Please critique my Hong Kong to-eat list
- ckshen Aug 11, 2013 12:59 AM
I am going to HK for 2.5 weeks (with a 1.5 year old). We won't have access to home-cooking so we will be eating out. trying to gather some ideas of good meals around town.
I will be staying in the southern part of HK island. at one point i will actually be staying right across the street from the Aberdeen fish market but too bad they closed. so the list i compiled so far is heavily HK island because its just quicker to get to with an unpredictable 1.5 year old. with that said, Kowloon and NT also works if its reasonably close to MTR.
for context, I am coming from the San Francisco bay area. so i prefer to skip food that i have a relatively easy time to find quality options back home- such as californian, pizza, burger, italian, indian etc. I also lived in HK for almost 20 years but in my younger age I didn't really pay too much attention to my eating. and i haven't been back recently so that means i don't remember much about the dining scene here.
for the restaurants listed below (thanks much to chowhound threads)- for cuisines where I have some names, are there some that are more worth the time to go to than others, or are there any i've left out that shouldn't be missed? i realize that HK has so many good choices that asking for 'the greats' is a somewhat ridiculous question. but also want to make sure that none of these places are forgettable. 'If i have a limited amount of time in one place, i might as well eat well.'
realize my list is heavily chinese focused, since i am in HK. are there other cuisine/ restaurants that i should seriously think about trying?
Chan Kan Kee
Tim Ho Wan (set aside that the chef was from LKH, and that the dimsum is economical, are they really that awesome that deserves the wait?)
Fook Lam Moon
Mak An Kee
Tsim Tsai Kee
Dai Pai Dong:
Sing Heung Yuen
Tai Ping Koon
Din Tai Fung
HK Old Restaurant
San xi lou
Da Ping Huo
Stanley: planning to make a trip here. any recommendations?
Hakka: must i go to Yuen Long? any good place on HK island?
Beijing: any recommendations?
other Chinese regional cuisine?
Is there any better than Hang Heung?
any relatively non-artery clogging amazing moon cakes out there?
Ap Lei Chau cooked food centre, mainly because its easy to haul a toddler here from where i am than Lei Yue Moon, Saigon, etc.
any other worth going?
any worth going? someone said there aren't too many outstanding ones despite geographical proximity- i don't know if its true.
i am going to be in the area for at least 1 meal. any recommendations?
How long ahead do i need to reserve if i need to reserve to get in? with a toddler, preference is not have to wait too long to eat a meal so reserving ahead of time is not a problem but want to get a sense whether we are talking about days or weeks or 'you'll never get in unless you do it a year in advance'
Thanks a bunch!
For Mong Kok, if you want dimsum, try Ming Court in the Langham Hotel, better than Lei Gardens IMO although it is a bit more expensive. They can also tailor portion size if you request it (e.g. 3 pieces instead of the usual 4).
Mooncakes, you can get the "white lotus" versions, they aren't as rich as the darker ones. I prefer mine with 3 yolks, the egg breaks up the texture of the paste quite well and makes it less overpowering. I don't remember the name of the brand but it comes in dark brown/coppery vertical tins as opposed to the flat square ones.
Pretty good list, here's some comments and thoughts (charles yu / klyeoh - what do u guys think?)
chiu chow - maybe go an upscale chiu chow place for seafood like shung hing? (charles yu, klyeoh - maybe you guys have thoughts on this?)
tak kee - so awesome
hung's - get there early the line gets really long, i suggest getting there 10 mins before they open and you'll be seated as soon as the door opens
tim ho wan - its quite good although probably not the best in HK, definitely get their cha siu bolo bao, which is their signature dish...that is really good. They have multiple branches now, i think only the original one (which i believe moved) has a really bad line
lin heung - don't bother, while its very old and famous i think the dim sum is pretty subpar. i think people go there more for nostalgia than good food, still has carts, hasn't been renovated in decades and is filled with old people
fu sing - get the cha siu! out of this world...one of my fav restaurants in HK
lei garden - make sure you get their 3 or 5 layered pork (siu yuk)...its amazing!
roast meats - fu sing! joy hing is great and you should go, but fu sing's cha siu is the best
kwan kee - make sure to make a reservation, this place is amazing...make sure to get the chicken too!
tai cheong - classic and great dan ta
szechuan - si jie and yu chuan are both great
hakka - go to openrice.com/english then go to categories and you can select hakka...its usually fairly accurate if it has a good rating
stanley - total tourist trap, id just go eat before and then come back and eat later
high end cantonese - you have fook lam moon down, but definitely get some high end cantonese (charles yu / klyeoh - where do you think he/she should go? im not as up to speed as to which is the best these days...man wah? lung king heen? sun tung lok?)
abalone - forum
kam fung - famous for bolo bao with some iceless cold milk tea...they are so good
yuet wah - great mid range seafood (cantonese
tso choi - i haven't been here, but its almost #1 for me bc i want to try the lard rice so bad (i heard the kowloon city branch is better than jordan branch
dai pai dong - maybe go sham shui po to try one of the few last remaining DPD...either 愛文生 or keung kee. you should do this bc when these places are gone they're never coming back
sister wah - great beef brisket noodles (song lam / niu nan
IMHO, we have provided more than enough information. Worst thing is inforation overload!
A lot of Lau's recommendation s are extracted from 'Openrice'. May be you can go into that site and check out the highest rating eateries also?!
One last thing! I noticed you will be living in Aberdeen. You can take the Mini-Bus to Happy Valley and try out 'Hong Kong Cuisine' (aka 1983 in Chinese). Great food!! Tasty and Mak Siu Kee, both HK's finest Won Ton noodle palces are just nearby as well!
What about Hung's during dinner? i suppose the same suggestion applies, go early or long lines? is their airport location any good?
How does sister wah stack up against kau kei in beef brisket?
how does Shung Hing and Tak Kee differ? it seems they are about the same price point, at least from Openrice.
the govt drives so many of these dai pai don into cooked food centres these days. true- its not the same. but hopefully they retain some of the old dai pan dong spirit!
Supposedly Kau Kee has heavier beef stock, but for a more cleaner beef essence clear stock, Sister Wah is the place, and they just recently opened up a location in Sheung Wan / Western District area....so if you plan on a snack, you can also head over to Yuen Kee to get some dessert soup (signature is the stewed herbal tea with egg, don't bother with sesame paste or almond/walnut paste). Kau Kee's lines are probably like Ramen Dojo's but a bit shorter. Also the chances of Kau Kee having song lahm is rarer. If you do Sister Wah, try asking for Song Lam, and if they don't have it, get Hahng Lam with ho fun, because egg noodles have some alkali flavor and could ruin the broth. Or pony up the cash and get a bowl of pure hahng or song lam, but it could run you $100. If you do Sister Wah, maybe try the turnip appetizer, simmered in the beef stock.
If you do Kau Kee, consider getting a bowl of brisket noodles, and after that get the curry brisket tendons (tendons only available in curry flavor), and e-fu noodles pair up better with them.
hung's - haven't been for dinner, but ive heard the line is bad. have not been to airport location
shung hing - more known for its high end chiu chow seafood dishes (cold crab etc). tak kee has a bunch of signature dishes, you can see some on my blog and go to their open rice pics and you'll se the same dishes being ordered. their lo sui goose is really good and i highly recommend that dish. if you google either place you'll find lots of blog posts. im a big tak kee fan
DPD - i'd still go try them in their current forms bc ill almost guarantee u when they close they'll be gone for good
I would skip Yung Kee...it seems that after Kinsen Kam's passing, quality has taken a dip. If you are just hankering for roast goose, you can go to Yat Lok nearby. Or Ser Wong Fun and also bag either a snake soup, or better yet their double boiled soups (e.g. stewed papaya and conch is excellent), and their roasties are decent as well (including goose).
For old style dim sum, maybe consider Luk Yu instead of Lin Heung, at least you will be seated more comfortably. Another thing about these local places (whether it be Joy Hing or a noodle shop or a typical "da lang" neighborhood Chiu Chow place), you'll be sitting on stools in cramped areas and having to share a table. Don't know if you will be bringing a child booster or have the child in a stroller...but there's not much room, and a booster is a hazard on a stool. And I haven't gotten into the lack of availability of changing stations.
Those Chiu Chow places are a great start, but I would narrow down some must try dishes and focus in on specialties based on the restaurant. Next time I go back, I'm going to bring a friend or family or more and try the cold crab (and pony up the cash), which will fetch over US$100 easy for a mid sized one (the larger the fattier the better). Look into also snacking, like Queens Road 1 market cooked food center, Tsang Kee does a unique pan fried sticky rice flour chive bun (and also has other savory or sweet variants). Then go towards one of the other stalls and try a pork tripe soup...these are unique flavors hard to find anywhere else.
Seafood at Ap Lei Chau makes perfect sense. It's the epicenter of arguably 85%+ of available local seafood, high end and low end (for delicious fishermen fare). Definitely take advantage and try as many things as you can. 九節蝦 is native to Lau Fau Shan, but sometimes you might find them at Ap Lei Chau, so you'll end up saving a trip just to try these.
If not, 花竹蝦 is also great if in season. There may be upwards of 9 varieties of shrimp alone. Must try babylons 東風螺...just a boil with toothpicks and a dip in their sweet cheung fun sauce = mama mia. Some of the clams like 花蛤 are fantastic if you have them steamed with saltwater and oil.
For noodles, this is a bit of a controversial topic. It's going to be very hard to find a place that does won tons, noodles, and broth all perfectly. So if you're focused on wontons, find a place that does great broth. But if you're out for the texture of noodles, suggest you go to noodle shops that do bamboo pole (Lau Sam Kee in Sham Shui Po, Wing Wah in Wanchai, Kwun Kee in Cheung Sa Wan, and there's Ping Kee in Tai Po but it's not everyone's style), and change your eating strategy to lo mein (eg shrimp roe or beef brisket, in which case try switching to wide noodles), broth on the side, so that way you get to experience the full texture. There's also Cheung Fat in Sham Shui Po (a noodles dai pai dong) where the soy sauce and lard lo mein is quite well known, so don't order won ton noodles there. If in Mong Kok, Good Hope Noodle does bamboo pole, but bloggers love their ja jeung meen (spicy sweet sauce with pork strips), nobody goes for won ton noodles. At Lau Sam Kee, shui gow is excellent.
For congee/jook, Mui Kee in Mongkok upstairs from the wet market is another option, but go early because they might sell out. They make fish soup from scratch using fresh fish and add that to cooking their congee. Wai Kee in Central, facing Sing Kee dai pai dong, also does decent congee.
re: K K
FYI, According to Chef Lai of On-Lot-10, Chiu Chow Cold crab using Flower Crab are selling for around HK$1200 ( US$150 ) per Kati, retail. A regular, under 3 Kati one will set you back by about US$375.00!!!!!
For Chiu Chow, Flash Poach 'Giant Conch Slice', average is HK$800-1200 per slice!!!
re: Charles Yu
Yeah that's about right, maybe a tad cheaper elsewhere, but it's like a conspiracy with Chiu Chow restaurants. For $375, I might as well eat at Sushi Rozan!
For what it's worth, The Chairman's signature chicken lard shaoxing wine flower crab is approximately $1000, not sure of the size but it's enough for 4 people to share, that was a pretty recent estimate direct from Danny himself.
I guess I'll eat the Dungie crab prep of this dish in California for cheap thrills!
re: K K
great suggestions of ultra local places, thanks KK! these are places that I think capture the spirit of HK very well. and interestingly these are the types of places that few friends will bring me to because usually who are hosting will end up choosing restaurants, jau lau, etc.
though of course the struggle with these very local places is hanging onto the little kid while trying to finish a meal. but i guess its no different than trying to hang onto the kid at restaurants without child seat anywhere (except perhaps more crowded)
Tsang Kee in Queen's Road is 曾記粿品, right?
When is 花竹蝦 in season?
That you can go to Yum's Bistro in Fremont and get it in really good quality. I'd save stomach space personally on trying more varieties of local seafood and other specialized eats that as you say, capture the spirit of HK. Maybe a typhoon shelter crab restaurant, da been lo. Or you can order that at a nicer dim sum restaurant in town (Ah Yat's Harborview in TST supposedly does a very nice Ah Yat fried rice, and probably won't be shabby if they do Yang Chow or dried scallop egg white, but I think they use a claypot to cook the rice, not a wok, according to a youtube video of Chef Leung demo'ing the dish).
re: Charles Yu
Yup, two great recommendations.
Ser Wong Fun lists 18 kinds of double boiled soups on the menu, although some are available only seasonally, or work best during those times of year. Can't go wrong with anything containing conch head. The soups range from most being $73 to $150 (January 2013 prices).
Here's the x2 boiled soup section of the menu, not sure if you can see it. Not a great picture unfortunately
It's a complete listing, but availability changes with the season (weather changes require more targeted effects with soup ingredients, especially those who believe hot vs cold in Chinese medicine and health benefits).
Some of the Chinese herbs I don't know the names off hand so just writing their phonetic Cantonese pronounciation.
- cantaloupe dried scallop with conch head (autumn/winter)
- winter melon dried scallop conch head (summer). This makes perfect sense because winter melon is actually in peak season during warmer months, despite the name
- conch with chicken feet
- bok choy with fresh gizzard (duck or chicken is my guess)
- Papaya, southern almonds (Chinese almonds) with pork shank
- For Shun Dong Shum Goji with beef shank (winter).
- sea coconut apple and pear with pork shank
- yok juk coconut and chicken (winter)
- mature cucumber green bean + ? + sweet date and pork ribs (summer)
- sea coconut and lung lei leaf pork shank (autumn/winter)
- shark bone dong shum pork shank (autumn/winter)
- Mo Fa Gwor (flowerless fruit) sweet date pork lung
- chestnut, barley, southern almond, lily bulb pork shank (summer)
- fish maw lily bulb with shui ngap (duck)
- Chuen Bui Yuen Yok (dried longan?) and the fowl is some sort of bird I can't remember how to pronounce, but is not quail
- dried mountain yam yuen yok with jok see chicken
- pepper root with snake (winter)
- dried mountain yam, goji, dong shum with....soft shell turtle
Pretty exotic stuff with a mix of modern (I think Ser Wong Fun laid claim to innovating the fruit blends in soup) and classic straight out hardcore old school super herbal.
If some of the stuff seems too exotic or if you are worried these are too extreme for the body, stick with the fruit soups or the ones with dried mountain yam and goji which are more mild.
For non double boiled soups, quite a number of the decent roastie deli rice plate shops offer them as well. Joy Hing has a soup of the day. When I went in January, it was watercress and pork bone with carrot. Not the richest of flavors from the batch they had, but it hit the spot and no MSG. Keung Kee in Wanchai (not the mini eatery) also supposedly has some double boiled soups if I remember correctly, and their cha siu is decent.
At nicer seafood type restaurants, if you get the chance to eat with family/bigger group, something like 粉葛鯪魚湯 is fantastic, since the materials alone are something you cannot find in this quality in SF Bay Area. For a simple run of the mill soup, Fook Lam Moon in Wanchai does it extremely well but it is not cheap at all, but they put a ton of material in so you are getting quality for the money. Even the chain restaurant Super Star 鴻星海鮮酒家 (one branch in Causeway Bay Times Square) does 粉葛鯪魚湯 nicely and is comfortable and a good location for family gatherings, even if not the best in town (but very respectable by our standards).