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Hong Kong overview questions

d
david kaplan Feb 4, 2010 06:19 AM

Going to Hong Kong for the first time next week. I've been reading through the posts and found lots of great suggestions for specific places or dishes but have some general questions about eating in Hong Kong.

Neighborhoods: for unfancy Cantonese, other Chinese regional, and other east/southeast Asian restaurants/cafes/stalls, where are the best neighborhoods to stay or explore? Are some neighborhoods much better than others, or is there enough great food everywhere that every neighborhood has something to offer? I'm considering staying in Mongkok (Kowloon) or the Causeway Bay area near Victoria Park, but am not locked into anything yet.

Regional Chinese cuisine: aside from Cantonese, is Hong Kong the right place to look for other regional Chinese or east/southeast Asian cuisines? Or should I stick primarily to Cantonese?

Comprehensive food guidebooks or online guides: is there anything for Hong Kong similar to bento.com for Tokyo or a guidebook that is easy to print out and carry around for guidance when wandering around Hong Kong?

Thanks in advance!

(Also posting a couple specific questions separately.)

  1. r
    RickBehl Feb 12, 2010 05:27 PM

    Hi David, check my other reply to a similar question posted by another member. I put a few recommendations on there.

    I've lived here in HK for 3 years. You can get a lot of regional Chinese cuisines here although Cantonese is obviously dominant. There is now a timeout published weekly in HK which actually keeps a running summary of their best 50 picks or so. Also worth picking up when you arrive is the WOM (Word of Mouth) Food Guide. It's an English restaurant guide similar to the timeout, zagat or harden guide but just for HK.

    Have fun and do report back !

    Rgds
    Rick

    6 Replies
    1. re: RickBehl
      d
      david kaplan Feb 13, 2010 01:58 PM

      Reporting back here:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/687816

      I thought the Chowhound recs were more extensive and reliable than the Time Out magazine, actually. Next trip I will get the WOM Food Guide -- thanks!

      1. re: david kaplan
        Peech Feb 15, 2010 10:43 AM

        Glad u had a good time. TimeOut HK is.... oh well. It's published for tourists/expats after all...

        1. re: Peech
          d
          david kaplan Feb 15, 2010 10:54 AM

          I've found the Time Out guides vary across cities a lot in usefulness. Some of my favorite local places in Tokyo and Beijing came from those Time Out guides, but the Hong Kong Time Out guide yielded little.

          1. re: david kaplan
            Charles Yu Feb 15, 2010 11:05 AM

            Agree!
            Of all the Time-out publications, I found the New York one to be the most reliable. Only guide that actually gives a luke warm review on Babbo which IMO is highly over-rated!
            BTW, For Hong Kong, I always 'cross-checked' a few. Tatler guide, Michelin and then Openrice! If ALL three give the establishment a thumbs up then chances are it must be pretty good.

            1. re: Charles Yu
              r
              RickBehl Feb 15, 2010 04:23 PM

              Actually the WOM guide which has been published locally in HK for the last few years is pretty good. The only thing which is a bit annoying is that there are too many 'Review coming soon' comments filling up the pages...

              1. re: RickBehl
                M_Gomez Feb 25, 2010 06:36 PM

                I have a copy of WOM 2009, very good dining tips.

    2. klyeoh Feb 7, 2010 06:22 AM

      I've never come across a decent South-East Asian restaurant (Thai, Indonesian, Malaysian, Filipino, Myanmarese) in HK. Stick to Cantonese - it's what they do best there.

      29 Replies
      1. re: klyeoh
        j
        JiMaWu Feb 7, 2010 06:23 PM

        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!

        1. re: JiMaWu
          PeterL Feb 7, 2010 07:02 PM

          Chiu Chow is part of Guangdong too, so it's also Cantonese food.

          1. re: PeterL
            micheniche Feb 7, 2010 10:56 PM

            Teochew/ Chiu Chow is different from Cantonese cuisine. Although it's part of Guangzhou, it's actually from Chaoshan area.

            Teochew cuisine leans towards Hokkien cuisine.

            1. re: micheniche
              klyeoh Feb 8, 2010 05:42 AM

              I think Teochew, Hokkien & Cantonese food are really quite distinct from each other, don't you think so, too?

              For example, Teochew-style steamed fish, topped with pickled mustard, sour plum, ginger & tomatoes is quite different from Cantonese steamed fish with its julienned spring onions & soy sauce dressing. In Hokkien cuisine, we don't even have a unique steamed fish item!

              1. re: klyeoh
                micheniche Feb 8, 2010 02:22 PM

                True.

              2. re: micheniche
                PeterL Feb 9, 2010 10:01 AM

                What I am saying is, since Chiu Chow is part of Guangdong, not part of Guangzhou. It's all part of Cantonese *Guangdong) cooking. A sub category that's different from other Cantonese cooking, but still Cantonese. Unless by Cantonese you mean specifically Guangzhou

                1. re: PeterL
                  micheniche Feb 9, 2010 03:47 PM

                  My mom said this to me when I asked her if teochew is part of guangdong cooking: teochew is teochew. cantonese is cantonese.

                  Like klyeoh say, even the ingredients used in both cuisine is different. how can it be part of cantonese cooking?

                  1. re: micheniche
                    skylineR33 Feb 9, 2010 05:29 PM

                    PeterL is right. 粤菜 - Cantonese Cuisine, is one of the main cuisine of China. Cantonese cuisine has three main substreams which are 廣府菜 (Guangzhou cuisine), 潮州菜 (Chiu Chow cuisine) and 客家菜 (Hakka cuisine). The one which is usually found in today' Cantonese restaurants all over the world is actually 廣府菜 (Guangzhou cuisine).

                    In short, each sub streams has its own cooking methods which differ from each other. The main common characteristics that are shared among them are the use of seafood and meat such as chicken and pork, mild not too spicy, light without the use of heavy spice in order to show the freshness of the food.

                    All these can be found in any Chinese cuisine/cooking/history/culture food related book. Here is some of the link for more details (in Chinese):

                    http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%B2%A4%E8%8F%9C
                    http://www.weefish.com/ask/%E5%B9%BF%...

                    1. re: skylineR33
                      klyeoh Feb 9, 2010 06:46 PM

                      Hey, you're right skylineR33 - I guess we should have used the term "Guangzhou" cuisine, instead of Cantonese cuisine to refer to HK's Guangzhou-style food.

                      It's just that we're so used to the general term "Cantonese" food, to distinguish it from the (also Cantonese) Chiu Chow food such as those served at Pak Loh Chiu Chow restaurant in Causeway Bay.

                      In Singapore & Malaysia, however, we do make a distinction between Cantonese (Guangzhou) food vis-a-vis Chiu Chow and Hakka food. Maybe that's because the Chiu Chow and Hakka populations are quite large here - almost the size of the Cantonese/Guangzhou population.

                      1. re: klyeoh
                        skylineR33 Feb 9, 2010 07:32 PM

                        Yes, klyeoh. Restaurants usually have the word "chiu chow" in the restaurant's name to distinguish it too. I notice another differences, there are usually different sauce for the food to tip in chiu chow food such the the cold crab, braised goose, oyster cake ...

                        1. re: skylineR33
                          klyeoh Feb 9, 2010 09:37 PM

                          Oh yes, my mum's family is Chiu Chow (originally from Swatow or Shantou), and their cuisine is certainly very distinct: vinegar & chopped garlic dip for braised goose; salted soy beans dip for plain steamed fish (the rabbit fish is a Chinese New Year must-have for the Chiu Chow people); etc.
                          Going back to david kaplan's original post on any different cuisines to try in HK, I'd recommend that he go to Pak Loh Chiu Chow Restaurant (23-25 Hysan Avenue, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong) for a taste of Chiu Chow cuisine. Braised goose is a must-have there, plus steamed then chilled "cold crab".

                          On a side note, Chiu Chow is known as Teochew in Singapore, and some of the good Teochew restaurants in Singapore include Huat Kee Teochew Restaurant (74 Amoy Street), Liang Kee Teochew Restaurant (30 Robertson Quay, #01-10 Riverside View) and Swa Garden (540 MacPherson Road). All offered great Chiu Chow cuisine.

                          Chiu Chow is also the predominant Chinese dialect group in Bangkok, and the three best Chiu Chow (known in Thailand as Taechew) restaurants in Bangkok are all in Thanon Phat Sai, Yaowarat (Chinatown): Sin Kwang Meng, Tan Jai Yun and Jim Jim.

                          1. re: klyeoh
                            m
                            mikey8811 Feb 10, 2010 01:11 AM

                            Used to go to a Teochew place on Mosque Street - is it still there?

                            Also, used to like Sheung Hing Chiu Chow but am wondering if the standards have slipped - haven't been for a long time...

                            1. re: mikey8811
                              klyeoh Feb 11, 2010 08:52 PM

                              Lee Kui (Ah Hoi) Teochew restaurant? Yes, it's still there and doing very good business with its traditional Teochew food.

                      2. re: skylineR33
                        micheniche Feb 10, 2010 02:30 AM

                        This clears it all up.

                        1. re: micheniche
                          t
                          tt1688 Feb 10, 2010 10:44 AM

                          OK, Teochew is Teochew. Cantonese is Cantonese. In fact, what is "Chiu chow" to begin with? It's not even in Teochew Ga gee Lang's own language! :-)
                          Just because geographically Teochew is part of Guangdong does not make its cuisine a branch of Cantonese in the cultural sense. Let's get back to the fundamental here for our Ang Mo friends :-) , that is, local people rarely refer to Cantonese food as an umbrella of Teochew and Hakka (and then Guangzhou) . If you do not speak a word of Chinese (any dialect) and stand on the street of hong Kong, some one told you his restaurant is Cantonese, what's the chance you get a cold crab there?
                          And if you are in LA and walk into a restaurant that is marketed as "American cuisines", do you expect to find General Tso's chicken? After all, it's a dish (likely) invented in America, geographically. I think we are getting a bit too nerdy on this.

                          1. re: tt1688
                            skylineR33 Feb 10, 2010 02:17 PM

                            tt1688, do you know how to read Chinese ? Instead of getting nerdy and getting yourself too confused, why don`t you re-read my post and the 2 links in my post if you know Chinese ... it is just some very simple fact and very easy to understand.

                            1. re: skylineR33
                              M_Gomez Feb 10, 2010 05:02 PM

                              There, there now, skylineR33 :-)

                              I think tt1688 is simply expressing what many of us (e.g. non-Chinese like myself) think. I have Cantonese friends in Singapore, and I also have Teochew friends. Yes, geographically, the area where the Teochews come from is part of Guangdong province - but the Teochews do hold themselves as quite distinct & different from the Cantonese people - at least in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand & other South-East Asian countries with Chinese presence. Also, my Teochew & Cantonese friends say they can't understand each other's dialect - but the Teochews can actually understand Hokkien, the largest (non-Mandarin) Chinese dialect spoken here, although Hokkien originated from the neighbouring Fujian province in China.
                              Maybe that's where tt1688 is coming from - please correct me if I'm wrong.

                              When I'm in HK and I'm looking for Cantonese food like sweet-sour pork, deep-fried spring rolls, seafood fried noodles or a good bowl of sharksfin, I'll certainly go to Lei Garden, Fu Sing, Fook Lam Moon or Forum, but not to a Chiu Chow restaurant. That's why if you use the term "Cantonese" as an umbrella term to also cover Chiu Chow & Hakka food, it will be quite confusing to us food-seekers. Please don't take this negatively.

                              1. re: M_Gomez
                                skylineR33 Feb 10, 2010 05:22 PM

                                FYI, Chiu Chow cuisine also make very good shark fin, give it a try next time. Cantonese cuisine is very board. Not sure if you have read my post, but I think you still confused about 粤菜 (Cantonese cusine) and 廣府菜 (Guangzhou cuisine). Maybe it is lost in translation when Chinese is translated to English.

                                I agree that Chiu Chow cuisine and Guangzhou cuisine are having their own cooking method but at the same time, they also share common characteristic as indicated in my post earlier in this thread. Please read it one more time. They are all grouped under 粤菜 (which is translated to Cantonese cuisine in English). I do not come up with this, these are simply facts set in history hundred of years ago and are facts found in all chinese food-related books that talks about this topic, I have read at least 10 of these, just like how Chinese cuisine is divided into different main cuisines.

                                Lei Garden, Fu Sing, Fook Lam Moon or Forum are actually 廣府菜 (Guangzhou cuisine) as one of the substream in Cantonese cuisine, which are most common in HK and in North America.

                                1. re: skylineR33
                                  M_Gomez Feb 10, 2010 05:36 PM

                                  Oh yes, don't get me wrong, I do understand what you meant.

                                  I think the sources you're referring to used Cantonese in a geographical sense, i.e. the Hakkas & Teochews are all part of Guangdong province's population anyway.

                                  It's just that, for non-Chinese or non-Cantonese people like me, we tend to use the term Cantonese food to refer to the food which you'd term Guangzhou cuisine. Hence, I wouldn't call Teochew braised goose or "or-nee" (sweetened yam paste) as Cantonese food, but you probably would :-)

                                  1. re: M_Gomez
                                    klyeoh Feb 10, 2010 08:56 PM

                                    I think the question of "regional food" can be quite contentious for the Chinese. For example, in Singapore, we also have Henghua or Hingwa restaurants, which are quite distinctive, e.g. their rice noodles which are served with a tasty pork-based stock & topped with roasted peanuts, seaweed, pickled vegetables, etc.

                                    The Henghua folks, of course, come from Fujian province, but they'll never profess their cuisine to be Hokkien. Likewise, the Hokkien in Singapore would never call Henghua dishes as Hokkien - that would constitute culinary hegemony! Ha-ha!

                                  2. re: skylineR33
                                    t
                                    tt1688 Feb 11, 2010 07:35 AM

                                    I think you know I read Chinese (and I am Chinese). I am not confused. Maybe you misread my "intention" when I used the word "nerdy". I did not mean to be derogatory, but maybe having a bit fun on your expense :-) . well, we are all food nerds since we are discussing this.
                                    The translation of 廣府菜 is not "Guangzhou" cuisine, rather, it's Cantonese cuisine. The word "Canton" was the old translation of Guangzhou and is still how most of foreigner use. The extension word "Cantonese" is used to describe things belong to Guangzhou, Not Guangdong province. Take another example, when we say someone speak Cantonese, right away we know he speak the language used in Guangzhou. We do not need to further investigate which "branch" of Cantonese ...
                                    I did read the links and either article says anything about the translation. The term "Cantonese" is old and has more cultural senses than technical ones. People on streets, Chinese or not, interpret food culturally. If we have to get technical, the words "Canton" and "Cantonese" should not even be used - officially, this place does not exist any more.

                                    1. re: tt1688
                                      skylineR33 Feb 11, 2010 08:35 AM

                                      If you read those chinese article, 廣州菜 = 廣府菜. 廣州 is Guangzhou in English, hence 廣府菜 is translated to "Guangzhou" cuisine in English. Cantonese cuisine is 粤菜.

                                      Anyway, don't get too technical on this. It is just like Chinese cuisine is broken down into different cuisines. We say we go eat Chiu chow or Shanghai food, but they are all still under Chinese food. And then there is another level of break down. Even Shanghai food has different streams. If you don't agree, fine, but it is just how it is done officially and should be honoured as they do share familiarity. And we all know their differences.

                                      1. re: tt1688
                                        skylineR33 Feb 11, 2010 12:39 PM

                                        Here is another article in English to clarify things :

                                        http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-05/05/content_328268.htm

                                        It said :

                                        "Three cuisines in one

                                        Cantonese cuisine, known as yue cai (粤菜), one of the main cuisine styles in China, is composed of Guangzhou, Chaozhou (Chiu Chow) and Dongjiang (Hakka) cuisines. .....

                                        "

                                        Back to OP's post, I suggest to have at least one seafood feast in HK, such as going to the Spicy Crab restaurant in Causeway Bay, or Hing Kee in Jordan, etc. They have live seafood such as big sized crab "Tycoon Shelter style" and jumbo-sized mantis shrimp, which is what HK is good at.

                                        http://www.openrice.com/restaurant/sr2.htm?shopid=16004

                                        http://www.spicycrab.com.hk/about.html

                                        Have fun !

                  2. re: JiMaWu
                    klyeoh Feb 8, 2010 05:33 AM

                    I'm a real Indian food fan, but had yet to find one in HK that's really good. The last time, I'd taken to the Indian eateries in Chungking Mansions (from Taj Mahal Club with its set meals to hole-in-the-wall spots like Shalimar, Grd Flr) to seek a taste of authenticity. Most are passable, but still not up to expectations. Perhaps it's the lack of a large Indian community to ensure high food standards. Some "more attractive" places I tried couple of last years included:
                    - Bombay Dreams (the one in Wyndham St, Central);
                    - Gaylord (Tsimshatsui);
                    - Staunton Curry & Grill (Mid-Levels);
                    - Viceroy (Sun Hung Kai Centre, Wanchai).

                    Unfortunately, none really measure up to even Rang Mahal (Bangkok) or Song of India (Singapore), amongst others, let alone the ones on the Indian sub-continent.

                    Anyway, what I'm saying is that HK does Cantonese food so much better than other countries in the Asia-Pacific, that is the cuisine one should go to whilst in HK. (That said, I actually liked HK-style Shanghainese food, e.g. Ye Shanghai @ Harbour City, compared to the real McCoy we get in Shanghai itself - but that's my own personal preference)

                    1. re: klyeoh
                      u
                      Uncle Yabai Feb 9, 2010 05:16 AM

                      Whatchoo talkin' about Willis? The Indian/Pakistani community in Hong Kong is quite large. Did you try Woodlands or Branto?

                      1. re: Uncle Yabai
                        klyeoh Feb 9, 2010 06:39 PM

                        Not tried Branto, but tried Woodlands (it's the vegetarian one in Mody Rd, right?) a few years ago. HK's Indian population is still relatively small (about 50,000 out of 7 mllion) compared to, say, Singapore where there are 470,000 Indians in a population of 4.9 million.

                        1. re: klyeoh
                          M_Gomez Feb 10, 2010 05:20 PM

                          Branto is in Lock Road, TST, klyeoh. I was there last year and the food will remind you of South Indian breakfast dishes in Madras New Woodlands or Komala Vilas in Singapore - uttapam, tosai, idly, prata, batura, puri, appam, etc. Branto also do deliveries in TST area, not like Indian restaurants in Singapore.
                          But I guess we don't need delivery in Singapore since we can find Indian restaurants at almost every street corner here. I've found really several great Indian vegetarian restaurants amidst the office towers in Shenton Way CBD :-)

                          I think what's missing in HK are branches of famous India-based restaurants which one can find in Singapore, like Copper Chimney (Delhi), Murugan (Chennai), Mavalli Tiffin Room (Bangalore), etc.

                          1. re: M_Gomez
                            klyeoh Feb 10, 2010 08:58 PM

                            Gaylord Hong Kong - not sure if that's related to the famous Gaylord chain in India.

                            I've encountered Gaylord restaurants in downtown San Francisco (Embarcadero) and Sausalito, but they are downright AWFUL!

                  3. re: klyeoh
                    h
                    hong_kong_foodie Feb 15, 2010 03:05 PM

                    I agree with klyeoh - the SE Asian food in HK is not stellar by any means, so I wouldn't get Thai, Indonesian, etc. Chiu Chow and Shanghainese, on the other hand, are worth a go.

                  4. PeterL Feb 4, 2010 08:15 AM

                    Openrice.com. They now have an english version.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: PeterL
                      micheniche Feb 6, 2010 04:20 AM

                      You have to ask some of those Hong Kong foodies. Look around the board. Openrice.com in English is a little inaccurate.

                      If you want street food, head to Mongkok. The whole of Bute Street is filled with Cantonese eateries but you should not tie yourself down to Mongkok. It's easy to travel around Hong Kong with the MTR. Try to be a little adventurous.

                      Oh, I stayed in TST and it seems that every street has an eatery ranging from fancy to not so fancy.

                      I think you should stick to Cantonese cuisines, though. I mean, it makes sense that way.

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