Sunday, December 13, 2009

Some Hong Kong Eats

It has been a crazy whirlwind since returning from Hong Kong and Tokyo two weeks ago.

I went to Hong Kong to be the maid of honor for my best friend's wedding and I was there for 6 days officially but I really only had 3.5 days to enjoy the good eats of Hong Kong due to two nights of stress-induced heartburn and one day devoted to the wedding. Good thing it was my third time there and I had a "To Eat" list so I did get to hit some of my old favorites and also try new things!

I read that 再興燒臘飯店 in Wanchai (sorry, no English name) had really good roasted meats so this was a must try for me this time. This is a roasted baby suckling pig.

My friend and I didn't order a whole roasted suckling pig since we wouldn't be able to finish it so we went with the next best option: roast pig, roast duck and roast char siu bbq pork combo. OMG, the roast pork skin went snap, crackle and pop in our mouths. Delicious! And every (tiny) table comes with a ginormous bottle of "rice sauce," which is a blend of soy sauce that you squirt over your rice.

Instead of rice, I chose my favorite "lai fun" to go with my meal. "Lai fun" is sort of a slippery, thicker version of rice vermicelli. Weirdly and sadly, it's rarely served in Los Angeles. The slang name for "lai fun" is "rat noodles." Why you ask? Because the noodles resemble the rat's tail.

While wandering through an open-air produce market in Mongkok, I came upon a store that had a huge sign that said "The Town's Best Ancient-Style Salt-Baked Chickens" and next to it hung rows and rows of chickens - ready for me to eat :)

Without a second thought, I plopped down $35 HKD (roughly $5 USD) for half a chicken and my friend and I chowed down right away. The chicken had a rich, meat flavor (sadly missing from your local market's Foster Farms chicken) and the salt flavoring brought out the meat's sweetness. It was reaallly good. I love eating chicken when I'm in Asia. Why do chickens taste better in Asia? Free-range? Cooking methods? Fresh-killed? My guess is yes, yes and yes.

Chiu Yuen Chiu Chow Noodle (潮苑正宗潮州粉麵). This noodle shop in Wanchai is an old favorite of mine. Really fresh fish paste balls and tender, fatty beef patties. This particular bowl had everything - fish, beef, tripe and pig intestines. Another home run.

Right next door to Chiu Yuen is Kam Fung Bistro (金鳳茶餐廳), another favorite of mine. Fresh Egg Custard Tarts seem to be constantly coming out at this place and you can buy one at the door and be on your way. Their Egg Custard Tarts have a nice flaky crust and it's really good when hot. You should also try their hot Milk Tea. It's not the watered down version you get in Taiwanese tea stations in LA; this is really strong tea. This combo is a favorite for afternoon tea in Hong Kong.

Kam Fung is a "cha chann teng"- a type of simple, down-to-earth bistro that's very popular in Hong Kong; it's really a vital part of Hong Kong's food culture. Kam Fung also serves a variety of simple, quick meals for those on the run (like all Hong Kong-ers are) like a hot pineapple bun with a thick slab of butter in between (yum!), chicken pot pie, instant ramen noodles and ham & egg sandwiches; a very typical menu for "cha chann tengs."

I kick myself. I forgot to write down the name of this restaurant in Wanchai (on Hennessey Rd., near Metropark Wanchai Hotel) where I had a delicious bowl of Yunnan "Over the Bridge" Vermicelli with Pork-Neck Meat. Yunnan "Over the Bridge" Vermicelli (aka 雲南過橋米線) has a very distinct style. The vermicelli is thick and cooked somewhat al dente. Typically, thinly sliced raw meat is placed in the bowl. Boiling chicken soup is poured into the bowl to cook the meat and tofu skin and veggies are quickly added followed by the vermicelli. Then the bowl is finished off with a spoonful of hot oil on top to "seal" in the heat of the soup.

And it's called "Over the Bridge" Vermicelli because legend says that the wife of a scholar had to deliver her husband's lunch over a bridge every day while he studied. She delivered a hot chicken soup to him one day and he was so busy studying, he forgot to eat. But when he remembered, he discovered the soup was still hot so he added the noodles. From then on, his wife often delivered that meal to him over the bridge.

Being the Maid of Honor in someone's wedding is fun but not easy especially if it's a Chinese-Western style wedding. I won't elaborate but I'll just say it was hard to sit still but I did get to enjoy some of the highlights of the reception like this delicious crackling roast pork skin. I can't get enough of this stuff.

This "Bird's Nest" dish was not the best but it was interesting. A fried taro shell held scrambled egg whites with shrimp topped with "bird's nest." Bird's Nest (燕窩) is really the saliva secreted by Cave Swifts (a type of bird) to make their nests. It's an expensive Chinese delicacy believed to have many nutrients good for the skin, the immune system, digestion, libido and so on.

Sliced abalone. Tender and sweet.

I caught the bride's bouquet so it didn't really matter that I didn't really get to savor the rest of the 7 courses :)

"Thousand-Year-Old" Preserved Duck Egg appetizer at Yung Kee.

Post-wedding, two friends and I went to Yung Kee (鏞記) in Central, one of the most famous restaurants in Hong Kong. It's known for its Roast Goose and All-Goose Feast where every dish, except dessert, is cooked with a part of a goose. We were a party of three so we opted for a simpler prix fixe. Plus, I wonder if the All-Goose Feast requires some kind of advance reservations. But if you're curious about the All-Goose Feast, check out the pics from Cha Xiu Bao, one of my favorite food bloggers.

Abalone soup. Good but not particularly memorable. The abalone was surprisingly tender.

The Star of Yung Kee! Roast Goose. Mmmm. Again, why can't we see this served more often in LA?

A mini-bowl of wonton (minced pork and shrimp dumplings) noodles to finish the meal at Yung Kee. Amazing! Turns out, my two friends don't like wonton noodles. Except for wheat pasta, I don't think there's a noodle or pasta I don't like :)

Varieties of Steamed Milk Pudding desserts are bestsellers at Yee Shun (義順) which originated in Macau and now has multiple locations in Hong Kong. I love steamed milk pudding and it's supposed to be good for your skin - well, at least you know milk is good for you anyway. I always get the Ginger Milk Pudding (薑汁撞奶), Double-Skin Milk Pudding (雙皮奶) and Egg Milk Pudding (燉蛋).

Ginger Milk Pudding is made by boiling hot milk and then pouring it quickly into fresh ginger juice and waiting for it to set - sounds simple but it's hard to get right every time because it doesn't always set. Double-Skin Milk Pudding is a steamed mixture of egg whites, whole milk and sugar and a thick film forms on top of the pudding from the whole milk - this is Yee Shun's most popular dessert. Egg Milk Pudding is a steamed mixture of whole milk, a whole egg and sugar.

The Crown Jewel! Tai Cheung Bakery's (泰昌餅家) egg custard tarts are soooooo good with the perfect combination of fragrant, sweet egg custard and flaky crust. It's a MUST in Hong Kong. And you must visit the main store in Central where fresh batches are constantly coming out of the oven as people queue up. Trust me, you want a piping hot egg tart. Tip - there's a coffee shop a few stores up from the bakery where you can get a coffee to enjoy with your egg tart. Free internet at the coffee shop too!

I've always wanted to try the famous vegetarian meals at the Po Lin Monastery (寶蓮禪寺) on Lantau Island which you can reach by ferry or train. It was a very nice and simple vegetarian meal with four courses and a soup for two people (I think it was about $15 USD/pp). However, it was a bit more touristy than I expected but it was still a lot better than getting trapped by the chains along the main shopping boulevard before you get to the Monastery.

Finally, fried "Stinky Tofu" (臭豆腐). I was so happy to find this awesome street food. It's best enjoyed with a mixture of hot sauce and sweet hoisin sauce. Yes, it's an acquired taste and smell like durian which I can't stand. But I don't think this tofu is stinky at all; I think it should be renamed "Fragrant Tofu." Seriously.

There were a few favorites I missed this time like Portuguese Egg Tarts and Hang Heung Bakery's "Wife Cake" due to lack of time and room in my stomach but I guess there's always next time. Hong Kong is only a 15 hour plane ride away.

Next Post Coming Soon (I hope) - "Two Fabulous Hong Kong Meals at Tai Woo"

再興燒臘飯店 (no English name but known for roast meats)
265-267 Hennessey Rd., Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel: 2519-6639

Chiu Yuen Chiu Chow Noodle (潮苑正宗潮州粉麵 )
37 Spring Garden Lane, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel: 2892-2322

Kam Fung Bistro (金鳳茶餐廳)
41 Spring Garden Lane, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel: 2572-0526

Yung Kee (鏞記)
32-40 Wellington St., Central, Hong Kong
Tel: 2522-1624

Yee Shun (義順)
Multiple locations in Macau and Hong Kong(Causeway Bay, Wanchai, Jordan, Yau Ma Tei and Prince)

Tai Cheung Bakery (泰昌餅家)
35 Lyndhurst St., Central, Hong Kong
Tel: 2544-3475


Unknown said...

I think you've tasted more delicious food in Hong Kong in three days than I did in the last three weeks. Should have checked this out earlier...ha..

J2Kfm (Malaysian Food Blog) said...

Beautiful post. :)
I am jotting these places down as I go along.
15 hours ride merely?!!
I am but 4 hours away and kept contemplating ... aiks. I really should make a move.

Love HK food.