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Apr 2, 2012 01:44 AM

first visit to Hong Kong with family (including toddler)

We moved as a family to beijing a few months ago (as expats) and towards the end of this month, will be venturing to hong kong for our first trip there for 3-4 days. It will be me, my wife, and our nearly three year old daughter. Of course, we'll have to do some sightseeing aswell, but we love food as a family, including our daughter, who, if the mood takes her, will try almost anything.

We'll be staying at the Conrad (on points -- I'm just a humble academic), in case that is relevant in terms of distances etc. Given that we'll be with our daughter, very long meals over 90 minutes are not easy (but we managed a few times on holiday in italy and france last year).

I've been salivating reading a lot of these threads but I'm rather over-whelmed by the sheer number of options, and also have no idea how suitable the various places are for a well-behaved, but still typical, toddler. For example, in Beijing, our daughter has pretty much eaten everywhere with us (Maison Boloud this week the one exception), and the chinese love children, so have a high tolerance for the occasional distraction. Also, have no idea about prices for many of these places. We're ready to spend a decent sum for a great meal, but we don't have unlimited funds, say.

We'd love to have some great dim sum, some classic cantonese cuisine and are totally open to suggestions.

Also, we're teetotal, and not really into the ultra-high expense ingredients such as abalone, sea cucumber, shark fin and bird's nest, but happy to try most things.

A few random places I've read about on the boards, but again, don't know about child suitability, and also whether all these places are super-expensive, so can't go to all of them:

Yung Kee for roast goose
Fuk Lam Moon
Lei Garden
Tim Ho Wan, if we can stand the queue

Also, otto e mezze sounds fascinating (and really, really miss great italian food); as does a posh hotel place for dim sum. Given we're in the conrad, is golden leaf worth going to? I note it just lost its michelin star. We don't slavishly follow such things: have had some amazing non-michelin meals, and some so-so (but never terrible) 2/3 star michelin meals.

Thanks so much!


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  1. If your child is a 'baby', then dining with her might be a bit of a challenge. However, I think you will be fine with your 3 years old. Almost all establishments will have baby chair if you so desire!

    Back to the food. Since you are living in the Conrad at Admiralty, I would suggest you take a very short taxi ride to Lei Garden ( Wan Chai Branch ) for Dim Sum. Like yourself, I don't place a lot of emphasis on the Michelin guide (for Chinese food especially), however, when there is a demotion ( as in the case of Golden Leaf), I always pay attention. Since, there's always a reason for such a move!
    For a really 'posh hotel' dim sum place, I would highly recommend Ming Court ( though a bit far ) If not, Yan Toh Heen, inside the Intercontinental,with its great harbour view and good food is definitely worth the trip! Stay away from Fook Lam Moon if you are a non-regular!

    Otto e Mezzo offers one of the best Italian food outside of Italy. However, I'm not sure about bringing a 3 years old to a Michelin 3* restaurant!! May be you can settle for some less formal establishments in the Lan Kwai Fong or Soho area?! In fact, 'Domani' inside Pacific Place ( same complex at the Conrad) is pretty decent and less expensive.

    For Cantonese, I would try making reservations at 'The Chairman'. The tasting menu should provide you with a wide exposure to good Cantonese cuisine!

    As for Roast goose at Yung Kee. I would bypass this extremely inconsistent establishment and grab some at the 'hole-in-the-wall' Yat Lok at Stanley Street, Central just down the road!

    Good Luck!!

    32 Replies
    1. re: Charles Yu

      Thank you Charles for the very helpful response. I've very much enjoyed reading your contributions on this board.

      With regards to our daughter and whether she is a 'baby' -- she's pretty well-behaved, but as anyone with kids knows, one can't guarantee anything! She is usually very good-natured, but that means she is so 90% of the time -- there is always a 10%!

      With regards to the recommendations -- they all look good. Some of the prices look stratospheric after living in Beijing for a few months! For the Chairman, there seems to only be one option for the set menu for two people -- looks pretty good, but wondering whether there is any 'must order' dishes that we should get. Also, how far in advance should one book a table at these places: 3 weeks out (i.e. now for us!) or the day before/ the day of. Bear in mind that for dinner, we will prefer an early sitting.

      My mentioning of 'otto e mezzo' was really because I had seen you enthusing about it. We don't need to eat italian, and will be happy to eat cantonese for the few days we are in HK. The lunchtime special seemed pretty good value, however. Domani looks good: but actually very pricey in comparison, given the lack of a lunchtime deal.

      The other recommendations look fantastic aswell...we could perhaps try to have early dinner at yan toh heen before heading to see the light show in TST -- would that work? How long does a typical cantonese meal take? For chinese meals here: for the two/three of us, even if fancy, doesn't take too long, but if a 'banquet style' with a big party, takes a long time. Was wondering how it is in HK?

      Any other thoughts and insights also appreciated.


      1. re: trueblu

        You are most welcome!! Always glad to help another fellow chowhounder!

        Ever since they acquired a star, the Chairman has become a 'hot-spot' again, after a period of slight cooling down. As such, I would try making the reservation at least 2-3 weeks ahead of time!!

        For a typical family Chinese dinner, you should be able to go in and out within a couple of hours, easy!

        One place I forgot to mention. One of my favourite place for really good, 'tapas' size Chinese dishes as well as noodles/snacks/congees...etc and that's 'TASTY' inside the IFC complex. Worth a try!!

        Lastly, as per most western restaurant, its always better value having lunch than dinner. You should plan accordingly to take full advantage!

        1. re: Charles Yu

          Thanks for the recommendations Charles. I've spent the last couple of days trying to put a tentative itinerary together, and the 'tourism' and gastronomy appear to be at odds with each other! We're here for 4 days, arriving Friday, leaving Tuesday. I think our daughter would love a visit to Ocean park, so I've set aside the monday for that. I know she'll be exhausted coming back, so no way we can have a fancy meal that day. And on the saturday, we'll visit Lantau island -- perhaps starting off at Tai O, then the monastery etc (any recommendations for lunch at Tai O?).

          I thought we'd perhaps have dinner at the Chairman Saturday evening, after Lantau. For Sunday dim sum, I'm torn between Lei Garden and Yan Toh Heen. I think from reading online, the atmosphere at Yan Toh Heen is more 'special', and of course, being a hotel, it will likely be more 'foreigner friendly'. However, is Lei Garden simply much better? And how do prices compare (looks like lunch at Yan Toh Heen will be ~1000HK$+ for us)? We'll probably have something a bit more simple for Sunday evening (perhaps Yat Lok that you recommended, or a won-ton noodle place, which I'm keen to try in HK).

          I'm hoping this will be the first of several visits to HK, so hope we can explore more on future trips.


          1. re: trueblu

            Ocean Park!! A must visit even for us adults!!
            My last Dim Sum lunch at YTH was around $1000 for 4 adults. For 2 adults and a 3 year old.? My guess is $800 or less all inclusive??!! Skip Lei Garden! YTH's food quality is at par with LG, but the view alone is worth the visit! Make sure to reserve a window table!!
            Yat Lok closes at 16.00 on Sunday!! Best you head over to Tasty at the IFC for won-ton noodles and other yummy good Cantonese tapas size dishes! Their 'Stirred fry beef with rice noodle aka Gone Chou Ngau Ho in Cantonese is HK's best!!!
            Enjoy and Have fun!!

            1. re: Charles Yu

              Dear Charles,

              Thanks again! Have booked reservations for the Chairman and YTH...for the latter I've requested a window table, but that bit wasn't confirmed, but rather 'request noted'. Tasty looks good! Will definitely check it out. OK, can hardly wait the three weeks until our trip!


            2. re: trueblu

              Hi trueblu,

              If you are coming to Lantau on a Saturday then I'd suggest going down to Lower Cheung Sha or Pui O beach after Tai O if it's not too late for lunch.

              If you can manage to get to Tai O early (i.e before midday) then you will avoid the crowds. There is a new hotel in Tai O which is in the former Police Station. They have a restaurant and it seems to have a mix of classic Canto or international food. I haven't been up there myself, but my in-laws have and said the food was fine, and the place itself was fascinating for people who haven't been to HK before. You would need to book well in advance though as it's pretty tiny:

              Beach-wise in Lantau, Pui O is great for smaller children as it's very gently shelving. Ooh La La is a little beach restaurant down there and it's a very popular spot for families with international food. It's about 10 mins further on than Cheung Sha towards Mui Wo where the ferries go from (ferry at least one direction to and from Lantau as it's a far more pleasant experience than the MTR).

              If you end up at Lower Cheung Sha beach which is more popular (maybe because it's slightly easier to get to as it's actually on the main bus route) then I recommend High Tide, the Thai restaurant over The Stoep, which is a South African BBQ place - the latter trades off a reputation established by the previous owners and the service and quality of the food has slumped since then. You can sit on the beach under the shady trees or on the terraces at both these places. Cheung Sha is more steeply shelving, so you have to be a bit more careful with little kids.

              Bear in mind that none of the beaches in HK have really clean water until you get to the more tricky to reach places out in Sai Kung.

              From Tai O to Cheung Sha by bus takes about 35mins and to Pui O it takes about 45mins.

              In Tai O, there is also a little tea spot (they only had bar snacks the last time I was there) called The Balcony. It looks out onto the river on the over-the-bridge side of town and is pretty easy to spot as you will no doubt walk parallel to the river when exploring Tai O.

              Completely agree about Ocean Park - don't bother with Disney, OP is pretty cool - the cable car ride and the aquarium are awesome, although with a 3 year old you will miss the best ride - the Abyss, which drops you free-fall about 150ft from the top of a column on top of a cliff overlooking the South China Sea some 300 odd ft below. It also has one of the most inappropriate slogans in Hong Kong - "Ride it. Feel the depth"

              All kids love Dan Ryans in Pacific Place which is underneath the Conrad. It's an American restaurant with colouring pens and paper and a model train that scoots round the ceiling.

              Another chain of various international restaurants that's always packed with yummy mummies and pushchairs is Castello Concepts. You can choose from Jaspas and Oolaa in which are both in SoHo, Central.

              1. re: causticcandy

                Thanks for these suggestions. The hotel in Tai O looks nice, although no menu on the website as yet. How long will it get to Tai O if we go by ferry and bus from Central? We're not early morning types, so I want to see how practical it will be to have lunch there...

                Are the beaches 'must dos'? I love walking along the beach (having mostly grown up by the sea), but taking a long bus ride for just a short walk along a beach before heading on to the next stop may be pretty exhausting for our daughter, and we are planning on having our one nice dinner that evening, so I want her to be in a good mood for later on!


                1. re: trueblu

                  Well, the beaches aren't a must do. If you aren't in a rush and want to play in the sand then it's a great way to spend an afternoon. If you get off the bus at Upper Cheung Sha and walk down to lower Cheung Sha then it's about a 1.5km walk down the beach, otherwise you can rent watersports equipment etc.
                  Fast ferry from Central is 30mins, and bus is another 45-50mins. MTR to Tung Chung from Central is about 40mins and bus is again another 45-50mins.

                  Ferry timetable:
                  Bus timetables: 11 from Tung Chung, 1 from Mui Wo

        2. re: Charles Yu

          Going to piggyback on this thread since I'm also going in a few weeks and also staying at the Conrad!

          Between Lei Garden and Victoria, which would you recommend more for dim sum?

          Also, if you don't recommend Fook Lam Moon for a non-regular, where would you recommend for shark fin soup and dried abalone?

          I'm planning lei yue mun x 2 nights and trying to eat as many species of crustaceans as possible. Which stalls would you recommend for cooking after I pick them out?


          1. re: Porthos

            Personally, I prefer Lei Garden over Victoria. If you are staying in the Conrad, the Wan Chai or IFC branch will be the closest to your hotel.

            Instead of FLM, may be you can give 'Forum' a try? Chef owner Yeung Koon Yat is the world's authority in preparing abalone!. They also open up a new restaurant in TST with 'view'. However, most 'starred' Hotel restaurant like Sun Tung Lok, Ming Court, Man Wah or Cuisine Cuisine all do a decent job! This is like asking for sushi recommendation in Tokyo!! Often boils down to personal taste!!

            Haven't been to Lei Yue Mun for years! Spend more time eating in Sai kung instead due to personal reasons. So cannot help you there! Sorry!!

            1. re: Charles Yu

              Thanks for the info.

              The one last rec I need is a noodle/wonton place. Is Wing Wah still considered one of the better ones? Any other noodle/wonton places I should go to besides Tasty that you recommended above?

              Thanks again for the help!

              1. re: Porthos

                My favourite is 'Mak An Kee, 37 Wing Kut Street, Central'
                Suggest you do a 'horizontal tasting' of both Tasty's and Mak's. Should be fun!!
                Not a fan of Wing Wah.

                1. re: Charles Yu

                  Charles. Have you heard of a noodle and congee place called Law Fu Kee (144 Queens Rd). We were directed here by our cab driver because it was 9am and Mak An Kee wasn't open yet. Anyways it was pretty busy at 9am and there were 3 people wrapping shrimp wonton and dumplings in the middle of the room which was a good sign. The noodles I thought were just as thin and chewy as the ones at Tasty (IFC) and I actually like the wonton a bit more than Tasty because it was larger and filled with more shrimp. The quality of the shrimp fillings was equal from what I could tell (had them 4 hours apart). The dumplings are also very good there and filled with pork, tofu, woodear mushrooms.

                  I really liked the congee at Tasty though. Cleaner tasting with much higher quality ingredients of course. We had the abalone and chicken congee. It was so good in fact that we're planning Mak An Kee for wonton noodles tomorrow then back to Tasty for congee for the rest of our lunch.

                  Had the goose at Yat Lok also for lunch today. It was indeed delicious but like trueblu, I also liked the roast pork (not char siu) even better. And as good as the goose was, I found the roast squab at Victoria so much better. The skin was even crispier and there was less fat but the meat was also more flavorful and juicier.

                  Thanks for recommending Tasty.

                  1. re: Porthos

                    Ref: Law Fu Kee
                    In fact I have and by accident as well! I was on my way to Bombay Dreams in Soho for some curry a couple of years ago when I walked pass this hole-in-the-wall joint. I was captured by the aroma of the broth and decided to grab a bowl. It was nice but IMO not as good as Mak An Kee's total package.
                    Ref: Tasty's congee
                    Local foodies always try to be different or show off their credential by recommending people to go to places in the Jordan area for congees. However, like yourself, I thoroughly enjoy Tasty's version especially the ' yellow sand' pigs liver congee. The texture of the perfectly marinated and cooked liver was unreal!! No need to make all those out of the way trips!

                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      Completed my wonton horizontal today at Mak An Kee. For me, the noodles are the same in texture and thinness compared to Law Fu Kee. The broth I actually like better at Law Fu Kee. The wonton though I agree with you, Mak An Kee has a slight edge given they use pretty much whole shrimp in each wonton.

                      An unexpected surprise is that while walking down Wing Kut we stumbled on the first lychee of the season. Still a bit green but sweeter and meatier than what I can get stateside so I'm happy.

                      Then it was more congee back at Tasty. This time we added steamed chicken to our order. Chicken abroad just tastes so much better than chicken back in the States. This dish was so good we ordered 2 portions. Bean curd wrapped with shrimp and shrimp roe was also delicious. Now a nap and more time at the gym before Sai Kung.

            2. re: Porthos

              Hi Porthos:

              Re LG vs Victoria City for Dim Sum: Victoria tends to be more rustic & traditional, LG more modern interpretation. If you like crabs (since you mentioned crustaceans) , remember to order the "Flower Crab with Hua Tio liquor sauce" in Victoria. Victoria is actually quite similar to Fu Sing (which is well covered in Chowhound) since the owner of FS was the ex chef of Victoria.

              Re FLM: not sure why Charles says it is not for non-regulars. I am not a regular there but the standard is still very good. In fact, for Cantonese style shark fin and abalone, and if budget is not a constraint, FLM is still the place IMHO.

              Re Lei Yue Mun: any reason why you want to spend 2 dinners there? Like Charles, I have not been there for years. I think it is a place more for tourists.

              1. re: FourSeasons

                Thanks for the reply. At Victoria I was also very much looking forward to the crab roe xiao long bao which is supposed to be good there. Maybe we'll do both the same day. What time does dim sum end in HK, specifically LG? Is 130 or 2pm too late since our Victoria reservation is at 1030.

                Re lei yue mun, I like the idea of being able to choose as many types of seafood as I can to be prepared immediately at a relatively decent cost. Where else would you recommend for dinner that would have mantis prawns and the various types of crustaceans and shellish I hope to try? Maybe I should do Sai kung x 2 instead? What 2 restaurants do you recommend in Sai Kung? Not necessarily the nicest decor but the best at preparing the live seafood. Of course value is a plus but not at the cost of quality.

                Thanks FourSeasons.

                1. re: Porthos

                  I love Loaf On. However, after being awarded a star, they get really busy in the evening!!!

                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    Do the boats carrying the seafood ever leave/close after a certain hour? Specifically I am thinking Sunday night 8pm. Going to pull Victoria at 1030AM, then Lei Garden at 2pm then Sai Kung 1st visit around 8pm.

                    Is Sai Kung easy to get to by cab or should we subway it?

                    Thanks again.

                    1. re: Porthos

                      If there are no boats around, you can always shop for your seafood at the stalls that line the promenade. Be vigilant and check prices and weight!!
                      By Hong Kong standard, Sai Kung is kind of out of the way! I usually take the train to Ma On San and cab it from there. However, if there are a number of you, I'll just cab it!
                      FYI, photos of seafood boats and typical selection at stalls

                  2. re: Porthos

                    @Porthos: Sorry to inform you that Crab Roe XLB that is famous in Victoria is not in season now. You have to wait till Oct-Dec period for the hairy crab season as that is the crab roe that is really awesome. Not sure your time line of "a few weeks" but if your trip falls on June/July period, another alternative is "yellow oil crab", the roe is not as good as hairy crab, but certainly that Crab roe XLB will be better than a "normal" one.

                    Dim Sum likely to end 2 or 2:30pm so being there at 2pm should be ok, I think. But is there any reason why you are so anxious to have 2 Dim Sum on the same day? Seem to me like it is more enjoyable for you to just relax and finish the meal in Victoria rather than rushing for the second one as there is really nothing that is marginally much more exceptional in LG to make such extra effort.

                    Last trips to Lei Yu Mun/Sai Kung were 1-2 decades ago so I can't advise on these matters. But if you just want to focus on culinary skill, I am sure Victoria or LG can offer much better seafood than both those locations. For more convenient location (closer to Conrad) with decent value, you can get mantis shrimps/crabs at Under the Bridge Spicy Crab. And they opened until really late so you can have it for 2nd round of dinner : -) I think this one is well covered on Chowhound, just use the search function above.

                    1. re: FourSeasons

                      Actually since you mentioned that Victoria was more traditional and LG is more modern, I thought it would be good to try both back to back. Sorry to hear that I'll be missing crab roe XLB season. I will definitely get the Flower Crab with Hua Tio liquor sauce.

                      I think the experience of Sai Kung will be fun. Plus, looking at the reports for Under the Bridge, the seafood selection seems a bit limited. I'm also interested in razor clams, penshell clams (spotted in Charles' photos), and maybe a few fish or cuttlefish that I can't get here in the states.

                      1. re: Porthos

                        Style has slight different but essence is still Dim Sum. You make the call but I just think maybe too much to have both on the same day. Never done that before. And just beware the Flower Crab itself is a large dish, actually more commonly ordered for dinner than lunch and more appropriate for a party of 4 or larger. The waiter may also ask you when you are about to finish the crab if you want another noodle dish where the noodle is simmered with the leftover of the hua tiao sauce which I think is really delicious, so that itself is 2 dishes. And then you will also go to LYM or SK for seafood dinner. Be ready for a really big appetite if that is your plan.

                      2. re: FourSeasons

                        Just got back from dim sum at Lei Garden (IFC) after dim sum at Victoria. There was a mix up or something at Lei Garden because they didn't have our reservations for 2pm for today or 8pm for dinner tomorrow (got cold feet with FLM given the above comments and pricing). Anyways as we were placing our advance orders for goose, abalone, and sharkfin, a "last minute" cancellation came in so we felt obligated to at least try it.

                        Victoria City: favorites included the excellent flower crab with Hua Tio liquor sauce and noodles to finish. The crab meat was delicious. I'd say I like it better than dungeness but not as much as king crab. The sauce reminded me of Madeira sauce. Delicious. Thank you FourSeasons. Another favorite was the squab. The skin was perfect, the meat tender and juicy. Like roast duck but finer. Har gow was also excellent here. We also had sticky rice in lotus leaves, sharkfin dumplings, XLB dumplings with crab juice, steamed shrimp and vegetable dimplings. While good, I liked the dumplings at Lei Garden better.

                        Lei Garden (IFC): The dumplings here are stelllar. The XLB dumpings with soup are now my gold standard.. Better than Victoria or Crystal Jade. The shiu mai was so delicate and easily the best shiu mai I've had. Seasonal shrimp wonton dumplings in chicken broth, bean curd rolls in soup, and these large crab and meat dumplings in soup were also excellent. The har gow here had less shrimp filling than Victoria but the wrapper was a touch more chewy which I liked.

                        I'd do Victoria for the flower crab and squab and then head over to Lei Garden for dumplings if I had to do it again.

                    2. re: FourSeasons

                      Hey Friend!!

                      Don't get me wrong! The food at FLM during my last visit was good. But somehow thought it could be better. I visited that place with some friends who were not regulars. However, when comparing notes with my wife, who ate there with her 'regular' cousins, her food and experience sounded more superior??!!,

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        I find FLM is actually quite consistent, whether regulars or non-regulars. Of course, once my friend who is a big time regular brought me there, the service standard is much better since everyone there seem to know him. So he got a familiar rapport with the head waiter, and immediately, the seasonal off menu dishes are available to him. But then, as a non-regular, I also find their food to be outstanding. And especially if Porthos ordered shark fin soup and abalone, I really don't see any reason why the food standard will drop as those signature dishes are the ones that make them famous and more importantly, maximize their profit!

                      2. re: FourSeasons

                        Just had the flower crab with Hua Tio liquor sauce! Excellent. The noodles cooked in the left over sauce was also delicious. I'll post photos on my return. Thanks for the tip FourSeasons!

                      3. re: Porthos

                        Did Lei Garden for dinner last night instead of FLM. The braised fresh Australian abalone was excellent and everyone's favorite dish of the night. We all enjoyed it much more than the sharkfin, especially since we could have had 2 abalones for each sharkfin order. The roast goose was also excellent and had more meat, more flavor, and less fat than the one at Yat Lok. I tried to order mantis prawns in Hua Tio liquor sauce but they just gave us jumbo prawns due to a misunderstanding. The liquor sauce is no where near the quality of the Victoria version. Not even close. We saw a neighbor order a fried crab dish in casserole on top of vermicelli noodles so we had to order one too. That was also delicious. Of course we also had an order of one of their simmered medicinal soups which we loved.

                        1. re: Porthos

                          Which branch of Lei Garden did you folks go to?!

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            The IFC branch. It's the most convenient to us.

                    3. OK, we just got back from our wonderful first trip to HK, and thank you for all of the advice. A few general points for future CHers travelling with small kids: almost everywhere has high chairs, as well as children's plates/cups (usually from ikea!). All the restaurants we ate at were child-friendly -- not as super friendly as pretty much everywhere in Beijing, but on a par with e.g. most US places.

                      OK, onto the food! We arrived on Friday, and it was raining. We pottered around the hotel for a while, then decided to venture out. We went to yat lok as our first meal. The street it's on seems to be populated with hairdresser's so there is always the faint smell of ammonia and hair dye in the air...which was a teeny bit strange. We ordered a roast goose and noodle bowl, as well as a rice and roast pork/roast goose plate. Both were excellent: my wife loves noodles, so she demolished that. I loved my plate so much I decided on having a second (each about HK$40). Although I enjoyed the goose, I thought the pork was really superb.

                      The following day we were on Lantau for most of the day. The TaiO lookout restaurant in the old police station only took walk-ins on the week-end, and we just snacked for lunch, which we preferred actually. In the evening, we went to the Chairman for dinner. A couple of odd things: I noted my name on the reservation, and it had "VIP" written on it -- no idea why -- I just emailed a request for a table. But even odder -- we were put in a corner on the ground floor next to a disused stairwell, so not sure what the sobriquet meant anyway! They now seem to have a minimum of 4 diners for the tasting menus, so we ordered a la carte. Our waiter seemed reluctant to suggest dishes, although one of his suggestions: fresh prawns with ginger/garlic in a clay pot was excellent. I really wasn't sure what to order, so I asked for several things that caught my eye. The yellow croakers were out, which was the only thing I really wanted to get! We had a smoked baby pigeon in longjing tea and chrysthanthemum -- my wife really liked this, but I prefer the western style of cooking pigeon. The french beans with salted fish paste were really excellent -- very tasty and crunchy beans with just the right amount of fish and spice flavour. The pan fried minced pork cakes with salted fish were tasty but not a standout. However, the wild clams stir-fried with chilli jam and basil were just superb. The clams were juicy and tasty and the sauce was so moreish I wish I had a piece of soft bread to soak it all up with. For the 'main courses' we had the soy sauce chicken. I was a little disappointed with this. The soy sauce was delicious (although my wife thought it was a little strong, I didn't), but the chicken didn't do much for me. My wife thought the texture excellent, but we both agreed the taste was decent enough, but not a superlative. We also ordered fried rice with 'prawns trio' -- pretty decent, but nothing special. But the fresh prawns alluded to above were really fantastic. There were several giant prawns cooked in the most delicious sauce: I was sucking it off the prawn shells! Very tricky to eat with chopsticks in anything remotely an elegant poise, but worth losing a bit of composure over! For pudding we had the homemade almond sweet soup -- never had this before, and it was pretty tasty! All in all, the price was just above $1200. I felt this was pretty good value. Some of the dishes (the clams, the prawns, the beans) were really excellent, some were more so-so, but no duds.

                      The next day we had lunch at Yan Toh Heen at the IC. We had requested a window table, and were given one, which afforded a lovely vista. The place settings were really wonderful, and it was an extremely elegant space. They have several set lunch options which were v. good value and aren't on the website. However, we opted for alc, since we had a few certain dishes we wanted to try. With regards to dim sum part of the menu, we had the steamed seafood dumpling in soup and king crab leg/bamboo piths: which was a really superb soup. The broth was extremely tasty as was the crab (sometimes king crab just tastes 'too frozen') and dumpling was rich and silky. We also had the 'superior dumplings': not sure what these were: they were presented in an elegant box instead of a dish, and were three different colours, and tasted v. nice! The baked flounder and turnip dumplings were pretty good, although not as good as the pork buns, which, although tiny, packed a wonderful flavour. The spring rolls were simply the best I've had in my life. We also ordered a few dishes from the regular menu: the 'golden frogs' legs in spicy salt' were disappointing, and we were looking forward to trying them. As my wife put it, it was 'kfc frogs legs' -- the batter was simply a blunt instrument compared with the delicate flesh of the frogs legs. However, the white asparagus with assorted mushrooms/fungi was an absolutely superb vegetable dish and very much worth the ~ $200 price tag. I also really wanted to order the sweet and sour pork. This (and spring rolls) were my first memories of chinese food -- at a restaurant in san francisco at the age of 10, and opened my eyes to a new cuisine, and I have a soft spot for the dish. I really wanted to see what it would be like cooked in a top restaurant in hong kong. And it didn't disappoint -- it was extremely tasty, with top notch quality pork and vegetables, and not cloyingly over-sweet. Could have been a little more sour. I should say that in fairness, a decent rendition for half the price can be had in beijing. Along with tea for me and a $65 (!) coke for my wife, the total bill came to ~$1300. Although pricey, I would say that this was good value. We ordered too much, but there was so much we wanted to taste, and only got to sample a small portion of the menu.

                      Knowing that monday would be at ocean park, we decided to go to 'tasty' in the evening for dinner. There was quite a lengthy wait, but the mall was fun (and there's currently a mammoth exhibit that our daughter loved -- as did I!). We ordered one large won ton noodle soup and the beef/rice noodles. OK, the soup, there was only one word for it: divine! My wife and daughter really liked the beef/noodles, but I only had a small amount because I wanted to have another bowl of the soup! The broth was simply amazing -- one of the most tasty things I've ever tasted. The noodles were excellent -- and one could see the sheen from the lard. There were some chives but I couldn't spot anything looking like shrimp eggs. The won ton were also excellent -- small, compact and with crunchy shrimp. But it was the broth that was a stand-out for me. And for ~$40 for a small bowl, just the best value in hong kong.

                      Monday we were at ocean park. We came back, exhausted with no set plans for dinner. We didn't want to venture out, so we tried dan ryans in the mall, but they were fully booked. So we decided to eat at the hotel. Initially, we thought we would get a burger in the bar, but I balked at the $220 (+service!) price tag which was just too much for a burger, so we quickly went to our room, freshened up, and went to the golden leaf for a light supper. The restaurant has a lovely decor. The main room is very small and intimate, although there were at least 2-3 other rooms behind screens beyond which we heard people having a jolly good time. We didn't want to over-order due to budget and time contraints -- my daughter was tired and we didn't want a long dinner. We started with a stir fried beef dish which my dauughter loved -- big chunks of tasty beef with just a hint of chilli. We also had some pan-fried minced chicken and salted fish patties, which were pretty tasty. But the stand-out dish was something that really caught my eye on the menu: baked whelk with minced abalone, chicken and seafood. This took about 30 minutes to prepare and was ~$150 pp. The giant whelk was presented on a specially made dish in which the shell nestled. The meat was simply delicious: it however, tasted more 'indian' than 'chinese' in flavour -- it was spiced with coriander and turmeric, I think, as well as lots of other yummy things I couldn't identify. It was truly a memorable dish, and my daughter wanted the shells, so we took those with us as souvenirs. Along with some custard tarts and a simply refreshing and subtle oolong tea, the total came to just over $700, which again, I thought was pretty good value. We didn't sample the menu of the golden leaf as much as the other two fancy restaurants we dined at, but from what we ate, I think the food was almost on a par.

                      OK, that's our report back. We had a great time in hong kong, and will be sure to visit again whilst we live in beijing. We spent a fair amount on food, but given that our hotel/ flights were on points this time, I felt it was all within budget. The food is 'good value' but the prices are certainly on a par with the US, although not quite as much as europe. Having said that, we spent more than even our most expensive hong kong meal for lunch at maison boulud in beijing, for far inferior food, so beijing isn't always better value.

                      Thanks again for the tips, which we were extremely grateful for!


                      3 Replies
                      1. re: trueblu

                        So glad you have a lovely time!! Guess the trip converted your daughter into a budding foodie!!

                        1. re: Charles Yu

                          thank you for all the help Charles -- you definitely steered us in the right direction, and I'm already really missing the food in hong kong!


                        2. re: trueblu

                          Wow, I am really impressed, trueblu! We just got back from HK May 4th and we didn't come close to your accomplishments. It was so hot (mid 30s) I completely lost my appetite! I was well prepared with a list of restaurants thanks to Charles Yu and others on this board but after a big buffet breakfast at the hotel and a long day of walking we literally collapsed at the end of the day having eaten nothing but ice cream. We managed dinner at Temple St. Night Market and at a cha chaan teng near our hotel and dim sum at Maxim's on our last day - all wonderful but not so much for the food as the experience. We had a GREAT time but now I'm home with a craving for Chinese food! :)