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Going to HK alone for two days in March - where to eat?

I am going to China for business in March and will spend around two days in Hongkong also. This will be my third time, but to my shame I have to say that I have never eaten any real Chinese food in Hongkong, as I always go there alone. All the restaurants I have seen have these typical big Chinese tables with the round plate in the middle and I dont know where to go for lunch and dinner all alone, so two of the previous visits I only ended up at a McDonalds and ony time I was able to eat at the kitchen of the Conrads, as my father is friends with their Chef (tough I dont know if he still works there).

I really love Cantonese food, so where can you point me to for going to eat alone? And should I try to go to Jumbo Kingdom in Aberdeen, or is this just a tourist trap best only visited for sightseeing?

I will stay at the Mira hotel in Kowloon, so I think about trying their buffet at Yamm one time, anyone can recommend it?

Thanks for your help!

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  1. While it is better to have a group to dine together, it's quite possible to eat alone in HK. Try dim sum. Go a little early, say, 11:00 am, and you can sit comfortably by yourself and enjoy your meal before the lunch time rush. Ask your hotel to recommend a dim sum place nearby. There should be plenty of choices near your hotel. Yes Jumbo is touristy.

    You may also want to try a "tea cafe" (cha chian tang), a unique HK experience, kind of the McDonalds of Cantonese food, but much better.

    10 Replies
    1. re: PeterL

      Thanks for your answer, PeterL. Sadly I dont know anyone in HK and being there on business, I dont have someone with me from home.

      Is it easily possible to eat alone at a DimSum restaurant? I wanted to try this for the past visits, but everone told me that for DimSum to go with less than 4 people it is not possible to do well. I was told that you can only sample two or three different types because you will be stuffed with that.

      1. re: NilesCable

        It's definitely possible. Generations of Chinese go to dim sum alone, with their morning newspapers. The only drawback is that you cannot sample too many dishes as you say. Don't go for the high carbo dishes (such as bao), which will stuff you up. Also most dim sum places have gone to the check order system instead of carts, so you pretty much have to know what you are ordering. Ask your hotel to recommend a place with push carts.

        1. re: NilesCable

          I second Peter on this. I myself eat Dim Sum alone all the time. However, there IS a caveat. I assume you do not have a lot of prior dim sum experiences? The lone eaters at dim sum places are mostly experienced eaters, the "one tea pot, two dishes" crowd (some help with a better translation please :-) ). In fact, if you go early, you can spot the difference. The groupies - with a whole table of various items - are usually the tourists or at least not regulars.
          For someone who eats dim sum all the time, he already know what he wants and what's good at a particular restaurant. while that obviously is not possible for a visitor, Peter's strategy will work well too. And better yet, let this experience kick start your dim sum hobby so next time you would know exactly which two dishes you want. :-)

          1. re: tt1688

            I only have Dim Sum experience from a rather good "Asian" restaurant here in Austria. The basic menu they have is the typical "European style Asia food" that is very trendy here now, mixing dishes from China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia (of course everything changed to match the European taste) into one menu card. But they have a Chinese Dim Sum Chef and a big selection of Dim Sum on their card, so everytime I go there I will try some. So now I want to try the real deal in HK to be able to compare how close to the original they stick here.

            1. re: NilesCable

              I had dim sum alone many times. I think it's perfectly fine. Nobody really pays much attention to you. It's self-consciousness most of the time that gets you. Just bring a book or have your phone near you. :)

              1. re: micheniche

                I look forward to try the Dim Sum. Any recommandations on what I should try out?

                1. re: NilesCable

                  You should try what you feel like trying. Usually, I order char siu bau, steam turnip/yam cake, scallop dumplings, beancurd roll with duck feet... because these are my favourites.

                  Anyway, you should go try Fu Sing at Wan Chai.

                  And do check this link out:
                  http://epicurious.wordpress.com/2009/...

                  Fu Sing is like everybody's favourite. Price-wise, some of my friends said that it is reasonable. And if you go there, do try their char siu polo bun ( Wiki up pineapple buns!

                  )

                  However, if you are feeling a little Michelin-ish, Tang Court in Langham TST (which is really near Mira. Google map it! ) or you can try the really overpriced (For four people, the meal costs about 1300 HKD )/overrated ( Because I think one star is based on the night view ) Lung King Heen at Four Seasons Hotel, central, although I personally think that the food there is very good because they manage to make simple things really lovely. The food there tastes like my childhood. :)

                  Some people say that the food in Tang Court is similar to Lung King Heen. I can't justify that.

                  1. re: micheniche

                    Great link and thanks on the info on what Dim Sum you like.

                    The tips of Langham TST (I know the location, as I am eager to always see as much of HK on foot as possible) and Four Seasons is nice, but for trying what HKers taste, I think it would be better to stay away from the hotel restaurants, right?

                    Does anyone know a website that shows the typical Dim Sum with english description along with their Chinese name?

                    1. re: NilesCable

                      Wikipedia is the best bet, currently.
                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dim_sum

                      But some of them might not be listed.

                      Well, I don't tend to stay away from the hotels because nothing possibly wrong could happen and even if it did, then, you can always can something replaced. And service is exceptional. But I don't do completely all-hotels either because what is the point of going to Hong Kong without trying out of the less hotel-ly things?

                      Like street food or char chan tengs ( HK cafes ) or their more casual dim sum places...

                      1. re: micheniche

                        Thanks again, I totally forgot to check todays typical source for all thing, wikipedia. :)

      2. I have just returned from Hong Kong about one month ago. I stayed in the Mira too but I avoided the buffet altogether because seriously, what Hong Kong has to offer is so much more tempting than the Mira.

        There's loads of Hong Kong street food on Haiphong Street, Kowloon Park, Tsim Sha Shui. It's on the way to Harbour City.

        If you want to do char chan teng. Head to Bute Street at Mongkok. Just take the MTR from TST ( The nearest exit from Mira Hotel is just very near. Ask help from the concierge. They are very lovely people!) and head to Mongkok. You will realise that different exits will bring you to different places.

        There is the Tung Choi and Tung Choi south exit, but I can't remember which. Just becareful and keep your eyes on the tourist maps on each MTR station because they are really helpful in getting you to Bute Street. Just find the exit which is the closest to Bute Street. If you went to the right exit, you will come across this Bridge which looks like the Central Bridge except the one in Mongkok is much older. Use the bridge to bring you to the nearest street to Bute Street.

        On the way to Bute Street, you will come across places like Tai Hing roast

        Tai Hing Roast
        Unit C, G / F, Kai Wan Building, 142-146 Tung Choi Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon
        Or you can google Tai Hing Roast Hong Kong. There's an english option for their website.

        Also, on Bute Street there are several cafes ideal for breakfast.

        I also accidentally stumbled across this cantonese eat out called Best/Very Good ( not sure the exact name ) restaurant. I don't know the address but I know that it is famous for their che zai mein ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cart_noodle

        )

        Oh and somewhere near Bauhaus ( a boutique's name ) on Nathan Road, they sell really good egg waffles!

        I think getting someone to go with you is fairly easy if you ask around on the chowhound board.

        2 Replies
        1. re: micheniche

          Thanks for the tips Micheniche, I will be sure to pay a visit to Bute Street and Tai Hing Roast! Of course, finding a local chowhound to go to a good HK-cuisine restaurant with me so I can experience a real HK-dinner (or lunch) with a big selection of food on the table to choose from would be great, I will try my luck to find someone for that here on the board, thanks for that great tip!

          I was considering the Yamm buffet as I have read some very good reviews about them and I love good Japanese food. As far as I know they also offer wagyu beef on the buffet for dinner, which is a great extra. It is very difficult and very expensive to get your hands on a correctly prepared wagyu in Austria, where I live. The last I had was in a great tiny Restaurant in Germany, an Entrecote steak for 65 Euro (around 90 US-$), serving for 2 persons.

          Regarding the hotel: I have stayed at the Mira the first time last September and was very pleased with the rooms and especially the friendliness and helpfulness of their staff, even tough the hotel was still in the finishing touches of the renovation. Especially Freddy from the reception desk was a very nice guy. I have stayed at the Langham Place the previous two times and their behaviour was very snotty, even tough I got upgraded to a Suite for free on my second stay (sadly one night only), as it was a Chinese holiday and they were fully booked.

          I really like the special service they give you at the Mira, with in-room internet included (unlike most other hotels in HK, that charge up to HK-$ 20 per day) and the local cellphone that is used as in-room phone and can be taken outside so that you are reachable all day under the hotel number, no matter where in HK you are.

          1. re: NilesCable

            The renovation is done the other time I went there. :) I really loved the Ipod/Iphone dock. :)

            Anyway, Welcome

          1. re: Charles Yu

            I will arrive on Monday 22nd of March (not knowing the time yet, as I visit the Guangzhou and Dongguan furniture exhibitions and have Monday with a big ? as it is possible that I need to visit some factories on that day before going to HK) and my flight home leaves on Wednesday the 24th at 13:40. So basically I have time for at least two dinners and one lunch in HK and one lunch at the airport.

            1. re: NilesCable

              I'll be in HK during this period as well! In fact, I might be teaming up with a New York Chowhound for a mini-chowmweet. If you are interested, go to my profile and send me an e-mail. I'll keep you up-dated. Cheers!

              1. re: Charles Yu

                Thanks for the offer, I have sent you an mail as this would be an opportunity I would not want to miss!

                1. re: NilesCable

                  Yes, Niles--we will be there more or less at the same time--I arrive on the 23rd. My guess is that we will have some great eating in store as we follow our leader, Charles Yu!

                  1. re: erica

                    Hello Erica!
                    Nilescable has e-mailed me. Right now, looks like our mini-chowmeet is a go!
                    Hope to see you all!
                    Cheers
                    Charles

                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      Thats great! I really look forward to this!

              2. re: NilesCable

                If you want a HK Cantonese lunch at the airport, Maxim's on the Check-in Mezzanine Level 8 serves a wide variety of dim sum. I liked the seafood with crispy egg noodles. Hang Heung (on the same floor) also serves a good variety of Cantonese food.

                1. re: klyeoh

                  Sounds interesting. Is there also a place for good noodles at the airport anyone can recommend?

                  1. re: NilesCable

                    If you're looking for specifically noodle joints at HKIA, there's Crystal Jade La Mian at the Arrival level (it's good - mainly Shanghainese-style noodle dishes, also famous for its xiao long bao/soup dumplings), or Taiwanese beef noodles at Level 6 (I think) which has a more robust flavor - very popular amongst locals.

                    There's also the King's Palace wanton noodle joint in the transit area's food hall after you pass immigration. Very generous portions & reasonably priced:

                    http://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/sh...

                    1. re: klyeoh

                      Crystal Jade sounds interesting and I remember that it caught my eye the last time I arrived in HK, but I was on a busy shedule at that time. I will be sure to try it this time around, thanks for the tip!

                      1. re: klyeoh

                        For noodles, looks like every one is forgetting the best one!!! 'Hang Heung's' on the Mezzanine level, Departure Hall, Terminal one. Their wonton noodles, braised beef brisket and tendons as well as the penny hot sauce shredded pork lo-mien can rub shoulders with some of HK's downtown best, such as Mak's and Tasty!

                        1. re: Charles Yu

                          It seems like finding he right place to dine at the airport alone is a big task. :) But I will be sure to try at least one of the places for noodles, maybe I will be able to try both, one when arriving and one when leaving HK.

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            There are also plenty of dining options at Terminal 2. There is a very good noodle house there that we like.

                            1. re: Charles Yu

                              Charles -- will have 6 hours in HKIA (en route from YYZ to BKK) -- can I access Hang Heung's on that stopover (i.e. if it's in Departures, can I get there when I am arriving and am in transit -- not sure how the airport works)?
                              Thanks Charles.

                              1. re: EarlyDrive

                                Hello EarlyDrive,

                                Assuming you have a Canadian Passport, with a 6 hours layover, I would take the transit/boarding pass with you, go through customs and immigration and take the Airport express train to downtown. Its an easy direct hop on - hop off ride. Based on a conservative estimate of 1 hour travel time and 1 hour clear custom/re-checking in time, you still have 4 hours of quality time left for eating and sight seeing!

                                At the end of the ride, directly above the train station is the huge IFC complex. In there, you will find tons of restaurants and shops. Eating places range from 'Tasty' - IMO, the best won-ton noodle in town to Michelin 3* restaurants such as Lung King Heen and Caprice. You can also choose to take the connecting flyovers and walk to other nearby commercial complexes that house tons of eating places.

                                As well, if you are a true foodie, there is an amazing supermarket called ' City super' in the complex, that is not to be missed. There, you'll find, for example, 3-4 kinds of Jamon Iberico or 3-4 kinds of Italian Prosciutto from Parma or San Danielle. Marbled Prime and Wagyu beef from the States, Alberta, Australia and Japan. Oysters from North America's east and west coast, Ireland, France, Australia, New Zealand...etc. Then, there are foie gras, sushi, smoked salmon from Canada east and west coast, Norway, Ireland, Scotland, France...etc

                                However, if you decide to stay within the airport confine, I believe with your boarding and transit card as well as passport, you can simply go through immigration and head over to the departure terminal. After your meal there, just re-check in. Without any luggage, it should be a pretty straight forward process. Don't forget Hong Kong is totally bi-lingual. So its very easy to navigate around!

                                Good Luck!

                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                  Charles, thanks for the reply. Some excellent suggestions -- I haven't decided whether to stay in the airport or head into the city but, if I do head, I will definitely check out some of your suggestions including City Super which sounds great. Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

                                  1. re: Charles Yu

                                    I love City Super! They sell good japanese desserts. :D

                            2. re: NilesCable

                              I think I will try the Crystal Jade when I arrive, as this is directly on my way from the arrival hall to the bus terminal, so I can get a good meal and dont have to carry my luggage through half the airport for it. Thanks for all your suggestions!

                      2. Niles, I've been going to Hong Kong since about 1998, and I've eaten many superb meals alone. It's easy. McDonald's is simply not an option given the incredible local food that is the primary motivator of my trips.

                        One easy thing to do solo is hotel Cantonese. The Cantonese place in the Inter-Continental is superb (it used to be called Lai Ching Heen, now it has some other name with three words, but by any name it's truly excellent, either for the dim sum set lunch (which they will serve for one), or at dinner. Ditto T'ang Court in the Tsim Cha Tsui Langham Hotel.

                        Do you love soup noodles, or are you eager to learn to love them? Then try Mak's Noodles on Wellington in Central, or Tsim Chai Kee just about across the street, or WIng Wah at 89 Hennessey in Wan Chai. Got a breakfast? Try some of the great fish congee at Sang Kee in Sheung Wan, on the corner of Burd St and Hillier (or maybe Jarvis, but that's only a block of separation).

                        Want some amazing dim sum? Go to Causeway Bay (Times Square MTR exit), and up to the food court, and hit Chung's Chinese Cuisine (10th floor, I think). If they have the soft-shell crab with chili sauce, don't miss it. Ditto the chicken or goose feet in abalone sauce. But also, their rice rolls are unbelievably good. So are their prices.

                        You can also walk into Yung Kee, also on Wellington St in Central, and order up some of the roast goose. Yes, there are people here who will say there's better roast goose around, and they're probably right, though I haven't visited the places they recommend, and the only better I've had was in the New Territories. The point is that you will have roast goose that will open your eyes. And you can get a combination plate with that and their excellent BBQ pork. It's one of my favorite lunches, to grab that combination plate.

                        Alone is no problem. Arrive early and you won't need a reservation, most places. Yes, you may be seated with other people at a table. That's fine with me. And it's a chance to pick up little pieces of Hong Kong etiquette, like covering your mouth when you use a toothpick.

                        Just walk into places and eat. No more McDonalds!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: SoupNoodles

                          Normally I am no big Burger fan, some two or three times a year will suffice for me. But when you are in a foreign country and dont know where to go for food, it is a last resort for that needed calories. :)

                          But with your help and the help of the other here at this board I am sure I will have a good food experience this time around. So much to eat, so few time...

                          I go to HK mostly because I fell in love with that beautiful city at my first stay in 2007 (a stay that was only some hours!) I find it fantastic that you can go from skyscrapers to a natural environment in around 30 minutes and there is so much to see and do in HK that I would love to spend at least one month there. So everytime I have business in China I try to spend at least one day in HK. Last March I had one whole day and walked over 25kilometers in that city and shot around 500 photos. So far I have visited the Peak twice (and walked up to the top at my last visit), have seen parts of Kowloon and Central and been to TianTan Buddha. This time I would like to visit Stanley and Aberdeen, if time allows Tai-O and maybe take a drive with the Ngong Ping up to the Buddha, as this was closed for service when I was there in September. And maybe the Peak at night, if the view is good. And of course, this time I definitely want to sample the HK-food.

                        2. Oh, and about the airport. I'll assume you're in Terminal 1, most people are. You can grab dim sum at Maxim's before security. It's OK. It used to be pretty bad, but now it's OK. But I prefer to pass security, and hit Pak Loh Chiu Chow before making my way to the gate. One dish I remember from there is a nice fried green bean dish, vaguely reminiscent of the classic Sichuan dish, but with thicker beans. Personally, I'd skip the classic Soyed goose, egg, etc, because I think it can sit out a while. If I want that, I'll go to their Causeway Bay restaurant while I'm still in towm.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: SoupNoodles

                            They have quite many restaurants at the HK airport, unlike here in European airports. As meal on the plane is lacking some, I always get some food at the HK airport and, because of the first good experience, always steered toward the Wildfire. But I can try Maxims on my arrival already, as I fly in using HK airport and take the bus to Guangzhou from there. So I have no problem spending some time at the airport first to get a good first meal.