Archive for the Central 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.

Use

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

20161116_153155

 

 

Push carts are definitely still a thing here.

20161116_154021

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.

20161117_174621

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

20161027_123345

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

20161110_150147

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.

20161103_134620

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.

20161103_133325

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!

20161106_212802

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.

20161102_122920

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.

20161102_122753

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.

20161116_151909

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.

20161116_143657

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

20161116_143648

…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.

20161116_145042

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 – 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.

20161114_204018

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

20161114_204209

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).

20161109_215743

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).

20161109_222059

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.

20161101_201636

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

20161101_201910

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

20161101_203218

The Chinese Cabbage with Garlic was okay (B).

20161101_203045

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.

20161101_203329

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).

20161101_202822

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).

20161116_144114

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 – Dim Sum hotspots

Posted in Central, China, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Island, Jordan, Kowloon, North Point, Sham Shui Po with tags , , , on November 19, 2017 by gannet39

I visited Hong Kong for work for the second time in Autumn of 2016 and stayed for three weeks, which gave me time to eat in quite a few places…

Dim Sum are small snack-sized portions of food. Most commonly these are steamed or fried dumplings and buns, with meat or seafood fillings, but can also include steamed green veg, roasted meats and soups and desserts such as custard tarts. Eating dim sum is a Cantonese tradition, originating in Guanzhou, which overlaps with the older Silk Road tradition of Yum Cha (tea drinking). Typically the occasion is a shared family brunch at the weekend although nowadays dim sum can be eaten at any time, and often as takeout.

The ideal number of people to eat dim sum is four, as many portions have four items. In restaurants they were traditionally served from trolleys pushed around the tables but in more modern, often smaller places, food choices are made via a tick box menu. There will also be a wide range of teas to choose from which will often include Green, Black, Chrysanthemum, Oolong and scented teas like Jasmine. Alcohol is rarely served.

In Hong Kong yum cha is very popular and there’s a big dim sum restaurant scene. Here are five excellent places I’ve been to. They’re all different, and I like them all for different reasons. The first three are all innovative newcomers, the fourth is an ancient institution and the last is a big posh palace with a view of the harbour. My Google map is here.

The first two places are two branches of the same company, Tim Ho Wan, which now has 45 branches worldwide. The Sham Shui Po, North Point and Tai Kok Tsui branches all have one Michelin star. Tim Ho Wan get props from sources I respect like Anthony Bourdain, Where Chefs Eat and Eat Like A Girl. In fact in 2009 they got international accolades for being the world’s cheapest Michelin star meal. Expect queues at peak times.

Tim Ho Wan – Sham Shui Po (Intermediate A), G/F, 9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Tong Mi, timhowan.com.hk

This was my first experience of dim sum in HK. I was attracted by the rep and this particular branch because it’s a short taxi ride from the Royal Plaza Hotel where I was staying. I was expecting a queue but was seated straight away, although I had a family join my table soon afterwards.

One of my favourite Cantonese food items are Chāshāo Bāo 叉燒包, Barbecue Pork-filled Buns, which come in two forms; steamed, white and fluffy or baked, golden and glazed. At Tim Ho Wan they serve the latter, (Chāshāo Cān Bāo 叉燒餐包) with a sugary glaze, which has made them the most famous item on the menu (A+).

I also love their Shāomài 燒賣, Steamed Pork Dumplings with Shrimp (A).

The Steamed Spareribs (Páigǔ 排骨), served here with Black Beans (Dòuchǐ 豆豉), are very good (B+).

Luóbo Gāo 蘿蔔糕, Pan-fried Turnip Cake, is another favourite of mine, made more flavoursome here by the inclusion of dried shrimp (A).

Chángfěn 腸粉, Rice Rolls, can be eaten plain but the ones on the menu here are stuffed with BBQ pork (A).

Tim Ho Wan – North Point (Intermediate A), Shop B, C, & D, G/F, Seaview Building, 2 Wharf Road, North Point, timhowan.com.hk

Another branch, also with its own Michelin star. I walked straight in without queueing. The menu is a couple of dishes longer and the desserts are different. I tried a few different things this time.

Phoenix Claws (Fèngzhuǎ 鳳爪) is the euphemistic name for chicken feet which have been deep fried, boiled and then steamed. Often, as here, they are served with black beans. I’m slowly learning to appreciate them, but I’m not completely there yet (B).

The Wontons in Chilli Sauce were pretty good (B+).

The Pan-fried Green Pepper with Mixed Fish and Pork was a new dim sum to me (B+).

I also enjoyed the Steamed Rice with Chicken and Chinese Sausage (B+). It had two kinds of sausage, one with blood and the other without, both of which were less challenging than the ones I’d have with my claypot rice at another restaurant.

DimDimSum (Intermediate A), G/F, Man King Building, 26-28 Man Wui St, Jordan, www.facebook.com

In 2011 this restaurant won the Time Out Food & Drink award for the best dim sum in HK and in 2012 they were listed by Newsweek as one of the 101 Best Places to Eat in the World. I knew of them via the 2013 edition of Where Chefs Eat. The location is slightly off the beaten track in Jordan but it’s worth the walk from the station.

They have a rep for innovative, unusual dim sum and I was immediately drawn by their Steamed Rice Rolls with Black Truffles and Mixed Mushrooms (A).

That didn’t stop me ordering perhaps the most common dim sum of all, Har Gow 蝦餃, translucent steamed prawn dumplings, which I adore (A).

I liked their Chicken Feet and Spareribs on Steamed Rice because the smaller portion means all the feet get eaten when ordered by timid Westerners like me (B+).

They are well known for their cute Pineapple Buns with Custard Filling (A) which feature in the savoury section of the menu for some reason.

Where Chefs Eat recommends the house specials like Pan-fried Tofu Skin with Chicken and Cumin, or the fried ‘9 Dishes’ with Pig’s Blood and XO Sauce, Steamed Tripe with Black Pepper Sauce, and for dessert, the Sesame Seed Balls but many of these weren’t on the menu when I went. So, make sure you ask what specials are on that day.

Overall, excellent food and very reasonably priced. I urge you to go.

Luk Yu Tea House (Intermediate B+), 24-26 Stanley Street, Central, www.lukyuteahouse.com

This venerable institution was established in 1933 but moved to its present location in 1976.

It doesn’t seem to have changed much since then.

The décor has an Art Deco feel with wooden booths, ceiling fans, and stained-glass windows.

They get props from the Eat Like A Girl blog and in Where Chefs Eat they are described as one of the best places in HK for dim sum. They also get extra points from me for serving beer.

The menu is also very retro and included many hard-to-find items, and there’s nothing bite-sized about their portions. Take for example the Steamed Jumbo Sized Chicken Bun (B) which could easily have fed four.

I also found the ‘Steamed Shumai topped with Pork Liver Slice’ to be quite unsubtle in their presentation, but the flavours were good (B).

My favourite was the Lo Mai Gai 糯米雞 or Steamed Fried Rice with Shrimp wrapped in Lotus Leaf (B+).

Finally some Egg Tarts to finish (B).

The service has a reputation for being notoriously rude but I have no complaints about my chap who was friendly and attentive.

So not the best or the most reasonably priced food, you’re effectively paying for the history and tradition, but it’s still a good experience that I would recommend. In 2002 a businessman was assassinated by the Triads in here but don’t let that put you off, they’re not after you, are they?

Maxim’s Palace (Advanced A-), 2/F, Low Block, City Hall, Central, www.maxims.com.hk

This is a modern place that observes tradition. The location on the second floor of the City Hall building has a good view of the harbour…

20161104_150208

…and the opulent surroundings merit the palace moniker.

The dim sum are old school and served off trolleys. This was my last day of eating dim sum and I was in the mood for dumplings…

I had the Har Gow 蝦餃 steamed prawn dumplings once more because I love them so much (A).

And of course the Chāshāo Bāo叉燒包, steamed BBQ pork buns again (A), along with the Steamed Ribs with Black Bean Sauce (B+).

Also the Chángfěn 腸粉 Steamed Rice Rolls with Shrimps were good (A).

The only dim sum I had here that aren’t mentioned above were the Xiǎolóngbāo (饺子). Also known as Shanghai dumplings due to their place of origin, these are pork-filled ‘soup dumplings’ (they can contain seafood but not usually) which flood your mouth with juicy rich broth when you bite into them (A). Here, the hole in the top allows you to top them up with blended vinegar and soya sauce.

My only gripe was that I was rather abruptly hassled to pay the bill while I was still eating which earned them a minus mark but otherwise it was a great experience.

Obviously as a single diner, the amount of different dim sum I can try at any one time has its limits so apologies if I haven’t covered a more comprehensive range of dim sum, there are many more. Hopefully though I’ve given you a good range of the best things to try. Go with a gang if you can.

Noodles next! 🙂

%d bloggers like this: