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Hong Kong for five days

The family that owns Yung Kee has been having some inter-necine bickering these last few years, and I've noticed the quality of the goose in the main restaurant (which is just about the only reason to eat in the main restaurant) declining. Nowadays when I am craving roast goose and I'm in Central I go around the corner from Yung Kee to Yat Lok on Stanley Street. It's a hole in the wall, very down-market, but the roast goose is excellent. I believe that this Yat Lok is owned by the same folks who run the more famous (from Bourdain's show) Yat Lok up in Tai Po.

Nov 22, 2012
JiMaWu in China & Southeast Asia

Hong Kong question

You should not have regrets, as sadly, the quality of the eating places in the Central dai pai dongs has declined since the government forced them all to renovate about two years ago. They made the vendors replace their open air super-hot woks with standardized cookers from Town Gas. Now the "wok hei" of the dishes--that super-intensified burst of steam and flavor you get from food cooked in an ultra hot wok-- is just not the same! If you want to eat a better example of that style of food next time, I recommend going to nearby Ngau Kee, on the corner of Aberdeen and Gough streets.

Nov 22, 2012
JiMaWu in China & Southeast Asia

Your Top 3 in Hong Kong

Yes, the lemongrass is a usual accompaniment. At the snake soup shop in Sheung Wan, they serve their soup with a condiment of finely shaved dried lemongrass. The flavor really balances the flavor of the soup.

Aug 25, 2012
JiMaWu in China & Southeast Asia

Hong Kong food tours

A few food tour companies have started up in HK in the last year or so, doing mass-market type pre packaged tasting tours for relative newbies. But if you want something at a higher level, then I'd try http://realtravelhongkong.com...it's a small service run by American travel writer Daisann McLane, and she has two of the top foodies in HK (both chowhounders, I think) working with her.

Of course you can always make a long list of Chowhound faves and explore on your own, but if you have a limited amount of time and/or you want the latest on the ground info about the food scene (which in HK changes lightning fast), then it's worth seeking professional assistance!

Aug 03, 2012
JiMaWu in China & Southeast Asia

Looking for food guide/translator in Hong Kong and Shangai

Second the recommend on both ShanghaiLisa and Little Adventures in Hong Kong (www.realtravelhongkong.com). The latter is run by Daisann McLane, a National Geo Traveler columnist living in Hong Kong.

Aug 13, 2011
JiMaWu in China & Southeast Asia

Hong Kong in June - Dining suggestions?

If you want to take the stress out of your dining arrangements, you might try this service:
http://realtravelhongkong.com/2010/02...

It's the blog of a Cantonese speaking American travel writer living in Hong Kong who apprenticed herself to one of the Hong Kong Chinese newspaper food critics, and now runs an "eating concierge service". She basically eliminates the stress: helps you choose restaurants, arranges menus in advance, and can even accompany you to meals to explain and give background on the food.

Mar 05, 2010
JiMaWu in China & Southeast Asia

Hong Kong overview questions

I disagree. Hong Kong has excellent cuisine from other regions of China, too. You should definitely try Chiu Chow food--there are a few well-known places along Queen's Road West near the corner of Possession Street in the Sheung Wan neighborhood. If you are not visiting Shanghai on this trip. you can still sample excellent and authentic xiao lung bao at one of the branches of Din Tai Fung, the Taiwan-based soup dumpling chain. For Thai food--the real deal--head up to Kowloon City's immigrant Thai neighborhood. Food from the Chinese region of Hangzhou can be found at Hang Zhou restaurant on Johnston Street in Wan Chai (just got a Michelin Star). Two excellent choices for Sichuan would be Da Ping Huo on Hollywood Road (a private kitchen) or Yellow Door Kitchen on Cochrane Street (the latter has recently been taken over by the son of the original owner, and he's keeping the kitchen on its toes--I had a superb dinner there the other night.(Both Da Ping Huo and Yellow Door only do set menus for groups at dinner. If you are traveling alone, try Yellow Door for lunch, when the menu's a la carte).

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Hong Kong has great Japanese, Korean, and Indian food too. If you explore around on the forum you'll find many more suggestions!

Feb 07, 2010
JiMaWu in China & Southeast Asia

HK report

Mmmm...the airport also has the only branch I know of Ah Yee Leng Tong, which has great homemade Cantonese soups. I really miss the TST branch of Ah Yee Leng Tong. I think they are only at the airport now.

Jan 11, 2010
JiMaWu in China & Southeast Asia

Food Walking Tours in Hong Kong

My work colleague here in HK went on a walking tour led by a National Geographic travel writer. It wasn't exclusively for food, but he said she took him to some fabulous out-of-the-way joint for congee. She's more expensive than your budget limit, though, but my friend went with two other workmates and split the cost, so it worked out. The website is www.realtravelhongkong.com.

Jan 11, 2010
JiMaWu in China & Southeast Asia

Michelin HK & Macao debut just out

You are absolutely right about the difference between a Cantonese and Western palate.

I'm western, but most of my Hong Kong friends are Cantonese Chinese. I am grateful that I've been able to eat with my friends on a several-times-weekly basis in restaurants and in their homes, because if I had not I would never have learned to "taste" the food in the way that people who have grown up with this cooking taste it.

(I should add that I'm still not completely "there"--although I now happily slurp pickled chicken claws and suck the marrow out of goose heads, and fight with my pals over fish cheeks, there are still some dishes that give me pause. The "pause" is usually texture-related. )

When Hong Kong people order at a Chinese restaurant, you'll find a much larger propotion of innards is ordered--everything from pig lung to fish throats. These are things that I didn't even know existed as culinary items before coming to Hong Kong. And yet they are key components of the cuisine. I can't imagine that the Michelin reviewers had much exposure to this.

What's more,if you grew up eating Western food, there are certain tastes that you have to adjust in order to appreciate the food like locals do. For instance, there's much more textural variation in Cantonese food--but Western palates haven't been developed so much in this way, so we read a lot of dishes as slippery, rubbery, too raw (don't get me started about chicken cooking styles!), etc.

Even though Hong Kongers would appreciate the artistry and first rate ingredients fine food at Lung Keen Heen, they would recognize that it is not DEEPLY Cantonese--that the dishes and flavors really are adjusted for the "international" audience.

I recently went on a foodie tour of Guangzhou, Foshan, Qingyuan and Dongguan with some Hong Kong pals--and let me tell you, that was DEEP Cantonese--and most of the meals were more amazing than anything I've encountered lately in Hong Kong.

Dec 11, 2008
JiMaWu in China & Southeast Asia

Best Dim Sum in Hong Kong

Second the recommendation of London Restaurant. I attended a banquet there several weeks ago. Usually, Chinese banquet food is pretty awful. To my amazement, the dishes at London were really good. The set banquet we had didn't include many of the standard "give face to your guest" ingredients like shark fin and abalone. Instead, they presented a series of great, home-style Cantonese dishes with humble ingredients like tofu, yam, vegetables. I was quite surprised by the quality of ingredients and the standard of the cooking.

I haven't tried their dim sum yet, but if they can get banquets right, I'm sure their dim sum is also worth trying.

This is a classic old joint, by the way--been on nathan road in mongkok for years and years.

Nov 21, 2008
JiMaWu in China & Southeast Asia

HK foodie trip in October

I have a vegetarian friend, and going out for yam cha with her is challenging. Fortunately, she eats fish. And the other day, I happened upon a rather good place, right in Central, that has above-average dim sum, with a lot of fish and veggie specialties: in Cantonese it is called Bo Wu, in English, "Treasure Lake". It's right on the corner of Queens Road Central, under the escalator.

Actually, I was taken aback at how good the place was, because I have passed it hundreds of times without having any curiosity or inclination to go in. I just assume that the big Central HK dim sum parlors are gonna be mediocre.

But our yam cha the other day was great. The dishes I'd recommend are: deep fried hand-made fish dumplings (yu kauh) served with a kind of fresh oyster-ish sauce. A plate of Sichuan-style broad flat rice noodles with cucumber and shredded chicken, topped with sesame sauce (the chicken is served on the side, so this dish can be veggie). Mmmm--and the lo baak gou is prepared in an unusual way--it's cut into cubes and fried, with a little bit of laat mixed in, and with a hot pepper sauce on the side. Curry squid, tender and excellent. And the best veggie dish of all: an "omelette" cake made of tofu skin layers with fish paste and chives spread between the layers. (It is on the "specialties" section of the chinese menu, in the upper left corner, and it is called something like "Thousand layer tofu skin")

The best surprise is that I felt no msg or greasy additive "buzz" after my meal here (which I always do at, say, Maxim's City Hall) the food at Treasure Lake was light and clean and delicious. My dining companions guessed that they have their own complete dim sum making staff on premises (a lot of the cheaper HK joints get their dim sum from factories).

Oct 02, 2008
JiMaWu in China & Southeast Asia

HK foodie trip in October

I have always had terrific meals at Sheung Hing, right from the first time I wandered in without a reservation. The old guy at the door can be a bit gruff, but just stick with it, keep smiling, and you'll eventually get in (here's a hint: if you're a twosome, then they'll often set you up at a folding table by the door).

They have two storefronts, two or three doors apartm and two separate kitchens, and so there's always someone running food from one to the other. That means you can get a look at different dishes, and if you see something you like, order it.

Yes, the cold crab is expensive-ish (price varies, you could spend up to $300 HKD for a big one) but ABSOLUTELY a must! You dip the meat in a tasty cold black vinegar...mmmmm.

I also think their Lo Seui dishes are sublime.

I'm pretty sure they have an English language menu, but if you speak Cantonese you can just ask them what's special, what's good in the kitchen today, and you don't need to rely on Chiu Chow uncle. (Good to do a bit of research on the basic specialties of CC cuisine first, though.)

Have fun! I love Sheung Hing. Don't go there nearly often enough....

Oct 02, 2008
JiMaWu in China & Southeast Asia

Hong Kong Solo recs?

Do you like Shanghai soup dumplings, siu lung bao? (Xiao Long Bao) Because the number one chain of Shanghai dumpling places, Din Tai Fung, just opened a new branch in Hong Kong in Tsim Sha Tsui. It's drawing big crowds and there are lines, but--here's the interesting thing--if you don't mind sharing a table, and you come by yourself, you actually have an advantage. The other afternoon, as a solo diner, I just walked right in, bypassing a long line of hopefuls.

Their dumplings are delicious, probably the best in Hong Kong. Perfect size, perfect skin--not too thick but not so thin that they break when you pick them up with your chopsticks. Delicious broth, fragrant meat.

Din Tai Fung is on the third floor of the Silvercord Building at 30 Canton Road in TST. (Silvercord is across the street from the Harbour Plaza shopping mall).

Apr 02, 2008
JiMaWu in China & Southeast Asia

Wing Wah Noodle House vs. King’s Palace Congee & Noodle Bar

Oh dear, I think you walked in to the wrong place. There are a couple of noodle shops along that strip, and all noodle shops have a few of the same characters in their name (麵, the third character you weren't sure about actually means "noodle" and would be found in the name of every noodle restaurant).

The noodles at Ji Yauh are springy and chewy as a Hong Kong noodle should be, the "seui gaau", or water dumpling is tightly packed with really fragrant black mushroom and whole shrimp. I can't speak about the gai laan because I don't like gai laan and so never order it. This place is an old-school shop that's been around for quite some time and is well known (it was introduced to me by a Hong Kong journalist--there are some articles about the place up on the wall of the shop in Chinese).

Don't know what to say about Mak's, except that I live walking distance from the place and I almost never go there, and nor do any of my Hong Kong Cantonese friends. I've never understood why all the english language guidebooks go out of their way to feature it, although its central, English-user-friendly location may have something to do with it. The verdict on Maks in openrice.com, which I trust as a general indicator of Hong Kong taste, is mixed, with reviewers echoing my feeling its noodles, as we say, are 無特別.

Mar 30, 2008
JiMaWu in China & Southeast Asia

Wing Wah Noodle House vs. King’s Palace Congee & Noodle Bar

Wan Chai's Freedom Noodles (Ji Yauh Min Chaan) is much, much better than Mak's, IMO. The broth is even more subtle, not as salty, and the seui gau (larger won tons) are filled with whole shrimp and mushrooms, not any pork filler. The noodles are 100% perfect. You get a regular sized bowl, not Mak's mini-bowl.

It's a little tricky, but not impossible, to find. Take the MTR to Causeway Bay, get out at exit B, Hennessey Road. Then walk one long block back, in the direction of Wan Chai. The noodle shop is about two blocks down Canal Road West under the overpass.

Look for these characters on the shop sign:

自由麵餐

I don't think there is any English menu, but just order "seui gaau min", and you'll be fine. Beef brisket noodles would be "au lam min", and beef tendon would be "au gin min". But I really recommend trying the seui gaau min first.

The nearby Bowrington Street Market is well worth exploring.

Mar 27, 2008
JiMaWu in China & Southeast Asia

URGENT - Hong Kong Airport: 2-Hour Morning Layover

The best place to go isn't Maxim's (which is outside the transit area anyway) but to Ah Yee Leng Tong. The name is written only in Chinese (like this: 阿二靚湯). The website (in Chinese) is here: http://www.ahyeelengtong.com/main.html

The name is kind of a pun. If you say it, it means "Auntie's Beautiful Soup", but it is written in a way to suggest that "Auntie" is a second wife or mistress.

Anyway, the place used to be a chain, but now the airport one is the only branch. The kitchen specializes in delicious, restorative Cantonese soups made with special herbs and distinctive ingredients like black chicken. A soup from Auntie's is just the trick to beat back that nasty jet lag! Ah Yee Leng Tong also serves the usual dim sum stuff. But it is really known for the soups, and that's what you should order.

Friends of mine like this place so much they go to the airport early just so they can eat here. (But beware--service can be poky sometimes. One of my friends actually missed her flight because of a lazy lunch at Ah Yee Leng Tong!

)

Here's the address: Unit No. 7E142, Level 7, Departures East Hall,
Hong Kong International Airport.

Their website says they are open from 8am until 11pm.

Mar 26, 2008
JiMaWu in China & Southeast Asia

BEIJING, SHANGHAI & HK - TOP 3 IN EACH??

That would be:

Fu Sing Shark Fin Seafood Restaurant
353 Lockhart Road, 1F, WanChai

If you can read Chinese, there are some customer reviews of the place here:
http://www.openrice.com/restaurant/sr...

The review also has a Google map, to help you find the place. The phone number is 2893 0881.

Mar 26, 2008
JiMaWu in China & Southeast Asia