food for Southern expats in HK
My sister and her husband, both from the deep South, moved to HK about a year ago. They've enjoyed being adventurous with the food there, but both of them miss certain American & Tex-Mex dishes terribly. They've tried "American" and "Tex-Mex" restaurants in HK, to no avail. Any recommendations for a somewhat traditional American dining experience in Hong Kong? I know it sounds bad, but I think after a year of being taken out for authentic regional cuisine, they're just dying for some fried chicken and/or queso.
You know, when I lived in HK, two girls from Texas had their mamas send them care packages with taco seasoning and cumin, tortillas, -- all lightweight and not breakable but a little taste of home. Have you thought of something like that? I know you can get cheese there so homemade queso wouldn't be out of the question if they had a few other key ingredients.
As I recall there were a couple good American options in the Festival Walk mall, but this was aaaages ago. Ah! Found the site and the ones I'm thinking of are still there -- Oliver's (a deli, good soups and sandwiches) and Dan Ryan's (ostensibly a Chicago-style steakhouse. Clubby masculine atmosphere, a bit pricey, but decent steaks, burgers, beer, etc.).
I was so desperate for good Tex-Mex after four months in HK that Baja Tacos (my hometown's finest Tex-Mex joint, in a former gas station) was my first stop when I got home -- no lie, I didn't even go to the house to drop off my suitcases; I went from the airport to Baja Tacos. ;)
I went to the Flying Pan yesterday on the advice of HK Mag, and noticed that there were grits on the menu. I don't really recommend the place--it's cute but you could definitely make a better omelet and fried potatoes at home. But it could do in a pinch for your sister and her husband.
The pancake was adequate.
There's a relatively new restaurant called 13FACTORIES in Guangzhou, China, if they are willing to make the trip or happen to be there. Its about 2.5 hrs away by train and in walking distance from the east train station.
They have new american, cajun and creole cuisine including southern fried chicken, jambalaya, gumbo, chicken potpie, hand cut cajun and sweet potato fries, bbq short ribs, po boys, grillades, grits, bananas foster, red velvet cupcakes, and such. Since it is in China, you may think its not gonna be all that authentic, but if you don't think so, its at the very least really close, its delicious none the less, and extremely well priced, nothing on the menu is above 100rmb, pretty much everything is homemade, including andouille sausage, bread, buttermilk, desserts, ice cream, maybe just the ketchup on the table is not homemade.
Thanks for the recommendations, everyone. I do really appreciate it.
Obviously they're having to suck it up and live off the land, so to speak, for the next year or so. Nothing wrong with that. And of course, I had no expectations for quality Southern/Tex-Mex to be found on the island. But a halfassed imitation would probably do the trick.
Honestly, I think they would just like an alternative to shark fin soup every now and then.
The only place that serves Southern food in Hong Kong is Magnolia (http://www.openrice.com/english/restaurant/sr2.htm?shopid=38360). The review there is written by me. I've been to the South before in the US and had quite a bit of Southern/Creole/Cajun food when I lived in NYC. Their chef/owner is from the South. The only minor issue I would assume is the price for Magnolia. Since it is a private kitchen everyone pays HK$400-450 ($US50-60) for dinner and everyone at the table (about 20) shares 10-15 set courses together. Don't worry, you'll get a bit of everything. Not every dish will be great but the gumbo, ribs and pecan pie are my favorite. If your sister is ok with the pricing she should make a reservation (they are only open Thursday, Friday & Saturday).
As for Tex Mex...that might be hard. There are definitely a handful of Tex Mex places in town but for me most of them serve 'Mexican' food similar to stuff you would get at chain restaurant (TGI Fridays, Applebees etc). Authentic Tex Mex is practically non-existent Hong Kong. I did try this Mr Taco Truck (http://www.openrice.com/english/restaurant/sr2.htm?shopid=41707) which serves SoCal style Mexican food. The review at the bottom of the page is mine. They flew in their Mexican chef from California so the food is 'authentic'. Their tortilla needs a little bit of work (even though handmade I find them a little on the dry side) but overall I would say it is 'somewhat' close to the Mexican food I've had in SoCal. Food is cheap for HK standards (about HK$16/US$2) for a taco but a thing I would note is their erratic opening hours. Since they just opened about 1-2 months ago they are still making lots of operational changes. Tell you sister to join their Facebook fan page (http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/p...) since they post up their hours every week. I just wouldn't want your sister going there and finding out it is closed for the day.
One word of caution is I wouldn't hold super high expectations going to either place. The food is pretty good but you have to understand it is like trying to find an authentic Cantonese restaurant in the deep south. You might find something 'close' but it's not going to be 100% authentic since they tailor it towards the local palette as well. Hope this helps.