Hong Kong Eats 2

The Hong Kong food scene is constantly  changing, with new restaurants popping up and the less popular ones disappearing. Thus, my go to places continues to evolve. In my previous post about eating in Hong Kong (check it out here), I had  listed some food finds that were worth going back to. The selection choices still stands, but I thought it’s time to update the list and add more of my finds especially since my home base is in Hong Kong. Just like my latest post on Tokyo Eats, the list will be updated periodically.

Noodles

Brass Spoon 

Address:
Shop B, Ground Floor, 1 Moon Street, Wanchai (灣仔月街1號地下B舖)
Ground Floor, 10 Pottinger Street, Central (中環砵典乍街10號地舖)

My current obsession! I heard about this Vietnamese Pho place a while ago and waited for the hype to ease before giving it a try. I’m totally hooked! The Wanchai outlet I went to is tucked in a quite part of Wanchai, closer to Admiralty, really, housing a few other restaurants, but by far, Brass Spoon was the busiest. There was already a line when I arrived as everyone was waiting for them to open for lunch. There must’ve been around 10 people in front of me. Inside, the shop has around 20 seats, so it fills up quick! The menu is small as they specialize in Pho. There’s a choice between regular USDA beef Pho or premium beef Pho, along with some sides.

You can choose the amount of onion, scallions, coriander and even beef oil in the Pho. The broth was so clear and tasty, I drank most of it (which I typically don’t do). The beef was so fresh and tender, I’m looking forward to trying the premium beef version. The Pho noodles were very slippery and smooth. The best part was, I didn’t feel thirsty nor had any bad after taste, which I usually find after having Pho in most places. Price for the regular beef Pho was HK$88 (US$11), a bit on a pricey side, but it was worth it! Oh and they’re a Michelin rated restaurant!

tyhk9858

Best beef Pho ever! This is the regular beef Pho.

Samsen

Address: Ground Floor, Stone Nullah Lane, Wanchai (灣仔石水渠街68號地下)

Expect a line when trying out this place, but it’s worth it. This small rustically decorated place offers elevated Thai street food dishes with their specialty being noodles. Their signature is the wagyu beef boat noodle, which I had. It was sensational! My friend had the stir fried fat noodles with sliced chicken. That was also very tasty. Average check was around HK$120 (US$15) for lunch.

Kong Chai Kee 江仔記粉麵專家

Address: G/F, 2 Canal Road East, Causeway Bay (銅鑼灣堅拿道東2號地舖)

A local, “hole in the wall” that’s famous for their fish balls. The consistency of the fish balls are fluffy and bouncy – not a lot of places are able to do that. A selection of other “balls” are available, i.e. beef, squid, as well as pork dumplings and beef brisket, among other things. This is my “go to” for a quick bowl of noodles. On most days, there’s usually a line, but service is very speedy, so the wait isn’t usually very long. Average check was around HK$45 (US$6).

Hong Kong Style

Capital Cafe 華星冰室

Address: Shop B1, G/F, Kwong Sang Hong Building, 6 Heard Street, Wan Chai
(灣仔克街6號廣生行大廈地下B1號舖)

This place makes one of the creamiest and fluffiest scrambled eggs in Hong Kong! Menu items in this local “Bing Sut”(a traditional coffee house serving light meals) is limited, which is typical of all Bing Suts. For lunch, they have a selection of simple sandwiches – my favorite is their ham and egg on thick toast, macaroni or spaghetti with BBQ pork, and toast. There’s a slightly larger selection during dinner. Nonetheless, people come for their ultra smooth milk tea and their creamy scrambled eggs. Average check is around HK$50 (US$6).

Chan Hon Kee 陳漢記

Address: G/F, No. 91B Wan Tau Street, Tai Po (大埔運頭街91B地下)

In the winter season, it’s common for Hong Kongers to have claypot rice, a rice dish where the rice and its ingredients are cooked in a claypot over a gas or charcoal stove. When served, specialised soy sauce is poured into the pot and is mixed together. I always like the crispy rice bits that needs to be scrapped off at the bottom of the pot. It reminds me of rice crackers. There are many claypot rice places and I’ve had a number of them. A lot of places ‘cheat’ and pre-cooks the rice and ingredients, which is quicker to serve, but I find doesn’t bring out any of the flavors. At this place, the wait for a finished claypot rice is 30 minutes after ordering, and it’s definitely worth the wait! While waiting for the rice, there’s other items on the menu to order from, such as wonton noodles and even stir fry dishes, but most people, including myself, opt for their famous “cheng fun” or steamed rice noodle rolls that is typically found at dim sum places. The place is definitely a far from the city, but it’s worth taking a trip to try it. Average check is around HK$150 ($19).

Japanese Food

The Mon 一門

Address: 4/F, The Goldmark, 502 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay
(銅鑼灣軒尼詩道502號黃金廣場4樓)

This place has been around for many years and it’s still a very popular place for “not too fancy” Japanese food. They’re famous for their egg omelettes and when I go, I need to have one each time. My favorites are their mentaiko (fish roe) and eel flavor. Another signature dish is their eel and avocado roll wrapped in a soft layer of crepe. The blend of sweet and savory is really interesting. Their menu selection is quite varied from sushi to skewers and the quality is consistent and good. The restaurant is quite dark, but have appropriate lighting in the necessary places. Be sure to make reservations at least a week in advance. I’ve tried many times to try to book the day before, or even 2 days before and they’re always full – even during the weekday. Average check is around HK$250 (US$32).

Sushi Kuu

Address: 1/F, M88, Wellington Place, 2-8 Wellington Street, Central
(中環威靈頓街2-8號威靈頓廣場M88 1樓)

This is yet another place that’s been around for a while. I only had their lunch sets a few times so decided to have dinner. The place had a comfortable and casual atmosphere and found their portions to be quite large. It was just the two of us and we were stuffed after having a half order of pork salad, a side of edamame and sushi platter for two. It’s a good place to have some reasonably priced quality Japanese food in the heart of Central. Average check was around HK$350 ($45).

Chain Restaurants 

Tim Ho Wan, the dim sum specialist 添好運點心專門店

Address: Various locations in North Point, Central, Sham Shui Po, Tai Kok Tsui, Tseung Kwan O (Check here for specific locations)

This Michelin rated dim sum chain has the best baked BBQ pork buns in Hong Kong. I usually go to the outlet in Central and there’s always a constant line for dine in. Their menu selection isn’t that vast, but it’s enough to satisfy ones dim sum craving. I usually just get their BBQ pork buns (multiple of them) and the steamed BBQ pork “cheng fun”, or rice noodle rolls. A good tip – get take out instead of dining in as it’s much faster. Find a place to devour the goods instead of waiting in line! Average check is around HK$50 (US$6).

img_2709

Baked BBQ pork buns

Ding Tai Fung 鼎泰豐

Address: Various locations in Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui, Shatin (Check here for specific locations)

I’m always amazed by the efficiency the Causeway Bay shop has. I’m pretty sure the other outlets are just as efficient. Ordering is on a small clipboard to include the number of orders for each dish. After submitting it to the server, the first food item arrives within 5 minutes and the rest quickly follows. For second servings, the same order sheet is used since they have a separate column for re-orders. Their food is always consistently good and is a great place for me to get my Shanghainese dumpling craving, along with other Shanghaiese goodies. Although the Causeway Bay shop is massive, it gets filled up quickly during meal times, especially during the weekends. My favorite dishes are of course the “Xiao Long Bao” or the steamed pork dumplings, shrimp fried rice, steamed vegetable dumplings, and braised bean curd puff with black fungus. In addition to Hong Kong locations, they have outlets around China and Taiwan, which is where it originated. Plus, they’re also Michelin rated! Average check is around HK$200 (US$26).

Taste of Hong Kong – the first in Asia

Food related events always draws a crowd no matter where you are. The more popular and high end ones include Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, New York Wine and Food Festival. In Hong Kong, the closest one is the Wine & Dine Festival, but from my experience, it’s not as high caliber as the aforementioned.  This past weekend (March 10 – 13), the Hong Kong culinary scene saw the launch of a new international high caliber food festival. Taste of Hong Kong is Taste Festival’s inaugural city in Asia. Taste Festivals have been around since 2004 with London being the festival’s birthplace. They pride themselves to be “the world’s greatest restaurant festival.”

Taste Festivals prides itself to attract high end foodies who’s looking to ‘Taste’ the host city’s best and most popular restaurants. The ‘taste’ factor is for foodies to experience the restaurant’s iconic dishes. The main attraction is the 12 carefully curated restaurants that best represent the culinary scene in Hong Kong. This year, the selections are Aberdeen Street Social, Amber, Arcane, Bibo, Chino, Cafe Gray Deluxe, Duddel’s, Serge et Le Phoque, The Ocean, Tin Lung Heen, Tosca, Yardbird. London’s Duck & Waffle made a special appearance on Saturday as a pop up serving their ultra popular dish – of course Duck & Waffle! In addition to the featured restaurants, there was food related vendors, unique sake distributors, food demonstrations, chef’s tables etc.

Although the weather didn’t really cooperate – at the opening night, it was one of the chilliest nights we’ve had in a while, coupled with on and off rain, then the weekend was cloudy and cold, people still ventured out. In some cases, people had to line up for over 30 minutes to ‘taste’. Nonetheless, bringing the Taste Festival to Hong Kong definitely elevates the culinary experience in the city. Looking forward to next year!

IMG_3065

 

Restaurant dining – service training has lost its mojo

It’s been almost over a year since I’ve written on this blog. With a blink of an eye, the first month of 2015 is almost over. Like many,  new year’s resolutions are broken the minute it is set, so instead of setting one for this blog, I’m hoping to dedicate more time on this creative platform. Onwards and upwards…..

The restaurant scene in Hong Kong is like any global cosmopolitan city, new restaurants spring up in all corners of town while closures silently fade away. Restauranteurs believe as long as the food is amazing, the line will be endless – but is that really true? How about service?

You don’t need to know much about restaurants to know that it is extremely hard to find a body to serve. In a lot of places that I frequent, getting the attention of a staff is virtually impossible. Everyone wants to be served, and not the other way around. With the implementation of minimum wage over four years ago in Hong Kong, it has stretched the service sector even thinner. It’s come to a point where service experience isn’t even a requirement anymore. As long as you are committed and willing to serve, you are hired! Because of this desperation, the spirit of service training is virtually non-existent. This phenomenon is experienced in all types of outlets ranging from fast food, limited service, grab n’ go outlets to full service restaurants – independent and chained.

Of course there is always exceptions. I hope to experience more exceptions than what has now turned into the norm.

GDZs – hong kong’s #1 favourite snack

Almost every weekday afternoon at around 3pm-ish – 4pm-ish, I get hungry, or sometimes, I just want to snack on something. This craving especially happens when I’m in the office. Today isn’t any different. For some reason, I had the yearning for Hong Kong’s most popular snack – the Gai Dan Zai (鷄蛋仔). There are many phonic spelling alternatives –  however it’s spelled, I like to call it “GDZs” for short. After a quick search, according to Wikipedia, the English name is “Eggette” – first time I’ve heard of it being referred to as such.

GDZs is a carb-filled snack primarily made of the basics – flour, sugar, egg batter, and evaporated milk, reminding me of Eggo Waffles and Belgian Waffles.  Compared to the conventional shape of waffles, what makes GDZs different is its shape when they’re cooked. Petite puff-like rounds link together to form a larger circular shape. To eat, you simply need to peel each of the puffs off to enjoy. The best GDZs are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Not a lot of places can achieve this consistency, trust me, I’ve tried many! Plus, it’s best eaten when it’s pipping hot.

I’m lucky enough to have the city’s best GDZ vendor, 利強記北角雞蛋仔,  within walking distance from my office. I slipped out for a quick GDZ run to find a line of 3, it’s a lot, considering an adjacent shop also sold the same thing, at a fraction of the price! By the time I got my goodies, there was a line of about 15 people thinking of wanting the same thing as me!! Even though I was the 4th in line, each wanting one order, there was still a waiting time of about 7 minutes because each batch is made-to-order.  The original shop is located in North Point, about 4 subway stops east from my office in Wan Chai, on Hong Kong Island.  They have 8 locations in Hong Kong. It’s unnecessary to venture  to the original shop, they’re just as good at all branches.

My craving was satisfied today!