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Apr 30, 2014 11:24 PM

First Time Visit From SF to Hong Kong & Singapore

Greetings Chowhounds of Singapore & Hong Kong! I've been thoroughly enjoying reading the various threads of the past few years on both subjects...what excellent information!

I'm embarking on a 17 day trip in 2 weeks to China (Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai). Then 3 nights each in Hong Kong and Singapore. I feel for the sake of space, I'll split the first half in China's cities and the 2nd half into 2 threads...better than cramming everything in 1 thread or making 4 different ones. This will be my first visit to all of these cities, as a diner who lives in SF and also has lived recently in LA and Paris, and spent good time in Tokyo. No need to go to Mozza in Singapore as much as I love it in Hollywood.

The catch on Hong Kong is it is the only leg of the trip where I will be on my own. I know that can make certain restaurants more awkward/too much food ordered but perhaps I can arrange tasting portions beforehand for such places (Tim's Kitchen, Seventh Son, Chairman...)? A little communication maybe can go a long ways...

Here's what I'm working with after lots and lots of reading. Please, please offer thoughts!

Hong Kong (3 dinners, 2 lunch, plus 1 lunch Macau)
Dinners: Yardbird (living in SF, I know how to wait), Chairman (either arrange a special tasting menu, do the 3 course solo lunch menu instead?, or order a la carte?), and The Seventh Son (same issues as Chairman).

Lunch: Won ton soup (Charles, should I do Mak Man Kee or Mak An Kee or one of the others from your list as a first timer?) and Mui Kee Congee

Dessert: Australian Dairy Co.

Others Still thinking About: Bo Innovation, Lung Keen Heen, Yan Toh Heen, Fook Lam Moon, Liberty Private Works, Hoi King Heen, Tung Po, Tim Ho Wan (I do need a good dim sum meal, right?), Tim's Kitchen...

Cocktails/drinks: Honi Honi, MO Bar, Ozone Ritz, Butler Bar, Quinary, Totts or Hooray for a view, Wyndham the 4th

Staying either in Central or lower Kowloon by Star Ferry...still being decided.

Now, Singapore! Wow have I wanted to visit and eat here for years...beyond excited.

3 dinners, 2 lunch: Reserved at Andre for one dinner. Burnt Ends looks very unique and special for another. Hainan chicken-- sounds like Tian Tian despite people adoring it or despising it? Laksa-- 328 Katong Laksa. Then decisions to best enjoy carrot cake, satay, fish head curry, durian, kaya toast...hard to trim the suggestions in various threads. And would love thoughts on other spots that aren't on my radar.

Drinks: Hey, I have to go to Raffles Long Bar for the Singapore Sling and history. Do it once. also, B28, Tippling Club, 28 Hong Kong Street, Jigger & Pony, Cufflink Club, Nektar, Maison Ikkoku, The Library.

Staying in Downtown by Raffles Place.

For both Hong Kong and Singapore, I'm open to all ideas. Great espresso baristas, bakeries, breweries, wine name it. This will be a special trip and I know it will be even more special because of your help. Many thanks!

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  1. For Won Ton noodles. Mak An Kee, hands down! Add a plate of beef brisket and tendons on the side for a nice lunch package.

    Bo innovation is 'fun' but not all dishes are necessarily tasty and harmonious.

    No need to consider Fook Lam Moon if you are planning to try out Seventh Son. Very similar food and menu.

    Lung King Heen is over-rated for dinner but a definite candidate for a great Dim Sum lunch experience. Tim Ho Won is much much more casual and cheaper, more traditional and less innovative. However, great value for money.

    Why Liberty Private work?! I'm sure there are tons of restaurants in the SF area that can offer better food than LPW?!!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Charles Yu

      Haha, you know I just read like a CNN or Travel & Leisure thing from 2011 on Liberty Private Works yesterday. It sounded great. Then looked up the website and it looked the same as described a few years ago. So, I thought, hey why not see what Chowhound thinks? But you're right, no reason for me to try it when we have speakeasy type dinners everywhere.

      Charles, what would you recommend on doing with The Chairman as a solo diner? Should I go for the 3 course lunch or maybe try to arrange with them beforehand a one person dinner banquet? So many dishes there worth trying...same dilemma I'm having with Seventh Son.

      Mak An Kee it is! I knew not to even ask about Wing Wah. I'll skip Bo Innovation. Thoughts on what to order at Mui Kee Congee/are they open at lunch or just mornings?

      Forgot to ask about a lunch in Macau too...

      1. re: pats38sox

        Do you have time to tag on another lunch after a Won-Ton noodle lunch at Mak An Kee and a Dim Sum lunch at one of the Michelin star establishment?
        If so, no harm giving the Chairman a call or e-mail them about a tasting menu for one? They might just add your extra order to another existing one?
        As for lunch in Macau?! The Michelin 3* 'Robuchon Au Dome' without a doubt!! Their business lunch at HK$458 ( US$65 ) is one of the best 3* deal around! Book really early though! If no luck with reservations, there are three 2* Cantonese restaurants at the Wynn, Four Seasons, Encore or Grand Lisboa.
        If you are sick of Chinese, then do give local Macaunese/Portuguese cuisine a try.

        1. re: Charles Yu

          You know, now that I do the math with plane arrival/departure times, it really seems like it can just be the 3 dinners, 1 lunch, 1 early lunch/late breakfast (does Singapore Airlines serve food in economy HKG to SIN?), and then either 1 more lunch or lunch in Macau on my daytrip day to Macau.

          The early lunch should probably be for congee? Or, should I scratch that and do a really early Mak An Kee, dim sum for the other HK lunch, and then a lunch in Macau? If I eat in Macau, I'd certainly consider Robuchon au Dome (strangely I just lived for 3 months in Vegas for an assignment about 3 mins walk from his L'Atelier and never went there) or local Macaunese.

          For Macaunese, it looks like from previous threads Fernando's, Litorai, and A Lorcha are good choices, or at least they were.

    2. When are you coming to Singapore, I have a week off 16-20 May, if you want to do a hawker/street food crawl with me through the various food centres in Singapore: Old Airport Road food centre for its Hokkien noodles, wanton noodles & pork satay, Maxwell Road food centre for Tian Tian's Hainanese chicken rice, fish porridge, Hainanese curry rice and steamed taioca cakes, Amoy Street food centre for "Lor Mee" (braised noodles), steamed Chinese glutinous dumplings, etc.

      You might want to try Mary Gomes' "Beef smore" and "apom bokwa"; Princess Terrace (Copthorne King's Hotel)'s unforgettable Penang lunch or dinner buffet - the spread of Nyonya dishes have remained virtually unchanged since 1970s; Shashlik restaurant's Hainanese take on the Russian Borschsh soup and shashlik steaks; PeraMakan's Nyonya cuisine; Ocean @ Teluk Ayer Street's curry fish-head (it's *more* palateable than you think!); best kaya toast (using orange ciabatta) at Good Morning Nanyang @ Hong Lim Green; and exquisite to-die-for 5-star Cantonese cuisine at Mitzis, a little stall located in an old food centre in Chinatown.

      I can try and muster some other Singapore-based Chowhounds to join us (how about it - M_Gomez, FourSeasons, Makanputra, sg_foodie?)

      You need to dress light though - Singapore's weather is a veritable sauna this time of the year. Singapore Sling at the Long Bar - it's a touristy thing, but I won't discourage a first-time visitor from it. Mind you, the version you get there is far from the best. But the experience is like a first-timer to SF trying an Irish coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe.

      7 Replies
      1. re: klyeoh

        Klyeoh, that would be great! I won't be arriving until May 24th though...not sure if that works. On that subject, are lots of the street food/hawker centres closed on Sundays?

        Funny you mention Buena Vista—though I've lived here almost all my life, only been there once. BUT, I actually thought the Irish Coffee was pretty good. As in, it wasn't bad and sure you have to go once.

        Thank you so much for the list—I'm especially interested in the Ocean @ Teluk Ayer St fish head curry. They seem to ebb and flow with opening hours...

        Has anybody been to Burnt Ends? Menu looks terrific and it sure is getting the global magazine press (which can be a good sign or...not so much).

        1. re: pats38sox

          Sorry, pats38sox - I'll be in Penang for a food hunt that weekend (23-24 May) at the invitation of some local friends there.

          Food centres all open on Sundays in Singapore, so no problem for you. Not sure if Ocean @ Teluk Ayer is open on Sundays, as it targets the office crowd in the city. If possible, try and catch it for Sat lunch.

          I'd not been to Burnt Ends (as I'm not a big BBQ fan), though I'd heard some favorable reviews.

        2. re: klyeoh

          Ditto about the Long Bar Sling thing. We had better ones from a bottle onboard Singapore Airlines !

          1. re: BoneAppetite

            Haha...then that brings up the question, who in Singapore serves a great Sling for comparison to the Long Bar?

            1. re: pats38sox

              Just go to the Long Bar, it's the quintessential Singapore experience.

              The Singapore Sling is a gimmicky cocktail which most Singaporeans had never even tried before, let alone rate for the best places which served it.

              1. re: klyeoh

                Agreed. I prefer the Million Dollar Cocktail myself, if we are talking about classic Singaporean concoctions. The Long Bar serves it also, and the version I had 5 years ago wasn't too bad.

                1. re: Julian Teoh

                  Ah, need to try a Million Dollar Cocktail too...maybe a little Raffles crawl of Million Dollar at Writers Bar and Sling at Long Bar...not worrying much about quality but soaking up classic atmospheres.

                  Of "not touristy" Singapore cocktail bars, Tippling Club seems like the biggest must-hit...any other favorites anyone from the my initial list or ones I don't know about?

        3. Hi pats- try 18 Grams for good esspresso type beverages. They do a good flat white. they have several outlets around Hong Kong and Kowloon.

          1 Reply
          1. re: brucelee67

            Excellent, thanks Bruce! I'll certainly be there. Any experience with Coffee Academics, Accro, Knockbox, or The Cupping Room?

            Just saw this after looking up more on 18 Grams:

          2. We were in Singapore for 5 days earlier this year....didn't move a lot beyond DTF because my young adult daughter decided she had died and gone to heaven when dining there....! But hubby and I did manage to get out to Candlenut, which was one of the best meals I've had in a long while. We also loved Zam Zam murtabak.

            It was just my daughter and I in HK,,,so we had a lot of meals in the hotel! Luckily we were staying at Hotel Icon and she loved her meal at Above and Beyond. My favourite meal was at Lei Garden IFC mall. Massively disappointed in how downhill Yung Kee had gone since I last went there in 2011.

            1. Pats,

              I strongly recommend to consider Man Wah at the Mandarin Oriental. 7th Son is my next target but during my last visit I did not made it there. Yan Toh Heen in Kowloon should be a good complement. If you can not go there for dinner go to the lobby bar for one of the best views of HK. Tip: Try a New Zealand Pinot Noir called George Michael while watching the view and waiting for your reservation in Yan Toh Heen. For drinks if your are solo I would consider the Grey Bar or The Pawn. For fun + drinks + live music go to Dusk till Dawn in Wan Chai - can't go wrong. Enjoy!

              2 Replies
              1. re: domenexx

                Thanks Domenexx-- terrific advice. The coin flip will be Man Wah and 7th Son to go with dinners at Chairman and Yardbird.

                Then the question for lunch dim sum-- Tim's Kitchen, Tom Ho Wan or one of the other major dim sum spots?

                For the board-- for time, I'm going to stick to coffee/pastries in Macau. Any favorites for something light but excellent and local. Maybe Lord Stow's?

                1. re: pats38sox

                  I went once to Chairman for lunch and did not impressed me at all. Maybe a bad day or wrong selections. A popular with this board to take my advice with a grain of salt. For lunch dim sum consider Lung King Heen (four seasons hotal) Fung Shing, Fook Lam Moon (causeway bay or the legendary Luk Yu Teahouse.

                  If you are going solo I recommend that you ontact the restaurant beforehand so that they can assist and prepare small portions of different items. I do it all the time at Man Wah and Yan Toh Heen and they do it with pleasure. I would reconsider going to Yardbird when there are so many other options in HK - Enjoy