Becoming Hong Kong Foodies
We decided to escape the scorching summer in Seoul (records broken for consecutive days above 35 C/95 F) by going to Hong Kong for a long weekend. Oh wait, it’s actually supposed to be more hot and more humid in Hong Kong. Well, luckily, the few days we were in Hong Kong, it was cooler than it was in Seoul! (This, after fretting for days about how I was going to survive carrying Baby M in the Ergo!)
Besides visiting my mom, our main objective was to eat really good food. The previous few times we’ve been to Hong Kong, we’ve haphazardly stumbled upon some good restaurants (and some just-okay restaurants). But, this time we did research! Well, not original research. I asked our friend, who is a former pastry chef and a foodie, for some recommendations, and what she sent me was her Google map of dozens of restaurants/cafes/pubs (overwhelming, to be honest!) as well as her top five picks. We made it to three of those five, and along with TripAdvisor reviews and some old favorites, we ended up eating some very good meals!
Roast Goose: On our way to Yat Lok restaurant, our cab driver lamented on how the quality and taste of the roast goose at many restaurants across the city have gone down the dumps, with many restaurants no longer roasting the goose by hand (“all replaced by machines… not as tasty!”). When we arrived at this 1 Michelin Star restaurant, we were told to fold up our stroller and leave it outside, and were promptly seated (and then asked to relocate to a different table — it’s very common at all Chinese restaurants to be forced to move and/or share a table with strangers).
Alex ordered the roast goose with dry noodles and I got the BBQ goose with noodles in broth (my noodles were much tastier — the broth was delicious! but Alex’s goose skin was much crispier). Poor Mom got to hold Baby M while we ate (not many vegetarian options there)! It truly was the best goose I’ve ever had. The fatty skin was melt-in-your-mouth amazing. 😮
Fancy Gelato: After walking around the IFC (International Finance Center) mall while Baby M snoozed in the Ergo, we ventured out again, to get some gelato at Oddies Foodies in Central. The place is small (very few seats) but the gelato flavors are out-of-this-world! I can’t remember exactly what we got, but Alex and I shared 3 scoops: a chocolate flavor with cacao nibs and orange peel; a salted caramel flavor with bits of toasted almonds (my favorite flavor — not even that sweet); and a maple butter walnut flavor (similar to a butter pecan). Our foodie friend recommended both the roast goose and this gelato place — we were not disappointed!
Sushi (and Pokemon Go): The nice thing about going to grandma’s house is that she can babysit at night so that after we put Baby M to bed, Alex and I could have dinner out. We had three date nights in a row (which is more than we’ve had in the last six months)!
Our first date night, we went to one of our favorite (local) sushi restaurants, Itamae Sushi, located in Tsing Yi’s Maritime Square mall. Since we didn’t have Baby M with us (oh the freedom!), we sat at the bar with the rotating sushi boat. It’s hard to find good sushi in Seoul (we gave up because every time we’ve had sushi, it’s always been both a disappointment and super expensive), so we gorged ourselves on tuna and salmon!
After dinner, we walked along the promenade, and noticed a weird phenomenon. People (of all ages) were walking around slowly, staring down at their phones, like they were in some sort of a daze. Some people were carrying two phones. Were these people zombies?! After trying to sneak a look at what was on their phones, we finally realized: they were ALL playing the augmented reality mobile game, Pokemon Go. Pokemon Go is the latest craze and isn’t available everywhere, but apparently, it had come to Tsing Yi! The funniest was watching families (sometimes three generations!) walking in a row, all staring down at their phones. Even grandma!
Sichuan: Following our foodie friend’s recommendation, we went to Yu Sichuan Restaurant, located at Hong Kong’s Times Square in Causeway Bay. At around noon, there was a line out the door. Luckily, it moved quickly and we were seated (next to the kitchen) and were able to keep Baby M in her stroller (serving as a high chair). Our friend highly recommended the dan dan noodles. When asked what level of spiciness (on a scale from 0 to 4 chili peppers), Alex chose 3. Yeah. I know. We should have taken it as a sign when the waitress repeated, “3? Very very spicy.” I love the ma-la (numbing spice) taste of Sichuan food, but I could not handle the dan dan noodles. It was almost painful to eat (I let Alex eat most of it… wait a minute, was this his plan all along?!). 😕 We also ordered wontons (so good), braised beef (amazing), and the cold vegetable platter (wood ear, eggplant and cucumber).
Upscale Dim Sum: Alex and I met up with his former colleague and his wife for dinner at Social Place in Central. This wasn’t your typical dim sum restaurant — no carts (well, they don’t do carts in most restaurants anyway) and attention was paid to each dish’s presentation (not just taste). The place was artsy — each of our bowls (so, four total) was unique (see pictures). The bathroom sign read “men to the left, because women are always right.” 😛
Unfortunately, they had run out of most of their signature dishes (crispy pigeon being one of them) on a Sunday at 8 PM, so we had to ‘settle’ for second best. The truffle shiitake mushroom steamed buns were really good (and, made to look like mushrooms – each had a little stem on the bottom!). The food was very good, and the atmosphere great, but I’ve never spent so much on dim sum before!
Dumplings: One of our favorite restaurants is a hole-in-the-wall dumpling place called Wang Fu. To me, the dumplings taste like the ones from my childhood, when people actually took the time to make the dough and roll out the wrappers into uneven, asymmetrical circles (now it’s just easier and even cheaper to buy ready-made wrappers from the grocery store, all perfectly round and impossibly thin — impossible by hand anyway).
As Alex and I were busy shoveling dumplings into our mouths, we noticed that the people around us tended to order one plate of 10 dumplings per person. Alex and I ordered 3 plates of 10 (our favorite are the pork/chives and pork/string bean), along with some steamed buns (and I honestly could have eaten more). But seriously, who doesn’t love dumplings? My mom was happy because she got to eat vegetarian dumplings, and Baby M ate her first dumpling (the entire thing too!). Needless to say, she made her parents very proud. 😀
Budget Dim Sum: Alex and I didn’t quite get our dim sum fix the previous night, so we decided to try a restaurant called Dim Dim Sum (Dim Sum Restaurant) — yes, that’s a lot of “dims” and “sums.” This is actually a chain, but we went to the Jordan location, which was about a 10 minute walk from Kowloon Station (we walked through the sprawling Elements Mall at the ICC — International Commerce Center). We arrived at 9 PM, and were promptly seated (at a table with another family).
There’s an English menu with pictures, which was very helpful. Once again, we ordered too much. The food just kept coming, and we just kept eating! Our favorites were the eggplant topped with pork/shrimp and the shrimp/chive shumai. We then ordered “dessert” — their famous egg custard buns (in the shape of pigs) and deep fried sesame balls (I was expecting something entirely different, so was a little disappointed).
Fancy Drinks: And, the real reason why Alex and I chose to eat near the ICC: we wanted to get drinks at the Ritz Carlton Lounge and Bar (on the 102nd floor!) again. Two and a half years ago, Alex and I met up with friends at the Ritz’s Ozone Bar (tallest bar in the world) — except the view was pretty terrible (the windows were dirty and fogged up) and the drinks were crazy expensive. We then went to the Lounge and Bar on the 102nd floor, where there was live jazz music, better views, and the prices for drinks were slightly more palatable. We had, in our opinion, the best view of Hong Kong island! It had been raining and was slightly foggy, so the top of the IFC (lit up) wasn’t visible through the mist. We enjoyed our scotch but were too full to enjoy the complimentary nuts/chips/olives platter (and I hate wasting food!).
It is always fun to visit Hong Kong and see my mom! We returned to Seoul with happy and (too) full bellies.
Tags: budget dim sum, dan dan noodles, dim dim sum, dim sum, dimsum, dumplings, elements, food, gelato, goose, hong kong, hong kong food, icc, itaemae sushi, ma-la, michelin star, oddies foodies, pokemon go, ritz carlton hong kong, ritz carlton lounge and bar, roast goose, Sichuan, social place, sushi, truffle shiitake bun, tsing yi, upscale dim sum, wang fu, yat lok, yu sichuan
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