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Jul 26, 2000 08:53 PM

Hong Kong

  • m

need a HONG KONG recommendation:best or outstanding Cantonese and Szechwanrestaurants and outstanding dim sum.Is the Jumbo Floating restaurant wortha visit or just a tourist place??Is there a Hong Kong version of Zagat in print or on the web??

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  1. Zagat's web site is:

    If you surf there, you will see a list of online guides, but none for Hong Kong. I have no idea whether they have any paper guides for cities not covered online, but I tend to doubt it. But with a city like Hong Kong where it's so easy to find good food, I would think a Zagat's guide is probably unnecessary. I haven't been in Hong Kong for 13 years, however, so any recommendation I'd give would be totally outdated and unreliable.

    There are several USENET newsgroups devoted to Hong Kong. Why don't you post in an appropriate one (perhaps soc.culture.hongkong.entertainment?) and ask Hong Kongers for their favorite restaurants of various types and price categories? Considering how good their cuisine is, I would pay a lot of attention to Hong Kongers' recommendations - just like I would pay a lot of attention to recommendations from Malaysians, Thais, Italians, Indians, et al., as to the local eateries in their native cities...

    I'd be curious to find out if the huge eating hall in the Star House on the Kowloon side of the Star Ferry line still exists and, if so, whether it is still a great place for economical dim sum. I hear the prices have gone way up in Hong Kong relative to the dollar since my trip...

    2 Replies
    1. re: Michael

      Micheal's advise is very sound. Listen to the locals. I spent a month in H.K. last year, and found the greatest chowhound places from them. Unfortunatly, I didn't know that I was a "chowhound" at that point, and did not get business cards from my favorite places.

      Please be advised of something...there is a very GENERAL rule in Hong Kong that says "The closer to the bay, the cheaper the prices". This holds true for almost all commodities, whether it is clothing, electronics, or food. The quality of said products doesn't differ; just the amount of foot traffic does.
      So, don't be put off by restaurants that people swear by, that are very cheap, just because said restaurant might be a bit closer to the bay than another establishment. You might just find the place of your dreams.

      BTW, Michael, I'm not sure what the exchange rate was when you were there, but I got absolutely stuffed on dim sum at one of the restaurants at the top of the Times Square (island side of H.K.) building for about $10 U.S.. How does this compare?


      1. re: Andy P.

        FWIW, the exchange rate in 1987 was $1 U.S. = $7+ HK (I think something like $7.14). A huge dim sum lunch at the Star House was $35 HK = c. $5 U.S. I only had one meal in 10 days in Hong Kong which cost as much as $70 HK, and that was in a Vietnamese restaurant where they were dishonest when I asked them how big the dishes were and ordered twice too much because of that. I was regularly eating in luncheonettes for $12 HK, i.e. less than $2 U.S. In Hong Kong Central District (close to the Star Ferry).

        But it does sound like it is still very possible to eat good food inexpensively in Hong Kong.

    2. For great Cantonese food, check out "Zen". It is in the lower level of (but not associated with) the Hilton complex in Causway Bay. For a wonderful sensory experience, take a wander through the open air market near Times Square. The stalls have fantastic food at dirt cheap prices. Try the barbecued pork that is sold at many places there. Please, don't buy a dorian at the market and try to take it back to your hotel, since this particular fruit is banned in most establishments...something to do with the odor of the dorian getting into the ventilation systems and never leaving.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Andy P.

        Zen is NOT authentic IN ALL ASPECTS and it does not target to genuine HK people. It's more to the fusion side and the price is certainly a rip-off. You should check out for recommendations.

        1. re: 325i

          Openrice is great but it's only in Chinese, no?

          1. re: PeterL

            There are plenty of reviews in English as well since Chinese is difficult to type

      2. I haven't been to HK for 4 years so can't make any reliable recommendations. But I will caution you about "Zen" which was one of the worst banquets I've had in HK. Sloppy performance and mediocre food considering the price and venue - not up to Hong Kong standard.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Melanie -
          I'm so sorry that you didn't have a positive experience at Zen. I was there a year ago, as a guest of the friend of the new partner. Perhaps our treatment during dinner, and the quality of the food because of this connection, influenced my judgement of the place. Our service was great, and the food was worth coming back for. Call me naive, but I just figured that the excellence of service and high quality of food that we received was the norm. But, after your review, I won't dismiss the possiblity that we were being pampered, thanks to our sponsor.

          So Mark, you have an unbiased con, and a somewhat biased pro, for this restaurant.

          Although, I won't back off on the ourdoor market. Check it out. The only thing that I will warn you about is is the height of summer, and the aroma is, well, ripe.

          Note - If being the guest of a friend of a new partner requires "full disclosure", then I sincerely apologize for not revealing this in my earlier post.

          Yoroshiku onegai shimasu,

          1. re: Andy P.

            There are outdoor markets everywhere and you don't need to go far afield to find them. Last year, I stumbled across one right off the elevated Pedestrian Escalator in Central HK nr. the corner of Cochrane and Gage (it's within a block or so from that corner). It was there at a bakery that I found the best buttery, eggy, egg custard I've ever had (sorry, don't have the name/address!). Look for the Dublin Jack pub sign (at that corner, good Guiness BTW) on the right as you head up the hill as a clue for where to get off the walkway.

            The Pedestrian Escalator is a short, interesting way to check out the neighbourhoods in HK Central. It's a one km. long elevated, above street level, walkway/escalator system that starts at the Central Market bldg. nr. the Central MTR station and heads uphill towards Victoria Peak ending at Conduit Rd. (It's also a short walk from the Star Ferry terminal to TST/Kowloon.) It's a combination of walking short flat stretches and riding the moving walkway/escalator uphill for steeper stretches, and then walking downhill to return (except in the mornings when the escalator runs downhill for the commuters).

            1. re: Andy P.
              Melanie Wong

              At the time I dined at Zen, it was considered one of the "trendy" restaurants in town. I suspect that was why our local office manager chose it for the banquet. However, the people in the HK office who really cared about food (and who usually chose the restaurants and ordered some really special meals for me) were disappointed too. My recollection is that more than half the dishes were just a little off - overcooked, not served hot, not as fresh and pristine as HK usually delivers, underseasoned. They looked good though - the place does present well.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Melanie, I'm going to Hong Kong next week. Do you have any recommendations? I'm looking for Chinese and non-Chinese food. And I hate to say this because I sound so lame and non-Chowhoundish, but we need places that aren't too pork/shrimp focused (husband doesn't eat) and we prefer white meat chicken (if possible).

          2. b
            Bryan Loofbourrow


            No doubt this comes to you too late, but I just discovered this board.

            I have been to Hong Kong twice in recent years, and am returning there soon. The primary object of my trips is the incredible food which is available there.

            Hong Kong excels at Cantonese food. I ate at several Cantonese restaurants in hotels which, while pricy, also showed an ethereal level of Cantonese food which I had never before experienced, along with French-style service. I would highly recommend Lai Ching Heen in the Regent, Wan Loong Court in the Kowloon Hotel, and the restaurant in the basement of the Holiday Inn (Don't let the Holiday Inn thing put you off, really, it's superb). There is a wonderful seafood place a couple of blocks from Nathan Road, called Foo Lum, which had amazing live fish from dozens of sparkling clean tanks. Their roast goose is also incredible -- you must experience either goose or duck in Hong Kong; the richness of the birds they raise makes American ducks seem like lean wild game birds by comparison.

            I also had dim sum at Spring Moon restaurant at the Peninsula, which was incredible. The Barbecued Pork buns, normally an item which I can take or leave, were out of this world, and everything else was somewhere beyond excellent.

            As for Szechuan, you can do very very well in Hong Kong. I found the best Szechuan food of my life there, substantially better than Vancouver's, even. Probably my favorite place is called Yun Yan. It's on the fourth floor of a mall called Majestic Plaza on Nathan Road. Great Tan Tan noodles and fried bread. One spectacular dish was from the specials list, a dry-fried chicken dish with lots of Szechuan peppercorns, and, I kid you not, about 75 whole dried red chili peppers mixed in. Still, it wasn't painfully spicy, and the chicken was wonderfully flavored and had that great dry-fried texture.

            I also enjoyed the dried beef and Szechuan eggplant at Sze Chuan Lau on Lockhart road, and an even better, earthy and oily, version of the latter dish at a second-floor place on Lockhart whose name I have forgotten, and which I failed to find on an attempted return trip. There is also an excellent Szechuan place called Prince in the massive Harbor mall in Kowloon near the ferry.

            -- Bryan

            5 Replies
            1. re: Bryan Loofbourrow
              Melanie Wong

              Hey Bryan! Glad you've found us here. I'm envious of your upcoming trip to HK. I've noticed some great fare specials but just can't get away.

              I didn't know you'd been to the restaurant in the Holiday Inn. One of my Uncle Hughes favorites.

              October is Shanghai hairy crab season. Be sure to try them just cause it's the thing to do. I still prefer our Dungeness, although they're very different.

              1. re: Melanie Wong
                Bryan Loofbourrow


                I was in Hong Kong for the first time in an October, and I remember seeing posters of those hairy crabs everywhere, but, somehow, managed not to try any because I was so overwhelmed with other things to explore. This time I will make up for that. I did have some crab with a green shell which was subtle, clean-tasting, and slightly sweet, which I loved. I have a special place in my heart for Dungeness, but it is so ubiquitous here that a change is welcome -- and one of the surprises of Hong Kong was the large number of tasty crustaceans which I had never encountered before, like the King Prawn.

                Say, while I've got you, a question. When I went with some WLDGers to a seafood restaurant in Aberdeen, we were served (after the intervention of a local gentleman who was very familiar with the restaurant) some *high-grade* thousand-year old eggs, with whites that were brown instead of black, and yolks that still retained some yellow. How can I taste more of these during my trip, without going to Aberdeen? Are they a standard item? How do you ask for them? What places are likely to have them, and how do I indicate that I want the "good ones"? FWIW, they went incredibly well with aged Riesling ('83 Dr Thanish Bernkasteler Doktor, if memory serves).

                -- Bryan

                1. re: Bryan Loofbourrow
                  Melanie Wong

                  Gosh, maybe you can Vinny write down the request in Chinese characters for you? The color of the 1M y.o. eggs depends on how long they're left in the lye and the color of the tea leaves used as a coloring agent. I'm not so fond of these that I'm studied the differences between quality grades. If you go on a binge, please be sure to eat the pickled veggies that are usually served with them, and wash it down with lots of Riesling to counteract the lye. My mother got a serious mouthburn one time and could only have milk for a couple days.

                  Since you've been to East Ocean in Vancouver, you might want to try the one in Hong Kong as a reference standard. It's my friend Francis's (who is from HK) favorite retaurant.

                  I'm soooooo happy you're here! Pls. contribute your favorite R&G dishes on the SF board.

                  1. re: Bryan Loofbourrow


                    Yung Kee on Wellington has the thousand-year-old eggs.

                  2. re: Melanie Wong

                    We were in Shanghai in August and had a "Red Flower" crab at the Dynasty Restaurant. Picked out the crab from a tank, it was weighed, then steamed for us. It was served with a mild vinegar sauce. The unusual thing was that the crab was a bright red and white when alive and retained its color after steaming, unlike our Chesapeake Bay blues and other crustaceans I've cooked. The shells were thin, almost like egg shells. The meat was sweet and mild. Lovely. Also sold at that time were the little green crabs sold live and bound up in twine. You could even find them in the airports, bound in string and packed in individual plastic tubs for the locals to take home as presents, i guess. what fun.