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Aug 28, 2012 08:04 PM

Hong Kong Question

So I've got a friend who's going to be in HK for one night this friday. He's white and doesn't speak any Chinese whatsoever and knows little about Chinese food. I was telling him stuff to do and he obviously wants to know where to eat. I looked at my list and the problem is that the places either:
1) you need a bunch of people or
2) you need to speak chinese and they aren't easy to find restaurants

so I'm looking for some tips of where to send him, the criteria being:
a) a solo diner could eat there
b) he's not going to be dead in the water if he doesnt speak / read chinese
c) somewhere that is somewhat convenient, so: Central / Admiralty / Causeway Bay / Wan Chai etc


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  1. I'm no expert, but I think 'Tasty' in IFC mall would fit the bill. I absolutely loved my won-ton soup there, and the menu has other good things on it too. Menu in english, and no problem with lack of chinese.


    5 Replies
    1. re: trueblu

      ah thanks, never heard of it, this is the place you're talking about right?

      i guess wonton noodle soup would be a good idea, its easy

      1. re: Lau

        Yes, there was a thread which included some reference to Tasty a while back:

        He can also pop over to Lei Garden next door if he wants something more posh - no problems for non-Chinese speakers there as well.

        1. re: klyeoh

          do you think lei garden would be ok for a single diner? ive been there before, but only in a big group a while ago

          what are your favorite dishes there that would be suitable for a single diner?

          1. re: Lau

            Lei Garden has an extensive menu and some of their dishes are individually portioned (e.g, sharksfin soup) - but I'm also not averse to ordering small portions (meant to serve 2-4 persons) even if I happen to be dining alone, which does happen every now & then.

            1. re: klyeoh

              this might be a good idea, im thinking about telling him to order the:
              - combo of cha siu蜜汁叉燒 / siu yok (冰燒三層肉)
              - the golden shrimp 黃金蝦
              - some type of vegetable like 菜心 or something

              money isn't an issue really so this way he'll at least be able to try something good

    2. The American Restaurant on Lockhart Road fits the bill:

      1. I have tried Tasty before, not crazy about it... I wouldn't say that to me it really reflects a HK style wonton noodle soup. Lei Garden is reasonable, but I think that it is pretty altered to the Western palette... If it were me I would prefer to be eating something that was closer to the "real deal".

        I would recommend going to Tim Ho Wan ( in IFC. Their IFC location isn't quite as good as the one in Kowloon, but it's still great!

        He will definitely want to eat the char siu bao, har gao, and siu mai. I mean if he eats early enough and just enough to be mildly full he may as well go out and eat somewhere else later to maximize his gastronomical experience!

        Maybe suggest to him after having a dim sum snack in IFC to go walk over into the LKF area and if he is hungry later there is Tsui Wah for some classic HK 茶餐廳 food, or if he is set on some noodles he could have a wander down Wellington St. to Dumpling Yuan or Mak's Noodles.

        3 Replies
        1. re: ladylizard

          yah if i was there normally i'd take him to very local stuff, but i realized most of the places i eat in hong kong you either need to speak / read chinese or you can't do it unless you're in a group

          does tim ho wan serve dim sum for dinner? (he's only going to have dinner not lunch) ive been meaning to go but the lines are so bad at the kowloon original branch that i haven't gone (i normally eat at fu sing for dim sum, who has ridiculously good quality dim sum albeit a bit more expensive)

          tsui wah is like 3am drunk food although i kind of like that place

          1. re: ladylizard

            Lei Garden NOT the real deal??!! What dishes did you eat there?! To me, the 5 layer crispy roast pork belly, for example, is as authentic a Cantonese b-b-q dish as any in town. Nowadays, almost ALL traditional Chinese/Cantonese places have dishes that are quite 'fusion' in nature. Fu Sing has oxtail braised in red wine, Cuisine-Cuisine has oysters stewed in Port wine, Lung King Heen uses a lot of black truffles in their dishes. Similar approaches can be found in Tim's Kitchen, Ming Court, Celebrity Cuisine, The Chairman.....etc. So, in your opinion ' where does one go to find the 'real deal'.
            As for recommending won-ton noodles at Mak's on Wellington! I strongly disagree!! This place is way way overpriced and has gone down hill. Go to Mak An Kee on wing kut street instead!

            1. re: Charles Yu

              i like mak an kee way better too although im a little concerned about his ability to find the place

              fu sing is one of my favorite restaurants in HK

              the 3 or 5 layer pork 冰燒三層肉 is def one of my favorite shao la dishes

          2. Hey - resurrecting this thread. This time I have a similar question. A friend and her mom are going to HK and have never been to Asia, so basically same thing, but there are 2 of them and they have time for a few meals

            any thoughts? I'm typing up an eamil for them right now

            29 Replies
            1. re: Lau

              Fellow chowhounder Nilescable and I had a great and wonderful 'set menu for two' Dim Sum lunch at Above & Beyond in March!! Try securing a window table!! Fantastic view!
              BTW, How' adventurous' are they? and are they Caucasian, totally 'green' to Chinese food?? Reason I asked is that for two in Hong Kong, sky's the limit!!
              Last March, for two, Nilescable and I also venture to Tai Wai by train, walked across to 'Fung Lum' and ordered ourselves half a Catie of ' Fried sea prawns with peppered salt ', shared a roast pigeon and a plate of Ho Fun with beef and black bean sauce. Very comforting and enjoyable.
              How about a snake soup meal at Se Wong Fun or Yee? Have a plate of BBQ meat, some gorgeous fresh wind dried duck liver sausages and a plate or two of stirred fry veggie dishes. And voila!! instant tummy gratification!! Great value for money too!
              For higher end Chinese. Just stick with the normal chowhounder favorites!! Chairman, Celebrity Cuisine, Guo Fu Lou, FLM, Tim's Kitchen, Ming Court, Yan Toh Heen, Man Wah........etc for Cantonese fare. Din Tai Fung, Hang Zhou, Liu Yuan Pavlion, Spring Deer....etc for Shanghainese/Northern Cuisine.
              Don't think they can go wrong unless they are extremely fuzzy and may be hit a rough patch with bad service...etc?
              Good Luck!

              Nowadays, my first recommendation to all my friends who hasn't been back for the past year. Have Won-Ton noodles and Rice Congees at Bamboo House in CWB. So full of HK goodness!!

              1. re: Charles Yu

                well they don't know much about chinese food at all and theiy are caucasians from newport beach, CA, so they are not the most worldly of eaters, so i'd kill tihngs like se wong fun and i dont want to send them too far away (they are horrible at directions), so prefer to either keep them on HK island or places like TST etc.

                above and beyond is a great idea as are some of the normal chound favs, thanks!

              2. re: Lau

                I'm struggling with the same thing. I'm spending a day in HK on a long layover in early July. I'm solo, Caucasian with no Chinese language skills, and though I really like Chinese food (I live in SF and eat various regional cuisines regularly), I'm also a recovering vegetarian so while I will eat meat, I won't eat anything like organs or feet. I really want to do dim sum for an early lunch and DTF for an early dinner.
                Do you think I'd be okay at Fu Sing? Do I need to make a reservation or can I just show up right at opening at 11 on a weekday? And is the Wan Chai locale much better than Causeway Bay?
                Otherwise, I might do THW at the IFC in the morning just for pork buns and DTF at 4:30ish before heading back to the airport. Feedback appreciated!

                1. re: MissVeg

                  @ Missveg

                  First off, Hong Kong is very bi-lingual. Not only majority of menus are in both Chinese and English, even staffers in hole-in-the-wall outfit can mutter a few English phases or two! So relax and stop worrying!!

                  Personally, I prefer Causeway Bay over Wan Chai as a place to wonder around and eat. Somehow, I find Wan Chai a bit run down ( though contain more old Chinese and colonial character ) and 'confusing'. Causeway Bay is more 'modern' with shopping complexes like Time Square or Hysan Center for one to kill time in air condition comfort!! ( early July could be hot and humid!! ).

                  Now to food! Both establishments you eluded to above, ie., Fu Sing and Din Tai Fung both have branches in Causeway Bay and are within walking distance from each other. If you can arrive at 11 in the morning, you should have no trouble finding a spot at Fu Sing.( since they open at 11.00!! ) Their version of 'Pineapple BBQ pork Buns' is as good as Tim Ho Won, so you can satisfy your craving there. If you really enjoy the buns, I would suggest you pick up a take-out portion from THW at the IFC before taking the airport express back to the airport! Not only can you do some taste comparison, the buns will provide you with yummy snack alternative on the plane!!
                  Another, in fact my CWB favorite, Dim Sum place worth considering is Fan Tang. The place is more quaint and food and service more refined! A touch more expensive. Lastly, the Michelin 1* Regal Palace, with great view, is cream of the crop in that area. You won't go wrong with any of them, unless inconsistent service spoil things for you?!

                  DTF or Lei Bistro ( basement of Time Square ) should both provide you with a nice 'dumpling afternoon tea' experience!!

                  Personally, I have not been to the Causeway Bay branch of Fu Sing, only the Wan Chai branch. However, based on feed back from one of my foodie friend who also happens to be the senior food editor of a HK major newspaper. Her opinion is that the food is pretty much identical. However, service in the Wan Chai branch tends to be a little 'snobbish'!!

                  Lastly, all the establishments discussed here have such a varied menu that you can have a wonderful meal without even touching any innards, feet or head!!! This challenge is nothing when compared to trying to satisfy a non-seafood eater!!!

                  Have a fun time in Hong Kong and enjoy the HEAT!!!!

                  PS: If you decide to venture around Causeway Bay and assuming you are a passionate foodie, I would suggest you pay either ' City Super ' - basement of Time Square or Jasons Fine Food - basement of Hysan Place a visit. These are no ordinary supermarket!! A real eye opener!! The seafood, meat, sushi and Delicatessen departments will wow you with selections you won't see in any one single place in the Bay area!! Eg., Deli section offers more than 7-8 types of bone-in Jamon Iberico and Italian Prosciutto on stand, hand cut on request. Seafood dept offers live oysters from France, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, east and west coast North America...etc. How about Meat dept offer Grade A5-6 Wagyu beef from Japan or Australia, Prime from US and Canada...And the Japanese sushi section!!! Wow!!

                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    Thank you, Professor Wu!
                    I've read every post on this board about HK back to 2009, so it's a bit of a thrill to get a response from you! I do love going to markets-- it's always part of my travels wherever I go. Perhaps I'll be able to pick up a gift for my friends in Delhi as well-- last trip I bought them olive oil from California. I'd love to pick up some lovely Chinese tea for them, and perhaps some colorful candy for their kids.

                    This will be my third long layover in HK; I did it in 2005 and wandered around-- it was March and not too hot and I did more sightseeing than eating (before my true foodie days), and another time in 2011 in June, when the heat was brutal and I walked up a huge hill trying to find the zoological gardens. The rest of my day was spent divided between Sense of Touch Spa in LKF and at the lovely Flagstaff museum of tea, where I ate wonderful vegetarian dim sum and drank a from a well-chosen tea menu. Now that I eat meat occasionally, I'm a bit more cautious about where I go and how I communicate. I do like to explore the city a bit each time, so depending on how my flight goes in PE on Cathay, I may be up for a (small) adventure!
                    Hopefully I can also find spots for local iced delicacies, like lemon tea and Boba tea with fresh fruit to cool me down,

                    One more question: on my returning flight, I have only 5 hours (9am to 2pm) so regretfully, I will probably not go into the city. I will probably want to gorge myself with cha siu bao one last time. Any airport recommendations?

                    1. re: MissVeg

                      "9am to 2 pm" - You should have more than enough time to take the Airport express to the 'Kowloon' stop and head up to the Element Mall.
                      For Cha Siu Bao, Lei Garden inside the Mall, offers one of the best rendition in Hong Kong. Soft and fluffy Bun with ample of juicy bbq pork filling. Their ultra crispy skin roast pork is to die for! They open at 11.30am. So, with a 45 minutes sit down lunch and 20 minutes trip back to the airport, you should have way over an hour left before boarding!
                      Here's a write up of my lunch there in March, before heading out to the airport.

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        I will definitely do this on my way home!
                        Any reason to do the Lei Gardens at Elements in Kowloon rather than IFC in Hong Kong? And is there duck I could have there for one person?

                        1. re: MissVeg

                          No! Just that the Kowloon station is one stop closer to the airport! I'm also assuming you have visited IFC many a time but not the Element?
                          Yes, you can order a regular plate of Cantonese roast duck or goose from either of the Lei Garden. Other dishes might involve half or whole bird?!

                    2. re: Charles Yu

                      Will Fu Sing, DTF, THW or Lei Gardens have a variety of teas? Or is there somewhere else you would recommend I go for a tea tasting?
                      And how many dishes of dim sum can a person with a hearty appetite order without drawing stares? : )

                      1. re: MissVeg

                        Most restaurants should have at least 5 types of tea to choose from. If you wanted to go tea tasting as well, then you have to visit a slightly higher end and refined restaurant like a Michelin star establishment eg., Yan Toh Heen inside the Intercontinental or Ming Court. If my memory serves me right, price per person is about $60 and up, depending on tea varietal. Yan Toh Heen has very good Dim Sum and superb harbour view ( if you can secure a window table ). IFC Lei Garden should also have some decent choices
                        DTF, being a Shanghainese Cuisine establishment may be less choices since most Shanghainese love to have Jasmine tea with their meal.

                        1. re: Charles Yu

                          I think I want to stay more mid-range, so maybe I'll do tea somewhere else (perhaps a tea shop like ming cha), although I think I'll be so hot that icy drinks will appeal more. Hotel restaurants are often a bit too upmarket-- as it is, I'm living it up on my humble academic salary!

                    3. re: MissVeg

                      missveg -

                      Fu sing:
                      - here's an old review i did of fu sing:
                      - in addition to what Charles recommended. I'd highly recommend 1) a straight order of cha siu (roast pork) which is still by far my favorite in HK 2) their lo bat go (fried turnip cake) which is the best ive ever had 3) whatever else you think look good.
                      - only been to the wan chai branch, so can't comment otherwise. however if you look at the map this branch while technically in wan chai is literally on the border of causeway and wan chai, i actually thought it was in causeway bay for a long time until i looked up the actual address

                      bamboo room: why not try charles recommendation for wonton noodles @ bamboo room? its a good solo diner type of thing to eat. My old roommate actually just got back from HK visiting family and they went to bamboo room. He was also very pleased with bamboo room which he thought was the best wonton noodles he's ever had.

                      1. re: Lau

                        Thanks Lau! I've already done so much cross-referencing that I'd already seen your excellent post on Fu Sing-- it's partly the reason I chose it! Bloggers and this board give Fu Sing high praise. I might end up having a total pork-fest! I will definitely order cha siu and the polo cha siu bao, but I'm also a lover of steamed cha siu bao and the pork belly (I don't know what the Chinese name is), and I kind of want to be able to do a comparison between the xiao long bao at Fu Sing and Ding Tai Fung. However, if I order 4 to 5 pork dishes by myself, I will either start oinking or I will need to take a nap on the floor! I suppose some vegetables would be nice, but since I'm heading off to India for 5 weeks where I eat exclusively vegetarian, one day of a pork feed should get balanced out! Do I need to specify the fattiness of the cut for the cha siu?
                        Not sure I'm a wonton soup fan due to the shrimp-- it's a texture thing for me, I know, fussy fussy, but that's what happens when you've been veggie for so long.
                        I'm so excited for my trip! Now I just have to get through grading all these essays!

                        1. re: MissVeg

                          IMHO, even though you are not a fan of Won-Ton Noodle, its still worth your while to find a bit of room and HK$30 to try a bowl of their ' Penny hot sauce shredded pork noodles '. A magnificent taste bomb and textural play creation. The bowl of super al dente chewy noodle smothered with sweet, spicy, mildly tangy meat sauce is soooooo good!! Great little delicious snack to munch on after your intended early lunch.

                          1. re: MissVeg

                            +1 for polo cha-siu bao at Fu Sing (the original Wanchai outlet) - the stuff dreams are made off! Reserve a table or go early - the restaurant fills up *very* quickly!!

                            1. re: klyeoh

                              Have you ever been by yourself?

                              1. re: MissVeg

                                Yes, of course - it's my fave restaurant in HK (and serves the best meal I'd ever had, ever - as per my profile). You can dine *alone* by yourself there - *no problems*.

                                1. re: klyeoh

                                  Hay klyeoh!! Guess what?? Chowfriends and sharing dinner with you for so many years and I have never looked up your profile!!

                                  Wow! Drinking Haut Brion nowadays!! Cool! a real connoisseur !! Hope you have a few bottles of 1989 left when I visit you and Fourseasons in S'Pore next time?!

                                  Michel Rostang and their Bresse Chicken?? It was my first Michelin star restaurant experience in Paris!! Guy Savoy! The first Michelin restaurant that I have eaten when they were 2* and then 3*. And Masa in SF!! I can still remember the out of this world ' Venison Loin' I had there! So good!!

                                  Didn't realize we shared so many favorites?! Foodie friends do think alike!!!

                                  1. re: Charles Yu

                                    And neither have I looked at your profile, Charles :-D I guess that's because we knew each other too well already.

                                    Well, look forward to catching up with you if you're ever down this way again.

                                    1. re: klyeoh

                                      Or..... you can like Fourseason, come over to New York once in a while??!! I'll fly down to join you for a mini-chowmeet or two?! Better still, why don't you find a way to come visit us in Toronto?! Skyline33 and myself will for sure treat you to some giant lobster 5 ways and more!!

                                  2. re: klyeoh

                                    Excellent! I'm very excited for my pork fest. Is there a particular green veg dish you would recommend if I start feeling guilty? Do you think trying the XLB is a good idea for a DTF comparison, or should I spare my stomach?
                                    I'm dreaming of dim sum!

                                    1. re: MissVeg

                                      Kill two birds with one stone by ordering some veggie dumplings!!

                                      1. re: MissVeg

                                        Cantonese green veg dishes are usually quite standard/simple - I usually opt for Chinese lettuce or romaine lettuce with oyster sauce & golden-crisp garlic.

                                        I'd not tried XLB at Fu Sing, but Cantonese versions of this Shanghainese dish has a subtle difference: I liked Crystal Jade or Lei Garden's version over DTF (which is closer to what you find on the Mainland), but my Shanghainese or Beijinger friends preferred DTF's anytime.

                                  3. re: klyeoh

                                    Klyeoh, I loved reading your Delhi posts. I will be in Delhi for just under two weeks and I will try to follow your good example and post whenever possible!

                                    1. re: MissVeg

                                      There was a discussion among the older Chowhounds on the SF Bay Area board (where I started off as a CH many years back) some time ago about posting individual threads for each separate restaurant, and to include the name of the restaurant in the title of the OP - to facilitate the search engine. That's why I try to follow this rule as much as possible.

                                      1. re: klyeoh

                                        Well, it's good to talk to another SF 'hound. I'm looking forward to seeing how Yank Sing compares to dim sum in HK. I know YS is controversial on the Bay Area boards, but my family loves it.

                                        1. re: MissVeg

                                          Yank Sing is my fave dim sum spot in the whole of the US! But, of course, its dim sum is *nowhere* near the quality of those you get even in top spots in Kuala Lumpur, let alone Singapore or Hong Kong. Somehow, the dim sum produced in California lacked the finesse and subtlety in flavours you get in HK, Singapore, etc.

                                          The standards of Chinese cooking in the US have somehow slipped over the years. I still remembered how my father raved about the quality of Cantonese cooking in New York's Chinatown back in the 1960s/70s. The quality of the produce, the flavours of the cooking which came out of the kitchen.

                                          These days, the cooking seemed more rustic, and Northern Chinese-styles have also come into play with the flood of new immigrants from the Dongbei region in China.

                                          1. re: klyeoh

                                            NY in the 60s and 70s? interesting, i dont think ive met that many people that actually remember what it was like back then, it's interesting your father said that...although i guess i could imagine it couldve been good since back then it probably was dominated by cantonese restaurants with a mainly cantonese clients (particularly toison people) and cantonese people mainly lived in chinatown back then

                                  4. re: MissVeg

                                    missveg - re: DTF vs Fu Sing, in general i'd say the XLB @ DTF are better. however, if you happen to ever be in HK during hairy crab season the hairy crab roe XLB @ fu sing are out of this world, the filling is amazing, very creamy rich and decadent