Archive for the Yau Ma Tei 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.

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 – 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.

20161110_145749

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

20161110_145807

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+).

20161110_150018

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-).

20161110_213315

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.

20161116_224139

Their Sugar Butter and Chocolate Chip cookies are dangerously moreish.

20161116_224112

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 – food with a view

Posted in China, Hong Kong, Kowloon, Tsim Sha Tsui, Yau Ma Tei with tags , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2017 by gannet39

I love hilly cities, and Hong Kong has some stunning vistas. I went to several places just to catch the view and this post is just for them. They’re all on this map.

The tallest building in Hong Kong is the International Commerce Centre (ICC), in Yau Ma Tei with 118 floors making it 490 meters high. Built in 2010 it’s the tenth highest building in the world.

Its position at the western entrance to Victoria Harbour means that it has fantastic views over most of Kowloon and over to Hong Kong Island. It was a bit hazy on the day I went but you could still see a lot.

Immediately over the water from it is the second highest building, the International Finance Centre (IFC), which you can just about see on this photo.

It’s mainly an office block but there’s a very posh shopping mall (Armani, Chanel, De Beers etc) at the bottom and some bars and restaurants at the top. I went to this place on floor 101…

Dragon Seal (Advanced B+), Shop C, 101/F, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Yau Ma Tei, www.dragonsealhk.com

A very posh restaurant that I probably couldn’t afford or get into in the evenings, but they did a relatively cheap set menu for lunch (HK$440 including the service charge, around £43).

I was seated in the bar area rather than the main restaurant but I still had a pretty good view out over the harbour. It must look even more amazing at night.

I kicked off with a well-made mojito.

I remember the food generally being very nice (B/B+) but I didn’t grade the dishes sorry.

‘Steamed Pork Dumpling with Sliced Abalone’, ‘Turnip Cake with Dry Shrimps & Preserved Sausages’ and ‘Deep Fried Taro Cubes’.

‘Shredded Bamboo Shoot in Sichuan Style’.

‘Winter Melon Ball with Hawthorn Sauce’.

‘Roasted Crispy Pork Belly’.

‘Double Boiled “Dragon Seal” Soup’.

‘Grilled King Fish Fillet with Herbs’.

‘Stewed Vegetable with Fresh Bean Curd’, the veg being pak choi (loved this).

‘Fried Rice with Minced Wagyu Beef’.

The food was lovely visually, and the flavours were pretty good overall, but not amazing.

A visit to the loo provided some great views from the other side of the building. Click to enlarge.

 

You can see videos here and here.

After lunch I was planning to go to the Ozone Bar www.ritzcarlton.com, on floor 118 which is technically the highest bar in the world, but discovered it wasn’t open until 5pm.

I could also have gone to Sky100, the viewing deck on the hundredth floor, but forking out around £16 for a similar view to the one I’d just had in Dragon Seal one floor above didn’t appeal once I did the math. Admission to Sky100 costs more than a drink at Ozone, and Ozone is eighteen floors higher.

It’s a shame that you can’t have similar experiences over the harbour at the International Finance Centre (IFC), but it’s almost entirely given over to offices although when writing this (ie too late) I discovered the 55th floor is open to the public.

The IFC complex is actually two towers (known as 1IFC and 2IFC), a hotel and a shopping mall. 2IFC is the taller tower of the two and it’s my favourite skyscraper in HK.

20161104_140549

I just love its sleek lines.

20161116_220932

If you take the lift up to the roof of the IFC Mall you’ll find a few bars and restaurants that have great views over the harbor, and of 2IFC towering above you.

20161116_221053

Here’s another posh restaurant with a great view of the harbour…

Above & Beyond (Advanced B+), 28/F, Hotel Icon, 17 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, www.hotel-icon.com

This Conran designed restaurant gets an entry in ‘1001 Restaurants You Must Experience Before You Die’ which praises the food (Cantonese classics) very highly.

I was mainly here for the views though. Click to enlarge.

 

 

To keep costs down again I went for lunch and had the set menu for HK$298, about £29. Also again, I didn’t grade it, but it was very good (B+/A).

I began with ‘Honey-glazed Barbecued Kagoshima Pork’.

And followed on with ‘Steamed Pork Dumplings with Porcini’ and ‘Steamed Mushroom Dumpling with Bamboo Piths’.

‘Baked Whole Abalone Tart with Diced Chicken’.

‘Braised Fish Maw Soup with Shredded Sea Cucumber, Mushroom and Bamboo Shoots’.

‘Steamed Garoupa Fillet with Yunnan Ham and Shredded Mushrooms’.

‘Wok-fried Seasonal Vegetables with Garlic’.

‘Fried Rice wrapped in Lotus Leaf’.

And a nice healthy dessert, the name of which I don’t recall, sorry.

The cocktails are good here too.

All the food was great. I just wish I was rich enough to explore their à la carte offerings which must be amazing.

This last place is a restaurant but you can treat it as a bar as most people do.

Eyebar (Intermediate B+),63 Nathan Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, www.elite-concepts.com

I haven’t heard anything about the food except that they do free bar bites during their ‘Sunset Hour’ (6-9pm) when it’s also 30% off Martinis.

You’ll need to arrive earlier than that to snag the better seats on the bar terrace. They all have stunning views of lower Kowloon and Hong Kong island on the other side of Vicotria Harbour.

Click to enlarge.

 

You get a great view of a residential skyscraper nearby called ‘The Masterpiece’. I would kill for one of those apartments!

1

The view looking up at The Masterpiece is quite impressive too.

20161102_230020

20161101_145911

Felix Restaurant (Advanced B?), 28/F, The Peninsula, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

This very posh hotel restaurant is apparently the place to watch fireworks on NYE. I went in 2012 for a pricey drink at the bar and the view at night is stunning. The Starck designed loos also have fantastic views of the downtown cityscape.

More about architecture in later posts.

Hong Kong – famous noodle shops

Posted in Causeway Bay, China, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, Mongkok, Sheung Wan, Tsim Sha Tsui, Yau Ma Tei with tags , , , , , , on November 20, 2017 by gannet39

I visited Hong Kong for the second time in Autumn of 2016. People who know me well know that I’m a hopeless noodle addict, and I’d probably choose a noodle soup over any other meal. Imagine then how excited I was at the thought of trying all the possibilities in Hong Kong, not only the indigenous noodle dishes but all those from other Asian cuisines as well.

Below are a few of my favourites. You can find them on this Google map.

Probably the most famous and commonly available Chinese noodle soup is Beef Noodle Soup. In Hong Kong some restaurants distinguish between Beef Noodles (牛肉麵) which are made with slices of beef or beef shank, and Beef Brisket Noodles (牛腩麵) which contains only brisket. I’m all about the brisket.

Muscle Man Noodle Shop (Elementary A), G/F, 104 Hak Po Street, Mongkok

A great noodle shop near the Royal Plaza Hotel. The guy who owns it is obviously a bit of a character! There are lots of pics of him with various celebrities on the walls.

Anthony Bourdain came here for one of his shows and loved the Beef Brisket Noodles. I agree, they’re great (A). I need to come back to try the wontons.

Kau Kee (Elementary A), G/F, 21 Gough Street, Sheung Wan

This is probably the most famous place for Beef Brisket Noodles in Hong Kong. I read about it in ‘Where Chef’s Eat’ and ‘1001 Restaurants You Must Experience Before You Die’.

It’s opposite this funny little place on the steps. Next to it you’ll see the permanent queue along the street. I went after the lunch time peak and waited about twenty minutes.

It was definitely worth the wait . The brisket might look tough but it’s been stewed for hours till it’s really tender. Great flavours (A). They have a curry flavour option as well which would be interesting to try.

The next local bowl to try is Wonton Noodle Soup. In Cantonese cuisine wontons are filled with minced pork and shrimp and served with noodles in a soup typically made from boiled shrimp shells, pork bones and dried flounder.

Here are two of the most famous places…

Mak An Kee, also known as Mak’s Noodle (Elementary A), 19 Lock Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui

Mak’s are probably the most famous purveyors of wontons in Hong Kong. They are a small chain with many imitators due to feuds in the family. I went to their Jordan branch for a late morning snack and was seated pretty much straight away.

I had the wonton noodle soup which was sublime (A+). Their unique wontons contain half a shrimp tail in a paste of egg and powdered dai di (flounder), while the broth is made from dried shrimp, flounder and pork bone. The only downside is the portions are tiny and more expensive than elsewhere, but then they are the best.

These guys are pretty good at wontons too though…

Ho Hung Kee (Intermediate A), 12F, Hysan Place, 500 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay m.facebook.com

Another famous wonton institution, with a Michelin star, on the top floor of a shopping centre. I had the good fortune to be working nearby so I came for lunch a couple of times. It’s so busy they have a greeter on the front door issuing tickets. Fortunately as a solitary diner I got in fairly quickly.

Shrimp wontons, the house special, come in two ways; in a soup…

… or dry, in this case with some bok choi and hoisin dipping sauce. I tried both over two visits and they are excellent (A). There’s lots of other good looking stuff on the menu.

While beef brisket and wonton soups are wonderful, my first noodle love is still Japanese Ramen, which is widely available in cosmopolitan Hong Kong…

Yokozuna Japanese Noodle Shop (Elementary A), G/F, Yun Kai Bldg, 466-472 Nathan Rd, Yau Ma Tei yokozuna.com.hk

A local ramen institution, since 1987. They are named after a famous sumo wrestler which is making quite a statement. Time Out would have you try their Yokohama curry ramen, with tomato, bacon and parmesan cheese but I’m a stickler for tradition and went with their Kyushu Ramen, a classic style made with Tonkotsu pork bone broth. And a rack of gyoza on the side. So, so good (A).

Ippei-an Ramen (Elementary B+), 132 Nathan Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, www.ippeian.com

A small citywide ramen chain that began in 1984. They too are famous for their Tonkotsu soup which is my favourite style. I had the classic Soya Sauce Ramen which was great (A).

So top marks all round! Hong Kong is heaven for noodle lovers.

%d bloggers like this: