Quick and easy snacking options in Hong Kong

December 19, 2013 in Best Of, Food, Hong Kong, Reviews, Travel by pacejmiller

Most of my visits to Hong Kong are way too short, which runs contrary to my intentions to eat way too much. The alternative is that I just find a lot of places lots of different snacks that are cheap, quick and easy. Here are some of my recommendations.

Tim Ho Wan (添好運)

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You really can’t go wrong with Tim Ho Wan because it’s Michelin starred, it’s cheap, it’s quick (sometimes even when you have to line up) and there are now multiple locations in Hong Kong, including right next Hong Kong MRT station, so there’s no excuse for not visiting if you want divine dim sums. Check out my posts on this legendary joint here and here.

Lan Fong Yuen (蘭芳園)

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This legendary tea cafe now has multiple locations as well, so you don’t have to line up outside the hole-in-the-wall near Lan Kwai Fong. The service is extremely quick and the food is excellent for the prices — the perfect place for a quick bite, whether it’s noodles or pork buns or milk tea. Check out my full post here.

Sun Chiu Kee (新釗記)

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Rice, noodles, congee and coffee, all at reasonable prices. The food is standard fare but the good thing is that you can find one of these tea cafes just about everywhere. More detailed post here.

Australia Dairy Company (澳洲牛奶公司)

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It’s pretty silly for an Aussie to go to a place called Australia Dairy Company in Hong Kong, but this place is a regular for foodies who go there to sample its milk, egg and toast dishes. Can’t say I was overly impressed during my lone visit but most others have a different opinion. More detailed post here.

Tsui Wah (翠華)

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If you ever need a decent meal but can’t be bothered travelling, just look out for the ubiquitous Tsui Wah, which is everywhere in Hong Kong. They have an assortment of set meals offering different types of food, from sandwiches to noodle soups. More detailed post here.

Tai Hing (太興)

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I really like this place, which offers a massive menu with just about everything you can imagine, from rice to BBQ to noodles to light snacks, and loads and loads of beverage options. It’s more like a sit-down restaurant but it’s still quick and efficient. If you’re not sure what you feel like, this is the place I would recommend. The official website is here.

Yee Shun Dairy Company (港澳義順牛奶公司)

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I believe this joint originated in Macau, and it’s more of a specialized cafe for people who are into milk desserts, with their double-skin steamed milk pudding being a local favourite. Toasts and macaroni dishes available here too, but everyone goes there for the milk. Multiple locations across Hong Kong, I believe. See here for more details.

Mak’s Noodle (麥奀雲吞麵世家)

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If all you want is a steaming bowl of wonton noodles, then this is the place. It’s simple, tasty, cheap, and supposedly the best in town. For address and details check out this link.

Tai Cheong Bakery (泰昌餅家)

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Lastly, if you can’t stuff any more food into your belly, how about a traditional Hong Kong egg tart? I know everyone goes for Portuguese ones these days, but the traditional ones are pretty tasty too. For locations check out here.

Return to Michelin-starred Tim Ho Wan (Hong Kong)

September 29, 2013 in Food, Hong Kong, Reviews, Travel by pacejmiller

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The first time I blogged about Tim Ho Wan, a Hong Kong dim sum restaurant famous for earning a prestigious Michelin star, was in 2010 (that post is here). At the time, there was only one store in the Mong Kok area, and a 2-hour wait was a frequent occurrence at the tiny joint.

Now, that place has relocated and there are four Tim Ho Wan branches across Hong Kong (Sham Shui Po, North Point, Tai Kok Tsui and Hong Kong Station). There are also two or three outlets in Singapore.

It was our last morning in Hong Kong and so we decided to check out the Hong Kong Station branch (which I see every time I visit HK), which is located in the row of shops between HK Station and the IFC Mall. It’s open 9am-9pm and I thought a visit around 10:30am would be relatively wait-free. I was wrong, but it wasn’t too bad — about a 15-minute wait in the end.

Admittedly, this new Tim Ho Wan has lost some of its original hole-in-the-wall charm. It’s obviously more commercialized, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The place is now more spacious, looks cleaner and better organized than it was before. And the prices are still very reasonable and you can get full for less than HK$40.

We ordered a lot of stuff.

The must-get is still the BBQ pork buns, which are world-famous because of the different skin that makes it almost like a pineapple bun. So the outside is crusty, crunchy, and the interior is hot and filled with delicious BBQ pork.

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The quality of the rest of their stuff is also excellent. I particularly liked the salty dumpling, which is probably the best I’ve had anywhere.

 

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The regulars, such as the shui mai, har gao (prawn dumplings), turnip cake and vermicelli roll are also great. Just good ingredients and nicely made, with just the right mix of flavours.

 

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Two dishes that I didn’t really like were the Cantonese sponge cake and the Medlar laurel blossom cake, but only because I’m not a fan of this type of dessert. My wife liked them a lot though, so it’s just a matter of personal preference.

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You know what? My experience of Tim Ho Wan this time was probably even better than the first. It’s not a typical yum cha place where you can sit down and enjoy a long meal, but as far as the food and service are concerned you can’t really do any better.

9/10

Details

Tim Ho Wan (添好運)

Address: Shop 12A, Hong Kong Station (Podium Level 1, IFC Mall) , Central

Phone: 2332 3078

Hours: 9am-9pm

Kam Wah Golden China Restaurant (金華燒腊大王) (Hong Kong)

September 24, 2013 in Food, Hong Kong, Reviews, Travel by pacejmiller

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There are few things better in this world than traditional Honky “siu mei”, the generic name in Cantonese cuisine given to spit roasted meats like BBQ pork and soy chicken and roast duck and roasted pig. And so of course we had to visit a famous siu mei place during our most recent visit.

The preferred choice was the legendary Joy Hing’s Roasted Meat (再興燒臘飯店) in Wanchai, but unfortunately it was closed on Sunday (what kind of popular restaurant closes on Sunday?) so we went with the next best option, Kam Wah (金華燒臘大王) (which goes by the typical English name Golden China Restaurant) in Central.

Like most siu mei places, Kam Wah has spit roasts hanging in the store window. The interior looks kinda old and traditional, but that’s understandable considering the sign says that it’s been around since 1962. We were really early (before 6pm) so the place was relatively empty.

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They have an extensive menu offering an assortment of siu mei (you can choose the usual single meat option, or the double or triple) with rice or congee or various noodles and wontons and soups. There’s also vegetables, fried rice and other meat dishes. I managed to take some snaps of the menu so you can check it out for yourself.

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We ended up going with just two things, a BBQ pork with steamed chicken on rice, and a soy chicken and roast duck with egg noodle soup. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

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BBQ Pork with Steamed Chicken

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Soy Chicken and Roast Duck with Egg Noodle Soup

Quite simply, some of the best siu mei I’ve had, though I’d stop short of saying it was the best. Full of flavour but not overpowering and just the right amount of oil so it was tasty but not excessively greasy. The green onions in oil for the steamed chicken and the plum sauce for the roast duck both really hit the spot. Very reasonable prices too, less than HK$100 for 2 people.

8.5/10

Details

Kam Wah Golden China Restaurant (金華燒臘大王)

Address: 9 Jubilee Street, Central, Hong Kong

Phone: 2545 1472

Hours: Open daily 11am-10pm

Kam Wah

Four Seasons Clay Pot Rice (Hong Kong)

September 23, 2013 in Food, Hong Kong, Reviews, Travel by pacejmiller

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The busy exterior of Four Seasons Clay Pot Rice in Yau Ma Tei

I am a lover of clay pot rice (煲仔飯), and one of the most popular clay pot rice joints in Hong Kong is at Yau Ma Tei, near the markets on Arthur Street.

For those who don’t know what it is, clay pot rice is called kamameshi in Japanese and consists of rice and other ingredients cooked slowly in — you guess it — a clay pot, so that the bottom gets slightly burned so the texture is a little harder but not charred. In Hong Kong they love putting Chinese sausages, pork chops and chicken (including chicken feet), topped off with a flavoursome sweet soy sauce on top. It’s amazing stuff.

Four Seasons Clay Pot Rice (四季煲仔飯)looks like one of those no frills places with lots of foldable tables and stools bunched together. It’s likely you’ll have to wait outside for a table and then share when a table becomes available. On this night we were lucky and didn’t have to wait long, but as soon as we were seated the line outside got really long.

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Doesn’t look great, but it’s authentic Hong Kong experience

There are lots of combinations to choose from. You can get a single ingredient (eg, pork chop, chicken, beef, Chinese sausage, etc) or you can choose two ingredients or even three. We ended up going with two clay pots, two ingredients each. From memory they were HK$34 each (single ingredient pots are about HK$27 each), so it’s very affordable and HK$100 can easily feed two people.

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Pork and chicken with ginger

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Pork with Chinese sausage — apologies for the unfortunate angle

As you can see, we got the pork with chicken and the pork with Chinese sausage (we really like the pork). The sauce you see in the photos were added on after the pots arrived at our table (after about a 10-minute wait). There is a big bottle of the stuff on every table, so you can add as much or as little as you want. I added a LOT.

A rice each was supposed to be enough, but just about every table around us ordered these fried oysters (almost like tempura), and the waitress really recommended it, so we thought what the heck and got some too.

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Fried Oysters

Glad we got them because they were divine! Oily, of course, but not drenched in oil like I had expected, and it was very crunchy and tasty.

The whole meal was done in about half an hour. Definitely a place I’d recommend for people who like clay pot rice, or even just rice in general.

8.5/10

Details

Four Seasons Clay Pot Rice (四季煲仔飯)

Address:  Address: 46-58 Arthur Street, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong (nearest MRT Yau Ma Tei)

FSMap

Aqua’s Infinity Brunch (Hong Kong)

September 18, 2013 in Best Of, Food, Hong Kong, Reviews, Travel by pacejmiller

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The spectacular views of Hong Kong harbour from Aqua

Truth be told, we kind of scheduled our latest trip to Hong Kong around a visit to Aqua, part of the restaurant group (of the same name) specializing in fine dining in Hong Kong, Beijing and London. The reason we just had to go is because we kept hearing rave reviews about Aqua’s Infinity Brunch (really a lunch because it’s from 12pm-3pm), available only on weekends and offers unlimited servings of exquisite Italian and Japanese cuisine.

Located on levels 29 and 30 at One Peking Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, Aqua offers amazing views over Hong Kong and is the perfect place for a late and lazy weekend brunch. Great for couples and families.

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The interesting thing about this Infinity Brunch is that it is not a buffet — they actually have a menu and several courses which they serve one at a time (Italian and Japanese, side by side), and if you want more of a particular dish you just ask for it. Check out the phenomenal menu here (also available on the official website)

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As you can see, the price is fairly reasonable for the quality of food you are getting. It’s HK$398+10% service charge, excluding beverages (you can pay another HK$100 per head for unlimited soft drinks) or HK$598+10% for those who want free flow alcohol. Children between 3 and 11 cost HK$198+10% and children below 3 are free.

Anyway, check out the wonderful food photos.

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We started off with some fresh bread with a yoghurty, cheesy dip that really hit the spot. I particularly liked the squarish honey lemon bread and was almost tempted into asking for more but resisted because I knew there was a long road ahead for my belly.

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Next up, a couple of starters. The Italian one was an antipasto platter with salty ham, rocket, buffalo mozzarella and rock melon, whole the Japanese one had an assortment of sushi and sashimi. Both were excellent — simple but tasty. The fish was incredibly fresh, with the kingfish especially worthy of a repeat order. We ended up getting a little more of the sushi and sashimi, which was probably a mistake because there was so much more coming.

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Next, some edamame to chew on before the pastas and noodles.

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The menu only has two types of pastas but we got three. The first photo is of a ravioli filled with sweet carrot puree and tangy balsamic, which balanced each other out perfectly. The second is of the paccheri pasta with duck ragu, and the third photo is also a ravioli but with a lightly spicy but incredibly tangy tomato sauce. I loved all three of them and they were probably my favorite dishes of the meal.

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On the Japanese side we only got one dish, which was plenty — a cold udon with cooked bean curd and tempura crust. It was refreshing and the udon was perfectly chewy.

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Next up, the Italian mains, of which there are three. (You can actually tell the waiter the specific main courses you would like, but of course everyone asks for all of them. There are also a couple of additional mains you can get such as wagyu steak for an additional surcharge but I thought it was unnecessary because there was already so much great good.)

The roasted free range chicken with sauteed spinach was OK, probably one of the weaker dishes because the chicken was free range and hence a little on the tough side, though the flavour itself was fine. The salmon was good but salmon is salmon and to be honest they all generally taste the same to me. The best one of the three was the Masala beef cheek, which has that melt-in-your-mouth texture I enjoy so much. The mashed potato was also fantastic.

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The Japanese main courses were not quite as strong as the Italian ones, but still marvellous. I’m not a big fan of the grilled mackerel, though the prawn tempura was some of the best I’ve had — anywhere. If I wasn’t so full already I probably would have gotten more. The ginger pork was also fairly good but is too common to be a memorable dish.

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Lastly, the dessert platter. We got five items, a coffee creme brulee, a vanilla bean ice cream, a tiramisu, a grapefruit cocktail (which had a bit of champagne, I believe) and a chocolate lava cake. They were all delicious, but the lava cake along with the vanilla ice cream was by far the best. I couldn’t get enough of it. It was just insanely scrumptious.

Overall, Aqua is one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had in Hong Kong. Or anywhere, for that matter. Elegant atmosphere, tremendous variety (the Japanese and Italian cuisine mixed surprisingly well together) and delicious, high quality food.

10/10

Details

Aqua

Website: http://www.aqua.com.hk/#/eng/global/hongKong/aqua/concept

Address: 29 & 30 Floors, One Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Phone: +852 3427 2288

Brunch: Weekends 12-3 (reservations recommended)

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