Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Hong Kong: Foodie Highlights

For me one of the joys of travel is embracing new and excitingly different foods to the ones you might ordinarily have. During our fortnight’s stay in Hong Kong, back in November, presented to me the ultimate foodie destination.

Every day, a new, delicious delicacy revealed itself – whether it was one of the incredibly varied and wonderful dumplings (that vary from region to restaurant), or one of the fantastically dainty pastries, of which I wasn’t expecting to find such a huge array of. Our holiday confirmed to me how expensive eating in London can be too – we failed to have a ‘bad meal’ and frequented an array of different types of eateries from casual cafes to fine-dining establishments and the food was cheaper than you would expect in the UK and generally very, very good quality.

I’ve included here just a few of my culinary highlights – but Hong Kong is such a cultural melting pot with influences from all over the world so if you find yourself in this wonderful place, explore and enjoy and I’m sure you’ll discover a few foodie hotspots of your own.

We enjoyed a couple of different meals at Jade Garden in Kowloon’s Star House mall including both dim sum and an evening meal. Stand out dishes here from our dim sum experience included the taro croquettes, or as my family refer to them ‘hairy monsters’ (childhood nickname that stuck), some tasty and tender squid tentacles that my (at the time) 14 month old daughter, Bridget adored and a lovely duo of roasted meats including char sui (barbecued pork) and roast duck – both very traditionally Cantonese and both sensational. For our evening meal the absolute standout dish had to be the Peking duck – brought to the table roasted whole (head and beak included) to show freshness, the taste was out of this world good, crispy skin, fatty middle and gorgeous meaty flesh – just outstanding. Also I found it really interesting watching the waitress carve – unlike the shredding of duck here in the UK it was like watching an art form.

Peking Duck at Jade Garden

Maxim's Palace located in the City Hall building in Central was one of my favourite dim sum venues. Very traditional, the dim sum dishes come around on trolleys for you to select which you'd like.

Here we had a real selection and as well as the usual sui mai, har gau dumplings we tried some scallop and chive dumplings that were really good, some beef dumplings that reminded me of an aromatic spiced meatball, some fantastically crispy chicken wontons and some prawn rolls in a crunchy exterior that were juicy and garlicy inside - perfect with just a smidge of chilli oil. Delicious. 

Sui Mai & Scallop & Chive Dumplings at Maxim's Palace
Crispy Prawn Rolls at Maxim's Palace

The Tasty Wonton & Congee Shop outlets are dotted around in different places around Hong Kong and are a really economic venue to enjoy authentic yet delicious Cantonese food – we popped into the IFC outlet frequently. The Wonton Mian - or soup with wontons and noodles will set you back about a fiver in British money and is utterly addictive -true to the name sake very tasty. Another favourite spot for wonton mian was the Praise House Congee and Noodle Cuisine in Maritime Square shopping mall at Tsing Yi – which was often part of our route home to Ma Wan of an evening.

I had a lovely meal with my friend Vickie who lives in Hong Kong at Crystal Jade in IFC shopping mall in Central. This was my first time trying Xiao Long Bao - Shanghai dumplings with pork inside surrounded by piping hot soup - I was then hunting them every day after as they are really nice. The outer casing is a bit more dough-y than some of the dumplings - really moreish. We also had war tips - crispy fried pork dumplings and smoked fried pigeon - both delicious.

Xiao Long Bao at Crystal Jade
Pigeon at Crystal Jade
War tips at Crystal Jade

We headed to the fishing market village of Stanley for one of the days, and enjoyed some fantastic dim sum at Chung’s Cuisine in Stanley Plaza. As well as our usual dishes we had by now become accustomed to ordering char sui bao for Bridget - her favourite dish, and we also enjoyed some tasty cuttlefish cakes, and two different types of crispy fried prawn fish - one was simply in a tasty batter and deep fried - beautiful with the soy dipping sauce. The other was encased in a thicker dumpling surround and came with some salad cream but I loved these with the chilli oil again. Incidentally if you are visiting Hong Kong, Stanley is well worth a visit. 

Crispy Fried Prawns at Chung's Cuisine, Stanley
Cuttlefish Cakes, Chung's Cuisine, Stanley

Outside of traditional Cantonese food, We had a lovely high tea at Cafe Deco when visiting The Peak which included sandwiches, mini sliders, cheese tartlets, sausage rolls and other little savoury bites as well as scones with clotted cream and jam, macarons, a lovely blueberry pastry, a lemon filled selection of mini choux buns, raspberry tartlets, trifle and a couple of slices of Madeira cake.

High Tea at Cafe Deco, The Peak

Another great meal was at The Ivy in the IFC Mall in Central which I had with my Mum - a gorgeous Seabass en papillote dish that I've since recreated at home as well as a seafood linguine for Mum. 

Seafood Linguine, The Ivy, IFC
Seabass en Papillote, The Ivy, IFC

I had some delicious pork fried dumplings in a shopping mall food court which cost about £3 and were one of my favourite things.

In Ma Wan my favourite meal was a traditional Malaysian chicken curry that was particularly welcome after a few too many Tsingtao's the night before.

We also had a fantastic Michelin starred dim sum experience at Yue at City Garden Hotel which I've already posted about.

Hong Kong is jam packed full of foodie gems – some overt and some quite well hidden so go explore!

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