Sunday, December 23, 2007

Hong Kong: My Favorite (Food) Things



You think your are passionate about food, obsessed about it, that your life is centered around it? Maybe you should think twice. A visit to Hong Kong (or Singapore but this is another story) may shake these deep-rooted beliefs of yours. People over there eat all the time and seem to consistently derive huge pleasure and fun from it.

In that context, as you can expect, we had fabulous food. We were also lucky enough to have our friends Grace and Jason, both born and raised in Hong Kong but living in New York, to take us to places we would have never been to otherwise. In any event, if you go there, venture out of the beaten paths (I mean, avoid your hotel room service as well as the western restaurant around the corner) and:

-Indulge in dim sum (every day and lots of them) in a tea house or places such as City Hall Maxim's Palace and Ming's Court in Mong Kok (where the pig trotters, among other things, were amazing, so much so that I did not take any picture). Conversely, I was slightly disappointed by the dim sum at Victoria City despite the buzz around that place.

-Drink tea (and not beer) with your dim sum (because "yum cha" or "drink tea" in Cantonese is the name of this meal). And be careful to always mix it with hot water (hence the two pots on your table) unless you don't want to be able to sleep at night (and recover from the exhausting jet lag...).

-Try roasted goose and barbecue pork (had a good one the first night...and once again had forgotten my camera). But avoid the tourist-laden Yung Kee where the goose came tepid at first (too bad because it tasted great and the skin was perfectly crispy) and overcooked after being reheated (in a microwave?). You may be better off following in Anthony Bourdain's footsteps and go to Tai Po (New Territories) where he had some kind of epiphany eating the coveted bird.

-Eat fish (and crab, abalone, prawn as well as any other kind of sea food you may like) in Sai Kung (New Territories). It doesn't get any better and fresher than this. Simply cooked but delicious. While there are many restaurants serving seafood on the waterfront, I suggest you try Tung Kee where we had a wonderful and rather cheap lunch.

-Walk the streets and their markets (Ladies Market in Mong Kong, Night Market at Temple Street in Yau Ma Tei, Fish Markets in Tai O and Sai Kung, ...). You will definitely come across other tourists (who said it was perfect?) but also get a better sense of local life (and smells).

-Go to eateries where they serve breakfasts of champions such as the Chinese version of French Toast (with a looooot of butter) and various soups. And although you may feel the urge to enter, never set foot into a Starbucks. Have local iced coffee instead.

-Eat in dai pai dong (outdoor food stalls) or, if your are less adventurous, step into a small restaurant where comfort food, such as the sublime stewed beef brisket noodle soup we had in North Point, will delight you.

-Snack on jerky sold at Bee Cheng Hiang.

-Trust your instincts (if it looks good, it is certainly even better than you might imagine and you should taste it).

Finally, do some (even a lot of) shopping (apparently a close second to food as far as people's interests are concerned), enjoy the sights of the skyline from Kowloon, drown into the sounds and bustling activity of the city, take the subway and also the ferry (just to make sure, my New Yorker friend, you never again tell me that your city's infrastructures are the best in the world) and just enjoy that wonderful city which is also one of my favorites.

3 comments:

sugarlaws said...

I was in Beijing and Shanghai this summer and agree with all your advice completely! How lucky to have locals to show you around! Also, those dumplings in your picture look EXACTLY like the ones I had in Beijing, that were my absolutely tip top favorite thing I ate on my whole trip! How on earth do they make the skins, I wonder? They're so light and delicious!

Deborah Dowd said...

Hope I get a chance sometime to take your advice! Just reading this post made my mouth water!

Laurent said...

Katy, Deborah,

happy you liked the pictures and the post.

By the way, you can also have great dim sum in the US. Those at Chinatown Brasserie are among my favorites in New York. I posted some pictures at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/12642068@N06/sets/72157603585329502/