Week in Hong Kong - can you give a single female diner advice?
I'm tagging along on a trip to Hong Kong next week, and will be wandering the city solo for nearly all of it. We'll have 6 days in town. Staying at the Mandarin Oriental. Since its my first time in HK, I'm planning to hit the main tourist sites hard the first few days, then spend the rest of the time wandering off-the-beaten track for fun.
And I want to eat well! But I am not sure how a single girl dining is going to fly over there.
Can you guys give me some advice? I've read through many of the HK threads on the board already, and it sounds like there are abundant choices, and especially fabulous ones if you have a small group and can pre-arrange things with the chef. But which are best for me?
- I'm alone
- I'm an adventurous eater
- I'm not highly familiar with the local cuisine (eg I'm new to Chinese food and might not "get" some of the more sophisticated dishes)
- I don't speak or read the language
I'll get 1-2 dinners with my husband, so tell me how best to use them!
So far, I've got on my list: Tim's Kitchen, The Manor, Temple Street seafood stalls, Tai Wai's ' Fung Lum, She Wong Yee at Causeway Bay, Celebrity Cuisine....
Thanks for any advice - this board is great.
Actually, the more down-market places (of which many are fabulous) will not dare to leave a seat spare. So be prepared to share your dining table with strangers. In some countries your table mates would strike up a conversation, but don't expect that here in HK. People are happy to have time out to themselves and ignore the strangers at the same table. Don't be offended.
Furthermore, if it's really a busy place and nobody coordinating the seating, you'll have people standing over your shoulder while you eat, waiting for you to get up and leave. Again, don't be offended - pretend they're not there and let them wait.
This sounds daunting but it's only in downmarket places during busy times and not really stressful as people don't seem to get agitated here. This is the way life flows in a high-density population.
I agree with your earlier posters that nobody would bat an eyelid at a single diner even in the upmarket places. I do it all the time. I've done tasting menus by myself, I've had table-side carvery by myself. They take food very seriously in this city, and I'm sure 99% of restaurants care less about social norms and more about you getting your order in so they can start cooking.
Have fun, reach out to this group if you hit a brick wall, and also perhaps keep an eye out for random HK meet-ups with like-mindered foodies here: http://www.meetup.com/Amateur-Gourmet/
First off! Whether alone, with your husband or a group, your aforementioned list should cater for all three scenarios.
During my past annual visits to Hong Kong, I often dine alone so please do not feel intimidated by dining single!.
All of your choices have bi-lingual menus, even the hole-in-the-wall snake soup place or seafood hawker stalls! Some, even have photo illustration. Language should not be a problem!.
Now, on to picking the ones to share with your husband. I would first pick Fung Lum since its in the New Territory (country side), a bit out of the way. So an escort to tag along should instill a sense of security! Furthermore, their house specialty - Fried wild sea prawns with spicy peppered salt is by weight. Minimum order is half a pound. For a lady, that might be too much especially if you intend to try out their famous roasted pigeon as well, which comes as a whole bird. With your husband to share, things will be less complicated!.
I would choose Celebrity Cuisine as the second option since the ambience, compared to the others, is a bit more refined and romantic. Food is definitely Michelin calibre. Don't forget the stuffed boneless chicken wings with birds nest ( Well, you did say your are an adventurous eater! ) and the steamed giant crab claw with egg white!. The traditional steamed giant garoupa filet with black bean sauce is pretty amazing too!
The Manor would be another great destination to eat with someone since the portion of their famous Cantonese roasted meat as well as their seafood dishes are meant to be shared since portion size are not small!
If you are sick of Chinese after a while, you can always have a tasting menu at some of the good Michelin star western restaurants like Caprice, Amber or L'Atelier Robuchon! Eating alone there shouldn't be any problem!
Lastly, I would add a Won ton noodle place like Mak An Kee to your list! This comfort food, IMO, is a must eat!!
re: Charles Yu
I agree with Charles. I have dined alone on some very rare occasions in HK when my hubby or sisters were not free and never felt self-conscious or anything. HK is a very egalitarian society, and certainly not Middle-East (where we women are treated like cows. YES, that's how I felt when I was in Jeddah and Dubai, haha!).