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Saturday, 19 January 2013

Top 10 "must eat" in Hong Kong, Part 1

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Temple Street - packed with locals having their dinner

Eating in Hong Kong is an adventure, not just in terms of the mind boggling variety, but also the setting in which you have the meal.  It can range from high end restaurants with a hundred tables, to neighbourhood eateries that occupy just half a shoplot and fit no more than five wooden tables and stools, right down to alleyways teeming with plastic tables, steaming hotpots and beer bottles.



Hubby and I are big foodies, and we enjoy looking for good food whenever we travel.  We have one rule of thumb when it comes to looking for good food in foreign places - just go where the crowd is.  By this, I mean the local crowd.  If the shop is packed with locals, that usually means the food is good, prices are reasonable and the ingredients are fresh as the traffic flow ensures that they are constantly replenishing them. 

So far, this rule has never fail us in all our travels.  Whenever we see an eatery packed with local people, we will join in, even if it means joining a queue.  We never go to eateries with touts or those that are empty.  It has to be at least half filled.  You can tell by the way the staff go about their work.  If they look busy and occupied, that's good.  Proceed to check the menu at the entrance.  If the workers look bored, have nothing to do and/or quickly come and persuade you in, beware.  I would normally give them a polite smile, shake my head and walk away.  

We also subscribe to the saying "when in Rome, do what the Romans do".  In this case, it is eat what the Romans eat.  So when you are in Japan, eat Japanese food, don't go looking for chicken rice.  When in Hong Kong, eat Chinese food, don't go looking for pizza.  You might probably find a shop that serves fantastic chicken rice in the land of sashimi and ramen, or pizza in roast pork heaven, but that's besides the point right? Unless you are on a strict diet for some particular reasons. 

So, back to what's good to eat in Hong Kong.  Well, LOTS and LOTS.  And the best news is, you don't have to look up any food guide to find the places with good food.  They are practically everywhere.  Those restaurants that are listed in food guides are usually over commercialised and cater to tourists; and consequently charge tourist prices.  Buck the trend, and eat where the real local food is.  

So here goes, my personal top 10 must eat in Hong Kong *drum roll* - in ascending order, starting from #10. The photos were taken during two trips we made to the island in May 2012 and early this month (January 2013). 
 

#10  HongKong Kailan - Blanched and serve with oyster sauce




This is so simple, but so good.  It's difficult to get good Hong Kong kailan in KL.  I've even gone to those high end supermarkets and grocers, paid premium price for what was labelled HK kailan, but I always ended up disappointed.  They were bitter, fibrous and tasted full of pesticide.

Eat a plate of HK kailan in HK and tell me if it is different or it is different.  Here the vegetable is tender, sweet and has a clean, unpolluted taste.  The most popular way of cooking is to blanched them and serve with a dollop of oyster sauce and garlic oil.  Perfect to go with that plate of roast pork rice.  Hubs and I always order a plate to go with our meal.   



 

#9 Hotpot / Steamboat
 


When temperatures drop, Hong Kong people will flock to hotpot restaurants to enjoy a hearty meal of hotpot.  There's nothing better than warming yourself over a cauldron of steaming broth, surrounded by plates of fish and shrimp balls, paper thin slices of beef and pork, huge bowls of vegetables and seafood platters.
 
Hubby brought us to a popular hotpot restaurant in Hung Hom (I forgot the name but it is next to another popular hotpot restaurant called Supreme Seafood).  Unfortunately I accidentally erased some photos, hence there are only a handful of shots here.
 
I love the variety of dipping sauces and condiments they serve with the food.


 
 
We chose the Supreme Fish Broth, which consists of pork bones and fish boiled with herbs and yam for 5 hours.  Since we were not particularly hungry then, we just ordered two plates of fish and pork balls, a serving of vegetables, some straw mushrooms, a plate of fish slices and two servings of wanton noodles.
 

 
 

 


Hotpot meals are not cheap in HongKong, especially in higher end restaurants.  This meal cost us about HK280; or approximately RM130.

 


 
Locals having their hotpot feast in an alleyway on Temple Street
 
 
Totally no-frills

 



 
#8  Beef noodle soup
 
 
Unless you are abstaining from eating beef due to religious reasons,  I would highly recommend a bowl of beef noodle soup in Hong Kong.  The taste of beef here is unforgettable.  Slices of ultra smooth, tender, juicy beef slices, sitting ontop of a steaming bowl of hearty beef broth and springy wonton noodles - oh my!  You CANNOT get this elsewhere but in Hong Kong.  And if you like all those offal parts like tendon and tripe, go for the combination option - you will not regret it. 
 
Remember I said earlier in the post that we always look for shops that are packed with locals?  Well, that was how we found Jim Jai Kei.  Hubby and I were trudging somewhere near Lan Kwai Fong, hungry and tired.  We walked past many eateries and were so tempted to just walk into any shop to rest our tired feet, but I just couldn't do it after taking one look at the bored faces of the serving staff and the empty tables.  We continue to walk along a couple of streets and then we saw it. 
 
 
Brightly lit, packed with locals, super busy staff.  I could also hear the animated chatter of the customers from the shop entrance where we stood.  Hubby and I exchanged knowing looks - yup, dinner is here!
 


 
Beef noodles at the famous Jim Jai Kei on Wellington St, Central.
Undoubtedly the best beef noodles we've ever had.
 
This noodle shop was situated at the next street from our hotel on Shanghai Street.  Hubby had walked past it during his "survey of the area" and told me we should try the food there.  True enough, the beef combination noodles was superb.
 
 
 
 
Combination beef noodle on Reclamation Street, Yau Ma Tei
(next to Shanghai Street)
#7 Wonton noodle soup
 
 
Don't like beef noodles? Then try wonton noodles.  Those huge wonton filled with chunky prawns and juicy pork mince will have you asking for seconds.  HK people love their prawns, the chunkier it is, the better.  It doesn't matter whether you are eating at a high end restaurant, or just the ubiquitious hole-in-the-wall noodle shack.  The wontons are always as big as your kid's fist, and bursting with plump and succulent prawns.  We couldn't get enough of it. 

Wonton noodles at Jim Jai Kei

 

Most good roast meat/noodle shops will serve both beef noodles and wonton noodles.
 
 
#6  Dim Sum
 
You can't go to Hong Kong and not eat dim sum.  It's almost a sacriledge.  Join the madness of a packed dim sum restaurant, where the staff wear ear monitors or hold walkie talkies to track vacant tables, where elderly aunties push trolley carts, hawking steaming hot bamboo baskets, to animated Cantonese chatter over delicious bite size morsels and jasmine tea.  It's an experience. 
 
 


Custard "quicksand" buns. 
SO.GOOD.

 
 
 

That's it for Part 1.  Hungry already? :)

Part 2 coming up next.
 

19 comments:

  1. steamboat in wok? my first time seeing this. for more servings , bigger portions? yes, their prawn wantans are big..XXX times compared to our normal ones here:D

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    1. I think they use wok simply because it is cheap and easily available haha, but a good idea isnt it? No frills and you dont hv to worry about it breaking. My mum once used a visions glass pot for a steamboat dinner at home and it cracked midway through!

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  2. We love HK especially the roasted goose..so tender and melt in the mouth. You have captured the essence of HK with all the yummy food.

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    1. Thanks Jenn! Appreciate your kind comments :)

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  3. Wow, Esther! I just got home from a curry lunch and I thought I was full. Looking at photos of the food above, my tummy is playing tricks on me again. Especially the beef noodles. Rubbing my tummy and looking forwards to part 2!

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    1. Ya, the beef noodles are awesome! Part 2 coming up soon.

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  4. Hello there, this is interesting! I can't wait for part 2. For all those listed, I have yet to try their hot pot. Let me take a guess...'siu ngor/siu yok, tan tart, por lor pau, lou por pheng, lai char, theng chai chuk ? Drooling already thinking about them :)

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    1. Hi Adeline, aha you love all those HK food too huh :). So much good food there isnt it!

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  5. Hi Esther! I totally subscribe to your crowd-and-good-food theory.

    The beef noodle caught my attention! When is part2 coming up and how many parts will there be?

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    1. Looks like beef noodles is the biggest hit! For this Top 10 series, just part two, but i have a few more posts coming up on HK food.

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  6. I've always wanted to visit Hong Kong but now you've made me ready to pack my bags!

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  7. Hi Esther, lovely pictures and everything look yummy. Thanks for sharing, love the hotpot and dim sum.

    Have a great weekend, regards.

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  8. Hi Esther,

    There is so much food in this post and this is only part one!

    My family went to HK less than 2 yrs back... We ate a lot too but never this much.

    Everything looks so good. We should go to HK again :D

    Zoe

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    1. Hahaha the three of us can really eat a lot *shy*

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  9. Hi Eather,

    Wow! Hong Kong really is a great place to have good food!
    This is parts 1 right? I am looking forward for part 2.
    Thanks for sharing!

    mui

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    1. Hi Doreen, thanks for dropping by :). Yea, HK is a food haven, will be posting part 2 once i get through the AMC posts on CNY recipes.

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  10. woohoo look at those custard buns... yes, dimsum is a must everytime i visit HK!
    and wonton noodles, century egg porridge, duck rice, goose rice, HK desserts...etc etc LOL

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