Friday, April 6, 2012

Dining in Hong Kong

Since Hong Kong is only an hour away, I have the leisure of visiting this "Pearl of the Orient" several times in the past few months.  Although the purpose of each trip is different, they have one common theme - "good eats".  So below are a few good eats I would recommend to my fellow foodies~

View of Hong Kong from the Peak
1. Butao Ramen (Central - near Lan Kwai Fong)

One of the hottest restaurants in town.  Always a long line of eager foodies (locals and tourists alike) waiting to taste this delicacy.  I can't summarize it better than this blogpost.  Luckily, I only had to wait ~20 minutes that day and promptly placed an order of their classic ramen.  It's a shame that they discontinued (?) their famous soft boiled eggs.  Verdict:  the soup is very creamy and I love the fact that I can choose how I want my noodles and almost everything else.  (I always preferred them slightly undercooked for the extra chewiness.)  But the surprise was how much I enjoyed the all-you-can-eat spicy pickled bean sprout at the table.  Would I return?  Definitely!  Would I stand in line for 2-hours for it?  Probably not.  I think 30 minutes is max for me :P

the infamous queue
Butao Ramen
I think they need an English menu
The delicious spicy pickled bean sprout!
Classic Butao Ramen
 2. Sen-ryo (Central - IFC)

I love eating sushi in Hong Kong.  The quality is so much better compared to Macau at similar price point.  After consulting OpenRice (the HK equivalent of Urbanspoon / Yelp), I made a trip to Sen-ryo.  After waiting for ~45 minutes and starving, I was seated beside these 2 foreign-borned/raised Asian girls speaking loudly in English (definitely American accent), clearly doesn't understand it's "polite" to leave promptly after eating, especially when there is a LINE waiting for their seats.  (You can clearly tell I wasn't very happy with these 2.) Anyways, I indulged myself in a variety of nigiri sushi and a chawanmushi.  Very satisfied after I filled my tummy.  It wasn't even that expensive considering the quality of food.  Will return but I will avoid the line if I could.

Sen-ryo @ IFC mall, Central
(f-->b) Yellowtail, scallop, roe
California roll
Botan shrimp
(f-->b) Uni / Sweet shrimp with crab roe
Update:  Return to their TST branch the other day and ordered one of their set lunch.  Zero wait time this visit and food is just as amazing.

Set D - shrimp and salmon roe chirashi

3.  SEVVA (Central - Prince Building)

Went their for afternoon tea with friends one afternoon on a weekend trip.  Again, the queue... OMG!!! Seriously, to me, going to HK means standing in queue.  There is nothing I don't have to queue for there.  (If you don't, it's probably no good anyway.)

So, roughly about 45-minutes in queue in a oxygen-deprived, under-lit waiting area among a bunch of sweating individuals, we were seated in the covered-patio (good thing because it was drizzling that day too).   We ordered the "Le Louis" cake (one of the renowned signature cake, the other being the macaroon lined "Marie Antoinette" cake) and some tea, sat and talked the entire afternoon.  I can see how it would appeal to some but it's a little too pretentious.  Worth a visit but that's it for me.  (Maybe a better weather would have made a difference?)

Le Louis

If you are looking for delicious palmier in Hong Kong, look no further.  At HKD108 a box, this butterfly is worth every pound you will gain.

5.  Seafood (Sai Kung)

I have always wanted to try seafood in Hong Kong and there are quite a few places to go for that.  We finally settled for Sai Kung for this trip.  It was long ride from Causeway Bay (~1 hour) but the display (seafood tanks) definitely didn't disappoint.  The hardest part was actually picking a restaurant.  There are literally a line of restaurants offering all kinds of specials and discounts.  Finally, we chose a placed called "Chuen Kee" and ordered their dinner for 4 special + other a la carte dishes.  Overall, very delicious meal but I probably won't spend 2 hours on bus just for dinner.  It would a fun day-trip idea though.

This is what I call choices!
Chuen Kee
Boiled whelks
Cheesy lobster with noodles
Salt & pepper mantis prawns
Ginger & green onion crab
Sea urchin sashimi 
Black bean sauce clams stir-fry
Steamed scallops with garlic and glass noodles
Steamed abalones 
Sweet and sour pork
So full!  Some dishes were even pictured!
6.  Bang Bang Pan Pan (Causeway Bay)

Ever since the last time I stayed in Causeway Bay (at the Crown Plaza - very nice place, great location, highly recommended)  and spotted this little restaurant, I have been wanting to try it.  It's a fun concept where you get to "play" with your food before eating.  My only dislike is the size of the mixing bowl.  Maybe they want to create an illusion of "a lot of food" but it definitely made it very difficult for the customers to mix the ingredient.  The portion is good and ingredients are fresh - each order is enough for 2 hungry girls or snacks for 4.  We also got a very talkative yet expert server assisting us making our okonomiyaki.  No wait time since we got there right after they open for lunch.  Will return.

ingredients overflowing
looks easy, it's not!
made by expert (not me)
so filling!

view from my room in Causeway Bay Crown Plaza - that's Happy Valley Recourse
Rustling and buzzing already on a Sunday morning
7.  Toast Box (Mong Kok)

Originally from Singapore, Toast Box is well-known for their thick toast and coffee.  Very clean and refreshing design.  We ordered their afternoon special which comes with kaya thick toast, coffee, and a soft-boiled egg (you can have sunny-side up instead).  It's good value and the toast is thick but the kaya spread didn't cut it for me... I was expecting an explosion of kaya in my mouth but that didn't happen... maybe they have toned it down for the locals?

kaya toast with coffee (eggs not in picture)


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