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Hong Kong questions

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Chinese-American (speaks Mandarin) will be traveling to HK for the first time in October (now living around Washington DC). I'll arrive early on a Sunday morning and departing the following Friday, so 5 nights in HK. I'm interested in tour sites as well as dining - will eat anything at any price. I'm traveling with a couple of American friends that are adventurous eaters, and there will be lots of drinking (we's celebrating our 45th year on earth).

First, we've decided to stay at two different hotels over the 5 nights to facilitate sight seeing and dining. I'm thinking 2 nights in Tsim Sha Tsui and 3 nights on the HK island, or should I reverse that and do 3 nights in Tsim Sha Tsui and 2 nights on HK island? And what part of the island should we stay at? Central or Wan Chai/Cuaseway Bay? Ease of transportation and availability of night life (food and drink) is of utmost concern.

And can someone give us an overview of what to eat? Obviously dim sum, high end Cantonese, seafood on Causeway Bay, and what else? Peking duck sounds good and so does xiao lon bao. Let's put it this way, DC's Chinese is merely serviceable so we'll eat any sort of Chinese and outstanding restaurants that aren't Chinese (if truly noteworthy). Please also suggest restaurants.

Will we miss anything (dim sum wise) if we don't do it on weekends? What about street food? What time is best to visit and which street food area?

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  1. A quick search turned up these recent and helpful threads:

    The Chairman:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/967115

    KK’s Recent Trip Report:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/931071

    Charles Yu’s BBQ Roast Meats Update:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/900096

    Ninth Trip, Need Something Special:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/552791

    Feedback on trip itineraries:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/865498
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/966140

    Old School Cantonese:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/963535

    Peking Duck:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/896288

    Also: see The American Restaurant in Wanchai:
    http://www.openrice.com/english/resta...
    http://gastronomousanonymous.com/2013...

    1. I would add this to scoopG list:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/926183

      1. Let me ask some specific questions. Should we reserve one dinner on Victoria Peak, if so where? Same for Typhoon Shelter? Any other scenic/unique dining experiences?

        Is Bo Innovation a must try? What about Lung Keen Heen? There are 3 of us, and we like to try lots of food so we like tasting menus for high end dining. What other high end Cantonese restaurant has tasting menu, especially 10+ courses?

        Are the best dim sums at Tim Ho Wan and Ming Court (in terms of both quality and variety), are they as good on weekday as weekends?

        Best Shanghainese restaurant with tasting menu?

        I've read through most of the recent HK threads and they're helpful but don't directly address my questions.

        16 Replies
        1. re: Worldwide Diner

          You might be making more work for yourself by switching hotels. Getting around is easier than you might expect; taxis are plentiful and the MTR -- actually all public transportation -- works very well. There really are nothing like Bo Innovation or Lung Keen Heen in the U.S. Ye Shanghai is easy to find and reliable. As for dim sum "finds", be sure that the dim sum is actually from the restaurant's own kitchen. We've heard that a lot of HKG dim sum come from central kitchens and are trucked all over.

          1. re: Worldwide Diner

            As eluded to by BoneAppetite, there is nothing like Bo Innovation or LKH in the States. However, 'nothing like it' does not necessarily mean great chow!!
            IMO, Bo Innovation is 'different' but there can also be a lot of hits and misses with ingredients and components clashing rather than jiving! Especially when pertains to some of the molecular stuff!
            LKH offer spectacular service by Chinese Restaurant standard. Dim Sum are a stand out with eye appealing presentation. Definitely their forte. However, dinner is over-rated and over-priced IMO. For Cantonese dinner, there are many offering same caliber if not better food! Fook Lam Moon is such example.
            High end restaurants usually have their own 'Dim Sum chefs'!

            1. re: Charles Yu

              We agree that LKH is more enjoyable during the day. And we agree "great chow" isn't always the object when it comes to learning about something unfamiliar. And if Worldwide Diner is curious about U.S. menu sports bar executed in HKG, there's Dan Ryan's that performs better than more than a lot of Statesiders of that ilk.

              1. re: Charles Yu

                I concur with Charles on LKH, and would throw in Yan Toh Heen into the dim sum mix. It impressed even more than LKH and Ming Court

                1. re: blownd

                  YTH was Lai Ching Heen when LKH's Chef Chan headed the kitchen there.

              2. re: Worldwide Diner

                I would give eating on the peak a miss (and only head up there is the sky is really clear). We are pretty short of scenic experiences here, in fact until recently outdoor dining was rare (apart from the street). I have not been to Typhoon shelter but the crab restaurants with that name are actually in Causeway Bay.

                Do try a variety of dim sum, from the luxuries treats in the big hotel Michelin starred room, through the great mid market, to the cheap Tim Ho Wan (its good but its fame is the price/quality ratio not absolute quality). All are as good weekends as much as mid-week, although some mid-week may limit the menus. I haven't seen dim sum transported from central kitchens and most places I try have their own style so I am not certain places really do that. Even the chains like Crystal Jade and the small mom&pop places have chefs prepping dumplings.

                Degustation/tasting menus for Chinese food is pretty rare, The Chairman is a good option. Many places do banquets but for three people that may be tricky and so you won't get a spread of dishes.

                I also think the two hotel strategy is a bit crazy, get one near the MTR and you can get across the harbour easily (getting taxis to cross the harbour is more tricky so look for the designated taxi ranks". Hot spots for nightlife are really LKF/Wyndham Street/Soho/Sheung Wan in Central, Star/Ship streets in Admiralty for good food (with Wanchai for really late nights and dubious bars and clubs) and TST (which is more local).

                1. re: PhilD

                  I'm arriving on Sunday and departing on Fri. So I only have one weekend dim sum - which should it be? This should be the place with the best weekend dim sum.

                  I know that tasting menus for Chinese food is rare but I thought the local CH could help. Does the Chairman have tasting menu? I grew up in Taiwan and loved eating banquets but you need a table of 8 to 10 people.

                  I think we want to stay in TST for a couple of nights to hit the night markets and get the view of HK, and then stay in Central for other nights. The problem is I have no idea how easy it is to use the MTR. Fodor's makes it sound like the stations are mazes and we would likely be too lazy/drunk to deal with it.

                  1. re: Worldwide Diner

                    You are clearly not reading the links. Sockster's report on the Chairman is for a party of two. Sockster personally arranged his meal there via email. You can do the same. Transportation in Hongkong is the most easily accessible in the world.

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/967115

                    1. re: scoopG

                      This is like pulling teeth and then getting spanked. I'm sorry that I bothered to pose my questions here.

                    2. re: Worldwide Diner

                      MTR is easy to use. and if its late night and you are too drunk, just hail a cab. they are everywhere.

                      I echo the others' comments that its not necessary to switch. you probably need a half day to pack up and get settled into the new hotel, but the time saving is not significant when you consider how easy it is to get around in HK.

                      1. re: ckshen

                        What does to take so long to switch hotels? It takes only a few minutes to check out and checking, no?

                        1. re: Worldwide Diner

                          Depends on check out and check in times and how much you pack and un-pack. If you can't check in until 12:00 noon or 15:00 (common in some Asian hotels) and need to check out at 11:00 or 12:00.

                          Then it is a hassle and probably isn't worth it for the 20 mins you save on the journey time between central and TST/Kowloon.

                          1. re: Worldwide Diner

                            WD - Hongkong is very compact and easy to get around (via MTR, taxi, mini-bus, Star Ferry and walking). As has been mentioned, there is no need to switch hotels - it is not getting you any advantage really. You are wasting a half day that you could be touring/eating/shopping. Think of it this way: would you do the same if you were staying in NYC or D.C?

                            1. re: scoopG

                              If I was between Manhattan and Brooklyn, then possibly. When i lived in NYC, the rule was not to subway after 11. I hear what everyone is saying, it's just that I think staying in Kowloon and Central are both worth experiencing. If I switch hotels, it would be to check out, store luggage, come back later, pick up, go to new hotel. It shouldn't take more than an hour.

                              1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                Just stay in one hotel - travelling from Tsimshatsui to Central by MTR is like, if you are a Washingtonian, going from Foggy Bottom to Metro Centre.

                        2. re: Worldwide Diner

                          Weird comment from Fodors on MTR. It's simple and easy, especially if you get an Octopus card which is pre-paid card for The Airport Express, MTR, Buses, Ferries, and lots of shops including Starbucks, 7-Eleven etc. pick one up at the airport train ticket counter when you arrive. The other good thing is google maps includes the numbers for each exit so when you look up a location for a restaurant you can see the closeset exit is B1 so just follow the signs from the platform to B1.

                          Given the markets on the Kowloon side are only a few stops from Admiralty and Central MTR stops changing hotels really doesn't make that much sense. Note: I hesitate to recommend the markets as they are not that good.

                          Yes the chairman has a tasting menu, they also serve half portions of some dishes to allow you to try more. I tend to mainly do banquets (work) so don't know which others will do tasting menus - I think very few (and fewer do them well).

                          What time do you arrive Sunday? Assume in time for lunch - then book (early) one of the top hotel dim sums - refined and very good. During the week just try the more regular options like Fu Sing Shark Fin, Lei Gardens etc (sensible to book) at the mid level or Tim Ho Wan (no booking) at the cheaper end - there are so many choices and the favourites change its difficult to give a definitive list. I also like Wang Fu Beijing dumpling for a cheap lunch - their daily specials are good.

                    3. Allow me to offer more of a tourist's take on Hong Kong. As others have said the 2 hotel strategy really isn't necessary. I like to stay on the HK side and if you stay in Central you are near the Airport Express station and the drinking streets of Soho/ LKF, etc. You also have the Star ferry terminal, the tram and the Metro close by or just walk. Getting around is so easy and fun in Hong Kong.
                      Unfortunately, I don't think I have ever seen a clear day in Hong Kong so just go up the Peak, it's still fun but I wouldn't bother eating.
                      I would also recommend the public bus to Stanley.
                      We had a lot of fun at the Temple Street night market eating seafood and drinking beer on a hot night. Maybe the regulars here could recommend other street food possibilities?
                      What about a ferry trip to one of the islands for fresh seafood? Can someone make a recommendation for a balance between ease of navigation for a tourist and good food?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: crawfish

                        Yes, definitely recs to Temple Street night market. And I plan on going to Lantau to see that big Buddha, so any recs on where to eat on Lantau? The dining focus of this trip is to eat dim sum, fabulous seafood - Shanghai and Cantonese, and great Chinese restaurants with tasting menus.

                        1. re: Worldwide Diner

                          For the quality and preparation, I found Lantau's seafood restaurants a bit pricey when compare to others.
                          If you like the 'Fishing Village' outing experience couple with good seafood, I would head to Lamma and try out Rainbow. You will enjoy the ferry ride, the hike and the food.

                          http://www.rainbowrest.com.hk/eng/rou...

                        2. re: crawfish

                          Well we have really nice clear blue skies this week so the peak would be good.....the haze dies lift. The #6 bus is the best one to Stanly for the views, however there is nothing food wise to recommend over there.

                          Lamma Island for seafood is OK - but I am not a great fan of Rainbow - and I think a lot of the island seafood places are no better (and more expensive) than the ones in town. Sai Kung is the best area but is a bus and MTR journey lots of choice and variety.

                        3. Do some research on visiting Tai O fishing village. Samantha Brown's Travel channel show featured that episode once and it is only a fraction of what she showed. Plan on 1/2 to 3/4 day trip for this, and is worth it. Budget time to take the MTR westward to Tung Chung, then take #11 bus to Tai O fishing village (45 min ride with a several stops and scenic route), or spend about HK$200 on a cab ride one way that will shave about 15 mins off. Lots of street food type snacks, and you can visit (and purchase) from old shops that make dried shrimp paste, shrimp block, and eat at small restaurants that use those ingredients in their cooking (very rustic, yet one of a kind type experience you will not find anywhere else). It's a snapshot of Hong Kong stuck in time.

                          The typhoon shelter crab restaurants are mostly on Jaffe Road, which is in Wanchai, but within walking distance to borderline of Causeway Bay. Any one of them should be good (at least unique to the point where it will be an enjoyment for anyone visiting from out of town). But if you want the most authentic typhoon shelter crab prep, that would be Hing Kee in Tsim Sa Tsui on Nathan Road, where they are the only game in town to prep it with fermented black beans, and chili oil (unlike the other versions that are plastered with layered of fried garlic chips). Don't miss the roast duck ho fun, where the broth is made with conpoy and roasted dried flatfish (and they cut the ho fun noodles 5 mm wide for a better experience).

                          Consider experiencing blue collar side of Hong Kong by eating at the dai pai dongs along Stanley Street in Central (al fresco, tasty stir fry accentuated with an ice cold brew). There are other dai pai dongs around town but Central is much easier to navigate. Sing Kee and ones around that area are solid choices.

                          Definitely fit in one meal to eat a place that specializes in bamboo pole kneaded egg noodles (for wonton noodles, shui gow noodles, or brisket noodles, or sweet and spicy sauce stir fried pork strip noodles, pork knuckle brothless noodles etc). There are lots of differing opinions on favorites, but each restaurant approaches the bowls, noodles, condiments differently, some are better than others in some areas.

                          The Chairman is a great starter restaurant for experiencing high end Cantonese dining, yet doesn't have that overrated Michelin star feeling that they are overcompensating just because they are using the best of all ingredients. In fact the cooking is simple yet the result is complex. Since your visit is in October, you can make a reservation via email upwards of 2 months in advance, then figure out the dishes. Feel free to try the other high end places as recommended, so to expand your perspective. Personally I never felt the need to want to try Tim Ho Wan, Lung King Heen.

                          I don't know how good the Temple Street Night Market eateries are....but many local foodies do not like and do not understand the line at Four Seasons claypot rice (lots of Japanese and Chinese tourists) and prefer to go elsewhere.

                          If you want easy and accessible fresh seafood without trekking so far to out of the way locations like Sai Kung, Lei Yu Moon, Lau Fau Shan, I recommend Star Seafood (a chain but insanely high quality)....I went to the Yau Ma Tei location just a few blocks from the Temple (at Temple Street). You can't miss the ground floor....ridiculous amounts of imported sealife in super large tanks that are crystal clear. Like maybe 30 Alaskan King Crabs (each pre-weighed with prices), giant fish that could feed 10 to 20 people, stingray, humongous geoducks, Pacific lobsters, abalone, and random sealife from SE Asia, South China Seas, off the coast of Saba (Malaysia area) and more. Plus that branch of Star Seafood offers roasties (including roast goose) which you can pair up with a banquet style meal, or just order a la carte. Bring some Chardonnay, drink some Pu Er tea and it is a fantastic luxury in itself. Oh yeah their yum cha/dim sum ain't bad either if you set the right expectations.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: K K

                            I definitely need to research your recs.

                          2. Here's a preliminary list.

                            Kowloon

                            Peking Duck - Spring Deer, TST (opens at noon)
                            Dim Sum- Tim Ho Wan - Sham Sui Po, Kowloon

                            Cantonese - Tim's Kitchen,TST
                            Shanghai - Ye Shanghai, TST

                            Stinky tofu - Delicious Food, Nullah Road, Prince Edwards

                            Island

                            Cantonese tasting menu - Chairman, Central
                            Lung King Heen, Central

                            Dim Sum - Luk Yu Tea House, Central
                            Yung Kee, also does roast goose, Central
                            Tim Lung Heen, Central

                            Seafood - Tung Po, North Point, above wet market, known for razor clam, squid ink pasta, mantis shrimp
                            Shun Kee, Causeway Bay - dining on ship

                            Wonton noodle - Mak An Lee, Wing Kut, Central

                            Victoria Peak - Pearl on the Peak, lunch possibly

                            tweak away!

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Worldwide Diner

                              Tim Lung Heen isn't in central its in the Ritz Carlton on top of the ICC in Kowloon.

                              I really don't enjoy the food at Luk Yu but its historic so good for a visit.

                              Tim Ho Wan has four branches now so more options (also now in Singapore with four branches), not certain if the quality changes between branches.

                              The original Tim's Kitchen is in Central, the one in Kowloon is in the Elements shopping centre so less atmospheric.

                              Eating on the Peak isn't something many locals do, I can't comment on Pearl as I have not been. The restaurant group that owns it isn't bad but its more cafe food. If you have alternatives suggest you reconsider. Note on the peak: go up by cable car but catch one of the green roofed mini-buses back - the trip down the hill can be wonderfully terrifying.

                              1. re: PhilD

                                We won't eat on the Peak. It was a Fodor's rec.

                                We now need to work out our itinerary to fit in the restaurants.

                              2. re: Worldwide Diner

                                Nice list!
                                Noticed you manage to dig up the Stinky Tofu joint at Prince Edward! Bravo!
                                Why Yung Kee? If the only thing you are interested in is the Roasted Goose, I would walk one block down to Yat Lok on Stanley Street. Better and cheaper.
                                As eluded to by PhilD. Luk Yu's food can be so-so unless you order the 'iconicand nostalgic' Cantonese dishes. And, if you know someone in management, the food can be spectacular. ( see my review )

                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                  I guess Yung Kee is more famous than good? I think we're going for goose and dim sum. There's going to be a lot of waste on this trip as we'll want to taste lots of things.

                                  We'll probably skip Luk Yu.

                                  Thinking about just staying in Central, at Ovolo 2? Trying to find a place close to the MTR station without dropping $500 a night.