Hong Kong trip report
Just back from a trip to SE Asia including 5 days in HK, since I made great use of Chowhound recommendations, I thought I'd post my notes on where we ate in HK. These are probably all old news to the HK locals and regulars lurking around here, but maybe of use to others traveling to HK.
Just a note, although my wife and I are fairly adventurous eaters, neither of us speaks or reads any variant of Chinese; also, I don't eat seafood at all (I know, such a waste in HK...), so that somewhat limited our choices. Anyway, to the restaurants!
Lao Shanghai (Shanghainese, Wan Chai: basement of the Century Hotel, roughly Lockhard / Stewart)-
recommended by my TimeOut guide. OK mid-range Shanghainese in a somewhat dated hotel basement. This was our first meal after our loooooong flight, so I don't remember it well, but I think it was pretty good.
Yellow Door (Sichuanese, SoHo-ish, on a side street off Cochrane nearly under the mid-levels escalator)-
A little hard to find, it's on an upper floor of an office building, but you can see the sign from the escelator if you look for it. We made a point to find this place because it was highly recommended on this site. We're glad we did! We had a great a la carte lunch, maybe the best meal we had in HK! Great Sichuanese food, really spicy, highly recommend the eggplant w/pork. We went back for a multicourse set menu meal, the courses were hit or miss but mostly good. Prices were fair. For some reason, not crowded at all.
Wu Kong (Shanghainese, TST: on Peking Rd just west of Nathan)-
Another Shanghainese place in a basement, this one a little fancier than Lao Shanghai. Saw a rec on chowhound, and ended up here one day when we couldn't find Yanyun. Crowded and pretty good, maybe a little overpriced compared to other places in TST.
Felix ("Fusion", TST: top floor of the Penninsula)-
This place was a HUGE disappointment. Planned a "special occasion" meal here, had heard the decor and food were great. Thought the decor was sort of minimized Cheesecake Factory, although admittedly the views were great. The food was vastly overpriced, especially the drinks. Also, nothing we had was better than fair. Just your basic tired fusion hotel food. We had better food for less than a quarter the price at the Sichuanese places elsewhere in HK. And the coffee, despite costing like $5 / cup, was shameful!
Delicious Kitchen (??Chinese, Causeway Bay: Cleveland between Kingston & Gloucester
Another Chowhound rec, otherwise a little out of the way. I would have to characterize it as Chinese "diner" faire - simple, good, cheap, great place for lunch while you're shopping your way through CB.
Yung Kee (Cantonese, Central: Wellington right of D'Aguilar)-
everyone kept telling us to go here, that it is the prototypical Cantonese place, and furthermore, that we had to get the duck or goose. So we did, and it was OK. The place is huge, has a vast menu, and is always crazy crowded. You are served by a cast of thousands connected via radio. I thought the food was OK, but nothing special. I have a hard time getting excited about duck, maybe I still haven't had a great example.
Yanyun (Sichuanese, TST, inside the Miramar shopping center on Nathan)-
another Chowhound rec, this places is really, really hard to find, tucked away on an upper floor of the mazelike Miramar center. But, I thought the food was great! Had some killer MaPoTofu and Dan Dan noodles, yum. Inexpensive for a nice place.
Higashi-Yama (Japanese, CauseBay/Wanchai, Morrison Hill at roughly Russell)-
we needed a break from "Chinese," this was a pretty good Japanese place. Lots of what I think of as "Japanese comfort food" -- curry rice, udon dishes, etc. Well priced, nice place, but not very busy.
Zen (Cantonese, Admiralty, in the Pacific Place Mall)-
where you go if you get hungry in the mall, flashy "new" Cantonese cuisine, pretty good, especially if you stick to the apps and "dim sum" small plates.
We also ate at inumerable little curbside stands and hot pot places -- all of which were good, all cheap, and of course, none of which I have a clue as to the name.
Anyway, it was a great trip, we can't wait to go back!
Glad you enjoyed Yanyun (or is it Yunyan? I don't remember). It's not too hard to find if you know the trick: Go into the shopping center, take the escalator to the next floor up (1/F in HK terms), then go to the back to find the elevators, take them to 4/F. Then pick either direction and walk until you see the restaurant (it's the perimeter of a big square, so you basically circle around and there's no wrong direction). I've also been curious about a Japanese place and a Korean place on that same floor.
I had troubles finding it the first time too, looking for nonexistent elevators on the ground floor.
I really like Yung Kee, though. The century egg, the roast goose, the roast pork, and the stir-fried pea vines, which are still a benchmark of proper vegetable cookery for me, keep me coming back. I will concede that the goose isn't quite as good as what I had in the NT at the famous place out there with the roomful of clay goose ovens, but I still find it superb. A combination plate of that and the pork, and I'm a happy man.
I was back at Yunyan today, and I realize I was a little glib above in describing how to find it -- I forgot one step, which is that, after you walk into the Miramar mall, if you're coming in from the corner, you do not take the first escalator to the second floor. That won't get you to the second floor elevators, oddly enough, but to a totally isolated second floor area with no elevators at the back. You want the up escalator in the middle part of the mall, where you can look over a railing and see a buffet restaurant in the basement. Then you go to the back to find the elevators to 4/F.
Hi SoupNoodles, I'm interested to find out the name and location of the place where you had the good goose in NT. Did you mean New Territories? I will be in HK this May and will be staying at the Disney Resort. I am a lover of good roast goose and would really want to try that place in NT that you mentioned. Can you also give me an idea of how much it would cost approx to get a goose ad pork combination? I am so addicted to it I might even bring some home to the Philippines.
Yes, I meant the New Territories. I don't actually know the name of the place, or even the town name. But I should be able to find out this week, when I'm back in touch with the friend who took me there. In the meantime, I can tell you two things which would probably be enough to identify it to locals:
1) The town in the NT is the one that is famous for roast goose. There's only one.
2) The restaurant is a popular roast goose restaurant that burned down, then was rebuilt. That's considered a very good sign by the locals, on two grounds: a) it was busy enough to burn down, and b) it was profitable enough to be worth rebuilding.
You'll know you're in the same place I was if the toilets have tons of rolls of toilet paper mounted outside the bathrooms, and if a room not far from the toilets has multiple vase-shaped clay goose ovens, wood-burning.
This may be wrong, but the town may be called something like Shen Tseng, and the restaurant might be called Ning Kee. But both of those pieces of information may be wrong. Also, it was definitely a goose specialty place; my pork references were to Yung Kee and I don't know whether this NT place even carries pork. I can't guide you on price, because I wasn't paying, but the goose at Yung Kee is definitely expensive. A recent meal of pork/goose combination plate, peavines in garlic sauce, and Yang Chow Fried rice was HKD 380, if I recall correctly.
I'll try to get more information soon.
re: racer x
I took the bus to Yue Kee, and wasn't so impressed. So i'm guessing the advice about needing to speak cantonese for the best service is probably correct. We definitely got a more stale piece of goose. I could tell it had promise, as the flavor was unique. Hope to go back with a local friend and try the "order ahead by phone" trick. I was also a bit surprised by the atmosphere of the place. My older parents are a bit squeamish about cleanliness, and i don't believe this place would have passed their test. Obviously living here on a budget i've eaten at much dirtier places don't get me wrong, but this is not up to par if you are used to eating in hotel restaurants.
I went to Yue Kee today for lunch. Arrived about 2:00pm. The trip from Central MTR took about 50 minutes, including MTR transfers and the trip on the 234B bus, which stops a short walk away from the street the restaurant is on. There is a cluster of probably a dozen or more restaurants in the area. Nang Kee, which was billed as the best roast goose restaurant in the Lonely Planet Guidebook (yes, I am ashamed to admit that that's one of the guidebooks I have) is practically next door to Yue Kee.
I was seated on the ground floor in the front, where there are four tables (only one of which was occupied when I arrived). The menus on the table had English translations for the dishes, and the specials menus even had a few pictures. (They also have a version of their website which is in English.) The waiters didn't speak English but I was able to communicate what I wanted by pointed to the items in the menu. The only snag seemed to come when I requested a half a goose and the waiter seemed to be trying to suggest that I would only need a smaller, "regular" order. But I insisted I wanted a half goose (after getting a miserly serving for a "regular" order at Yung Kee the other day), and he relented. It turned out that there was someone working in the back (I think she may have been working in the kitchen) who speaks English; she came out while I was eating and asked whether I liked the goose.
The goose was very good, with nice crispy, smoky skin, plenty of fat, and lots of meat (far more meat than the goose I got at Yung Kee had). The meat was just a bit tougher than I would say would have been ideal though. But overall, a very good dish.
I also had stir-fried goose intestines and kidneys, cooked with garlic, red chilis, and a green-yellow veggie that kind of resembled broccoli stalks cut lengthwise, although it was softer and had none of the bitterness of broccoli. This dish was the star of the meal, with a wonderful smoky flavor, and a nice blend of textures (the intestines had the texture of squid, the kidneys were, surprisingly, almost crisp). I'm not usually one for organ meats, and ordinarily would have skipped such an offering, but I wanted to be adventurous, and the choice really paid off. I guess garlic and chilis in the hands of a skilled chef can make just about anything taste delicious.
The other dish I tried was the fried seafood (? shrimp on the menu) balls, which were not very good, and not helped at all by the pinkish vinegary sauce they were served with. One of these was more than enough.
And the house tea was pretty pedestrian.
Traveling an hour for a special meal isn't so unusual for me, coming from New York (where it's easy to spend over an hour on the subway traveling from one borough to another). And I enjoyed the trip to Sham Tseng because it gave me an opportunity to see views of the harbor and its bridges that I might not have seen otherwise. But I can understand why someone who lives in HK might not be that impressed.
As for Kairo's concern about a cleanliness issue, I didn't see anything in the restaurant that bothered me in particular. But I couldn't help noticing, on my way to the restaurant, that Yue Kee and many of the other restaurants in the area sit right over a canal that had some pretty grimy, greasy looking water. One can only hope none of that water ever backs up into any of the restaurants.
re: racer x
Thanks for the trip report! We can tell you did a lot of research and planning in your restaurant selection! Was it your first time in Hong Kong?
Hah, i'm glad you went to Delicious Kitchen! I love this place, did you get the Pork Chop with steamed vegetables?
I used to think Zen was alright, but there really is a lot of better choices in Dim Sum. (A bit off topic, but if you ever visit Shanghai, most people will tell you to go to Jade Garden in XinTianDi for dim sum, and I do agree it is one of the best. But if it is ever too long of a wait, you can walk a few steps to Zen, supprisingly just as good!)
It's a shame your meal at Felix was dissapointing, but like Charles mentioned it definitely is not well received on this board. I was actually really interested in trying it myself however after reading all the negative experiences, I would definitely stay away.
I have been to Lao Shanghai before, and remember it wasn't too great. If you like Shanghainese and can't physically go to Shanghai, you should definitely try Xiao Nan Guo next time, food there is good.
I think its great you were able to cover such a variety of places in Hong Kong, kind of like a tour of asia in HK! Tell us though, did you break down and visit an american chain? I'll admit that even when I am in HK I make it a point to check out Mcdonalds, its great too see the local items, and to me things just taste really good at Mcdonals in Hong Kong!
Thanks, it was my first time in HK, though not in China. And despite my disappointment with Felix, overall, I really did like the food. I definitely should have done more research where Felix is concerned, I let myself be suckered by the nice words in my guidebook. Classic mistake.
Heh, funny you should mention the American chains...I actually don't go anywhere near them at home in Seattle, so it isn't too tough to avoid them when I'm on the road, but the one American chain that does get me (and that got me in HK) is Starbucks. What can I say, I'm from Seattle, and I'm really picky about my coffee!
I'm actually going to Shanghai in a few months, so I will definitely be making good use of this web site. I was there about ten years ago and liked what I was eating...but of course, couldn't remember a place to save my life! But my good memories are what drove me to all the Shanghainese places in HK.
Gee, I feel disappointed for you, after reading your post. Doesn't sound like the food was all that great. Too bad, because it has some of the best food that I've eaten anywhere in the world. I'm not just talking Chinese.
I'm happy you can't wait to go back, but hopefully the boards will help you find more outstanding restaurants next time. They have really led me to some incredible meals!
Here's to your next trip!
re: Cerise 37
That's some serious eating :)
Strange, the only two things I found remarkable at Zen were (a) the well preserved early-1990's decor and (b) the two Chinese lesbians who kept pawing at each other behind a newspaper at the neighbouring table. Not the food.
Looking back over my notes, the wu gok filling was tasty but the outside seemed stodgy and not crispy enough, har gow were greasy (a first that) and bland and the steamed sticky rice in lotus leaf was overcooked and wet. The har cheung was good, as were the fried noodles with shrimp/scallop/egg.
Always enjoy Metropole (across the street) more.
Nice report Pusherman. Agree with your write up on Yung Kee, Yanyun and Zen. Surprised to hear that you actually gave Felix a try after all the research. Didn't you notice the tons of 'warning sign' pertaining to this overated establishment?? For the money, should have tried Pierre or Caprice instead! Oh well!!