet39

Continuing my reviews of Chinese restaurants (see previous posts for Dim Sum, Noodles, Western Comfort Food, Food with a View and Kowloon restaurants) here’s my experience of eating on Hong Kong island. Google map here.

A brief index:

Hipster Fusion Buns – Little Bao (Intermediate A).
Chili Crab – Under Bridge Spicy Crab (High Intermediate A).
Cheap Eats – Tung Po (High Elementary B).
Posh Cantonese – The Chairman (Advanced B).
Chiu Chow Cuisine – Leung Hing Restaurant (Intermediate B).
Roast Goose – Yung Kee (Intermediate C).

Little Bao (Intermediate A), 66 Staunton St, Central, www.little-bao.com

I love Little Bao, it’s the kind of place I’d like to open. When I was in town in Autumn 2016 it was the buzz name on everyone’s lips, along with Yardbird, another hipster joint just down the road.

As you can imagine it’s very popular and quite difficult to get in (no reservations allowed). I managed to on the second attempt by arriving early and putting my name on the waiting list. The greeter took my number and called me 40 minutes later when a table was free. Fortunately there are plenty of bars further along the street where you can kill time (see my coming post on Bars).

The restaurant is open plan with diners sitting at an L-shaped bar right in front of the chefs so you can get a birds eye view of all the action. Video here.

Little Bao is actually a fusion joint. It takes the burger concept and gives it a twist by using steamed Chinese baos instead of burger buns. There are three versions; pork belly, Szechuan chicken, fish tempura and vegetarian. I tried the first two (they’re quite small) and loved them both (A+/A).

I had the Truffle Fries as a side; Shiitake tempeh with truffle mayo and pickled daikon, also great (A).

They make decent cocktails too. I had a Punch Sai Gua (gin, watermelon, cucumber, cinnamon and lemon) and Chris’ Lemonade (42 Below Vodka, Chrysanthemum, honey, rhubarb bitters), both scoring B+.

To finish, the LB Ice Cream Bao was delightfully delinquent.

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A deep-fried steamed bun sandwiching green tea ice cream and drizzled with condensed milk, which was killer obviously (A+).

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The bill came to HK$541 for six items which isn’t too bad. Lots more to try on the menu. Wish I could go back!

Under Bridge Spicy Crab (High Intermediate A), Shop 6-9, G/F, 421-425 Lockhart Road, www.underspicycrab.com

Before the 1990s Hong Kong’s typhoon shelters (protective harbours for boats during rough seas) were home to a large community of fishermen and boat people who over time developed their own distinctive culture and cuisine. Since then these communities have slowly declined, along with the fishing industry, and their descendants have moved onshore, some of them opening food stalls which developed into restaurants like this.

This particular restaurant, under the Canal Road flyover, gets an entry in Where Chefs Eat and a slot on one of Anthony Bourdain’s programmes. They are open till 6am but I went around 9pm and I got a table without any problems, despite it being quite busy.

I kicked off with a big plate of Steamed Clams with Chilli and Black Bean Sauce which were great (A).

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The iconic dish of typhoon shelter cuisine is Typhoon Shelter Crab and it’s the signature dish here (on the menu as Under Bridge Spicy Crab). If you order it your victim will be brought to the table for inspection before being dispatched to the kitchen for deep frying.

The house recipe is secret but it certainly contains lots of fried garlic and chilli peppers, which are offered at six levels of spiciness from ‘no spice’ to ‘super spicy’. I went for ‘medium spicy’ although with hindsight I think I could have handled ‘very spicy’. I loved it (A).

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Although it was a bit expensive (this varies by season) I really enjoyed the food and would happily go back, preferably in a group. One useful comment on TripAdvisor has these two caveats: “First, if you are in Hong Kong in the fall you may want to consider a hairy crab restaurant [as they’re in season] and second if you plan to visit an outer island or a seafood oriented cooked food centre like Mui Wo the better value and equally delicious meal is a salt and pepper crab. The salt and pepper dish uses smaller crabs, so less meat, but I thought the meat was sweeter and the seasoning a better compliment”.

The restaurant also offers the option of dining on an actual boat, which is what Bourdain did, but it costs around HK$2,000 and you need a minimum of six people.

Tung Po (High Elementary B), 2/F Java Road Municipal Services Building, 99 Java Rd, North Point, Hong Kong

This is one of a few inexpensive, no-frills restaurants in the cooked food centre on the top floor of the market building on Java Road.

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It’s very popular and attracts big groups of diners who create quite a raucous atmosphere.

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I started with the Deep-Fried Tofu which was pretty average (C).

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The Chinese Cabbage with Garlic was okay (B).

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Bourdain really liked the Black Squid Ink Spaghetti which he described as “amazing.” I thought it was good (B) but nothing I’d make a TV programme about.

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Your beer drinking custom is touted for by beer girls promoting the Carlsberg and Blue Girl brands. Unfortunately I’m a fan of neither (C).

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So not the greatest culinary experience but the atmosphere is great, which makes this a good place to come with a gang for a fun, cheap night out.

Sing Kee (Initial B), 9-10 Stanley Street, Central

Another quintiessential experience is eating at a Dai Pai Dong;  an outdoor food stall that serves ‘wok hei‘ dishes.

Sing Kee is a famous dai pai dong in central which I stumbled across one night. The food was okay (B) but the atmosphere is what made the experience special (A).

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The Chairman (Advanced B), 18 Kau U Fong, Central, www.thechairmangroup.com

This is a high-end place in fashionable NoHo (north of Hollywood Rd) which specialises in local, seasonal Cantonese cuisine. It comes recommended by 1001 Restaurants You Must Experience Before You Die and Where Chefs Eat. It’s best to reserve; I got in for lunch on the second attempt.

I wanted to have their most famous dish of Steamed Flower Crab but couldn’t justify the expense at the time, so I went for the set ‘Executive Menu’ instead where you can choose three (HK$198) or four (HK$218) dishes from quite a wide selection for each course.

I’m always up for trying new things so I began with Smoked Baby Pigeon with Longjing Tea and Chrysanthemum (B).

I quite enjoyed the Sichuan Style Shredded Pig’s Ear & Tripe Salad with Freshly Sliced Guava (B+).

The Tea Smoked Duck with Tamarind and Dark Sugar was interesting (B).

Finally, Osmanthus & Wolfberry Ice-cream (B+). Osmanthus is a flowering plant with a scent and flavour reminiscent of peach and apricot which is often used in tea. Wolfberry, also known as Goji berry, is similarly used in teas, and many other dishes, primarily for its (fictitious) health qualities.

An interesting experience but not mind-blowing. It would probably be much better if you’re prepared to spend more. This is a good place for business lunches on expense accounts.

Here are some short reviews of good mid-range restaurants I went to in November 2006:

Leung Hing (Intermediate B), 32 Bonham Strand West, Sheung Wan, Open 7.30am-11pm

A very local back street place specialising in Chiu Chow (or Teochew) food, a regional cuisine from the north east of China, known for its shellfish and vegetarian food, and with a reputation for being very healthy. I had the seafood noodles which were excellent and very reasonable. Just wish I’d been hungrier so I could have tried more dishes.

Yung Kee (Intermediate C), 32-40 Wellington St, Central, Open 11am-11.30pm

A famous Cantonese institution known since 1942 for its roast goose (they farm their own) and dim sum (served 2-5pm). We found it difficult to get in and had to wait a while, maybe reserve if you can. Sadly our choices were ill-informed and we didn’t enjoy it very much, but that’s not to say it can’t be good. Next time I will get the goose rather than the thousand-year-eggs!

More far flung Chinese restaurants next!

Hong Kong – Western comfort food

Posted in China, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Island, Jordan, Kowloon, Mongkok, North Point, Yau Ma Tei with tags , , , , , , on November 21, 2017 by gannet39

 

Generally I tried to make a point of avoiding Western food during my visits to HK although there are undoubtedly many fantastic, and very expensive, French and Italian restaurants here. So by ‘Western comfort food’ what I generally mean is Hong Kongified desserts, sweets and bakery items, along with the odd baked potato.

Many of these places are what is called a ‘cha chaan teng’, literally a tea restaurant. You’ll find everywhere mentioned on this Google map here.

Hong Lin (Intermediate B), 143-145 Tung Choi St, Mongkok

The Pineapple Bun or ‘bo lo bao’ (corrupted to ‘polo bun’) is a Hong Kong institution, so much so that in 2014, the local Government listed the pineapple bun as ‘a part of Hong Kong’s intangible cultural heritage’. Hong Lin is one of a few cafes that is famous for its buns.

I had mine with butter which is known as ‘bo lo yaa’. The bun is the perfect complement to milk tea, a British influence originally but now a much stronger brew made with Black & White full fat evaporated milk. It wasn’t a looker but it was very tasty (B).

If you’re brave you could try their Yuenyeung, a hot or cold drink made with three parts coffee to seven parts milk tea.

Kam Wah Cafe (Intermediate B), 47 Bute Street, Mongkok

This place is also famous for its pineapple buns however I came to try their French Toast at the urging of my friend Dominque who has local ties. French toast is another sweet treat beloved by Hong Kongers and according to Foursquare, this is one of the best places to try it. I wouldn’t disagree (B+).

Australia Dairy Company (Intermediate B), 47 Parkes St, Jordan, en.wikipedia.org

Another legendary place, established in 1970 by a local man who had worked on a farm in Australia in the 40s, hence the name.

Service is famously unrefined (brusque but efficient for me) but people put up with it for the sake of their renowned Milk Puddings which are stacked up in the window sills (A).

Their scrambled eggs are also famous (A) even if the soft white bread they are served on was a bit too retro for me (B-). Iced milk tea makes a nice change (B).

Kee Tsui Cake Shop (Initial B), G/F, 135 Fa Yuen Street, Mongkok, open 7:30am to 8pm

This dispenser of baked goods is actually a stall rather than a shop as such.

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For thirty years it has been a local institution and has even garnered a Michelin recommendation.

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Personally I don’t see what all the fuss is about. I tried the ‘Baby Chicken Cakes’ but found them quite dry and uninteresting (C+).

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I enjoyed the  ‘Wife Cakes’ more (made with a filling of winter melon, almond paste, ground sesame, and five spice powder) but still wasn’t completely wowed (B-).

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Next time I might try the glutinous rice cakes with red bean paste or the Egg Tarts.

For American style cookies, a very famous company with branches all over HK is Jenny Bakery. I can also recommend their main competitor, Mrs Fields Cookies, which has outlets in many of the MTR station.

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Their Sugar Butter and Chocolate Chip cookies are dangerously moreish.

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Lee Keung Kee North Point Mini Egg Cakes (Initial B+), 492 King’s Road, North Point, open 10am to 11pm

Another sweet snack much beloved by locals is the Egg Waffle, or mini egg cake, known locally as ‘gai daan tsai’.

This place in North Point has the rep for making some of the best as the many press clippings covering its walls show. It’s just a hole in the wall but easy to find as there’s usually a queue outside.

There are now eight branches but it’s this one that attracts all the attention.

I enjoyed mine but it’s not something I’d get religious about. The exterior was nice and crunchy but I thought it was a bit too dry on the inside (B+).

Tsui Wah (Intermediate B), 41 Pitt St, Yau Ma Tei, www.tsuiwah.com

Tsui Wah is the Hong Kong version of an American diner, described by some as ‘the Denny’s of Hong Kong’.

Established in 1967, they have now over thirty locations (some open for 24 hours).

Despite being a chain, each branch has its own character.

I particularly like the 70s retro stylings of the Yau Ma Tei branch.

My own house is also filled with moulded plastics from past decades so I feel quite at home here.

You can get a pineapple bun and milk tea here too but the extensive menu has a varied and reasonably priced choice of fusion dishes from Cantonese, Western and other Asian cuisines.

I had the Indonesian dish Nasi Goreng which wasn’t a pretty sight but it pressed all my comfort food buttons.

Tsui Wah is not fancy in the slightest, but it’s defintitely an experience, as recommended by Frommers, Where Chefs Eat and Anthony Bourdain amongst others.

3 Potatoes (Initial A), 30 Nullah Rd and Tung Choi Street, Mongkok, www.facebook.com

A Michelin-recommended Baked Potato stall! Michelin have only recently arrived in HK and they are sensitive to the charge of being elitist so they have gone out of the their way to suggest more accessible eateries such as this.

I had the sour cream and cheese baked potato which was great (B+) but it’s just a potato at the end of the day.

If you find this a bit too bland, the more daring among you can pop around the corner to Delicious Food for a slice of grilled pig intestine on a stick (see next post).

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