Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hong Kong Part Four - The Food

Oh dear.  I've been a wee bit remiss in finishing off my picture posts from our trip to Hong Kong!  I started this post weeks ago, and kept meaning to get back to it and well...you know how it is...life happens, right?  Sorry guys, my bad.

After we got back home, I asked Hubs what it was about Hong Kong that he enjoyed the most, and he said hands down, the food...and I have to wholeheartedly agree.  The city itself is amazing, the shopping is spectacular...but come on, we're foodies!  Hong Kong is a food lover's dream....different tastes, textures, things that you just can't get anywhere else.  Ahhhh...where to begin?  Oh...and warning...this is going to be a looooong post....so go get your coffee and make sure you're nice and comfy...here we go!

Day 1:  First Taste of Hong Kong

The first day that we arrived, my inlaws met us at the airport and took us back to the hotel...we were soooo incredibly tired after a crappy flight (Cathay Pacific - what the eff is up with your seats?!), so just wanted to get back to the hotel and get cleaned up.  We got in at 7am Hong Kong time so by the time we were showered up and ready to go, it was just in time for lunch.  Bring on the food - gimme the good Chinese stuff!  Dim sum, congee, succulent BBQ meats...let me at it 'er!

Yeah....NO...wasn't gonna happen.  My MIL mom loves Chinese food, but my step FIL isn't a fan.  My inlaws had also invited some friends from home (UK) to tag along on this trip, and they don't like Chinese food either, so we ended up going to a British pub.  I was a little bit "WTF?!" in my head, but thought OK...this is the first day...there's lots of other opportunities to eat Chinese food so I ate my curry like an obedient little daughter in law.  Note, no pictures because while it wasn't bad, it was unspectacular.

Dinner was different though - we went to the Happy Valley horse races that night, so had worked up a good appetite by the time we were done.  We found a little restaurant that my MIL had noticed and had the best congee that I'd had ever had (in the pic, it's the one at the top):


Congee is a savoury rice porridge that is a staple meal for the Chinese - basically you take white rice and boil the heck out of it in some type of stock, and then add yummy things to it.  Mine was minced pork with thousand year old eggs, garnished with fried bread (that's the brown stuff on top) and it was delish - flavourful, thick, and hearty.  So good.  Hubs had curried beef flank noodle soup (his favourite)...also very good.

Day 2:  On Our Own

Day 2 was similar to Day 1 - we hung out again with my inlaws and their friends and headed to Stanley Market where we, once again, went to a British pub.  Again, "WTF?!" popped into my head...and do you know what I ordered?  A hot dog.  A bloody stinkin' hot dog.  Hubs and I decided enough was enough,...we travelled thousands of miles to sample one of the finest cuisines that the world has to offer, and I was eating friggin' meat in a tube!  

We decided that we were going to branch off on our own and would try to meet up with them for the occasional dinners or something so as to not be toooooo antisocial.  We separated soon after that, and ended up wandering around Central for awhile, with thoughts to try and find this noodle house that we'd read about in the guidebooks.  Unfortunately we couldn't find it for the life of us...we weren't sure if they'd moved or what, but ended up going to this little place:



Yum!  I had these awesome boiled Shanghai dumplings with a vinegar-y dipping sauce and baby bok choy and Hubs had more beef flank noodle soup.  A few days later we were checking out a Michelin food guide for Hong Kong and it turns out this place had received a Michelin star - cool!


On the way home from dinner, we noticed there was a bakery that was right around the corner from our hotel.  We couldn't resist, so picked up a few of these for dessert:

Deep fried sesame ball with red bean paste (Hubs loves these):



And egg custard tarts (my favourite):


Day Three:  Roast Goose

Day Three was our little ferry ride over to Kowloon and we went to this rando restaurant for some dim sum with the inlaws.  Again...my step FIL doesn't like Chinese food so not a fan of dim sum...so we ended up only getting a few things that were pretty vanilla.  Sigh.

Steamed shrimp dumplings (har gow) and steamed BBQ pork buns (cha sui bau):


Steamed pork dumplings (sui mai):



And chickens' feet in black bean sauce (don't knock 'em til you try 'em - these were really good!):


As we were walking to the subway from lunch, we happened on a few outdoor streets carts, selling stinky tofu (the square stuff in the back):


Now I'm game to pretty much try anything, but even this churned my stomach...you know what garbage smells when it's been sitting around on a hot, summer day?  Yep, that's what it smelled like!  Maybe next time I'll try it.  Maybe.  We'll see.

After Kowloon, Hubs and I headed back to Central for a fitting at the tailors, and wanted to hit up some place for roast goose.  Apparently Hong Kong does goose like nobody's business, and it's actually one of my dad's favourite foods but unfortunately not widely available in Canada.  We went to this restaurant for dinner, as we'd heard that it had won numerous awards on its roast goose alone:


Thousand year old egg and pickled ginger appie to start:


Chinese broccoli:


Roast suckling pork (on the left) and the piece de resistance, roast goose:


The roast goose was fantastic.  Amazing.  I can see why this place won awards for it.  Crispy skin, juicy meat - Hubs' eyes practically rolled back in his head as he'd never had roast goose before.  The roast goose was something that we'd remember forever...seriously, that good.  I can die happy now.

Day Four:  We Lived

Another day of hanging with the Brits.  My MIL was meeting an old school friend for dim sum, and she  wanted to meet us.  Sadly, although there was more variety than what we had the day before, it was still too meh for my liking. 

Something that you just have to get used to doing in Hong Kong...washing your dishes at the table.  Don't know why, but the dishwashers don't do a great job, so you need to rinse your stuff off before you eat.  Here's my MIL doing our dishes (they provide the bowl and the hot water in the tea pot, so it's a normal, expected thing):


And here's our food - clockwise starting at the top - chickens' feet in a peanut/abalone sauce, deep fried bean curd, egg rolls, deep fried squid, beef rice noodles, deep fried potato pancake, turnip cake and in the middle, curried singapore noodles:


For dinner, we wanted to be daring, so decided to go and eat some street food or what the Hong Kongers called dai pai dong.  These are a bit of a dying thing, but you can get some really good, cheap food.  This one was in Central:


We grabbed an open table, and I ordered some won ton noodle soup:


And Hubs once again, had beef flank noodle soup (I know, does the guy eat anything else?!):


Both bowls ended up costing us $32 Hong Kong dollars, which works out to be about $4 Canadian - so cheap!  And good.  And we lived to tell the tale.  Ha!  The Brits were aghast that we would even consider going to one because they were worried about how hygienic this were, but we wanted to eat where the locals eat.  So there. *sticking tongue out*

Day Five:  Nom Nom Nom

Day Five was a great food day!  We headed back over to Kowloon to cruise the crazy Harbour City Mall (this is the 700 store behemoth) but wanted to hit up this cafe to gather our strength for some marathon shopping. 


More goose - pretty good, but not quite as good as the first place:


Mantis prawn....this was delish!  Called mantis prawn because it has these long front "arms" or feelers or whatever they're called like a praying mantis.  After it's deep fried, the skin gets kind of crunchy so you can eat parts of it. 


Check out the "arms" on the head of this prawn - these were sharp so I didn't eat those!


This is what these look like before they hit our plate - they're huge and are almost translucent:





And milk tea or nai cha (really strong black tea with evaporated milk) - Hubs and I'd never had this before, but we're hooked now:


Day Six:  Food Courts and Frogs' Legs

I must say - food courts in Hong Kong are nothing like at home.  I always think greasy fast food offerings when I think food courts...not there.  Some of the stuff we ate was better than some of the restaurant food I've tasted at home - no lie!  This food court was way the heck out in the New Territories, where we stopped on our way back from the Tian Tan Buddha.

Our meals - huge vats of Korean deliciousness - vermicelli, seaweed, cabbage, ground beef topped with a fried egg:


Hubs' meal - some kinda spicy soup:


We had no big dinner plans, so we went to check out a Vietnamese place around the corner from our hotel:

Pho (not bad - we'd heard Vietnamese food in Hong Kong is lacking, in particular the pho.  This wasn't bad, but I've definitely had better in Vancouver:


Morning glory - I don't know if this is the same morning glory that's a weed at home, but whatever it was it was good:


Deep fried frogs legs with butter and garlic...I could have licked the plate and yes, tastes like chicken.  This was one of my favourite things that I had while in Hong Kong:


Day Six:  Beware of Durian

On Day Six, we met up with Hubs' friend from high school who moved to Hong Kong six years ago to teach English.  We went to this coffee house that he said had fantastic coffee that was $10 CDN a cup (it was good! sorry, forgot to take pics) and a huge variety of different types of food:

Hubs' kimchee soup:


Hubs' sushi bar salad:


My lunch - Korean ox tongue on rice with egg on top - different but I liked it:


After lunch, we walked around Kowloon and checked out some more street food - looks like fish balls and some bacon wrapped goodness.  I didn't try any of this, even though it smelled good:


Hubs' friend lived in the fishing village of Sai Kung, a small quiet village in the New Territories.  One of the touristy things to do there is to go to the watefront and have a seafood meal.  Basically you go and pick the fish or whatever it is you want, and take it inside the restaurant and they'll cook it up:

Big fish tanks at Sai Kung:


Geoduck:


Horseshoe crab:


Cuttle fish:


This cuttle fish is checking me out!


For dinner in Sai Kung, our friend suggested Thai for dinner, so we went to another dai pai dong.  I had the best thai green curry ever...all the flavours were so fresh and bright.


Tom yum soup - this shizz was hot!  I can handle spicy and even I was sniffling and wheezing:


Pomelo salad - oopsie - forgot to take the picture before I started to eat.  It was chunks of pomelo, fried onion bits, bean sprouts and pork...a bit spicy and full of flavour.  I love pomelo!


More morning glory:


Pad thai (surprisingly, this was just so-so) and in the background, the delish green curry:


We decided to finish off the evening with some durian *insert scary music here*.  Now not sure if you guys have heard of this stuff, but in Singapore you're not allowed to have it in public places because it smells so bad.  Honestly...this stuff smells kind of like cat poop mixed with rotten onions.  People love this stuff, my parents included...so I had to give it a try.

Hmmm...I wonder if I should be worried - this restaurant had a durian and non-durian side:




Here it is...the dreaded durian pancake - a green crepe (don't ask me why it's green) stuffed with a chunk of the fetid fruit and whipped cream.  It comes in a plastic container, and the smell when you open it is enough to knock your socks off.  Whew.

The pancake innards - we steeled ourselves and dove in:


So...how did it taste, you ask?  Better than it smelled but still not great.  In your mouth you don't get the 'eau du litterbox' scent, but more of a creamy, slightly onion-y finish.  Very similar texture to avocado, a little fibrous.  I can say with a clear conscience that I tried it, and I'm not a fan.  I'm willing to try it one more time though - next time it has to be a fresh one because apparently it's better.  We'll see about that!

I tried to get rid of the lingering onion-y aftertaste with this mango tapioca dessert that Hubs ordered.  It was almost like a cold dessert soup - I liked it! 


Day Seven:  Handmade Noodles

Hubs and I are huge fans of Anthony Bourdain, ever since his Cook's Tour days on the Food Network.  We love his new show No Reservations - he's a chef, turned writer, turned celebrity.  One of our favourite episodes is, of course, the one that he did on Hong Kong.  In this particular clip, he watches this guy hand make noodles, a slowly dying art in Hong Kong.  It's something about the music, the hushed, reverent tone of their voices and the way this guy uses his body to make the noodles that I just love...(you'll see Tony wax poetic about goose too):



That was it...we had to find a place that made handmade noodles, in the old fashioned way.  Ah-ha!  We found it...Mak's Noodle, tucked away in a food court at the China-Hong Kong City Terminal (ferry terminal between Hong Kong and China). 

What else?  Beef flank noodles for Hubs:



Beef tendon noodles for me...the tendon is stewed so long it's really tender, and takes on almost a gelatinous texture.


Pork chutney noodles (noodles with a sweet pork sauce on top):


Claypot rice with chicken and chinese sausage - this was also featured in Tony's Hong Kong episode, and by chance we saw people eating this so we had to order one.  I think this was Hubs' second favourite after the roast goose.  He keeps pestering me to try to make it, as apparently it's pretty simple to make.


Winter melon soup - this was better than a lot of soups that I've had in expensive restaurants at home!


After spending the day checking out the Hong Kong Museum of History, we decided to grab an early dinner, so stopped by the Guangdong BBQ House, another place suggested in our guidebooks. 

More goose:


Roast squab - I liked this but Hubs' didn't like quite as much...he found it a bit too livery for his taste:


Day 8 - Chinese New Year's Eve

On Chinese New Year's Eve, we decided to go check out some malls as not much else was open - pretty much the city shuts down.  On the way out to the subway, we saw this fellow cooking some stuff on a cart.  Intrigued, we had to go check it out.


Cool!  These were like waffle balls, maybe slightly more eggy:


Yum!  We scarfed down the whole bag.


We cruised Pacific Place Mall but a lot of stores in the mall weren't open so we decided to...you guessed it!  Eat.  We went to the food fair, and they had a White Spot!  We had to try it, to see how it compared - strictly for comparison purposes.  Ha!  The fries tasted the same and the burger tasted the same except the bun was a little different.



After cruising Pacific Place, we stopped in at Sogo, a Japanese department store, one of the few places that was open.  It was busy!  For dinner we checked out the food court in the basement...and as usual, we weren't disappointed.

Ramen:



Unagi (eel):


Unagi on rice (Hubs' dinner):



Day 9 - Chinese New Years Day

Sigh.  Our last full day in the city.  And what a better way to end a wonderful visit to an amazing city than with a delicious dinner.  We decided to check out the buffet meal offered at the hotel, because as part of dinner we were given tickets to hop up the the top floor and watch the fireworks.

Seafood station:


Food, food and more food:






Before we started dinner, they served us all a delicious soup, chicken with shiitake mushrooms...it was piping hot, straight out of the oven and so flavourful.  Again, the Brits irked the snot out of me because none of them (out of a table of 12 people) tried it.  They didn't even open it to see what it was, they just flat out refused to even so much as taste it.  Hubs, my MIL and I were the only ones and we were tucking right in and oohing and aaahing because it was that good.  Now the funny thing?  The Brits special ordered a plate of french fries and they were practically fighting each other over them!  *shaking head in pure disbelief*



So there it is!  My last recap of what turned out to be one of the most memorable trips I've ever had.  Hope you enjoyed getting a taste of what Hong Kong is like.  I truly adore this city, and I'm honestly counting down the days until I'm back there. 



We'll see you soon, Hong Kong!

1 comment:

gravityofthesituation said...

Wow, your trip looks amazing!! My husband did a trip over to China, Japan and Guam with his ship and he loved the food, but for sure didn't take any pictures. I'd love to go somewhere like that and just go for it with the food, such an experience!