Hong Kong trip report
Thank you for the advice and education about the varieties of Cantonese cuisine, at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/685520 . I have just ended my week in Hong Kong. I ate mid-priced or inexpensive meals only, relied heavily on advice from this board, and navigated with no knowledge of any Chinese language. My preference is for spicier and heavier cuisines, so I tried to sample other Chinese cuisines along with Cantonese.
Five meals stood out:
Noodle Hut, Tsuen Wan (end of the MTR line in northwest Kowloon), for Shanxi-style knife-shaved noodles. I had cold noodles in a spicy sauce, with lots of raw garlic, strips of pork, cucumber shreds, and vinegar. These noodles were more toothsome than dao xiao mien I’ve tried elsewhere, which I liked. The raw garlic overpowered the sauce but the thick, chewy noodles made this memorable. It’s a street-stall canteen a few minutes’ walk from the MTR station.
Da Ping Huo, Central, for a Sichuan tasting menu of several appetizer snacks followed by seven courses alternating spicy and mild. Loved our meal. One appetizer was a salad of slippery yellow mung bean noodles with crunchy dried green mung beans – the contrasting texture from the similar beans was clever and delicious. The spicier dishes highlighted the effect of different types of chilies: a beef brisket and tendon stew mixed fragrant Sichuan facing-heaven peppers with fresh fiery orange Thai bird chilies, whereas dried chilies cut with a lot of sugar were the base for a dumpling sauce later in the meal. Their mapo tofu had more Sichuan peppercorn than I’ve ever had in a dish at any Sichuan restaurant yet was balanced with spicy heat. Lovely service, too. HKD 280/pp.
Fu Sing Sharkfin Seafood, Wanchai, for dim sum – probably the best dim sum I’ve had, better than any in San Francisco or Vancouver. From the turnip cake that was crispy fried on both sides yet creamy within, to the marbled, caramelized cha siu, to rice noodles with XO sauce, every dish was a winner. Even the bite least to my liking – a relatively bland vegetable dumpling – showed great skill, with the vegetables precisely cubed to a tiny uniformity.
Pak Loh Chiu Chow, Causeway Bay. We ate here New Year’s Eve, and the place was packed. I don’t think I’ve had chiuchow food before. Loved the oyster omelet with fish sauce (?), and especially the green beans with minced pork and preserved olive. The menu is overwhelmingly long, but a very helpful and jolly manager helped us navigate.
Joy Hing, Wanchai, for cha siu. As good as everyone on the board promised. Wish I had gotten a combo with roast pork so I could have tried both.
Several other meals were good: not destination meals, but the right food at the right place and time. Both Crystal Jade and Tasty, in the IFC mall, were satisfying quick dinners when I hadn’t planned ahead; I liked the la mian with shredded eel at Crystal Jade. Maxim’s at City Hall was good enough dim sum in an opulent room.
The one disappointment was A Lorcha in Macau. Kale – chorizo soup was bland with a couple meager slices of chorizo. Macanese coconut and turmeric chicken was dry with no taste of coconut. Both dishes were thickened with cornstarch, which made them cloying and a little goopy. I don’t know whether these were dishes were “correct” in the sense of “authentic” but I didn’t like them. Further, at a restaurant advertising itself as Portugese, I expected more salt, garlic, and olive oil, none of which I tasted in any dish.
In my original post (linked above), I asked about neighborhoods to stay in. We ended up staying in Causeway Bay, which turned out to be convenient to a variety of restaurants, stalls, and food shops. One shop in particular had excellent black sesame mochi and sweet/salty seaweed cookies. I don't know the shop's name or address, but it's among the small streets just north of Leighton and east of Percival, near Times Square.
Glad you enjoyed your trip. For Macau there is one restaurant that you have to go to next time, Fernando's. Well known by all the locals and the ex-pats who live on the island. It's at the far south of the lower island so is about a 20 minute taxi ride from the main town. The restaurant is very simple and rustic but excels at wholesome Macanese/Portugese fayre. Standout dishes are Clams a la casa, Suckling pig and the Peri Peri chicken. The house salad is great too ! Hope you can make it there next time.
Fernando's famous shrimps! I would travel to Macau just for a huge steaming plate of Fernando's steaming decapod crustaceans. Then over to Lord Stow's original Coloane store for delicious Natas.
A Lorcha was way over-rated 10 years ago when I used to visit Macau regularly. I'm not surprised it hasn't improved. The best Portuguese/Macanese/Mozambiquean places were always nondescript joints tucked away on the back alleys of Taipa. My favourite dishes were Caldo Verde and African Chicken. Man, I could go for a big bowl of Caldo Verde right now!
My wife used to go specifically to stock up on the barbequed pork jerky. You could get it in HK, but it was never as fresh or as good.
I was always very fond of Macau. It was such a unique culture. The Potuguese and Chinese had integrated there in a way that never happened in HK with the British. Last time I went, in 2005, 'modernisation' had really taken a toll, especially on Taipa. I felt like crying. Can't hold back the future, I guess.