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Taipei, Singapore, and Hong Kong in June

My husband and I will be visiting Taipei, Singapore, and Hong Kong from the USA (Philadelphia area) this summer and would like your help with some food recommendations! A little background: I lived in KL and Taipei when I was younger and have been to Singapore and Hong Kong before, but haven't spent much time in Asia since the 1990s.

We'll be in Taipei for 4-5 days, Singapore for 4-5 days, and Hong Kong for 3 days. No idea where we'll be staying yet, but we're always happy to travel for good food! We'd prefer more casual places (ie, where jeans are acceptable) and any price range is fine.

Below are some ideas we've put together based on previous threads, along with some questions. There may not be enough places to cover all meals in each city, but we're expecting that there'll be lots of random snacking to fill the gaps as we wander around. Thanks in advance for your help!

Taipei:
1. Shin Yeh 欣葉 for Taiwanese food. Should we go to the flagship or is the quality about the same at all locations?
2. Night market--default is Shilin unless we end up staying near a good one
3. Yongkang street--so many options...Tu Hsiao Yue 度小月, Yongkang beef noodle 永康牛肉麺, Kao Chi 高記, etc.
4. Taiwanese breakfast--saw a recommendation somewhere for Yonghe Doujiang King 永和豆漿大王, but pretty much anyplace with decent danbing 蛋餅 and fantuan 飯糰 will make me happy!
5. Japanese buffet--I read somewhere that Shin Yeh Mitsukoshi has a good one...any other recommendations? Is Jogoya any good?

Singapore:
1. Maxwell food center
2. Nyonya food--among Candlenut, Guan Hoe Soon, and Peramakan, which would you recommend?
3. Nyonya kuih--where's a good place to get these, especially kuih dadar?
4. Little India--Banana Leaf Apolo
5. The Mango Tree for Keralan food

Hong Kong:
1. Tim Ho Wan for dim sum. We'll only be in HK on weekdays--do they serve dim sum then?
2. Roast meats--Yat Lok or Joy Hing...should we go to both?
3. Wonton noodles--Mak's (Wellington), Mak An Kee (Central), Mak Siu Kee (Tin Hau/Happy Valley), or Tasty (Happy Valley). I admit I'm partial to the KL style of wonton noodles, but happy to try HK style as well. We'll probably just go to the place that's most convenient for us, unless you recommend some of these above others?
4. I speak Mandarin fluently and read it well enough to get around, but my Cantonese is pretty lousy. Will we have communication problems at any of the above places?

Other questions:
1. We'd like to have one Peking duck meal during our trip. Across the three countries, what are your favorite places for Peking duck?
2. There seems to be little to no Chinese fine dining here, especially non-Americanized Cantonese. Would we be crazy not to have a higher-end Cantonese meal in Hong Kong (eg, The Chairman, Tim's Kitchen) while we're there?
3. Any other must-haves that we've missed?

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  1. I will leave Singapore and Taiwan to my other trusted fellow chowhounders for their inputs.

    As for Hong Kong, here are my 2 cents worth.

    - Early or late weekdays will be a great time to sample Dim Sum at Tim Ho Wan. Weekends are usually 'mad house' for Dim Sum lunches since its family day!

    - A more than decent Peking Duck is offered at 'Peking House' Central or Tsim Sha Tsui. The Central location also has pretty good ambiance. In fact, nowadays, even Cantonese Restaurants offer great birds as well!

    - It would be more than crazy for a chowhounder not to savor a higher-end Cantonese meal in Hong Kong. Its like not going to a Michelin Star French restaurant in Paris!! Your choice of The Chairman is a good one. Tim's Kitchen is good but IMO a bit over-price. I would also add 'Seventh Son', 'Ming Court' or 'Guo Fu Lou' just in case you run into problem with reservation.

    - If you have time, I would try squeezing in a 'Seafood' dinner at one of the outlying places where you can pick your own seafood. Sai Kung, Lei Yue Mun or the HK gold Coast are preferred destinations. A bit far but worth the experience. Check the internet, www.openrice.com or ask your hotel's concierge for direction.

    - A good Shanghainese meal at the Michelin star establishments, Zhejiang Heen, Ye Shanghai or Jardin de Jade should also be considered, if you have time?.

    Lastly, skip Mak's Wellington for Won Ton noodles if you are going to the other three. IMO, most overly priced and over-rated of the bunch! However, for US$5, feel free to add that for the 'history'!

    Have Fun!!!

    5 Replies
    1. re: Charles Yu

      Thanks so much, Charles--great info! We'll get working on reservations at The Chairman and will look into your other suggestions if that doesn't pan out.

      The seafood dinner suggestions sound awesome! We may have to get Peking Duck in Taipei or Singapore so we can fit in other meals in HK! Any particular types of seafood that are specialties in that area?

      Re: Mak's Wellington, USD$5 will probably buy a better bowl of noodles there than I can get for that price here!

      1. re: msiangal

        Unfortunately, this ( Aberdeen Seafood market canteen ) has closed down due to rent increase. But, these are some of the seafood variety you can get from the places I mentioned above.
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8941...

        The attached photos below were taken from the fishing town of Sai Kung. For sure, you will have a tough time picking the seafood you like!! Your choice of buying from the fishermen or retail seafood stalls. Then, take the catch to restaurant like 'Loaf On' and have them prepare for you! Yummmm!!

         
         
         
         
        1. re: Charles Yu

          Awesome pictures, Charles, both in your post and in the link to the Aberdeen chowmeet thread! Now I'm sad there will only be 2 of us so we won't be able to try as many things. :-)

      2. re: Charles Yu

        Charles, you meant Peking *Garden* (not *House*), right?

        1. re: klyeoh

          Yes! You are correct!! Its Peking 'Garden' ( the one in Alexandra 'House' )

      3. The Scarlet is a boutique hotel just a few hundred feet from Maxwell Food Centre. We also agree with Charles Yu that an over the top Cantonese meal in HKG usually delights -- Lung Keen Heen is three-starred and is accustomed to non-Cantonese speakers.

        3 Replies
        1. re: BoneAppetite

          Thanks for the feedback! The Scarlet looks interesting, although we might end up eating at Maxwell every day if we are that close!

          1. re: BoneAppetite

            Or you can stay at Parkroyal Pickering Street, which puts you next to Hong Lim Food Centre and near Chinatown:
            http://www.parkroyalhotels.com/en/hot...

            1. re: klyeoh

              Near Chinatown is definitely a huge plus from my perspective! Thanks for the suggestion!

          2. For Singapore:

            2. Nyonya food--among Candlenut, Guan Hoe Soon, and Peramakan, which would you recommend?
            =========
            Candlenut is the nearest to the city (next to Outram Park underground station), and has the most pleasant atmosphere. The food is pretty much hit-and-miss though - the kueh pie-tee and beef-rib buah keluak are nice, but other dishes do not have the strong flavours which you'd expect from Peranakan cuisine - go there if you like a nice atmosphere and appreciate the convenient location. Candlenut's premises is an annexe of the new Dorsett Hotel (http://www.dorsetthotels.com/singapore/).

            Guan Hoe Soon is my personal favourite, and it's located in the Peranakan heartland of Joo Chiat-Geylang-Katong, where many customers themselves are Peranakan Babas & Nyonyas. It's a very local family-style restaurant - authentic home-cooked flavours but pretty ordinary decor. Go there if you also want to explore the colourful Joo Chiat and Katong.

            PeraMakan has a wide repertoire - its Keppel Club location is slightly out of the way. Has a good selection of dishes on the menu and does all dishes consistently well.

            3. Nyonya kuih--where's a good place to get these, especially kuih dadar?
            =============
            Four Nyonya kueh places some to mind: (1) the popular Bengawan Solo chain with outlets everywhere (e.g. basement food hall at Takashimaya, even in Changi Airport, (2) Subway Niche (there's a small outlet in Wisma Atria's basement level, near the connecting pedestrian way to Orchard MRT and ION Orchard mall), and the two stalwarts with retail outlets along East Coast Road in Katong: (3) Kim Choo Kueh (http://www.kimchoo.com/) and Glory Catering (http://www.glorycatering.com.sg/).

            4. Little India--Banana Leaf Apolo
            ==============
            It's as good as any along Race Course Rd (the other well-known one is Muthu's along that same stretch). And you can walk around Little India afterwards. If you want a more pleasant surrounding, you can opt for Samy's at Dempsey (http://www.samyscurry.com/), but food standards are pretty much the same.

            5. The Mango Tree for Keralan food
            ==================
            I'd only been to the Mango Tree once, and its dishes didn't seem as good as those I'd tried in Keralan restaurants in India - but that was a good 6-7 years ago: maybe they'd improved? Their menu, even today, shows a mix of North Indian/Mughlai items and other regional options, including Keralan.
            http://www.themangotree.com.sg/home

            9 Replies
            1. re: klyeoh

              I second the kueh recommendations but would like to add one. Kueh Kedai has outlets in several shopping malls like Great World City and Bugis Junction, which might be convenient for you to pick up something (http://www.kedaikuekue.com).

              If you are keen to buy some for the way home, there is a Bengawan Solo outlet after you check in to your flight (past immigrations). Do check which terminal you are flying back from. You will be allowed to hand carry the items even if you get the items from the Bengawan Solo outlets at the shopping area (non-air ticket holders) of Changi Airport.

              1. re: ziparent

                Thanks for the tip, ziparent! That'll definitely make for a tasty snack on our flight.

              2. re: klyeoh

                Really appreciate the info, klyeoh! Guan Hoe Soon for Nyonya and Banana Leaf Apolo for Indian sound like our type of restaurants. And it'll be nice to explore Joo Chiat/Katong and Little India--I don't think I've been to those areas before.

                That's too bad about The Mango Tree, but since there really aren't any South Indian options where we live, perhaps we'll try it anyway. Are there any other restaurants in Singapore featuring South Indian coastal cuisine that you'd recommend?

                Ah, I just went to Bengawan Solo's website and now I'm hungry! One other question--do you have any recommendations for someplace to get "mang guang kueh"? I found the 2 places below by a Google search--have you been to either?

                Poh Cheu Handmade Soon Kway Ang Ku Kway
                127 Bukit Merah Lane 1, #01-230 (Alexandra Village)

                Teochew Kueh
                560 MacPherson Road
                Mei Tien Yuen coffeeshop

                1. re: msiangal

                  I have not tried the MacPherson Rd shop but Poh Cheu is very good for kueh. They sell out quite quickly, so go there latest by lunchtime.

                  Mang Guang kueh is more of a savoury snack, have you tried it before?

                  1. re: ziparent

                    Thanks! Mang guang kueh was one of my favorite childhood snacks. Technically, I don't know that the ones I had in KL are the same as the ones in S'pore, although the pictures I've seen look exactly like I remember them.

                  2. re: msiangal

                    For coastal Indian (but not South Indian coastal) food in Singapore, I loved Gajalee (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/716902), the outpost of Mumbai's famous Mangalorean seafood icon. It's been ages since I went back but do seek it out - the crab curry is nice. Their new address here:

                    Gajalee Coastal Foods Pte. Ltd.
                    8 Raffles Avenue, Esplanade Mall,
                    #01-13C, Colours By The Bay,
                    Singapore 039802

                    "Mang Guang Kueh" is called "Soon Kueh" in Singapore - yup, *we* Singaporeans are wrong, but it's probably been a century since our forefathers substituted the traditional "soon" (bamboo shoots) with the more readily-available local "mang kuang" (Chinese turnips or jicama). One of the dependable spots are Yong's Teochew Kueh on East Coast Road.
                    Poh Cheu at Alexandra Village is another of my go-to places for "soon kueh" but it's a bit out of the way.

                    1. re: klyeoh

                      Gajalee looks absolutely delicious. We'll replace Mango Tree with this, thanks!

                      Interesting about the history of soon kueh and the substitution of bamboo with jicama. Lucky for me, since I don't like bamboo shoots!

                      1. re: msiangal

                        Ah, I think if you'd tried fresh bamboo shoots (instead of the canned version you get in the West), you'll love it! :-)

                        1. re: klyeoh

                          That's a fair point--perhaps sometime I'll try the fresh stuff and change my mind. :-)

                2. For Shin Yeh - there are multiple versions of Shin Yeh, not all of which serve the same food (for example, some are Japanese buffets). I usually go to the Zhongxiao branch, as it's convenient to where I live, and am happy with the food there.

                  Sadly, Ice Monster is no longer in Yongkang - there's a different shaved ice place there now, I think, with higher prices.

                  I'd advise against Shilin night market, as it's the most crowded and most touristy. Raohe is nicer, in my opinion.

                  My personal favourite restaurant in Taipei is Shao Shao Ke (勺勺客) - Xiangxi cuisine. Not fancy, but good food (order the pork spare-ribs and the shredded potato with chilis and vinegar). Reservations strongly recdomended, and be sure to pre-order the deep fried cheese wontons for dessert.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                    That's good to know about Shin Yeh, thanks! I don't remember Shilin night market being particularly touristy, but Taipei has changed a lot since the 90s! Will definitely consider Raohe instead.

                    We've never had Xiangxi cuisine--looks very interesting. Appreciate the suggestion!

                  2. Our trip to Taipei/S'pore/HK is coming up very soon! For the HK portion of our trip, we have a reservation at The Chairman with a "customized" tasting menu--we're really looking forward to it.

                    For S'pore, our dining companions have proposed a dinner at Vivo City. Are there any places there that you'd recommend? We'd prefer food that is unique to, or is done particularly well in, S'pore.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: msiangal

                      There's no particular peranakan food etc at VivoCity. The only SEA ethnic food I can think of is Madame Kwan's, but that is an offshoot from a Malaysian chain/restaurant.

                      If you don't mind a walk and the heat, there is a hawker centre near Vivocity, approximately 15 mins on foot out of the air conditioned spaces.

                      1. re: ziparent

                        Has Nyonya & Baba Restaurant at Vivocity closed?

                        1. re: klyeoh

                          I didn't see it when I was at Vivo last weekend for the Navy exhibition. But I could have gotten the location wrong...

                          1. re: klyeoh

                            I checked Vivo City's directory and it's still listed there. We can definitely check whether it's still in business once we get to S'pore, if you think the food there is decent. Thanks!

                          2. re: ziparent

                            Ah yes, I've been to Madame Kwan's before in Kuala Lumpur. The hawker centre near Vivo City is a good idea, thanks! We'll see if our dining companions are willing to take a walk.

                            1. re: msiangal

                              Seah Imm Food Centre across the road from Vivocity can be very crowded at lunch-time (and pretty hot to boot).