Two Weeks in HK/Macau - Restaurant Suggestions
My girlfriend and I will be taking a two week vacation in Hong Kong in mid-November and we were looking for restaurant advice. First a little background info about us. My girlfriend is Chinese-American who speaks Cantonese but doesn't read and grew up in Brooklyn Chinatown. We both live in NYC and are familiar with a majority of Cantonese food. We will be staying in Wan Chai and are planning on traveling to Macau for food. We enjoy both high end/low end food and are looking forward to eating our way through this vacation but seeing how there are only two of us, it may limit our choices due to many meals at Chinese restaurants being served family style. Thanks!
- Robuchon a Galera (worthy of *** Michelin Stars?)
- Tim's Kitchen (any preference between this location vs the HK location?)
- Luk Kei Noodle (bamboo noodle with shrimp roe as good as advertised?)
- Fernando's A Lorcha for a Portugese lunch?
- Also planning on the famous spots such as: Cafe Tai Lei Kei (pork chop bun), Margaret's Cafe e Nata and Lord Stow's (portugese egg tarts)
- L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon (any different than the other L'Atelier locations)
- 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo (Italian seems like a nice break from French/Chinese. Read the Chef's famous for truffle dishes and truffle season just began...)
- Loaf On (seems like a good bet on a trip out to Sai Kung)
- Mandarin Grill + Bar/Bo Innovation (we enjoy modern cuisine/molecular gastronomy but have heard mixed reviews re Bo Innovation)
- Yung Kee (roast goose and? Try and book a reservation on the 4th floor?)
- Yin Yang (thoughts on this or any other deserving private kitchen?)
- Shanghai Hairy Crab - Liu Yuan Pavilion/Tin Heung Lau (will it still be in season and what dishes are recommended to order in advance?)
- Snake Soup - read that it will be in season and was looking for suggestions.
- Typhoon Shelter Crab - Under Bridge Spicy Crab?
- Would you even attempt Fook Lam Moon or Sun Tung Lok with 2 people for dinner?
- Planning on going to both Peninsula Hotel and the Clipper Lounge in the Mandarin Oriental
- Lung King Heen (have heard better things about LKH's dim sum than their dinner)
- Will probably also visit: Tim Ho Wan, Lin Heung Tea House and Luk Yu Tea House
- Sang Kee, Fuk Kee, Mui Kee, Law Fu Kee?
Dai Pai Dongs:
- Tung Po worth it?
- Will try to visit Mak's, Mak Man Kee, Mak An Kee during our visit.
Beef Brisket Noodle:
- Will try Kau Kee, Kwan Kee and Wai Kee.
- Any preference between Kwan Kee, Four Seasons or Siu Wa Kitchen?
- Manor or Lei Garden? Don't have enough people to get the rice stuffed pig at Kimberley!
- Joy Hing, Fu Sing, Wing Hap Lung?
So far I have made the following bookings for dinner:
- Caprice (Have a Friday night booking but not with a view, should I try to rebook for a different date for a table with a view?)
- Otto e Mezzo (white truffle menu)
- Bo Innovation (Chefs Counter)
- HK Mandarin Grill
- Yin Yang
- Robuchon a Galera
Based on suggestions I will also be trying to make the following reservations:
- Tim's Kitchen
- The Chairman
- Fook Lam Moon
A few remaining questions:
- For hairy crabs is Liu Yuan Pavilion good or would one of the places suggested below be better like Mah Wah?
Also, how far in advance would you try to book dim sum at higher end restaurants such as Tin Lung Heen?
Finally, is it acceptable/standard to call Chinese restaurants in advance to coordinate a tasting menu for two people? It seems that many of the better meals eaten have been arranged in advance and feature off-menu dishes. It's typically uncommon (although not unacceptable in most higher end restaurants in the USA) so I have to ask. Thanks again, I'm very excited for all the great food in the next few weeks.
How many days will you stay in Macau? Not just the bamboo noodle is very good at Luk Kee, but do try its fried fish ball, chicken feet and pork intestines.
There is no problem to dine at FLM or Sun Tung Luk with just 2 persons.
KK is right, for beef brisket hor, do try Hua Sister at Tin Hau.
Lei Garden is really good for its "siu yok".
Worth noting that Kwan Kee, Sister Wah, and Kau Kee are all clear broth brisket specialists. If I had time I would try them all. A big plus if you can get the "bung sa" cuts or "song lahm" cuts... for Kwan Kee you may have to do a single order of noodle-less brisket just for those cuts.
The brown sauce Chu Hau sauce stewed versions are prevalent at many places, and it will be worth trying (stewed brisket noodles) at Mak An Kee. Definitely a flavor that I miss a lot.
Macau has a wealth of cheap wonderful eats to uber Michelin grade high end Chinese, been reading a lot about them and I drool from what I've found.
High end places include a restaurant called The Eight (forgot which hotel this was in), and that Chinese restaurant that specializes in Tam Cuisine at Wynn looks awesome as well.
Anthony Bourdain went to Tai Lei/Tai Lee for pork chop buns in his Macau episode of No Reservations, but it has pretty much been rendered a tourist destination...might be worth trying if you've never had it before and there may be better places for it (kind of like Lord Stow vs Margret vs some other lesser visited by tourist place). Also might want to try their toasted curry fish sandwich. He also went to a beef offal dai pai dong vendor called 楊六記, of which there are photos on the travelchannel site, but never aired on the episode that is supposedly really good.
I'd go to Wah Heen but saw on some youtube video clip of the chef (nicknamed "little turtle") where comments mentioned that he sold the business....the man was famous for serious wok hay when stir frying dried fried beef chow fun.
re: K K
The Eight is in Grand Lisboa. Exquisite over the top decor, but foodwise, I think perhaps overrated. It is awarded 1 or 2 stars in Michelin but I think it is borderline 1 star. There are better high end Cantonese restaurants in Hong Kong, so not really worth a visit if OP is just in Macau for 1-2 days. Tim's is actually a better choice.
Pok chops sandwich are very popular with Hong Kong tourists. The best one I tasted is 青洲劉記美食 but it has closed down due to land development. The most popular one for tourists is Dai Lai Lei 大利來 which is pretty good too. I did watch Bourdain's episode on Macau. Sorry to say this but I think his guide brought him to the wrong places. "Choi Lam" did a better job on Macau in his TV show.
Yes, Macau is famous for beef offals. I don't really like 楊六記, prefer one stall called 梓記牛什 which is above a wet market near Senado Square so it is actually quite convenient for tourists. But if price is not an issue and prefer nice decor, then this dish at Neptune in Venetian is very good too.
"little turtle" is actually next to Luk Kee at the street corner. He was a legendary name, and you are right, he has retired. Rumors is that he owns quite a few shop houses and with the Macau economy booming in the last few years, he is quite happy to just collect rentals from his investment.
re: K K
Just a short addition. I tried the ' brown sauce' Chui Hau brisket and tendons at all ' 4 ' Maks.this year. IMO, the Mak Man Kee version was the best tasting and most tender. Maks on Wellington was way overpriced!. BTW, the 'penny hot sauce lo mien' at Mak Man Kee was also very good!
I'll be staying in HK the whole time but was thinking about making 1-2 trips over to Macau to sight see and eat. As much as I enjoy high end food, I'm equally as interested in bamboo noodles which they don't serve in NYC (although I've read some places in California starting to feature them).
I'm sure this is an "apples to oranges" comparison, but is FLM better for dim sum or dinner?
Also, in your opinion, what are some of your favorite high end Canto restaurants in HK you think would be worth trying with only 2 people? My GF's parents moved from HK to NYC in the early 1980's and we routinely eat canto food with them, but wanted to try some of the best Canto food in HK.
Re FLM: both lunch and dinner are very good. FLM represents the very classic traditional high end Cantonese meals; there is no innovation there, nothing special here that you cannot find in other places. But every dish is very refined, outstanding and quite expensive. And for dinner, it is more well known for esoteric stuffs like shark fin, whelk, abalone etc. and prices can be outrageous. So I think one needs to acquire more refined taste and understanding of Cantonese dishes to appreciate the food here. Dim sum here is good too, price more affordable though still more expensive than other places. While every dim sum item here is good, there is none that gave me the wow factor when I dined there.
How many nights do you plan to have high end Canto meals? What is the budget you have in mind? Just be mindful that in HKG, high end means "shark fin, whelk, abalone, sea cucumber...", are these stuffs what you have in mind? This is a thread I started on this topic a few years back, has not been updated in the last 2 years but you may read it and then perhaps it may answer some of your questions. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/519768
Beside private kitchen like Da Ping Huo, Ying Yang and The Chairman that is favorable to small group like 2 persons, you may consider another restaurant in Causeway Bay called Fan Tang. Nice decor, good food, menu has less selections but I enjoyed some of the dishes there. Good dim sum too.
Thanks for the link. I guess I should have been more specific re high end Canto meals. But yes, I would consider luxury ingredients such as Shark Fin, Abalone, Bird's Nest, etc. as high end. I've had these ingredients a number of times in NYC but typically at banquets or weddings. Thanks for pointing out price, as I have looked at a few menus to know how expensive some of these ingredients are.
In addition to specific chinese dishes such as noodles, rice, and BBQ'd meats, I wanted to experience at least two of the better Cantonese restaurants. I've heard good things regarding FLM Wanchai location, Tim's Kitchen Macau location as well as Cuisine Cuisine and Lei Garden in this regard.
In terms of a budget, it would depend on the ingredient I suppose, but generally would like to stay under 1,200 HK$/person, although I'm not sure if this is a 'reasonable' figure. Re high end Canto restaurants, I've also read that it is usually preferable to call the restaurant in advanced if ordering certain dishes and wondered if you had any thoughts about this practice.
Even with two weeks time, I knew we wouldn't be able to visit all of the restaurants we wanted so this is our attempt at a compromise, hence the inclusion of private kitchens since they are relatively rare in NYC. Thanks again for all of the advice.
Below $1,200pp is ok unless you order those high end stuffs I mentioned earlier. On average, a good Canto meal is around HK$4-600 pp. This will include most private kitchens such as Ying Yang, The Chairman, Yung Kee, Fan Teng, Hanzhou, Hoi King Heen etc. If you want to go a notch higher to HK$600-800pp range, you can order the signature dishes (but not shark fin etc) at Tim's Kitchen, FLM, Celebrity Cuisine, Lei Garden, Ming's Court, Tang Court. But if you want to order those high end stuffs, then the sky is the limit.
If $1,200 budget is not an issue, you may want to try Ting Heung Lau too. That is around the budget for a meal there according to what I described on the other thread.
Just re-read your post and noticed your mentioning of Tin Heung Lau. Beware, this place is very good but a bit run down in decor. Prices could be sky-high if you order fish or seafood dishes. Hong Zhou, a Michelin 1* and operated by the son is a bit more 'adventurous' and less expensive!
Skip Fu Sing. According to fellow chowhounder Fourseason, quality has gone way down hill!!
Instead of dim-sum at Lung King Heen, why not give ' Tin Lung Heen' inside the new Ritz Carlton a try? Heard food quality is very good but nothing can beat the view from 103th floor??!!!
A bit puzzled by KK's recommendation of dim sum at Spring Moon. I wasn't that impressed considering its the Peninsula. But then, everything I find about the Peninsula from Felix and Gaddis to their lobby high tea is over-rated!
Back to dim sum, Man Wah on top of the Mandarin is, IMO better than Spring Moon! But best is still Fook Lam Moon in Wan Chai!
re: Charles Yu
CharlesYu is right: Tin Heung Lau is expensive despite its old simple decor especially if you order its few signature dishes, prepare to pay > HK$1,000 pp. I would not recommend this place to tourists unless you are a really seasoned foodie of Shanghai/Hanzhou cuisine.
OP may want to check out Da Ping Huo, a private kitchen for Si chuan food. It is fixed menu, I recall 8-9 dishes, no problem for just 2 persons, great food and very good value for money (HK$300 pp). I highly recommend this place if you like spicy food.
Thanks for the heads up re Tin Heung Lau. I'm sure it is very good, but neither of us are particularly experienced with Hanzhou cuisine. I only had listed that since I read they prepare a number of Shanghai Hairy Crab dishes. That said, any word on whether Liu Yuan Pavilion is worth the splurge...assuming the crabs are still in season?
I was actually considering Da Ping Huo as my back up private kitchen option in case Yin Yang was fully booked, but we just confirmed a booking last night. I love spicy food and my GF and I plan on taking an extended vacation next year dedicated to mainland China.
re: Charles Yu
I've actually read better things about Tin Lung Heen than Lung King Heen. I originially suggested LKH for dim sum over dinner because many bloggers seemed to prefer the dim sum offerings over the restaurant's dinner. The view at TLH looks outstanding. Along with Caprice, any other restaurants you suggest booking with a view?
Lung King Heen
Finance Street, Hong Kong , HK
We often head for the Chairman when it is only two of us. Short, well sourced menu, their service is first class and they will do half portions to allow you to try a broader selection of food. Quite traditional Cantonese but with a modern food ethos which is so often lacking in Many other restaurants.
I would skip Lung King Heen for dim sum and perhaps look into other fancy hotel restaurants, e.g. Spring Moon at the Peninsula hotel. You can get some really elaborate high end dim sum, eloquently plated dishes (like crab claw with winter melon), paired with a vast selection of high end teas, like West lake dragon well green tea.
Add Sister Wah in Tin Hau to the clear broth beef brisket noodle list you have (haven't heard anything about Wai Kee) and you will have sampled the best clear broth brisket noodle joints in town.
I think Tung Po is out of fashion these days. You can find lots of dai pai dongs in Central. Around the corner from Kau Kee is Sing Heung Yuen, and although their menu is super small, try tomato beef instant noodles (or with macaroni or rice noodles), condensed milk toast, or crispy burger bun with honey lemon (signature dish). More of a local thing and experience, even if the food on the surface is nowhere near glamorous. Ball Kee is lunch only and does stir fry ho fun, rice noodles type of deal.Sing Kee on Stanley Street does stir fry at night and also has some seafood. But I would definitely head over to Sham Shui Po and try places like Keung Kee. More general info here: http://www.timeout.com.hk/restaurants...
I used to love Law Fu Kee growing up, but now some top bloggers in Hong Kong are saying it's all MSG enhanced stuff. Apparently Wai Kee on Stanley Street in Central does a good solid plain congee if you're out to taste the congee and rice flavors.
Yung Kee....this one is a tough call, if you can find other dining companions then by all means get a 4th floor reservation and order multiple dishes, including a whole goose.
For typhoon shelter crab, locals seem to prefer
Hing Kee Restaurant (避風塘興記
) 1/F, Bowa House
180 Nathan Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
T: +852 2722 0022
The reason being that this restaurant started off as two boats in Causeway Bay (owned by the same family), one boat specialized in roast duck ho fun noodles (where the star was the rich dried tilefish broth, and the ho fun noodles cut down to 5 mm width for more absorption) and the other boat did the old style typhoon shelter crab (where the receipe called for black bean sauce). In the mid to late 90s they had to close the business off the boats then move inland. Strangely these days and even in North America, when you order "typhoon shelter crab" you see a gazillion cloves of garlic, which has become mainstream. But if you are talking traditional old style, Hing Kee was the originator and likely the only people preserving this.
re: K K
Thanks for the information. I will be sure to add Sister Wah and Tin Hau for sure. Despite the availability of different cantonese noodle soups we have available in NYC's three chinatowns, beef brisket noodle soup isn't predominate.
I actually have Sing Hueng Yuen on my list along with a bunch of other cha chaan teng's on my list but felt it better to leave them off as my post was already getting rather long. In terms of dai pai dongs, I will look into Ball Kee, Sing Kee and Keung Kee, especially if most of their dishes have a lot of wok hei.
Will take a look at Hing Kee Restaurant...Under Bridge seems pretty famous ever since Bourdain went there, but I was wondering if there was a better place.
Likewise where I am in California, there's no such thing as a beef brisket specialist shop, especially in the clear broth category. I can get a claypot dish of stewed clear broth brisket where they use bulky pieces of beef short ribs, but it doesn't come out anywhere close.
Sing Heung Yuen is definitely a dai pai dong, even though their offerings are more cha chaan teng snack like. Lan Fong Yuen (the birthplace of Hong Kong Milk Tea) is also like that, but LFY seems overrun by tourists these days, resulting in the degradation of the food, whereas SHY seems to have retained their consistency. Sing Kee will definitely be a good stop for wok hay stir fry, and those in Sham Shui Po area will be even more pedestrian and hardcore.
CH member Lau did a writeup of his visit to Under The Bridge not too long ago. I suppose this place is also decent, but if I were back in HK I'd definitely want to try Hing Kee (and also get their roast duck ho fun noodle soup signature).
Ser Wong Fun will satisfy the snake soup craving in addition to preserved sausage claypot rice (including duck liver sausage), old style baked fish intestines, as well as a good selection of individual portions of double boiled stewed soups (dun tong). SWF can also do some ridiculously good dishes I've never even heard of (za zi chicken smoked with 38 year old Pu Er tea), as well as a dish inspired by Lung King Heen which SWF calls 玉帶梨香 (the LKH dish was pear, scallops and grounded shrimp paste fried into balls, SWF modified this and made it their own version) which I've read requires a pre-order. Local celebs and media personality folk (and blogger types) seem to try to really chum it up to the current owner/manager Gigi (and her mom) to get the uber good stuff, but even what's on the menu seems superb already.
Pretty comprehensive list!! Enjoy!!
Regarding your 'either/or' questions, you won't go wrong with either. Its like picking a car! BMW vs Mercedes?!!
Just a couple of addition:
Allow 2 weeks advance booking for Galera Robuchon. Since its November and truffles season, the Master himself might be in town to overlook a truffle tasting menu.
If you are trying Galera, why bother with L'Atelier in HK which is not as refined as Tokyo or NYC. Use the time and money instead to squeeze in an extra Michelin star Cantonese meal at either the 1* Yan Toh Heen ( great food with HK harbour view ) or Regal Palace ( again great food and view ) or the 2* Ming Court ( only Chinese restaurant in town with a 'wine room' and wine/Chinese food pairing!
When trying the wonton noodles at the 'Maks', do try ordering some 'Cantonese style beef tendons and brisket' as well!
Last suggestion. Take the train to ' Tai Wai ' in the New Territories and try the Sha-Tin roasted pigeons and Fried wild sea prawns with peppered salt at the 1* Fung Lum
re: Charles Yu
Thanks Charles! Haha, I know my post was a bit detailed but after searching various threads and reading invaluable advice given by you and some other experienced HK diners on this board I'd hate to waste your time with simple questions I could find on my own.
I have started emailing some restaurants and will trying calling about Robuchon ASAP. I really want to visit one of his restaurants since I missed my opportunity when I was living in Tokyo. I haven't been to his outpost in Vegas but have visited L'Atelier in NYC.
Any advice for dining with only two people at some high end Canto restaurants? I feel like its so difficult without knowing speciifc dishes to avoid over ordering!
Also, from the higher end restaurants I listed above, are there any in particular that I should request particular seating (seating with a view?)
re: Charles Yu
When did you eat at Yan Toh Heen last? Lunch or dinner?! Both fellow chowhounder skylineR33 and myself had dim sum lunch and dinner there within the past year and the experience was very enjoyable! In fact, some of the dim sum dishes were better tasting than some of Michelin 3* Lung King Heen and Sun Tung Lok.'s offering. Some of the dinner dishes including the ones using Wagyu beef was also very delicious!
Lung King Heen
Finance Street, Hong Kong , HK
I've never tried their tasting menu, always ordered a la carte, so I cannot judge. However, some of the dishes you posted sure look ' questionable'!
So, you did get served sharks fin and abalone ( or not )?! Those ingredients could bump up the price enormously, Depending on the grade use, US$150 for the whole meal might not seem a lot! (Just as the use of truffles in western dishes!). Also, any use of live ocean fish as main ingredient could also shoot up the price!
Fried rice is almost always served at the end of a Cantonese meal to showcase the skill of the chef since the perfect product is pretty hard to attained. ( rice grains have to be all separated, not stick together. Final product must not be too greasy. To create non-sticky rice without using too much oil during the woking process is a tough skill! ). Very similar to finding perfect 'Shari' in Nigiri sushi. Look simple but difficult to perfect!
Anyways, 'better luck' next time!! May be you should give the 2* Ming Court a try instead? My tasting menu experience there was very positive!!
You win some! You lose some! Sigh!!!
re: Charles Yu
yes there was shark fin, abalone, etc. i mean, those ingredients are great, but i think the way in which they are used is much more important... the dishes shouldn't ride on the fact that the ingredients are there in the first place.
the fried rice makes more sense in that context.
thanks for the recommendation, unfortunately i don't know when i'll be in hong kong again!