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Hong Kong questions

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. 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.