Archive for the Jordan Category

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 – 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).

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…

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…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! 🙂

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