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Hong Kong -- the dishes you would miss most?

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Hi there,

I've been in HK about a year and am bowled over by the range of ingredients, dishes, flavors, textures of Chinese cuisine in this town. It's a vast universe of food...

I want to consciously expand my palate and develop the ability to discriminate between decent, good, and excellent Chinese food -- instead of being the bumbling gweilo who likes everything.

So the question is this...

What specific dishes would you miss *most* if you left HK permanently? What flavors, textures, aromas inspire craving that can only be satisfied here? What dish has a real anchor-hold in your food memory?

Is it really egg tarts and char siu? Is it hairy crab? Claypot rice? Turnip cake?

Where is your favorite place to eat this delicacy?

Any and all suggestions much appreciated!

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  1. I'm partial to having "cheung fun" rice rolls, pan-fried then served with sesame paste dip, for breakfast in the mornings.

    2 Replies
    1. re: klyeoh

      This sounds delicious -- do you make at home or is there a restaurant where I can try?

      1. re: chloehk

        It's something you can both prepare at home (fry ready-made cheung fun rolls), or get from a neighborhood food-stop.

    2. What I've missed most: roast goose, won ton egg noodle with beef brisket and tendons, BBQ cuttlefish on skewer, scramble egg with baby oysters, dry beef chow fun

      1. Way too many things beyond the obvious but I'll mention them anyway. Some I have yet to try myself...

        Good Hakka Cantonese style salt baked chicken.

        Dai Pai Dong food (many places in Central, and of course the ever popular Tung Po that Anthony Bourdain went to)

        Roast squab (there's a farm/hotel in Shatin famous for it in the 80s, there are arguably better places now)

        Baked fish intestines (including the liver, has fried cruller/dough sticks in it, eggs, and citrus skin?)

        The copious variations on seafood and shellfish, whether it be soy sauce king stir fried crab or shrimp, or Shanghai style hairy crab.

        Old school sweet & sour pork, not made with sugar/vinegar, but hawthorns and haw flakes. Duk Lung in Sun Po Kong supposedly makes it that style (and there's another place in town I read about whose name I forgot)

        To Yau Derk Yuk Beng - steamed pork patty with dried squid. Mixing the pork by hand, that is, not machine. Kin's Kitchen in Tin Hau supposedly does a good one.

        Lo Siu Ping On - a soft steamed tofu dish mixed in with egg whites and fish, dried orange peel. May have to venture to some out of the way place like in Ho Mun Tin (Waterloo Rd 64A-65D).

        Sun Dau Gei in Jordan is a restaurant I want to try.

        Also want to try the numerous variations of dishes made with pomelo skin.

        The numerous variations of stewed Cantonese soups, all very good for you. The slow fire cooked soup I miss a lot is Northern Chinese almonds with pork lungs and bak choy. It's so creamy and nurturing. Luk Yu Tea House in Central has this and supposedly one of the best in town (even though it is mostly visited for dim sum, but it is very strong for dinner, much like Yung Kee....before I croak, I want to do the $1500 banquet dinner at YK's top floor....)

        Winter melon soup, served inside winter melon. The versions I've had in the US just cannot compare.

        Chiu Chow cuisine.....sorely lacking in the USA. Marinated goose slices, "sichuan" pepper chicken, Chiu Chow style congee (hard to describe, you really have to try it), marinated cubed pork blood jelly, and so many others.

        Snake soup...Ser Wong Fun in Central is a brand name.

        Roasties....cha siu, crispy skin roast pork, roast goose, marinated birds (lo sui), suckling pig etc etc etc, empress chicken (gwai fei gai), soy sauce chicken with in house made ginger scallion oil etc etc. Something I want to try is "gum cheen gai gerk" which is a piece of chicken liver wrapped around bbq pork and fat, glazed up with molasses. Tastes like cha siu, bad for you, but probably awesome.

        Congee....I will never forget Lo Fu Gei....Central/Sheung Wan area?

        I want to try the baked pork ribs rice, Gum Lo fried won tons with a dipping sauce that contains tomato sauce/pineapple/chicken liver/squid/shrimp/bell pepper/onions, and a red bean iced drink, at Mido Cafe Yau Ma Tei, even though it is also overrated.

        Won Ton Noodles...virtually not replicable abroad. Probably #1 on most HK expats list. But I miss clear broth beef brisket very much too as well as shui gow (won tons on steroids but with fatty pork, shrimp, woodear funghi, and bamboo shoots). While I have access to these where I live, it is not the same.

        Hong Kong milk tea....a beverage I love, but hard to replicate. Lan Fong Yuen on 2 Gage Street in Central is the place that invented it, also a destination stop for me next time. Supposedly their other signature item, instant noodle lo mein with scallion/ginger oil and grilled brazilian chicken is quite good.

        Fishball with ho fun in noodle soup....I could go on forever about the merits of this stuff. Or anything made with fish paste. Jeh Kee in Aberdeen supposedly has been around forever and is good for that too.

        Bamboo noodles with shrimp roe is something I want to eat when I go back next time.

        Dim Sum....I want to try the innovative new things I've never seen before, and also want to eat the really old school almost extinct styles, such as sharks fin dumpling where all the soup is inside the dumpling itself and the skins are made with duck eggs, maybe Fung Shing still offers it (multiple locations, one in North Point).

        I want to find one of those old school pushcarts and relive my childhood, there's an old dude in Tai O fishing village area, who sells eggettes (gai dan jai) but cooks them via charcoal grill. There's supposedly another around Tai Hang Road area but he's moving around a lot. I hate to say it, but I also want to eat a Mister Softee vanilla ice cream (soft serve) off the truck. I last saw that at Star Ferry over 20 years ago.

        I want to try the cookie crust egg tart from Tai Cheong and compare it with the best flakey layer version in town (wherever that might be these days).

        I want to sample a HK style hot dog, like the one at Wing Lok Yuen in Central, to see what the fuss is about with these imported Dutch Zwan canned sausages, but i think it is more about their mystery sauce made with butter, mustard, pickles, sugar, salt, vinegar...

        Tai Pin Koon is an upscale HK style western restaurant (one in Central, one in Causeway Bay). Some don't like it but it plays a special role in my heart. Love their sweet soy sauce "Swiss" chicken wings, baked ox tongue with pasta, salted ox tongue, pork chop onions w/rice, and many others. The dessert souffle is quite decadent, but requires pre-ordering as soon as you sit down.

        The street food...+1 on ju cheung fun but I prefer mine steamed with the multiple sauces. Fish siu mai, imitation shark's fin soup, that red bean based dessert called Dza Dzaa, peddler cart noodles (cheh jai meen) where you basically name your toppings like a custom pizza, beef parts, curry fishball skewers...

        For the non Cantonese Chinese stuff:

        Peking Garden in memory (there is/was one at Alexandria House in Central) made a killer green onion pancake, deep fried all over so it is multi layered and crispy, unlike the crepe versions in Taiwan and California. The minced garlic spicy pork belly slices is also very very good.

        Wing Lai Yuen (www.winglaiyuen.com) makes my favorite dan dan noodles in town. Arguably there could be better places but I love the flavor, texture, the effort put into the broth. Supposedly their claypot soup made with mature chicken, Chinese ham, cabbage, won tons, is very very good but requires 4 people to order. Ditto for their Yunnan style thin pork belly bacon with sauce (off menu item but superb).

        I want to try Spring Deer in Tsim Sa Tsui, they're very tourist friendly, but they make some pretty good Peking Duck in town. There's a crazy off menu item called "Wor Siu Dzow Dzee" which is some uber fatty pork leg/shoulder dish, fried/steamed, and calorific, but supposedly uber tasty.

        I want to try some good Hangzhou style Dong Po rou (5 layer pork belly cut), where it is actually steamed for 8+ hours, and "mut jup for fong" where they take a specific cut of Chinese ham and steam/stew it with citrus.

        12 Replies
        1. re: K K

          Dude, sounds like you need to come back to HK for a while :-D

          1. re: klyeoh

            And I want to go to Macau to try their versions of shrimp roe bamboo noodles, portugese egg tart, pork chop buns, Macau style Portugese food, stir fry beef chow fun, medicinal clay pot brewed coffee..... I might as well retire there!

            1. re: K K

              yeah it's nice, however i thought the nata by the lord was rather disappointing. i particularly enjoyed the prawn roe noodles although am not sure about the bamboo. [noodles: http://bonvivantnl.photos.de.com/p606...

              ]

              if you do drink wine you'd in in Portuguese wine heaven there. apparently nowhere outside of the old country has such a massive selection of its wine. i was blown away!

              1. re: K K

                Hi K K,

                I started reading your post and it just made me laugh -- such a long and detailed list of yummy things!

                Re: duck at Spring Deer... It really is totally delicious. After we first tried it we couldn't stop going back. My sweetheart used to look out our window toward TST and say, "...but I can hear the ducks" and look at me pleadingly.

                We had to stop we were getting so fat!

                I will post some pictures when I eat some of these things. The dan dan noodles are high on my list!

                1. re: chloehk

                  Eating my way around...

                  LAN FONG YUEN
                  2 Gage Street
                  "instant noodle lo mein with scallion/ginger oil and grilled brazilian chicken"

                  My waitress called this "chicken noodle" ;-)

                  Noodles: excellent springy texture, a hair softer than al dente (not sure what the done-ness possibilities are with instant). Bizarrely Polish-tasting stewed cabbage in one corner (reminded me of living in Greenpoint, Brooklyn), ginger-scallion a la roasthouse in the other corner. Light sauce with soy, a tiny bit of sweet, something related to five-spice or nutmeg. On top: beautifully golden-brown, boneless, pan-fried chicken. But sadly, a kind of cheap chicken flavor to the meat. Iced milk tea: not as syrupy as other places, also slightly more bitter, which I preferred. Definitely want to try the ginger milk tea next time.

                  FU SING
                  353 Lockhart Rd
                  Recommended in another post for good cha siu.

                  Holy Jesus! I don't know if this is the most authentic HK has to offer, but whatever it is -- it is good. I think we finished the plate in 90 seconds flat. It tasted like pork and butter soaked in honey and butter. The fat itself had a really memorable texture -- the closest comparison I can think of would be buttercream frosting. Just awesome. The pork neck with red wine was a serious dish too, tender with perfectly integrated flavors. Comfort food to any palate. However, the vertebra on the plate was a little discomfiting to my bf (I ate the whole thing). Lots of chubby diners at Fu Sing besides ourselves :-)

                   
                   
                   
                   
                  1. re: chloehk

                    One cool thing about Lan Fong Yuen's iced milk tea is that the ice cubes are supposedly made with 1/2 part water 1/2 tea, so when the ice melts, the drink doesn't become terribly diluted. You could eat the ice cubes as is, and it would be like a pseudo ice cream. Again I talk like I've had this before but I really haven't :-(. I've seen quite a few documentaries about this place. It's a nice touch.

                    Some locals like Joy Hing in Wanchai for cha siu, but it's not a tablecloth kind of place. Other enjoy Sai Yuen (West Villa) with multiple locations as they (used to?) make some of the best bbq pork buns/cha siu bao in town, and during dinner also not uncommon for people to order an entree plate worth.

                    1. re: chloehk

                      Do you have any idea as to what the hell Fu Sing does to their cha siu. I think they braise it, but I'm not sure.

                      1. re: jindomommy

                        Older generation of Hong Kong people are hilarious. They used to yell at their misbehaving kids who stressed them out, and one old time vent used to be
                        "生舊叉燒好過生你!" which means it would have been better to give birth to a piece of BBQ pork (cha siu) than you (re: the kid). This only goes to show that a good piece of BQ pork can do to someone and what it means to them.

                        1. re: K K

                          That's awesome ;-)

                          @jindomommy -- I don't know why Fu Sing's cha siu is so moist and tender.

                          Looking at cha siu recipes, the instructions are pretty similar: marinate for a long time, roast and baste over a pan of water, brush with honey and serve.

                          Wonder if they're drying or aging the meat in some way before they cook it? I think the fact that they can serve it right away with the trough of melted honey and fat below has got to help!

                          Incidentally, just found CNNGo's "40 Hong Kong foods we can't live without":
                          http://www.cnngo.com/hong-kong/none/4...

                          1. re: K K

                            I don't see it is being hilarious. It is total true. I am going to keep that phrase alive.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              That's because your mom probably used it on you as a kid and it tormented you :-)

                              1. re: K K

                                Yes, my parents probably used it on me and I am going to use it on mine. :)

              2. It depends. I don't miss egg tarts and char siu bao as much because I can get them here -- even if they may not be the same.

                I miss a lot of things, but I will try to just name one

                I say I miss those "deep fried prok skin (along with Chinese radish) on a stick"
                I don't think I have that for over... decades now.

                1. Cantonese food in general (i live in Cantonese food hell). Lin Heung. all the roast meats, and chewy wonton noodles. [*groan*... the noodles!... http://bonvivantnl.photos.de.com/p606... ]

                  1. Yung Kee's Thousand year eggs and pan fried 'cho-bak' salted fish.

                    Snake King 2's Snake soup and fresh duck liver preserved sausages.

                    Fung Lum's Live ocean prawns with peppered salt and Sha Tin whole roasted pigeon.

                    Tso Choi Koon's Stirred fry pig's innards.

                    Mak's ( Wellington Street ) Won Ton noodles

                    Mak Man Kee's Braised beef brisket and tendons

                    Shanghai Fraternity Association's Drunken Pigeon

                    Canton Star's Crispy skin Har Gow with garlic dust

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      Hey this is nostalgic - makes me wanna go to HK again...

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Yay -- thank you for these great suggestions!

                      2. Visited last summer. I miss the noodles. Cheung funn. Victoria Harbor and Fu Sing. Fu Sing has the best cha siu. What the hell goes in that thing??? I also miss roasted squab. You just can't get the same dish stateside.

                        1. For me, those "po chye fun" or little pots of steamed rice with ingredients on top, whether chicken or pork or sausages, and that extra egg if you prefer. It's a lunch-time staple for HK office workers and oh so convenient.

                          1. Here are some more very affordable quick trips to try...

                            One exclusive thing HK has that you can't find in California(or anywhere else) are those medicinal cool herbal tea (涼茶) drink places. Almost all of them sell the famous black colored turtle jelly which can be an acquired taste. If it is a high traffic area, usually these shops already have pre-filled cups lying on the counter. You just pick the one you want, pay and drink. The safest bet is Chrysanthemum tea and very refreshing. Usually they are sweetened although mildly. There's a school of thought about drinking cold tea that does certain good things to the body, depending on the ailment. eg Chrysanthemum is supposed to de-toxify, "pear tea" is supposed to breakdown any phlegm in the lungs and prevent thirst, and the super bitter "24 herbs" supposedly cures headaches and colds. Kung Wor Tong http://www.kungwotong.com.hk/
                            is very famous in HK (started in 1904) with multiple locations. There's one in Causeway Bay Perceival Street # 87. I'm sure there are locals who think there are better places, but this is oddly one of the few things I miss about HK too, at least for the uniqueness of this ilk of shop.

                            Another unique HK food off the streets type of experience is going to Australian Dairy Company in Jordan on 47 Parkes street. The menu is limited and doesn't seem special, but it's true HK flavor. Basically from what I understand you only pick whether you want fried eggs or scrambled eggs. Give their milk/egg white steamed sweet custards a try too. The service sucks though, but it's quite the local instititution. Even some foreigners review it quite nicely on tripadvisor...

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: K K

                              If a visit to Australian Dairy Company is planned, one should make room for a bowl of one of HK's best wonton noodles at Mak Man Kee, next door!! The braised beef brisket and tendons are amazing as well!

                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                This will be my first destination on my next trip to Hong Kong this X'mas.

                            2. I vote for egg tarts. Hong Kong's egg tart is divine because all bakeries are well supported by a long queue of customers to clear all tarts right after it's baked. it's particular true in tea time.

                              For char siu, I miss Joy Hing's BBQ pork which is so great because of the same reasons for egg tarts.