Archive for March 19th, 2010

Oh… the food.  When Kim and I were planning this trip, one of the main reasons we picked Hong Kong as a destination was because of the food.  And boy were we glad we did. 
Generally speaking, Hong Kong is known for having a huge eating culture.  Meal time is when locals gather to not only enjoy a delicious meal, but to gab about their day, gossip, discuss politics or current events.  Most restaruants are jam packed, loud as can be, and I have to say, wonderful to experience.  All of the table manners your parents taught you as a kid, throw them out the window!!  Eat with your hands, slurp your soup as obnoxiously as possible, lean in and shovel as much food in your mouth as you can, even let out a nice belch after a chug of beer.  It’s all part of it and acceptable and often expected or an insult if you don’t.
One has to know that you can spend as little $2 on a good hardy meal in Hong Kong.  However, with all the variety and prestige at some local hot spots, you can easily spend a week to two week’s salary in one sitting.  Because we had such great hosts, Kim and I were lucky enough to get a wide spectrum of all Hong Kong has to offer.  Here are some of the highlights…
-Breakfast at the local “hole-in-the wall”
Traditionally, most Cantonese breakfasts consist of noodle soup with some sort of shrimp, pork or chicken dumpling or a rice porridge called congee.  Since we both love noodles and any dumpling you offer, this would cause us to start most days with a smile.  These meals would run us around $2-$3 US.  Luckily, if we felt like a good ol’ egg mcmuffin, there were McDonalds on just about every corner.  In Hong Kong, McDonalds a beloved treat and reminds most people of their childhood. You will most likely see more locals than foreigners in line with you.
-Street-side eateries at the Temple Street Night Market
After wandering around for hours at this must-see market, allow yourself to get shown to a table at one of these tiny, outdoor restaruants.  Kim and I grubbed on some delicious flat noodles and bok choy in oyster sauce.  We washed it down with Tsing Tsao beers all for under $7 US.  The group of guys next to us had the chili crabs and they looked phenomenal as well.  I knew we should have went for the crab!

Scarfing noodles at the night market

-Dim Sum at Luk Yu, one of the oldest joints in Hong Kong
This was one of the places Doug used to go with his parents as a kid almost every Sunday.  With it’s traditional dishes and atmosphere, this place is always packed so expect to wait or be told a time to come back.  We sat and had beers around the corner for an hour and a half until it was our time to indulge.  Since Doug knew the ropes (and the language) we let him order.  For the next hour, the dishes kept coming.  We must have had 10 piping hot bamboo steamers on the table at one time.  It was so good! From pork and shrimp dumplings, to spring rolls, fried rice in banana leaves, Kim’s favorite-BBQ pork donuts, Shanghai noodles, and the sweet delectible egg tart, we were stuffed and happy.  The perfect first Dim Sum experience for me.
-Freshest Seafood at Tung Po
This place was the REAL Hong Kong.  A huge, super loud, packed room filled with plastic tables and chairs, water tanks galore with endless amounts of live creatures, and bowls of beer on every table.  That’s right, bowls, not glasses.  It was so great to see tons of locals gathered around gigantic tables playing dice or drinking games and laughing up a storm. Since this was one of June and Alex’s favorite places in the world for seafood, we let them order.  Soon our table was filled with black bean and chili clams, garlic shrimp and crab, eggplant casserole, and the best chicken that Kim and I have ever had, complete with crispy skin.  And we never eat the skin….but oh lord, was it good!  Because we enjoyed ourselves so much, we convinced Doug that we had to take him there for our last meal together in town.  And as Kim said before, Joseph (Doug’s friend) just happened to be old drinking buddies with one of the chef’s.  So of course, our second round at Tung Po was just as fabulous, if not more so.  Red curry crab, pigs knuckle, grilled squid, razor clams in black bean chili sauce and my favorite, some huge crazy ass shrimp that was as big as a lobster!!  The name escapes me now…Joseph, help me out here buddy…and we washed it all down with numerous bowls of beer that the chef gladly came and chugged with us.  As we were walking out, he even stopped us, stole some poor table’s beer and bowls, pounded one back with us and politely thanked the table and promised them more beer in a matter of seconds. It was freakin’ awesome. 

Tung Po

Garlic Crab, Eggplant Casserole, and Black Bean Chili Clams

Crispy chicken with garlic...the skin was the best!

Curry crab

-Shanghainese in Central
Again, thanks to our lovely host Doug, we were taken to another dining gem,  a great place in the Soho district of Central on Hong Kong Island.  We went to meet up with another one of Doug’s friends from highshcool, Kathy and nesteled into our quaint little booth and started off with glass noodles and sliced pork.  We then had some steamy spring rolls and pork dumplings with liquified pork fat.  You have to bite off the top of the dumpling, let it cool, and then suck out the fat and then toss the dumpling in your mouth.  It sounds gross, but it was heaven.  I promise.  We then cried our eyes out as we inhaled a fantastic tofu dish in red sauce.  So painful, but so worth it. 

Pork fat dumplings

-Peking Duck at the “American Restarant”
Yes. The American Restaruant.  The owner named his restaruant this during WWII to attract American soldiers.  I guess it worked because business is still booming.  Peking duck is roasted duck dish with a very thin crispy skin.  The showpiece is more the skin than the actual meat.  They bring the duck out on a cart and carve it into small pieces and decoratively place them on a large plate.  Typically, you wrap the duck and skin in small, thin crepes with cucumber and a dark hoisin-like sauce and enjoy.  I preferred just the duck dipped in the sauce.  It was amazing.  This dish is quite popular all over China and definitely should be on everyone’s list of foods to try, especially if you are in China:)

Peking duck spread

-The Most Amazing Sushi Dinner of Our Lives
Seriously.  No Joke.  After our wine tasting with Doug and his parents, Joseph suggested a sushi place, where once again, the chef was one of his drinking buddies.  We sat down at the small, 8-table restarant and allowed Joseph to do all the talking.  We started out with one of the best cold sakes.  Then Joseph informs us that we are going to do “chef’s choice” and closes the menu.  For the next 2 hours, beautiful displays of sashimi, soup, foie gras wrapped in wagyu beef that literally melted in your mouth, tempura, sushi rolls and sashimi just kept coming. So did the Sapporro and sake.  The tuna was so amazing, we almost cried.  Great company and great conversation topped everything off.  Then the bill came.  The guys wouldn’t let us see and told us it was their treat.  Thanks guys!!   Both of you have to come to Austin so we can show you a great time and do our best to return the favor!!

Amazing sashimi

So as you can see, Hong Kong totally lived up to our expectations.  We are so glad we stopped of here and were taken such good care of.  Thanks again June, Doug and Joseph!!

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