HK - pit your local tastes against Shane Osborn - head chef of St Betty
Article appeared in The Age (Australia). These are his "Chinese Secrets" as it was titled (link to original at bottom).
I want to be critical of at least some of this but I guess it's a hard thing for him to answer succinctly. Ok, here are a few:
1) Wanchai Market is great, but Graham St Market has shrunk so much, I'd be sending people to Borrington Market in CWB instead;
2) Yung Kee? Which decade is this? Maybe Chef Osborn gets special treatment but not the rest of us - poor quality in recent years;
3) Din Tai Fung is great but being Taiwanese it's hardly a local;
4) Stay at Island Shangri-La zzzzzzz (sorry, slipped into a coma);
5) High tea at Peninsula Hotel is pretty unimaginative. Unique drinks I like in HK are whiskey with apple green tea (don't laugh, it's good!), milk tea, etc. Even brave the coffee/tea blend.
WHO: Shane Osborn
HOME TOWN: Hong Kong, China.
ESSENTIAL HOME-TOWN EATING EXPERIENCES: Barbecued pork ribs from the street stalls near Graham Street Market in Central.
LOCAL SPECIALTY: Dim sum.
WHERE I'D SEND A VISITOR TO EAT: For roast goose at Yung Kee, as it's a real institution.
FOR BREAKFAST ... Congee at Law Fu Kee (several around Central HK).
FOR LUNCH ... Din Tai Fung in Tsim Sha Tsui for great dumplings.
FOR DINNER ... The Chairman, a Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant. Book ahead.
GREAT DINING DAY TRIP ... Take a ferry ride to Cheung Chau island from Central Pier 5 (45 minutes). You will find lots of small restaurants and stalls scattered around the harbour, serving some of the best and freshest seafood HK has to offer.
THE LOCALS' BEST-KEPT SECRET IS ... Dishes that aren't on the menu or are only written in Chinese. Go with a local if you can and you may be in for a treat.
BEST MARKETS OR FOOD STORES: You must visit a wet market, which are located all over town. My favourites are Graham Street Market (Central) and Wan Chai Market.
THE LOCAL SPECIALITY: Dim sum.
BIGGEST DATE ON THE FOOD CALENDAR: There are so many, but my personal favourite is Jong, which is eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival weekend. Sticky rice with salted egg yolk and nuts wrapped in lotus leaf.
STAY ... Island Shangri-La (HK Island).
CULINARY HOME-TOWN HEROES ... The operators of dai pai dongs - street kitchens serving great food at incredibly cheap prices.
WHAT THE LOCALS DRINK, AND THE BEST PLACE TO DRINK IT ... There doesn't seem to be a big drinking culture in HK. High tea or afternoon tea is more the done thing. Check out the Peninsula Hotel for its highly regarded menu and service.
Five must-visit places to eat:
1. Fuel coffee shop in the IFC (good coffee is hard to find in HK and these guys do a great job).
2. Seafood from the shacks on Shek O beach.
3. Hee Kee in Wan Chai for knockout chilli crab.
4. Kowloon Tang for the best Peking duck in town.
5. Try one of the many private kitchens in Hong Kong such as Liberty Private Works or Kea's, which is on a moored luxury yacht.
MY PLACE: St Betty restaurant, IFC Mall podium level 2, Central, Hong Kong, stbetty.com
Actually, I quite liked reading about a relative newbie's take on the HK dining/drinking scene. He may not have the "expert" view, but then, who among us does? I lived in HK for 7 years, and regarded it as a "second home" after Singapore, but I still don't profess to know that much about HK's ever-evolving dining scene, despite annual visits (mainly to eat, I should say) since the 1970s.
Getting an insight into Osborn's experience as an expat living in HK is quite refreshing and makes for an interesting read.
It seems chef Osborn hasn't been in Hong Kong long enough to know any better. This reads like a classic gweilo rotation. "Kowloon Tang for the best Peking duck in town"? It's not bad, actually, but "best Peking duck in town"?
Maybe he's too busy trying to keep St Betty from drifting into the black hole of irrelevance that is IFC dining that he doesn't have time to get around town, so we'll give him a pass.