Hong Kong - staying for a month
Hello chowhounders, so I will be staying for a month in HK and was wondering what I should try. This is not my first time to HK, I've lived here as a kid for ~10 yrs, but living in HK as a family back then, we never really sought out good food in particular. Also, I am from Toronto, and my friends who have been back more often tell me the cantonese food/dimsum isn't that bad in Toronto, so I need some help from Chowhounders to tell me what I am missing out on! (maybe some excellent cantonese dinner/roast goods/dimsum?)
I've done some research and so far I've gone to/am planning to go to:
Mak's for wonton noodles
Random small congee places/fishball noodles
Lin Heung Kui (for oldschool dimsum)
Street food in jordan
Joy Hing for some char siu
One seafood meal at Sai Kung (don't know any specific restos)
High tea at peninsula
Ruamjai Thai resto
Someone recommended me this chiu chow place in Sheung Wan called Sheung Hing but I wasn't very impressed (thought it wasn't very good and overpriced for what it is)
I am open to all cuisines (not just cantonese)
@ klyeoh - Hello 'Professor'!! Homework assignment for me, Eh??!!
@ ladymarshmallow - As a fellow Torontonian and spending about a month a year in HK for the past decade and a half, I hope I can provide you with a few heads-up.
First off. IMHO, after the closing of Big Joy, V2 and Chicken & Noodle ( aka Jun Jun ), Toronto does not have a decent won-ton noodle place that offers the whole package of great broth, ultra-fine al dente noodles and bite size fresh crunchy won-tons. As such, inclusion of Wonton noodles in your list is a no brain er. However. Mak's quality has slipped and I'm upset with the way they hiked up the price by $2 each year for the past three years. As a great alternate, I would suggest Tasty, Mak An Kee ( my favorite ), Mak Siu Kee and Mak Man Kee. All GREAT by Toronto if not world standard!
Regarding Chiu Chow cuisine. Sheung Hing, though expensive and over-price is not a stand-alone case. In fact, if one orders your typical 'decadent and exotic' Chiu Chow favorites like Sharks Fin, Cold Flower Crab, Boiled Giant Whelk Slices, they will cost you an arm and a leg in other equally good places such Carianna, Pak Lok or Lippo. Stick with the other more down-to-earth dishes like Braised Goose, Oysters Omelet, Shrimp and Crab croquettes duo, Stirred fry chicken with Szechuan peppercorns and the bill will be more reasonable. My current favourite place is Hung's Delicacies in North Point. A constant queue outside is a good indication of the quality of the food??!!
Another area which I find Toronto has a severe depletion of is Great Shanghainese food. In addition to Jon914's suggestion, I would add the 'must-try' Liu Yuan Pavillion ( lunch is much cheaper ), Hong Kong Old Restaurant in the MIRA and Ye Shanghai. I find Crystal Jade and DTF a bit too 'commercialize' nowadays. Food has gone down hill. Shanghai Fraternity is great but it is a private club and would require a member to get you in!
Is your desire to try Lin Heung Kui just for the 'old-time' experience?? Then go ahead and give it a try. However, if you care about the food, then Skip it!! True! They do serve old time favourites like Pig's Liver Shui Mai. But, do you really want to try overcooked and dry liver?? Other typical Dim Sum like Har Gow, B-B-Q pork steamed buns etc were mediocre with either too thick and mushy skin or lack of saucy fillings. I would skip LHK and use the money for a really great Dim Sum lunch at say Fook Lam Moon, Forum, Man Wah or Ming Court. All Michelin star holder and way better than the best Toronto has to offer like Lai Wah Heen, Casa Imperial or Yang's etc!, A cheaper but equally good option is Tim Ho Won ( be prepare for a relatively long wait though!! )
K K as usual offers some great choices. To augment his recommendations, I would like to add the following, which IMHO, Toronto has nothing close to it!
Great Peking Duck - Spring Deer in TST
Great Hang Zhou cuisine - Either Tien Heung Lau or Hong Zhou ( the former is excellent but can be very expensive especially if one orders whole smoked fish or dishes cooked with Hairy crab meat ragu ).
Snake Soup and 'to-die-for' fresh duck liver preserve sausages - Ser Wong Fun and She Wong Yee. The latter is my favorite. Price is great and the sausages tastier
Great Cantonese Wok-Hay Stirred fry - Tso Choi Koon in either Kowloon City or Jordan. Local celebrities who tried the 'wok fry mixed pigs innards and liver' and gave this dish a thumbs up rave review can be found 'all over the wall'!!
Last but not least, a short train trip to the Michelin 1* Fung Lum in Tai Wai, the New Territories to try out their ' Fried Wild Sea Prawns with Spiced Peppered salt ', the Roasted Pigeons and Sha Tin's famous 'Silken Tofu' should not be missed. You will not find prawn dish like that in Toronto, Vancouver or anywhere in North America, Period!!!
Hope, the additional few ideas would help you to fill up your 30 days stay!
PS: You mentioned 'street food in Jordan'. Stay away from the mediocre but nowadays, pretty popular 'Dumplings and Pot-Sticker places'. Waste of money! The few Cantonese B-B-Q places around the intersection of Jordan road and Shanghai Street are surprisingly good and worth trying! Joy Hing does not have a monopoly on good Char Siu ( B-B-Q pork )!!
Lastly, check out www.openrice.com for further ideas and confirmation!!!
re: Charles Yu
this is helpful! im coming to HK ill be there for like 7 days, so i'm writing up where i want to eat now
Lin Heung Kui - i agree with you; very mediocre especially by HK standards
- dim sum:
i really like fu sing for dim sum, the selection is not as big as alot of places, but the quality is really good
- cha siu - fu sing! i really like joy hing, but i think fu sing is better
also Qiao Tei for chili crab
Kau Kee (Central), Kwun Kee (Tai Po), Sister Wah (Tin Hau) for clear broth beef brisket. Really can't go wrong with those 3 specialist shops, each having their own unique styles.
For seafood, consider a day trip as well to Lau Fau Shan. As some may have mentioned in other threads, have to watch out for restaurants that allow you to bring in your own seafood, but you have no idea if they will swap out what you have with lesser quality items (or you bring in a pound, they end up seving 3/4 pound). Loaf On in Sai Kung is heavily visited by Chinese living abroad, Chinese Americans, CBC's, and tourists....at least you'll have no problems navigating.
Visit some of the remaining dai pai dongs in Central, Sham Shui Po, and other outlying areas.
The root of HK food culture started with dai pai dongs.
Kwan Kee Bamboo Noodle in Cheung Sa Wan, Bon Bon Café 車品品小食 (Tai Kok Jui) are also some very solid local eats not heavily visted by tourists and offers some truly delicious food.
瑞記咖啡奶茶 (Shui Kee) which is a 2nd floor food court HK cafe like eatery in the Sheung Wan, market, is the first to offer cold HK milk tea in glass bottle, a local favorite. Nothing fancy, but truly remarkable (ditto for their HK style French toast).
Hong Kong people are obsessed with pork bone soup ramen (tonkotsu) and even have Japanese chains where the receipes are modified/slanted towards that demand. If you want something different, might have to venture somewhere else...like Hakodate (which does a salt broth from Hokkaido prefecture), I think it was somewhere east on HK island.
If you can gather enough people, suggest you try some mid to higher end Cantonese classical dining....not the shark fin abalone fish maw crap....but go to a place like Tak Lung in Sun Po Kong, Luk Yu for their really old style Cantonese, or even Fook Lam Moon in Wanchai, and order some specific dishes. There may be places in Toronto that could in theory replicate those flavors but they will not be close.
盛記 in Central is a pretty good one for stir fry plates (dinner only). The menu is in English and Chinese and thanks to HK board of tourism, bloggers, it's a bit more commercialized/more heavily visited if you will (inclusive of white collar customers)...the vibe and atmosphere are all still there otherwise.
勝香園 which is right around the corner from Kau Kee beef brisket, does a nice tomato broth macaroni or instant noodles with beef, HK style coffee or milk tea, and their crispy toasted burger buns with honey lemon spread. It's basically a snack hut that also works for a quickie breakfast. Bourdain came here for Layover, but he's not a HKer so the culture is lost on him.
愛文生 is in Sham Shui Po, they are even more hardcore than 盛記. You can see a mini row of live seafood in styrofoam containers, water overflowing onto the streets...killed/cooked to order.
Glorious Cuisine (mentioned below in the thread) is another great one at least from pics I've seen online.
If you go to Joy Hing, don't forget to order it fatty (boon-fay). We made the mistake of not doing that and left disappointed. The flavor was good, but the cut we got was way too lean. The most unique and one of the best tasting Char Siu is actually the one at West Villa (sai-yuen) in Causeway Bay. They cut it in a rather unique way (really thick) and use a different cut from the norm.
If you like good Shanghainese food, you can find some quality stuff, between casual and accessible chains like Crystal Jade or higher end private restaurants like Shanghai Fraternity (it's really good if you order correctly). Din Tai Fung is popular, but you may enjoy starting at a place that does everything well before moving on to a specialist like DTF. Any good XLB in Hong Kong will already be leaps above what you're used to.
If you like teppanyaki, Matsubishi in Wan Chai is the best I've had. They slice the beef paper thin, roll it in fried garlic and scallions and serve it to you, piece by piece. It's sublime. Reserve a week in advance to snag a spot.
Supplementing my post with some photos.
#1 - Joy Hing's Char Siu, if you don't order it fatty. We had it chopped and took it back to a relative's house.
#2 - Pulled eel noodles from Crystal Jade
#3 - A signature egg dish at Shanghai Fraternity
#4 - 7 - Since you mentioned Saikung, here are a few pictures of what to expect from that. We tend to grab things not available readily back at home, so we spring for Razor Clams, Mantis Shrimp, etc.
Just to add a few more things unique to Hong Kong and probably unavailable anywhere else outside:
- Not really a foodie thing, but go to the fishing village at Tai O. You can find really traditional old style shrimp paste and salted fish there, and arguably some old style small plates or snacks. There's supposedly an old guy doing the pushcart charcoal powered eggettes/egg puffs 鷄蛋仔, that is probably as close to what it tasted like 30 years ago. There's another old man doing the same thing, and last I heard he still operated around the Tai Hang area, although he gets chased by the police a lot. I could have sworn that he did a cooking demo for some shop or website/Facebook page, at least the guy looked like him. While you can get half decent eggettes all over Hong Kong made with electric grills (just like in Toronto/Richmond Hill areas), there's something primal about getting it from the cart.
- Hong Kong University Alumni Association....I don't believe you need to be a member of the alumni to eat here, but you can essentially get similar dishes one would get at Luk Yu, as the chef used to work there, henceforth being able to get Chinese almond pork lung soup, and supposedly the salt baked chicken (Hakka style) is quite decent there.
- Fung Shing (Phoenix City)....this is a mini chain, but fewer branches than Tasty or Lei Gardens. The specialties are Shunde style Cantonese, e.g. shrimp toast and many other classics. Another place that might require a full table of 10 to be able to order multiple dishes and enjoy.
- Typhoon Shelter Hing Kee (Tsim Sa Tsui). There is only one place that does traditional typhoon shelter spicy crab, using fermented black beans. That was the original receipe as done in the 50s/60s on the boats. Once the government banned at one point restaurants from serving food on boats, the receipe of the competition evolved to spicy crab smothered in garlic chips. Bourdain went to Under Bridge Spicy Crab for his TV show, and there's also Hei Kee loved by celebs, but Hing Kee is the most traditional out of all of them. Don't miss the roast duck ho fun noodles, where the highlight is the shrimp shell and duck bone broth, and ho fun is sliced 5 mm thin for better broth absorption.
- one great dai pai dong dish to have is baked fish intestines with egg and cruller. Some receipes have dried orange peel in it. Keung Kee (dai pai dong) in Sham Shui Po does a great version, but you can also find a stellar one at Ser Wong Fun (the place in Central known for lap cheung, duck liver sausages, lap mei claypot rice, stewed/double boiled soups, and many old style dishes)
- find a place that does a great braised/stewed pomelo skin with shrimp roe. Charles will know where to go for it.
- for roasties Wing Hop Lung in Prince Edward (392 Portland Street) also does excellent cha siu, but many go for their crispy skin roast pork...the belly cuts near the bone fetch a premium, but well worth it. It is also one of very very few places that roast their pigs over charcoal
- for beef chow fun (dried fried) may want to try Tai Ping Koon's fusion version where they use the "Swiss" sweet soy sauce chicken wing marinade for stir frying. It's greasy and hearty but very tasty. Go to the one in Kowloon for best results (the flagship location).
- For something that's truly in the spirit of Hong Kong, Wai Kee in Sham Shui Po is really famous for pork liver noodles (rice noodles, instant noodles, macaroni), as well as their special French toast which is done a unique way....that plus a good cup of tea and coffee and there's almost always a line.
- Kam Wah in Mongkok, a HK cafe bakery, makes some of the nicest pineapple and Mexican buns in town. The problem is that you have to be there super early to get a fresh batch. It's a nice original experience.
- Go to an old style soy bean/tofu shop that sells pan fried stuffed tofu, fresh soymilk. Kung Wo in Sham Shui Po (Buk Ho Street 118) comes to mind....there's one in Causeway Bay in Jardine's Bazzar area I think, at least it was there a number of years ago.
- Drop into Kung Lei in Central 60 Hollywood Road...it's an extremely old style shop that grinds fresh sugar cane into juice to order. Don't miss the sugar cane juice pudding (well it's "cake" or jello" at this point) as well.
- drop by any "cold tea" shop, they are all over town. There are a lot of nasty tasting herbal teas, but a cold sweetened chrysanthemum tea for example can really hit the spot, and you can grab it on the go.
- If you like beef tripe, there's a place in North Point called 13 stalls. "Shui Kee" is a dai pai dong in Central that specializes in beef tripe as well.
- Cart noodles/Cheh Jai Meen....is another really cool no frills cheap thrills fun noodle eating experience, where you can customize your bowl. Just find the most popular ones and give it a try. I'd say way more fufilling than waiting 1.5+++ hours at Butao where the pork soup might be so thick it could close off your digestive tract.
As far as seafood, the availability of seasonal sealife around HK waters and South China Seas is so vast....I'd say try as much of that as you can. And don't be afraid to try some of the more traditional rustic preps with fish that are tasty but extremely boney (ie fishermen food). There are varieties of fish (e.g....threadfin?) that need to be steamed in saltwater to draw out its flavors, or fish that are first panfried then steamed and served with pickled greens and/or black beans. The varieties can be so overwhelming as many of them have funky names that might not translate into anything the average person can figure out, but are just delicious if prepped the right way. If you have access to a car, perhaps even consider visiting Aberdeen fish market or the one in Ap Lei Chau, both places should at least offer the customer to purchase the fish then bring it to a canteen or food court prep center to cook.
re: K K
I tried 'Wing Hop Lung' about a year ago at around 7.00pm. It was very disappointing! I had their Char Siu, Roasted Pork Belly and Roasted Goose. The half fatty version of the Char Siu was sold out therefore I have to settle for the lean ones instead. Only OK!! The other two meats were under-seasoned,IMO and dry!!!
Thank God Tim Ho Won was within walking distance, so I ended up augmenting my dinner with some good Dim Sum!
re: Charles Yu
I think the advent of gourmet bloggers (and those on openrice who see it as a competition to be prolific to earn that coveted "crown status" for bragging rights) who really go out of their way to find deliciousness has somehow had similar effect to the likes of Ah So, Chua Lam, Fatty Michael, where they drive demand for a particular product already in short supply. I believe these types already put WHL in the spotlight, so quality will be inconsistent moving forward as well.
Have you been to Glorious Cuisine 增輝藝廚 in Prince Edward? Dai Pai Dong but seating is primarily indoors...charcoal grilled suckling pig, and in house marinade soy sauce chicken look very very good from blog posts online.
The one at Ser Wong Fun I think is called 古法焗魚腸, which their rendition is a more traditional preparation, and maybe a very solid and more accessible baseline to go with.
You have to really respect restaurants that adhere to tradition, willing to serve an item that is basically very low profit margin (ingredients are cheap, but takes a lot of time to prepare, particularly the cleansing/rinsing of the fish intestines...the same principles apply to pork lungs for pork lung almond soup at Luk Yu and many other restaurants)....if you try to ask for this dish at a USA Cantonese high end seafood restaurant they'll likely say no.
It's been a few years since I was in Hong Kong, but if you like South Asian food, seek out some of the Indian and Pakistani dining establishments in Kowloon. Some of them are called "messes," as in military mess halls, though they aren't military. They're where bachelor Indian and Pakistani workers go for meals. The food tends to be home-style, excellent and inexpensive.