Food Adventure #6 Hong Kong

Instead of doing separate food adventures for all the meals in Hong Kong I figured it made more sense to put them all in one post. So this might be a slightly longer food adventure but the last restaurant really was a highlight so be sure not to skip it.

Every morning in Hong Kong we did Dim Sum at different venues so that we could compare the various dishes and learn how to speak dim sum (I am dangerous now, and by that I mean I try to order spring rolls and get chicken feet) but I do know how to order egg tarts and steamed pork buns.

 The dim sum in Hong Kong was really some of the best I have ever eaten and the experiences were wonderful as well.

The pictures above are of our first dim sum brunch on Saturday morning at Maxim’s City Hall, which was a huge restaurant located in what used to be Hong Kong’s City Hall building but has been converted to restaurants, theatres, etc. It housed probably 100+ people crammed into a huge dining hall. Notice the trolleys with the steamer baskets and food and if you zoom in on some of them you can see the wonderful treats including fried squid tentacles. This was a good first place to go because all the carts were labeled in english and chinese and the diversity of the dishes allowed us to try a number of dishes. The highlights were the Char Siu Bau (steamed pork buns) which had large pieces of bbq pork and a wonderful sauce that wasn’t too sweet but still satisfying and the Cheong Fun (shrimp in rice rolls) that had chewy rice rolled noodles and juicy shrimp. We also tried fried spring rolls, siu mai (pork and shrimp dumplings), and the chive dumplings.I would highly recommend this place as a starting point for non-locals into the dim sum scene.
After some sightseeing on day 2, we headed to a seafood restaurant that Charles’ coworker had recommended.

We had some chili crab (dry hong kong style) which was very different and less messy than Singaporean chili crab. We also had garlic prawns and some vegetables. The other really cool thing about the restaurant was, as you see in the photos of the prawns in the aquarium, that they let you pick out the crab, fish, etc that you were going to eat. So they brought the crab to our table to let us choose him and if we really wanted to, we could have picked out our prawns. The pictures of the prawns in the aquarium by the way are not normal prawns but are known as praying mantis prawns or praying mantis shrimp and are considered a delicacy in Hong Kong. This was a very local place and would not have been a place we discovered on our own and is definitely not in any guide book but again would receive a recommendation from me.
The next day we of course got dim sum again at a place called Luk Yu Teahouse which was more modern hong kong style in that you ordered from a menu not from carts, but the decor was definitely traditional tea house with artifacts on the wall, paper menus, and not much atmosphere to speak of. This was our Easter Brunch.

 

The picture above is a steamed bbq pork bun or Char Siu Bau in Cantonese (our Easter Brunch Hong Kong Style Hot Cross Buns). The Char Siu Bau here was not at good at Maxim’s as the sauce was too sweet but the pork again was tender and overall very good just not as good as the prior morning’s adventure.

 

Notice the paper menu for ordering and the steamer baskets carried to your table. These two dishes were the beef balls and the pork ribs in black bean sauce. Both good dishes and very different than what most Americans know of dim sum as they were not buns or dumplings but rather just small meat dishes.
The picture above was the highlight of Luk Yu for me. While I appreciated the beef balls, the Char Siu Bau, the Har Gau, which were all good and a few of them better than Maxim I would say the stand outs were in the picture above. On the right you see the egg tarts which were good consistency but tasted a little eggy and on the left you had the sesame buns that were fried with sesame seeds on the outside and contained sesame paste and mixed nuts on the inside. They had a great consistency with wonderful crunchy texture of the sesame and mixed nuts, a sweet but not overly sugary sesame paste on the inside, and had a chewy and crunchy bite due to the way they were cooked. Simply delicious Easter treat. I would recommend people come here for these alone but would also recommend seeing the decor of an old tea house and trying their hand at ordering dishes not off a trolley.
That night after a full third day of touristing (to be posted soon) we headed to our splurge dinner of the trip at a place called Hutong. The name of the restaurant means little alley/street in Chinese and the decor and feel of the restaurant was meant to feel like a little old alley way in a shop house setting with dark corners, small shops, and romantically dim lighting to help you appreciate it all. It also had the envious position of being on the 28th floor and providing a provocative view of the skyline for our once again viewing of the nightly light show.

The first picture is of a miniature Chinese pedi cab (taxi) that was our centerpiece and the second shot is of the skyline view from our table. Below our the dishes that we had for the evening.

For drinks we had jugs of wine as you can see in the second photo. The wine though wasn’t traditional wine but rather lychee wine (which was a sweet concoction fermented from lychee which is a tropical fruit) and the second jug was Osmanthus Flower Wine (a wine popular in china due to the fragrance, the sweetness, and the fairytales they associate with the Osmanthus flower). Both of the wines were sweet which played beautifully off the spicy dishes you see below.

We started off with the scallops and the grapefruit (called pomelo here which is slightly different than grapefruit but the closest thing to pomelo in the US). This dish had wonderful presentation but was not that good as the pomelo was underripe and had not sweetness. The scallops though were raw and had a slight oily texture that tasted wonderful and paired well with the pomelo texture. However, overall the flavors were underwhelming.

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The next dish were the deboned lamb ribs which are specialty of the Hutong and rightfully so. The crispy skin on the outside combined with tender meat inside and not having to fight with any bones was great. The sauces were deconstructed on the side with scallions, vinegar, and garlic. This made the presentation stunning and allowed you to taste the ribs with each sauce separately and together if you wanted which provided a very different flavor experience depending on how you mixed the sauces. Probably the best dish of the night.
Next we had the Ma La Prawns, which were spicy but not overly so as the prawns seemed earthy and buttery which offset some of the chili heat. Also, the scallions and red peppers provided more chili flavor if you craved it but as Ma La translates from chinese into English as numbing and hot there was no necesity to tempt fate and add more spice to this dish. Again this was a real winner and paired well with our drinks.
The last dish of the night was our vegetable and was green beans with minced pork in a soy based sauce that was very good. These were served with the prawns and had a salty and savory flavor that was a good complement to the spicy and slightly sour prawns and chilis. The presentation was simple but effective.
This was our biggest splurge of the trip but again I would definitely recommend it to people who want to indulge in some fine chinese dining with a view in Hong Kong. The food really was the star which was complemented by the wonderful view and luckily we had planned dinner to coincide with the light show so we could soak up the ambience and really savor our meal and last night in Hong Kong.
We did skip dessert here as the menu did not look inspring but I am sure would have been good. Instead we headed over to the Peninsula Hotel, pictures below, for drinks at their bar called Felix and just kept soaking in the stunning views and energy of Hong Kong.

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