Hong Kong EATS – July 2018

Went to Hong Kong with the Missus and two other lady friends for a 5-day shopping and eating spree.  The focus of this post is on the “eating” part – where we re-visited some old favorites eating places and explore some new ones which we are trying for the very first time.  The good thing about travelling in a bigger group is that you get to try more dishes in each meal – in past trips where there were just me and the Missus, we have to limit ourselves and not over order the number of dishes.  So lets cut to the chase and head straight to the eating places which are listed basically in the order we visited them:

DIM SUM SQUARE
Entrance – Dim Sum Square

Address: 88 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Rating (out of 5): 4.0

First stop was a dim sum lunch at an old favorite – Dim Sum Square.  We have been patronizing this place now for a number of years and their quality has always been consistently good.  Although not as well-known as some other dim sum places, like Tim Ho Wan or One Dim Sum, I would say Dim Sum Square’s offerings are equally good and without the need to que for a long time.  Plus we like the convenience as its just round the corner from our hotel in Sheung Wan.  Here’s what we had this time round:

  • Steam rice with chicken and mushroom
Dim Sum Square – steam rice with chicken and mushroom
  • Salted Egg Yolk Custard Bao
  • Fried Spring Roll
  • Braised Chicken Feet
Dim Sum Square – chicken feet, salted egg yolk custard bao and spring roll
  • Baked Cha Siew Bao
Dim Sum Square – Baked Cha Siew Bao
  • Steam Ma Lai Cake

All items are good but special mention has to go to the Baked Cha Siew Bao and Steam Ma Lai Cake; I dare say, the Cha Siew Bao is as good as the ones from Tim Ho Wan. Personally I am not a big fan of Steam Ma Lai Cake but my other eating companions all raved about it.  They actually ordered takeaway for the Steam Ma Lai Cake and bring it back to Singapore on the last day of our trip.  They are that good!

Service is brisk – the only downside is – like a lot of restaurants in Hong Kong where space is at a premium, the table top size is too small to hold all the food we ordered, so you need to quickly finished the food to make space for the next ones.  Prices of the items are very affordable and will not burn a hole in your wallet.

 

PANG’S KITCHEN
Pang’s Kitchen – 1 Michelin star

Address: G/F 25 Yik Yam Street, Happy Valley, Hong Kong

Ratings (out of 5): 4.5

Dinner was at another old favorite eating haunt – Pang’s Kitchen which managed to retain its 1-Michelin Star rating for 2017.  We have been patronizing this restaurant even before it got its Michelin Star and we almost always dined at the restaurant each time we visited Hong Kong.  Here’s what we had this time round:

  • Daily Soup – which was Papaya Soup

    Daily Soup – Papaya Soup
  • Hong Kong Kailan poached in Ginger broth
  • Fried Glutinous Rice with Preserved Meat
Fried Glutinous Rice and Hong Kong Kailan
  • Claypot Fish Cheek
Claypot Fish Cheek
  • Strawberry Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs
Strawberry Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs
  • Stir Fried Clams with Fermented Bean sauce
Clams in Fermented Bean Sauce

As usual, the food is excellent.  The Fish Cheek and Pork Ribs are their signature dishes and we always ordered them when we dined there.  This is the first time we are trying the Fried Glutinous Rice and Stir Fried Clams; I did not eat the clams but my fellow dining companions were very happy with it.  I did tried the Fried Glutinous Rice and I must say, it is one of the best version of dish which I have eaten.  It came with diced mushroom, dried shrimps and diced Chinese preserved meat (Chinese pork sausage and liver sausage).  The rice was not overly oily and comes with good “wok hei”.  I would definitely make the Fried Glutinous Rice a “must order” dish in the restaurant. In my view, this dish is better than the Steam Glutinous Rice (which comes with choice of Prawns or Flower Crab) which we tried before in our previous visit to the restaurant.  So all in all – a very satisfying dinner.  The dinner cost about HK$1,000 (about S$44 per pax).  Reservation is recommended as it gets very full with locals and tourists alike and the seating capacity is limited.

 

CHUNG KEI CONGEE

Address: 32-34 Gilman’s Bazaar Street, Central, Hong Kong

Rating (out of 5): 4.5

Chung Kei Congee

First breakfast in Hong Kong is again an old favorite place which we stumble upon a few years ago.  Although we have been eating at this porridge stall for quite some time now, we never actually remember the name of the stall or the address ( we just knew it was in a side lane, a couple of streets away from the famous Jenny Cookie stall).  This is one of our go-to porridge stall for breakfasts.  In my humble opinion, I find that the standard of the dim sum and porridge in Hong Kong to be very much higher than in Singapore – you can hardly find a bad porridge or dim sum place in Hong Kong.

This is one of the under-the-radar porridge stall which you will not find mentioned in most other food blogs of Hong Kong.  The most often mentioned porridge place is Sang Kei Porridge in Sheung Wan (which incidentally is just round the corner from our hotel).  I think the porridge in Chung Kei is comparable to the ones in Sang Kei and the additional benefit of eating here is you get freshly made dough stick (You Tiao) and rice flour rolls (Cheong Fun) to go with the porridge.

This time round we ordered:

  • Fish slice with pork porridge (for me)
Fish Slice with Pork Porridge
  • Pork liver and kidney porridge (for the ladies)
Pork liver and kidney porridge
  • Plate of You Tiao
  • Plate of Zha Leung (which is dough stick wrapped with rice flour roll)
You Tiao and Zha Leung

This is a typical Hong Kong hole-in-the wall kind of place and it gets crowded, especially on weekdays mornings when many office worker will swing by either to eat their breakfast or do takeaways.  So be prepared to share tables with other people.

Prices is very reasonable ranging from HK$19 – 36 for a bowl of porridge depending on the ingredients; so it will be one of the most economical eating places in Hong Kong.  The servings size are rather huge and so if you are a small eater, you may want to share the porridge.  The porridge is smooth and flavorful, almost like drinking a very thick soup.

We ended up coming here for breakfast again on our last day in Hong Kong as our original plan of eating at Sang Kei did not pan out as it was closed on Sunday.

So a highly recommended place for breakfast if you are in the vicinity.

 

KING’S PALACE CONGEE AND NOODLE

Address: Shop 19, L1, Festival Walk, 80 Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon Tong

Rating (out of 5): 4.0

King’s Palace Congee and Noodle

Lunch was at King’s Palace Congee and Noodle shop located in the Festival Walk shopping mall in Kowloon Tong.  This is our go-to place if we are in Festival Walk mall for a bit of shopping  Although it does not serve the best-of-its kind food here, the offerings are generally above average and prices are reasonable.

This is what we ordered to share among the four of us:

  • Wan Ton noodle
Wan Ton Noodle
  • Mixed Roast Meat Platter (Cha Siew and Roast Pork)
Mixed Roast Meat Platter
  • Fried wan ton
Fried Wan Ton

The fried wan ton was just average but the wan ton noodle and mixed roast meat platter was excellent – the Cha Siew deserved special mentioned and one our lady friends even voted it better than the Cha Siew from Yat Lok (see post below).  So all in – a very satisfying lunch and if you are in the vicinity and looking for a quick Chinese meal, this will be a good option to consider.

 

DRAGON NOODLE ACADEMY

Address: Man Yee Arcade Shop G04, No. 8 Des Vouex Road, Central, Hong Kong

Rating (out of 5): 3.5

Dinner was at Dragon Noodle Academy which was our first time visiting the place although it has been around for a couple of years.  I read some reviews of the restaurant from other bloggers and generally it falls into the “good” category but not quite in the “excellent” category.

The restaurant space is huge by Hong Kong standard. We were there on a weekday night, it was not very crowded and we could get a table easily without any problem.  The restaurant is decorated like a Chinese martial art school, complete with rows of Lion Dance Heads hanging on the wall and Chinese martial art weapons.  Even the door handles at the main entrance are made of Nachuk sticks (made famous by Bruce Lee in his movies).

These are what we had to share for dinner that night:

  • Lobster tail soup noodle
Lobster Tail Noodle Soup
  • Lobster and Shrimp “Lo” Mien
  • Dried Shrimp and Vegetables
Dried Shrimp with Vegetables and Lo Mien
  • Spicy Chicken Rolls
Spicy Chicken Roll
  • Peking Duck – 1/2 a duck
Peking Duck being carved at the able
  • Crispy Lobster Puff
Lobster Puff
  • Jumbo Lobster Spring Roll
Lobster Spring Roll

The best dish of the night (which is also probably the most “instagram” worthy) surprisingly is the Lobster Puff.  The next best dish would be the Spicy Chicken Roll which is served cold – especially if you like the numbness (Ma La) sensation from the spicy Sichuan peppercorn.  The Lobster Spring Roll looks and sound good but the fillings are a tad too wet which makes the spring roll less crispy than it should be.  Taste-wise it is sort of average but I will not rate it as a “must-order” for the restaurant.  The soup from the noodle tasted very much like the prawn noodle soup in Singapore.  As for the other dishes, they were sort of average or below average, not particularly memorable.

Definitely, the restaurant operator has put in a lot effort into the presentation of the food and on that scale alone, I would rate it a near perfect 4.5 out of 5 (the one blip would be the Peking Duck which could be presented in a more “instagram” worthy way).  But in terms of the taste, texture, flavors and fragrance, it falls short of the mark.  If the restaurant operator put in as much effort on the taste/flavors of the food as they did on the presentation, they will have a runaway winner.  Service was good and we did not have to wait long for our food nor have any problems getting the attention of the service staff for tea refills or extra plates.  Price-wise I would rate it as being reasonable, (considering we are having lobster meat) although not exactly cheap.

Would I want to come back to dine at the restaurant? No, as there are simply far too many excellent dining choices in Hong Kong.  Would I recommend someone to go to the restaurant? Maybe, if only to experience the wonderfully presented “instagram” worthy food once.

 

VIRAL FUSION (PRIVATE KITCHEN)

Address: 13 Floor Pearl Oriental House, 60 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong

Ratings (out of 5): 3.5

We wanted to experience eating at a Private Kitchen for this trip and after some “googling” and reading of reviews from other bloggers, we decided on lunch at Viral Fusion which serve Asian Fusion food. As this is a Private Kitchen, you need to make your reservation ahead of time and they generally do not take walk-in customers.  The menu changes every few weeks (please visit their Facebook page for latest menu) and this is the menu for that day:

Viral Fusion Set Lunch Menu

The Prelude and Desserts are fixed but there’s some choices for the Starters and Mains – some of which would cost extra (listed on menu) on top of the HK$168 price for the set lunch.

Prelude – Triple Delight

The Prelude comprises of 3 items – Eggplants with house sauce, Guava marinated with plum powder, Greens with fish roe.  Of the 3 items, I like the Greens with fish roe best – it has a nice crunch and nutty sesame oil taste.  The other 2 items I felt was very ordinary and average in taste (plus eggplants being something I will not eat ordinarily).

Starter – Canary Cove

I chose the Canary Cove (vegi shark fin and mixed vegatable soup) as my Starter.  The soup tasted like tomato soup and it has strands of vegetarian “shark fins” and “abalone” mixed into the soup.

Starter – Miss Piggy Mambo

My Missus had the Miss Piggy Mambo (pig’s knuckle in Hua Diao wine) which is served cold.  This dish is definitely an acquired taste  – you are basically eating the pig’s skin with hardly any meat attached to it.  But the Hua Diao wine sauce was very fragrant.

Mains – Mushroom Medley

For the Mains, I selected the Mushroom Medley (cheese portobello risotto).  This dish has a very strong mushroom flavor and is extremely rich, so much so that, after the 5th spoonful of the risotto, I was already feeling very full.

Mains – Langoustine Orientale

My Missus selected the Langoustine Orientale (tiger prawns with truffle sauce and purple sweet potato rice).  The prawns was tasty and my Missus especially enjoyed the side of chickpeas that came with the prawns.

Mains – Sicilian Grains

One of the lady friends ordered the Sicilian Grains (spare ribs with Italian vinegar) which was the last piece available for the day.  The meat from the ribs was tender and quite flavorful.

Dessert – boiled sweetened milk with dried longans, red dates and lotus seeds

Although dessert was listed as Kelp and Green Bean Soup, what was served to us was something completely different – boiled sweetened milk.  Strangely enough, the service staff also did not bother to explain that there’s been a change in the dessert item. The milk is definitely too sweet for our taste and none of us finished the dessert.

When we were there for a weekday lunch, the place was not crowded; just 6 other customers beside the 4 of us.  As a Private Kitchen, I felt the service was a tad cold and lacking the personal touch (I felt more of the personal touch eating at Dong Po and ABC Kitchen – see post below).  Serving size was quite generous – so you definitely will not leave the place feeling hungry.  At HK$168 per pax for the set lunch and location being in Central, it is definitely quite a bargain.  However, its Asian Fusion cuisine may not be appeal to everybody; so overall, it is a bit of a mixed feeling about the place.  Personally, I felt the food served that day was a mixed bag of hits and misses.

 

TAI HING (HARBOUR CITY BRANCH)

Address: Gateway Arcade L4 unit 4002, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Rating (out of 5): 4.0

While shopping in Tsim Sha Tsui, we decided to have tea break at a Tai Hing outlet at Harbour City.  Tai Hing is a chain of Cha Caan Teng (basically, Hong Kong style coffee shop) which serves everything from stir fry dishes to roast meats to porridge to fancy instant noodles.  They are also well -known for its cold milk tea drink.

These were what we ordered that day:

Roast Meat Platter

The Roast meat platter (Cha Siew and Roast Pork) was good but the general opinion is that the Cha Siew at King’s Palace was better.

Fried Singapore Kway Teow

Originally, we wanted to order Fried Singapore Bee Hoon but they only have the Kway Teow version for tea time and the Bee Hoon version from dinner time onwards.  This is the first time we ever ordered the Kway Teow version and surprisingly, it tasted quite good; for the uninitiated, the Hong Kongers call this way of stir frying noodles (whether Bee Hoon or Kway Teow) with curry powder “Singapore” style (I guess they associate curry with South East Asia and Singapore being located in that region).

French Toast

The French Toast uses a thick cut of sandwich bread and has a nice “eggy” aroma.

If you are looking for some place to have a tea break or even to have lunch or dinner, Tai Hing is a pretty good choice; even though it may not served the best roast meat or stir fry dishes, the dishes served are generally of a high standard and of course, they have their famous cold milk tea as a added bonus.  There are a number of Tai Hing branches located all over Hong Kong, so they are also easily accessible.  Prices are definitely affordable.

DONG PO

Address: 2/F Java Road Municipal Services Building, 99 Java Road, North Point, Hong Kong

Rating (out of 5): 4.0

We decided to visit Dong Po for dinner.  We first ate at Dong Po a couple of years ago; so this is a return visit for the Missus and me but the first time ever for our travelling companions.  For those who have never been to Dong Po, this place is famous for serving its beer in rice bowl (just like in those Chinese martial arts movie).  This is a Dai Pai Dong place (similar to the zi char (stir fry) stalls in Singapore).  Beside Dong Po, there are 3 other food stalls in the food center – all choc-a-block full on a Friday evening; but Dong Po occupied the largest area in the center.  We arrived at the food center at around 8.45 pm and by the time we were seated, it was almost an hour of waiting.  Definitely, if you are dining in a large group, it is advisable to make reservation ahead.

Dong Po
Dong Po – crowd
Beer served in rice bowl

What we ordered to share:

  • Stir Fried Clams in fermented bean sauce
  • Stir Fried Vegetables in garlic
Stir Fried Clams & Stir Fried Vegetables
  • Salted egg yolk sauce prawns
Salted Egg Yolk Sauce Prawns
  • Wind Dust Chicken (basically roasted chicken topped with fried minced garlic)
Wind Dust Chicken
  • Bottle of TsingTao beer

All the dishes ordered was good – special mention goes to the Wind Dust Chicken (which I would classify as a must order dish) – the combination of crispy skin, juicy tender meat and fried minced garlic is heavenly.  As for the Salted Egg Yolk Prawns, the underside of the prawns were all trimmed off, which makes it easy to just bite and chew the prawn meat out of the shell.  The clams and vegetable dish are all good.  The attraction of eating at Dong Po is not just the food but also the whole party atmosphere – it is not surprising to hear some customers (after some beer have gone into the system) and Dong Po’s owner – Robby Cheung belting out canto -pop songs together to the karaoke music videos or moon walking to the music of Michael Jackson. Our travelling companions were all very amused and entertained by the party atmosphere of the place.

Service is brisk and the food comes at quite a fast paced once the order is confirmed – the service staff will happily suggest dishes if you are stuck for ideas and will volunteer to take photos for you.  But this is not a 5-star establishment but air-conditioned food center, so do not expect 5-star services and squeaky clean hygiene.  Let your hair down, go with the flow and you will have an enjoyable time.

A side note on the food, the menu in Dong Po is quite extensive – it includes not just Chinese dishes but also some Western food items as well.  A lot of food blogs will recommend ordering the Pork Knuckles and Squid Ink Pasta, which we tried in our last visit and we recalled as being pretty good but personally, I will recommend sticking to the Chinese dishes.

The damage for the night came to HK$880 – not exactly cheap for a food center place but reasonable for the quality of the food and party atmosphere.

ICHIRAN RAMEN

Address: Lockhart House Blk A, 440 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Rating (out of 5): 4.0

Other than in Japan, Hong Kong has the only other operating Ichiran Ramen shops (2 in fact – one in Causeway Bay and the other in Tsim Sha Tsui).  In the Ichiran Ramen website, they listed another oversea outlet opening in 2019 in New York.  We visited the outlet in Causeway Bay for breakfast which is setup exactly like their Japanese counterparts – individual seating stalls and mysteriously hidden service staff.  The only difference is you order the food not via a vending machine (as in Japan) but from a ordering sheet which is then handed over to the service staff hidden behind some bamboo curtain.

The individual stall seating is so that customers can focus on enjoying the noodles without distractions.

The Ramen here is based on Tonkatsu style (pork bone broth).  What sets Ichiran apart from other ramen places, is you can customize pretty much how you like the ramen – from how firm or soft you like the noodle texture, to the richness and saltiness of the soup, to how much spring onions to add and the amount of chili paste to add to the soup.  One thing to note, the onsen egg is not a default item in the bowl of noodles, you do have to add it in as one of the side dish.  In addition, you are allowed to add noodles to your left over soup or other side dishes after finishing the bowl.

Ichiran Ramen

The good thing about the outlet in Causeway Bay is that it is open 24 hours a day – so going there for breakfast means there’s not much of a que and you could get to your food faster.

The ramen is ultimately very satisfying and broth is absolutely delicious.  Now if you cannot get to a Ichiran Ramen shop, the next best thing is to buy the pre-packed Ichiran Ramen to bring back to Singapore.

Pre-packed Ichiran Instant Noodles
YAT LOK ROAST MEAT

Address: Conwell House, G/F 34-38 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong

Ratings (out of 5): 4.5

We decided on Yat Lok for lunch – this is another old favorite joint.  For quality versus price ratio, Yat Lok will be hard to beat in Hong Kong.  Now this is one of those hole-in-the wall kind of place, so be prepare to que and/or share table with other customers.

Maybe due to the downpour (just before we reached Yat Lok) or because its a Saturday afternoon or combination of the two factors, we did not have to que for a table but we did have to share the table with two other Thai tourists.

Yat Lok Roast Meat

However, when we were leaving the place, a que has formed outside the shop.

What we ordered for lunch:

  • half a roast goose
Roast Goose
  • mixed plate of Roast Pork and Cha Siew
Roast Pork and Cha Siew
  • 2 bowls of hor fun (flat rice noodle soup) and a plate of rice

The Roast Goose is excellent – crispy skin and flavorful, tender juicy meat. Mixing the roast goose fat and gravy with the rice is a match-made in heaven combination.  The Roast Pork and Cha Siew are equally good – one of our travelling friends still voted the Cha Siew from King’s Palace as the better version but to me, they are equally good.  The Cha Siew has the right amount of fat and lean meat combination which makes the texture just right, unlike Cha Siew in Singapore which tend to be on the leaner side.  The Roast Pork has nice crispy crackling skin and not overly fatty.  Certainly, one of the most enjoyable meal on this trip.

 

TSIM CHAI KEI WANTON NOODLE

Address: 98 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong

Rating (out of 5): 4.0

Considering that this was our last full day in Hong Kong and we still did not eat at our favorite Wan Ton Noodle stall yet, we decided to go for round 2 lunch after Yat Lok – sharing two bowls of Wan Tons (without the noodle) and a plate of Kang Kong with fermented bean curd sauce.  We have been patronizing this Wan Ton shop since the mid-1990s and we almost always eat here at least once each time we are in Hong Kong.

Kang Kong with fermented bean curd sauce and Wan Ton Soup

The Wan Ton here is the big variety, unlike the version served in the 1-Michelin Star noodle shop just opposite of Tsim Chai Kei.  Just like Yat Lok, be prepared to que and/or share table with other customers.  The menu here is very limited – wan tons, fresh sliced beef and fish cake to go with yellow noodle, flat rice noodle or bee hoon.  For the vegetables, there’s just Kang Kong or Chye Sim with either fermented bean curd sauce or oyster sauce.  All noodles are served soup based – no dried version is available.

The Wan Tons and Fresh Sliced Beef noodles are highly recommended.

ABC KITCHEN

Address:  CF7 1/F Queen Street Cooked Food Market, 1 Queen Street, Shueng Wan, Hong Kong

Ratings (out of 5): 4.0

ABC Kitchen

For our last dinner in Hong Kong for this trip, the ladies voted to have Foi Gras and so we ended up at ABC Kitchen in Queen Street Food Center in Shueng Wan.  This is an institution and very well-known place among foodies but this is the first time we are eating here for all of us.  We tried calling to make a reservation for early evening but they were full and advised us to come after 9.30 pm and they will still be able to serve us.  When we arrived at the food center, there were about 4 other tables occupied by customers but they looked like they had finished their meals  and were just finishing their wine (BTW – this is a BYO place).  We were quickly shown to our table and service staff quickly setup the cutleries and served us cold water.

ABC Kitchen Menu

The menu is not very extensive but there’s certainly enough choices for a good selection and to cater to different taste.  The waitress taking our order – recommended the freshly shuck oysters as a starter while we are still deciding on the food.  I am not a fan of fresh oysters but the Ladies are all for it.

Fresh Oysters

The oysters arrived and it did not disappoint (the Ladies) – certainly one of the plumbest fresh oysters I have ever seen.  The Ladies were all very happy with it.  We made our food order with the waitress, including a Jug of Sangria.

Bread Basket

The bread arrived still hot and it was freshly baked soft roll served with cold butter.

Foi Gras – served with toast and side salad

All three Ladies had to have their Foi Gras as a starter while I ordered the White Asparagus with Poached Egg.

White Asparagus with Poached Egg and Ham

We were all very happy with the Starters – serving size is generous and the flavors and texture was just right.

Roasted Suckling Pig

For our mains, my Missus had the Suckling Pig; while I and one other friend ordered the Poached Seabass, the other friend had the Gnoochi.

Gnoochi Primavera
Poached Seabass

The mains were generally quite good – flavorful and with a good serving portions.  Some of the sides dishes accompanying the mains were interesting – like the braised leeks (Seabass) and caramel apple (Suckling Pig).  All in it was generally satisfying.  One side note on the mains, originally we had wanted to order the Chicken Fricasee but the waitress warned that the chicken by design is cooked to 80% doneness and so it may still be a bit bloody in the  center – it was good that she forewarned us – hence we ended up with 2 order of Seabass.

Banoffee Tart

While we were served the mains, the service staff approached us if we wanted to order dessert as they are closing the kitchen for the night.  So we order a Soufle and 2 order of the Banoffee Tart.

Chocolate & Hazelnut Soufle

The dessert was good and did not disappoint – the Soufle size is quite huge and the top had risen nicely – soft and mushy on the inside.  The tart was also nice – the crust has a nice crunch and buttery taste.  The good thing is that they both are not overly sweet.

The service deserved special mention – our water were refilled without prompting, the pace of the food served is just nice, no rush and all the starters and Mains came at about the same time.  All the cutleries were replaced after each course and the plates changed.  So you are getting 5-star service and food but at a food center atmosphere.

The damaged for the night for 4 of us is HK$1900 – not exactly cheap but considering the quality of the food and standard of service – it is acceptable.

If you are looking for good western meal with a “casual” atmosphere, ABC Kitchen is a good option.

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