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Must-eat in Hong Kong? A ravenous traveler inquires.

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I'll be traveling to Hong Kong for the first time this week. What are the must-have food experiences that I should seek out while I'm there? Snake soup? Roast pigeon? Stuffed duck? Is it a good time for seafood? What kind?

I'll be staying in the Causeway Bay area, but I'm willing to travel almost anywhere for food. I love everything -- what are your favorite Hong Kong delicacies, and where should I go to get them?

I'm getting hungry just thinking about it...

Thanks!

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  1. Seafood is a must in Hong Kong. Search chowhound for some recs for some good seafood. Seafood is always good in HK.

    If you are up to roasted pigeon, you should go to Tai Ping Koon. There is one in Wanchai, and the better one in Yau Ma Tai, but it can be heard to find.

    Make sure you go to women's street (literal translation) in Mong Kwok. There is also a ton of really good street vendors there.

    If you are a buffet person, try the Marriott in Pacific Place (take the Admiralty exit off the MTR/subway), the Convention Center in Wanchai, or the Intercontinental in Tsim Tsai Tsui.

    You might want to try Lei's (Lee's?) Garden. They serve really good Cantonese cuisine but a bit on the expensive side. They have a cracking rice soup that is pretty good. I know there is one in IFC building in Central.

    1 Reply
    1. re: WHills

      By "women's street" do you mean Tung Choi Street, where the "Ladies Market" is? One street to the west (I think it is called Sai Yung Choi street) also used to hve some nice litle eateries, including Nanjing Restaurant, my favorite lunch place when I was working in mid-Kowloon.

      There also were some good street vendors near the Temple Street Night Market, including a woman who would show up every night and cook stinky tofu, only to be chased away by the police. She would always return the next night.

    2. Definitely roast goose. Pass up the overpriced famous destination (Yung Kee) and hit up any popular local place that has "roast goose specialist" in the name.

      Eat as many gai dan zai (eggy coconutty waffles) as possible. This is easy to do because most cheap-snack street vendors sell this, for less than 1 US dollar.

      Eat as many mango pancakes as possible. This is easy to do, because the Cantonese for "mango pancake" sounds just like "mango pancake." The best one I ever had was at Gaai Kei dessert restaurant on Kau Yuk Road in Yuen Long (if you feel like a little trip out of the way). Another must-eat in the dessert restaurants is sai mai lo (sago coconut pudding).

      Go to Chun Mei Kui (76 Wharf Rd) in North Point for totally excellent Peking food (spicy lamb dumplings, crispy/flaky/meaty lamb pie, hot pot). I have dreams about that lamb pie.

      At a nice-quality Cantonese restaurant (i.e. a seafood banquet type place), don't miss the gu lu yuk (sweet and sour pork), in case you aren't familiar with how quality that dish can be.

      Maybe it's just that I'm from New England and there's plenty of seafood available there, but I wasn't all that impressed with the seafood in HK. I mean, it was okay, but I was rarely surprised by what was available there.

      13 Replies
      1. re: Luther

        Seafoods that you should try and probably can't get in the U.S.:

        Variety of fresh fish steamed
        Lai Liu Shrimp cooked with salt and pepper (it's a really long and large shrimp that are like 1/2 pound to a pound each and are meaty)

        1. re: WHills

          KEI WAI HA (shrimp) in the summertime!! Boiled, and then dipped in chili soy sauce. YUMMMMMMMMM.....

        2. re: Luther

          Mmm... I second the suggestion for gai dan zai. But I think the most important thing to do is going to get won ton noodle soup and/or jook (congee) with the fried "oil sticks" in the morning at any local place you can find. The noodles will be nice and al dente - I haven't found a place in the SF Bay area yet that can make a won ton noodle soup quite like they have in HK. My favorite jook to get is always the sliced beef jook, where they put the raw beef in your bowl or jook and cook it right before serving, so the beef is wonderfully tender. I miss Hong Kong...

          1. re: kcchan

            oh yeah, you really can't get that perfect fried bread in the US. especially when it's wrapped with a perfectly-steamed noodle.

          2. re: Luther

            "...Definitely roast goose. Pass up the overpriced famous destination (Yung Kee) and hit up any popular local place that has "roast goose specialist" in the name.."

            If you take the KRC to Shatin, go to Dai Yat Cun restaurant that's inside a mall. (You might have to do some searching because there are quite a few buildings there jammed with shops. I can't rememeber exactly which building has the restaurant in it. I believe it's on a 2nd floor) and have a plate of Roast Goose over rice for 23 HK dollars. It's heavenly! Better than what I had in Wanchai or anywhere else in HK.

            I would post a link to my blog, but last time I did it it got deleted by the moderator. Still not sure why. So I won't. If you search with Google, you'll probably find my pocketmail journal entry on it.

            1. re: HLing

              Hong Kong this time around was still a delicious trip. The basics are just good: beef, shrimp, fatty crab, chicken, GOOSE! It does depend on where one gets it though. The more expensive, the less tasty in general. Strange.

              1. re: HLing

                (tried to post pictures, but didn't work.)

                1. re: HLing

                  Here's a link to the photos from Hong Kong this year. I don't think the slide show would work here.

                  https://picasaweb.google.com/HLingHLi...

              2. re: Luther

                I tried to find Chun Mei Kui in North Point. I think I found the right place near that location since every table there had a hot pot going, but the name of the restaurant is Jin Wei, and the official address seems to be Shop 5 G/F Yen Po Court, 74-82 Wharf Road. (There is an even more popular ?Cantonese restaurant a couple of doors down, close to 76 Wharf Road, that had loads of people waiting to get in, and also had live seafood in tanks on the sidewalk out front. None of the people waiting to get into that restaurant had heard of Chun Mei Kui.)

                Jin Wei didn't have an English menu, and the pictures provided didn't really do the menu justice; it seemed that there were no pictures for most items. Fortunately, the server spoke English. I wasn't in the mood for hot pot, and was hoping to try the lamb pie Luther raved about. The server said they didn't have any lamb pies (maybe "pie" wasn't the right thing to ask for), and directed me to lamb fried rice instead, which didn't taste all that bad, but somehow seemed to be the wrong thing to go all the way to Hong Kong to get. The lamb dumplings, though, were delicious -- and that's one item I haven't been able to get back home.

                1. re: racer x

                  津味居
                  Chun Mei Kui
                  76 Wharf Road, (North Point)
                  phone 2571-2226

                   
                  1. re: dboy69

                    Yes, that's apparently the restaurant. But it seems the official name of the restaurant is Jin Wei (is this a Cantonese thing vs. a "Beijingese" issue with the names?).
                    If you go to the openrice.com website, where the Chun Mei Kui restaurant id=7799, and look through the pictures posted for that restaurant, if you look closely, in one of the pictures you will see part of a menu behind a glass of milk with the restaurant's name written on it "Jin W..."
                    http://www.openrice.com/restaurant/ph...

                    When I asked the server the name of the restaurant, she said "Jin Wei."
                    Also, the official government certificate on the side of the door lists the place as "Jin Wei."

                    And there is this:
                    http://www.fehd.gov.hk/LLB_web/eagend...

                    I know this may seem a minor point to the cognoscenti who know the HK restaurant scene like the back of their hand. But it could make a huge difference to another traveler like me, who is confused by the language. As I mentioned before, none of the crowd who were waiting to get into the restaurant 2 or 3 stores down the block had ever heard of "Chun Mei Kui" (at least, to the extent that I pronounced it correctly).

                    Note that the openrice entry maps Chun Mei Kui to a site a few doors down from "Yen Po" court -- but I don't know if that is quite accurate.

                    1. re: racer x

                      um, a very late reply to your dilemma, but I've just return from 5 weeks in Hong Kong and only now saw your post. Chun Mei Kui is the Cantonese pronunciation , and Jin Wei Qu is the Mandarin pronunciation of those three words that is the name of the restaurant.

                      1. re: HLing

                        Haha -- thanks HLing.
                        I just figured that out myself as I was reading this thread the other day.

              3. We ate in the Causeway Bay area last week at Kin's Kitchen (a sister restaurant to Yellow Door in SoHo) - the stuffed goose is exceptional; and steamed fish stir fry - very delicate.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ElizabethS

                  They take a steamed fish and then fry it?

                2. I'll be staying around Causewaybay as well!

                  There's this one seafood place in Happy Valley that I always must visit. The Cheese Lobster is to die for.
                  Dim Sum at Victoria Harbour Seafood is a must as well.
                  There is this one place in Causewaybay that has Pai Gu Cai Fan, where they steam vegetables with the rice, I eat there 2 or 3 times during a 2 or 3 day stay!

                  Thinking about doing one 'nice' dinner though. Will probably go to Pierre.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: s0memale

                    Hi, what is Cheese Lobster? Sounds delicious...I'll be visiting HK in May 2011.

                    1. re: s0memale

                      For 'traditional' dim sum, Victoria Harbour is OK. However, for the adventurous, I will not miss out on the ones offered by Yan Toh Heen. Innovative and tasty!! And if you have time, I would line-up and try the world's cheapest and best dim sum at Tim HJo Won! Interesting experience!!

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Per Tim Ho Wan - be prepared to queue!

                        1. re: klyeoh

                          wrt Tim Ho Wan
                          It's a ticket system so you can just take a ticket and wander around Mong Kok for a while (grab a bowl of congee perhaps....).

                    2. Had a meal at 'Pierre' about a week ago. Food mediocre considering its backed by a Michelin 3 star chef. 'Amber', in the other Mandarin, on the other hand has tastier and more impressive food. However, unlike Pierre's breath-taking view, Amber is kind of 'close-in'. Do consider 'L'atelier a Robouchon' inside the Landmark complex, heard good things about it but find the price a bit expensive for 'tapas' size dishes though!

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        I had exactly the same experience at Pierre as you did back then, Charles. Bland, tasteless food. Sad that some restaurants chose to live by reputation only :-(

                        1. re: klyeoh

                          Really agree with this. Minutes after eating at Pierre I couldn't remmber what I ate. It somehow managed to serve food with taste or texture (I can vaguely remember eating various "gloops").

                          1. re: TomEatsHK

                            I wonder if the 'promotion' to a 2* would help to improve the food? Casing point, I was told the food of the once fairly mediocre, Cuisine Cuisine really took flight after they got promoted.
                            Finally, if my sole memory of a meal at Pierre was how 'overcooked' and bland the pheasant was, then I think there must be something wrong with that restaurant's kitchen?!

                            1. re: Charles Yu

                              I only remembered my dessert - it was described on the menu as some iceberg lettuce, semi-frozen and drizzled with a sweet liquid topping or something like that. I'd thought that it would somehow miraculously turn out revelatory & tasting good. But then, it turned out EXACTLY what a platter of semi-frozen lettuce leaves would taste like, drizzled with some sweetish, anonymous dressing ... ewww.

                      2. There's a wonderful pigeon restaurant near the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Take the KCR to the first stop past Shatin. The restaurant's name is Yucca de Lac. It's on a hillside a short walk from the station. Sit on the terrace under the trees, eat pigeon, noodles, and enjoylife.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Michael Rodriguez

                          That restaurant appears to be closed.

                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_de...

                        2. Roast Goose at Yung Kee

                          http://www.yungkee.com.hk/history/his...

                          They even serve this in first class on Cathay Pacific. They got a pretty extensive menu and make reservations if you are going for dinner. I was just there last week.

                          1. I think the roast goose at Yung Kee was way overrated and overpriced. Actually I wasn't too impressed with any of the poultry we had in HK.

                            My one memorable meal was at a non-descript BBQ joint a few blocks from the large shopping center at Causeway Bay. They had the roast suckling pig to die for and it's super cheap to boot. Overall the seafood restaurants in Hong Kong are not cheap and we found the best meals at small Mom & Pop places.

                            My dad's friend took us to a seaside town that have tons of restaurants that you just pick the live seafood out and they cook it on the spot for you. Can't remember the name of the town though?!

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: notmartha

                              Sai Kung?

                              1. re: Gary Soup

                                That's it - confirmed with my dad. I was so car sick and jetlagged that I had no clue where I was whisked to by my dad's friends.

                                I have to say the display of fresh seafood was unlike anything I have seen at a typical cantonese restaurant here. I haven't seen live squid that's still swimming, and new zealand lobsters here, so they like slightly surreal.

                              2. re: notmartha

                                That town sounds like Lamma Island. Yung Kee is a great restaurant and their menu is pretty extensive. Agreed its a little more pricer. Its been a long time favorite in Hong Kong many moons back. My family use to have a room at that restaurant.

                                1. re: designerboy01

                                  No, it's not on an island. I have to ask my parents.

                                  I like the preserved eggs at Yung Kee better than the goose there. What's kind of surprising is that I thought the poultry in HK will be less meaty, but I thought it will be lots more flavorable than the poultry here, but I just didn't find that to be the case. We ordered a steamed fish that's like $100 for a 2+ pound. I think that's got to be one of the pricest seafood I've ever had there.

                                  1. re: notmartha

                                    They have more varieties of fish than in the US and yes the fish can get expensive. Yung Kee is also known for their cured meats which has a section near the take out area. They also got a good dish with crab roe and pork.

                              3. Is the roast goose place that you are referring to inside a wet market building? And I think it is on the 3rd floor?

                                1. there are a few things indigenous to hk that you should make an effort to try.

                                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_he...

                                  look for heng heung bakery. They can be found w/i the city, but the og spot is in Yuen Long. My sister lives close by it, so I pop by and pick some up for people in the city. They sell two sizes.

                                  curry fishballs, pretty common everywhere. Get the spicy ones, and if you're feeling brave you can move on to tripe, octopus, and other various beefy internal organs (au chap).

                                  車仔麺 - little cart noodles.
                                  basically noodles w/ any toppings you can think of. Named as such because it originates from illegal street vendors selling noodles from push carts.

                                  seafood, especially crab, clams, peeing shrimp and steamed whole fish. The recommendations are for Sai Kung, Lamma Island and Cheung Chau. Be aware some of these spots are looking to rip tourists off, compare prices.

                                  dai pai dongs - they're a dying breed as licenses aren't being renewed. There are roughly 28 left, according to a piece I read. The new dai pai dongs are all located indoors, found at gai see (food markets). Each district has one.

                                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dai_pai_...

                                  I haven't been to many of the 3 star offshoot joints in HK, mainly because I want to eat what the locals eat. I can always have foo foo fronch food when I'm back in n.america/europe. I surely can't get good curry fishballs over there though.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: aser

                                    Thanks to Luther's suggestion I went to Chun Mei Kui (76 Wharf Rd) in North Point. I wanted to try the spicy lamb dumplings but wasn't able to because I've come down with something and didn't feel like eating lamb. However I did try their set lunch - a cup of sweet soy milk, spare rib and vegetable noodles and 5 chive and pork steamed dumplings. The spare ribs were flavorful and weren't too fatty. My parents also liked their Shanghai noodles and their 3 star steamed dumplings which were pork and cabbage inside. A definite winner, I want to go back when I'm feeling better so I can try the lamb.

                                    1. re: honu

                                      Word!

                                  2. Lamma Hilton on Lamma Island has the best seafood in Hong Kong. I must admit that I am not a big seafood fan, however when I am here I pig out. http://www.saffron-cruises.com/food-l...