Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hong Kong 2011 (1)

A side note about Japan - it was a shock to hear about the disasters that Japan is currently facing now, what with the earthquake, the tsunami and the nuclear plant explosions. It's bad enough to experience one calamity, but to be hit with a myriad of calamities all at once, man, I can't imagine how it is to be in Japan right now. I just hope that Japan can pull strong and recover from all these, and it certainly is heartwarming to hear about such stories, in view of all the depressing news about the death tolls and potential radiation harm the Japanese might be looking at. I've always want to travel to Japan and I hope to do so some time in the future...

I love traveling and if money wasn't an issue, I'd probably be flying around the globe as frequently as I could. Or perhaps, I would perhaps land a dream job of being a travel writer/photographer and be paid to do what I love - to travel and go crazy snapping photos.

I was in Hong Kong last month for a four days vacation. Now, I've been to Hong Kong countless of times before. Whenever I'm in Hong Kong, it's always a shopping vacation, where I'll spend all my time focused primarily on shopping and shopping alone. In Singapore, the Visit Hong Kong ad always recites that in Hong Kong, it's all about "买东西, 吃东西, 买东西, 吃东西" (read: buy stuff, eat stuff), but I guess I left out the eating part of the equation. However, on this trip, surprisingly, it was primarily a eating trip! Shopping was minimal and I bought considerably less stuff than what I normally do on a shopping trip. I ate and ate and ate, and wailed over how much food I had missed out on all those past trips I had made without eating the good stuff.

Hong Kong 2011
Gong Cha in HK, Ladies Market; Hustle bustle
Our hotel
Yung Kee Restaurant

Right from the first day, we already started our eating session. When we first arrived, we wanted to go yum cha at one of the One-Michelin awarded dim sum places. I had scoured the net prior to the trip and noted a few places that I wanted to try. We arrived at One Dim Sum at around 1pm, starving, but the long queue in front of the small restaurant stopped us in our tracks. For our party of 9, it was going to be tough getting a table, so we ended up noshing on some random wanton noodles (that weren't very good) for our very first meal in Hong Kong. :(

It's okay though, we managed to have a scrumptious dinner to make up for the so-so lunch. We were all excited about eating at the Yung Kee Restaurant, which was famous for the roasted duck. We didn't make reservations, and managed to get seats quite easily.

A must order at Yung Kee
Duck egg appetiser; Roasted pork skin

Besides the famous roasted duck, we did order some other sides to share too, like fried rice, stir fry vegetables and hotplate tofu. After the dinner, we walked over to another famous eatery near by that is a must try when in Hong Kong...

Tai Cheong bakery at Central
Egg tarts; Sugar donuts

Tai Cheong supposedly sells very nice sugar donuts, but their egg tarts were made famous by Hong Kong's last British governor, Chris Pattern, who declared it the best ever egg tarts in the world. Each of us ordered one egg tart and gobbled it down on the spot. Yums. Warm custard with a butter shortcrust pastry. What can be better than that? I must say that I'm a flaky pastry girl than shortcrust pastry girl when it comes to egg tarts, so while I thought it was good, it wasn't the best ever I've tasted (- I'm biased).

Desserts time at Chung Kee Desserts

It was desserts time and we bravely marched on to our next destination - Chung Kee Desserts. Another hole in the wall place, we had to wait quite a while for a table for 9 to be available. I reckon all the good eateries are all small in size, so that there's always bound to be a noticeable queue outside the shop to generate more business. Afterall, people loves queues don't they? It means something for sure. I bet there are people who've joined a queue before not knowing what they are queuing for exactly...not that I've done it myself though.

I always make a point to drop by Chung Kee whenever I'm in Hong Kong. I was first introduced to this dessert shop when a family friend brought my family there on one of our prior visits. They totally had me at the matcha custard glutinous rice ball (tang yuan). Matcha + custard. Do I really need to elaborate more? I've never tasted a custard tang yuan before, and for a custard lover, it really was love at first bite...

Breakfast at the Australia Daily Co.

We woke up early the second day as we had an agenda in mind for breakfast - we were gonna have a local styled breakfast! At the Australian Dairy Co it was. The norm is to order a set deal, which comes with a plate of macaroni soup, toast and eggs, and a cuppa Hong Kong style coffee/tea.

Crowded at the (yet again) tiny dining spot
Macaroni soup; Toast and eggs (scrambled/fried)
Coffees/teas; Steamed egg white/yolks

Most of us ordered the steamed eggs in addition to our set. There were two kinds, the steamed egg white (right picture front) or the steamed egg yolk (right picture back). Sis and I were the only ones to order the white and we shared the small bowl of yummy goodness. I reckon it tasted better than the egg yolks one the rest ordered cos I tried theirs and found it a tad too rich for my liking. The steamed egg whites on the other hand, was kinda light on the tongue and milky-ish.

Honolulu egg tarts

Another famous egg tarts place in Hong Kong, the Honolulu egg tarts are renowned for their flaky crusts. We had a little difficulty locating the cafe, and in fact walked right by it without noticing it the first time round. It was not till I approached a local and asked for directions did we finally found the place. Though breakfast was only a mere hours before, I had to buy one on the go to try as I was a flaky fan. The custard was smooth and wobbly, but the crust was cold, so I couldn't I really taste and savour the flaky crust properly. How disappointing.

Lin Heung Tea House (蓮香樓)

Yeah I know, amazing how much food you can pack into your tummy when you're on holiday rights? It's like all, "It's now or never man baby, if I don't eat you now, I'll have to wait a few years before I get to do so. So, here goes...". You get what I mean? So with that theory firmly entrenched in my mind, it's lunch time!

It was certainly a novel experience dining at Lin Heung Tea House. I felt like I was transported back to the 1950s, where people were yum cha-ing and sipping their tea slowly without any need to rush. The place was super packed, to say the least. The atmosphere was superb - super old schooled and I love every second of the vibe. 

This is how it works. You arrive at the restaurant. Indicate how many people are in your party. Get seated (you might have to share a table with others as it's crowded as that's how things work in Hong Kong). And when the tiny ladies pushing the little carts come by, be prepared to do your best attempt at 100m sprint to be first in line so that you get first dibs on what's available. If not, you'll get photographed at the edge of a holiday photograph (like my Sis above).
A different sort of dim sum

Perhaps it was our full tummies, or perhaps we were left outta the loop on the restaurant's specialties. I thought that the food there was passable, nothing was exceptional or anything. A point to note was, they did have a lot of beancurd skin based dishes though.

It's okay that the food wasn't the best at the restaurant, what matters was that for that hour plus or so we were there, I truly felt like I was a local having lunch there. The place was so authentic-ly Asian (if there was ever such a phrase) and I really enjoyed my time there. A pity I didn't know what to order though. 

Glass cola bottles!

And that marks the end of my photos for my first two days in Hong Kong, I'll do a second post on more food and sights in a couple of days' time. ^^


  1. I can't believe what is happening around me, never been so scared in my life, but I have a whole new perspective now.... I can't fathom what is going on here, but on a more sweeter note, I'm happy you had a great time, sorry the tarts disappointed...

  2. I can't believe what is happening around me, never been so scared in my life, but I have a whole new perspective now.... I can't fathom what is going on here, but on a more sweeter note, I'm happy you had a great time, sorry the tarts disappointed...

  3. Hey Michelle...

    I went to Kowloon 10 years ago and have been searching for the name/recipe of a condiment sauce since then. It is green, made with scallions and ginger. (Maybe "Scallion & Ginger Sauce," right?) Some small noodle shops in HK & Kowloon serve it with roast goose or pork. (Not with duck. Duck is to be savored all by itself!) I love that sauce so very, VERY much and have only found it once in the United States (in New York City).
    If you ever spot that sauce, could you PLEASE-PLEASE-PLEASE get the recipe and instructions from the sweet Chinese grandmother/chef, making it in the kitchen? I tried Momofuku's recipe for Ginger-Scallion sauce this past week and mine was sort of bitter and not very good. I was very disappointed. I would be so grateful if you could get the recipe and instructions as I am unlikely to make it back to Hong Kong any time soon.

    Thanks! (Great blog! I loved Hong Kong, although am somewhat less of a fan of the pastry than you. But your pictures of the duck made my mouth water!)

  4. wow, i am from honolulu and didn't know our egg tarts are unique! very cool.

  5. I can't believe what is happening around me, never been so scared in my life, but I have a whole new perspective now.... I can't fathom what is going on here, but on a more sweeter note, I'm happy you had a great time, sorry the tarts disappointed...

  6. Hong Kong food is expensive but fancy and delicious. I'm saving money to go for a hong kong trip..

  7. hey marti, sorry but the only dipping sauce ive only ever made myself is the momofuku's one and i tot tt it tasted good! nt too sure about the recipe, u can try googling? i tried and this came up - http://www.mykitchensnippets.com/2010/09/ginger-scallion-dipping-sauce.html. perhaps u could give it a try? (:

  8. i so love hk, not all food is exp tho, it's almost comparable to singapore actually. (: have fun~

  9. omg love yr blog layout! simple and nice! what font is that for yr post title? yr HK pics are really nice too esp the ones of the dim sum & egg tart. i wanna travel too la! :(

  10. ha thx, playing ard with it these days, nt completed yet (: my font? i hv no idea the name, but it's one of the web fonts avail when u click on the design template there...

  11. I have been wanting to go back to Hong Kong since my first trip there last year. It is no doubt a foodie's paradise. Unfortunately I didn't manage to eat at this many places during my short stay there.
    Great pictures by the way!

  12. I have been wanting to go back to HK ever since my first trip there last year. It is truely a foodie's paradise. Unfortunately though I didn't get to eat at this many places during my short stay.
    Great pictures by the way!


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