The eating options in a town like Honkers are sure to bring satisfaction to just about any fussy visitor. While some may just want to tuck into the local specialties and ignore other cuisine options, I like to mix it up a tad. Here’s a run-down of the bunch of places we sunk our teeth into. Bare in mind that all prices are quoted in HK Dollars.
Dumplings is a good place to start, right? Last time I was in town I stopped by Shanghainese King’s Noodles & Dumplings to rest and refuel. Somehow we ended up back at the same venue whilst wandering through Tsim Sha Tsui but there was something a little different about the place. Not only was the menu much more petit but the name had changed to Dragon Noodles & Dumplings. Ah, what the hell. Lets eat!
Neither of us was all that hungry so we just settled on the steamed pork dumplings (32), steamed hairy crab meat dumplings (64) and sliced pork (54). Both varieties of soup dumplings were verging on perfection and the cool-slash-room temperature pork was juicy and packed with flavour.
After being disappointed by not having lunch at Bo Innovation thanks to a private function we walked back to Central and decided to try this traditional Japanese place on Wellington Street. Central was heaving with the lunch-time crowds so we escaped the madness in this den-like zen space, opting for the decent-value set lunch options.
I chose the Specialty Lunch that covers grilled fish (silver cod), sashimi, a salad, egg custard (chawanmushi), rice, miso soup, some pickles and ice cream. Not bad for (190). Similarly the other half goes for the Set Lunch (170) that has all that I got, with delicious sautéed pork & ginger instead of the grilled fish and no sashimi. Additionally, there are many bento sets as well as a la carte.
You don’t have to travel very far when you’re feeling a little snacky and wandering about Causeway Bay. I mean, it is Hong Kong after all. I had no idea that the minuscule noodle joint we’d just walked past had a bit of a reputation going across several outlets around town. Aparently this is the place to come for noodles. Hell, even Anthony Bourdain ate here so if that’s endorsement enough, I’m eating at Mak’s Noodle.
The tiny restaurant is coloured up in cheery greens and oranges with free-standing tables and booths off to the side. The servings may be on the small side but the flavours sure do make up for it. Beef brisket & wontons (34) made my mouth and heart smile. It was love at first taste. A broth so rich, savoury and nourishing I could feel it healing me from within. The slow-cooked meat melted to the touch and those wontons added their own special flavour. This is insanely delicious.
As much as I loved the chutney pork & noodles (43) I found the meat sauce a little overly sweet, rendering it almost dessert-like. Loads of chilli helped out with the sugar levels as did the firm noodles. I guess it isn’t called chutney for nothing.
Having breakfast at the hotel may be convenient but after a few days it becomes a little boring. To break the routine we headed out in search of a Hong Kong breakfast and settled on a place that seems to be all over town. This cha chaan teng (tea food hall) sprawls over three floors and seems to keep many-a-local happy at any time of day or night. It’s a place that is much like a diner or greasy spoon, serving up eclectic stodge at really good prices.
You’ve gotta love a place that tries its hand at Western food. The continental breakfast (33) comes as expected with scrambled eggs, baked beans, bacon, herb sausage, toasted bun, some curious mashed pumpkin and juice. I tried something a little more local like the satay beef (29) with instant noodles in soup. It also comes with scrambled eggs, buttered crispy bun, juice and coffee straight from a packet. The satay beef was seriously good; tender and packed with flavour.
The coffee was a shocker but in a joint like this I can’t expect to be impressed. Sadly I was too full to try the famous crispy bun slathered in butter and condensed milk. Next time.
I would never even think to have Thai food in Hong Kong but this visit was all about mixing it all up. Koh Thai prides itself on dishing up authentic food and while I found it lacked the chilli content in some of the meals we had, the overall flavours were pretty good. The Wanchai outlet is a gorgeous set-up that opens out onto a split terrace up above the busy street below.
There’s a well-priced wine list with some nice options if you’re like me and desperately need a glass of the chilled white stuff. A couple of salads kept things light and fresh – crispy whitebait with grilled scallops and green mango (120) – has a nice crunch but is a little sweet for my taste; the winning fresh pomelo with Thai herbs, shredded chicken, prawn and roasted coconut (88) is just beautiful and could only be better if those flacks of chilli actually had some heat.
The light and fresh turned to heavy and filling when the enormous bowl (say 40cm) of fried soft shell crabs (325) arrived and took over the entire table. The mountain of crabs waded in a mild yellow curry sauce with mixed pepper and onion and there was even a bowl of gloriously flaky roti on the side. At AU$40 it was well-worth the price tag. Damn delicious.
Arriving on separate flights meant that I had a few hours on my own on the first night in Honkers. Mi-Ne Sushi has a few outlets about town and after reading a handful reviews I made sure I ate there. Lucky for me I didn’t have to walk very far from the hotel as this one is conveniently located in Food Republic, a food hall in the basement of the Silvercord.
Plonk yourself up at the revolving sushi train or grab one of the tables and let the eating begin. Everything is made fresh and this is by far the best sushi I’ve had for quite some time. Yes, you can take straight from the train but choosing from the menu and ticking the little order form means you’ll get it fresh.
The highlights? Of course that would be the buttery foie gras (36) topped with radish and gold leaf, the sea urchin (36), the roasting eel (26) that is torched in front of your eyes and the hokka maki (22) – scallop wrapped in fish fillet that is lightly torched. Divine.
Be sure to check out the G.O.D. (Goods Of Desire) shop nearby for their quirky lifestyle and homewares.
Now this is a place we ended up at spontaneously when we were wandering around Lan Kwai Fong after a couple of drinks. Personally I’m not a fan of the area and with both of us quite hungry and very indecisive (I think I was the indecisive one) the menu at, wait for it, Wooloomooloo Steakhouse sounded decent enough at that point in time. I wonder if they realise they’ve misspelt the name?
An Aussie steakhouse in Hong Kong and I’m in it? Go figure. I blame it on being hungry, desperate and unimpressed with the whole Lan Kwai Fong scene. At least a singlet, thongs and pink zink wasn’t a prerequisite. Hold on, sorry, I’m thinking of Kuta in Bali.
Dinner starts off with a complimentary bread roll the size of a childs head that is so light and airy I’m thinking it may float off the wooden paddle at any moment. This thing has as much substance as chiffon cake, but not in a good way. A smoked duck breast (125) with rocket and micro cress, poached pears and seared foie gras is quite impressive and very delicious, dressed in a smoked vinaigrette. The pancetta-like duck was actually excellent.
The squid ink spaghetti (175) with sautéed king prawn promised a rich lobster cream sauce but the very light sauce was miles from being rich. Nice dish, though. As was the grilled Tasmanian salmon (220) fillet with watercress sauce with its retro sprig of curly parsley.
Desserts were something I’d expect from a steakhouse like this and the most appealing to us was the crème brûlée with fresh berries ($75) – nice enough with a very thin sugar crust and solo fanned strawberry – and the curious-sounding Lemon Europa (75) described as lemon iced souffle with cassis patterns, sable cookies and caramelised orange slices served over lemon curd. Not sure where the souffle concept came into it but the slightly icy lemon ice cream was refreshing and prettied up with flashes of cassis. The slices of caramelised orange ended up being just one piece and the lemon curd was just three small dabs on the plate. Nothing overly fab.
On our first moring in HK we met up with fellow blogger Phuoc for breakfast at Tim Ho Wan in Central. The original Michelin starred restaurant is in Mongkok so rather than schlepp over there to queue with half of Hong Kong we decided to try the one at IFC. I doubt the Michelin star covers the one in Central. Not that I even give a toss.
We arrived about half an hour before opening and grabbed a table pretty much as soon as the lights came on and the kitchen was ready to take orders. A procession of food covered the signature baked bun with bbq pork (18), the lightly-flavoured pan-fried turnip cake (14), some nice but not outstanding pork & shrimp dumplings (22) and silky steamed rice rolls with pork (20).
The dishes continue onto more of the steamed rice rolls (20), with liver this time, shrimp dumplings (22), watercress dumplings (18) and the tonic medlar & petal cake (12). All very good with the most interesting being the cubes of jelly-like tonic cake littered with dried petals and goji berries. As much as I liked the food here I’m really not sure why people rave about it so much. I’m sure there are plenty other places around town that can put on a spread such as this.
Airport food rarely gets a mention on this site due to the fact that it never quite cuts it for me. At HK International on the air-side there are the usual grab-and-go style food places but it was this place on level 7 that grabbed my attention. The Pak Loh dining empire comprises a string of formal and informal eateries that stretch across Hong Kong, Macau and Lantau. With a couple of hours to kill before heading home to Sydney my stomach needed filling before boarding time.
If the image of the Nanxiang dumplings (68) is anything to go by, I’ve got to say that it was these saggy little treasures that impressed me the most in Hong Kong’s dumpling department. They were perfection. Th soup in these things was collagen-rich, hot and packed with meaty flavour. The skins were the right thickness and overall a damn fine soup dumpling. Another dish that caught me by surprise was the beef brisket (98) swimming in radish curry sauce. Mildly spiced with chilli and deep in meaty goodness, right to the last drop. Ok, I’m ready to go home now.
Upper Lascar Row – a small pocket of antique shops and outdoor stalls in the Mid Levels selling Chinese bric-a-brac. The short lane runs parallel to Hollywood Road and while it’s geared up for the tourists it’s still a nice little area to snoop around.
The south end of Shanghai Street in Kowloon is a treasure trove of kitchen supply shops selling anything from wooden mooncake paddles to cookie cutters, moulds and ceramic plates. It’s a great place to sift through and stock up on just about anything you’ve wanted for your kitchen. Keep walking north and you’ll come across loads of bathroom renovator stores.
Varieties of lup cheong – rusty bike in Kowloon – glossy ducky goodness – egg waffles in Causeway Bay.
Hong Kong signage madness.
One of the many yakitori joints in Tin Hau – Tin Hau Temple – Causeway Bay delivery truck – HK skyline – Central backstreets – street food.