Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hong Kong : Food, Glorious Food!

The last to wrap up my Hong Kong travelogue is none other than the many mouth-watering glorious food from this sacred food land. Hail also as the 'Land of Dim Sum' origin, one of the MUST try in Hong Kong is of course their dim sum.

As I had said earlier in my previous Hong Kong post, one of the best thing about staying in Mongkok is the fact that abundant local, delicious and popular eateries are available all within walking distance or simply just a few MTR stations away so much so just gluttoning out at all the nearby restaurants were enough to kept our stomach busy with digestion.

1/ Tim Ho Wan Dim Sum Specialist Restaurant

I can't think of a better way to start the day than having a good breakfast and the dim sum is surely always welcome as my first meal of the day. Known to be one of Hong Kong top dim sum restaurant, this Michelin 1-star hole-in-the-wall dim sum specialist certainly sells their dim sum at a very humble price. Everyone had forewarned about the long queues and waiting hours but mum, sis and I were determined to join the long list of people just so we know for ourselves if this dim sum is really worth the insane wait.

The signboard just in case you can't read Chinese and accidentally walk into some other restaurant thinking them as Tim Ho Wan
It is a norm to have to wait so the usual practice is that once the first batch of people filled the restaurant, everyone else will be given a number with an estimated waiting time based on first come first served basis and the next thing to do is, yes, wait till your number is being called and voila, you will be then another step closer to tasting those heavenly dim sum. In the meantime, you will be handed the menu as well so you got no excuse to waste time after being seated picking dishes out of their unique (because we can't find some of those dim sum back here in Malaysia) but not-so-extensive list
For a Michelin star restaurant, Tim Ho Wan is definitely very humble, simple and cheap. Once you are in the restaurant, you will then understand why the long wait outside as the interior of the restaurant can barely fit for than 24 person at one time. Everyone sits elbow to elbow and sharing table is the commonest thing
Posing with the irresistable and irreplaceable no.1 Tim Ho Wan specialty- the baked bun with BBQ pork (char siu bao). Food were served in a jiffy and all the staff are real friendly and helpful
Certainly not your normal char siu bao- this baked char siu bo of Tim Ho Wan is one-of-a-kind out of this world that no where else can imitate
Each bite just calls for more as your teeth sinks into those perfectly crispy and fluffy exterior before reaching the ultimatum juicy, honey glazed char siu (pork) on the inside. It's lies on the sweet side with the exterior also mixed with granulated sugar to enhance it's texture but it tasted so good the sweetness was justifiable. This alone plays a major role in shifting me from the negative to the positive side of the spectrum ♥  
Century egg Hong Kong style congee
Glistening chee cheong fun (rice noodle roll) filled with plump shrimps
Pan fried turnip cake that totally tasted like the fresh radish they are made from
Equally good compact pork and shrimp siu mai
The translucent har gao with a fat shrimp sitting inside each of the dumpling sac
Steamed dumpling in chiu chow style where diced radish cubes are stir fried with peanuts and vegetables and wrapped in those translucent dumpling skin
The glutinous rice dumpling that was really huge with chicken and pork. Wrapped in lotus leaves, the rice has the fragrance of the lotus leaves as well
Sweetened green bean soup that also has lavender fragrance. However, the lady boss told us that they do not use lavender but some kind of Chinese leaves (that I can't remember the name anyways) instead that makes the green bean soup so fragrant and nice

Overall, it was an extremely delicious and superb dim sum breakfast and although we waited for about like 45 minutes (the place opens at 10 am and we were there a quarter after 10), the wait was worth it. It was my first decent good Hong Kong meal since my arrival and I was definitely smitten by it. And the best part, it's not all that too expensive to dine there. They are all reasonably price and the portion huge and filling the breakfast was enough to last us through lunch as well. So, if you fancy some good value for money top dim sum with Michelin star, then brace yourselve for the queue and I believe most of us will not regret the wait. Having three branches all over Hong Kong, the Mongkok branch is the main and original one and I'll surely advocate for that as nothing beats the original, no? :)

Tim Ho Wan Dim Sum Specialist Restaurant, 
2-20, Kwong Wah Street,
Mong Kok
Tel : +85- 2332 2896

2/ Dimdim Sum Dimsum Restaurant

Being a dim sum evangelist, one dim sum meal is definitely not enough for my entire stay in Hong Kong. It takes at least 2 dim sum affair to only kind of satisfy those dim sum lust of mine. Hence, we found ourselves at another dim sum restaurant in Mong Kok the morning before we flew back to Malaysia. 

Unlike Tim Ho Wan, this cute little joint by the equally cute name of Dimdim Sum has much longer opening hours (all the way from 11am to 11pm) and less crowd which means outside the peak hours, we don't actually need to queue and wait for hours just for a seat. 
I love the chee cheong fun (rice noodle roll) of Dimdim Sum the most! The usual long roll of rice noodle is divided into 3 sections with each of the section filled individually with one super fat and fresh shrimp. The 'skin' of the rice noodle roll is somewhat unique too- translucent, thin and being a tad crispy. Being also a lover of shrimp, it's simply heavenly to find such generous filling of shrimp hidden inside those rice noodle rolls. And the best part, the sauce that goes with it is just perfect. Not too salty yet flavorful enough ♥
Har gao that is just as good
Garlic chives (known as jiucai in Mandarin) dumplings
This is a very popular dessert at most Hong Kong dim sum restaurant- the jelly-like tonic medlar and petal cake that is very refreshing and not annoyingly sweet
The typical char siew (bbq pork)  bun
Xiao long bao
The glutinous rice dumpling that was too moist and sticky imho
It's just bliss to be able to enjoy delicious dim sum at any time of the day 

Seriously I think the dim sum at Dimdim Sum are pretty good as well. Overall, I give it a 8/10. My personal recommendation here is none other than the to-die-for simple fair of shrimp chee cheong fun. All of the ingredients are fresh and generous in portion. Besides, minus the wait and a more comfortable dining environment, it's no wonder this place is bustling with people at peak hours too. :)

Dimdim Sum Dimsum Specialty Restaurant,
G/F Tung Choi Street,
Tel : +85- 2309 2300

Aside from dim sum, the other MUST try or rather must visit in Hong Kong is none other than their char chaan teng aka Hong Kong style cafes aka tea restaurants. It's the best place to go to soak up the local atmosphere just like how a trip to Malaysia will never be complete without eating at a mamak at least. Aside from the staple milk tea, they sells a wide range of Hong Kong style food ranging from Hong Kong style Western dishes such as steaks to pasta to instant noodles to toast to sandwiches. It's the most convenient restaurant to dine in at any time of the day as most char chaan teng opens from very early in the morning to very late at night. 

3/ Australia Dairy Company Char Chaan Teng

It's a pretty weird name for a true blue Hong Kong char chaan teng but the Australian Dairy Company is rated by many to be the creme de la creme of Hong Kong's char chaan teng. Like Tim Ho Wan, expect to queue before your turn comes and when it does, you are then hurriedly usher into the restaurant to an empty seat cramming at a shared table with other patrons before a not-so-friendly-looking waiter comes take your order. Menu is fully in Chinese so if you are a 'banana' like me, either just point to what everyone else is having or order verbally as they can understand English pretty well too. Food are serve within minutes and I won't be surprised if they actually secretly wishes all patrons to finish up their meal at an equal speed to their serving time. I can easily see the annoyed look on their face when someone dilly dally around the menu and takes longer than a minute deciding what to eat.

But frankly speaking, it really isn't that difficult to choose from their short and simple list of menu as the Australia Dairy Company is insanely famous for their toast, scrambled eggs, steamed milk pudding or egg custard, macaroni with ham in broth and of course milk tea. Their scrambled eggs especially are so well-known that every table will definitely have one of it. 
The queue for breakfast at about 9am is at least 3 shophouses away! But the waiting time here is relatively shorter mainly because everyone and everything inside the restaurant evolves at super fast pace
The sure-not-to-be-missed signboard
Stacks of steamed milk pudding and egg custard tempting hungry patrons from inside
The smooth and sweet steamed milk pudding that is served warm, burning hot even at first so be gentle with the first few mouthfuls especially so you don't burn your tongue
The much talked about glistening, glowing and super fluffy scrambled egg served on a piece of crisp toast. The smell of the scrambled egg itself already conditionally increases one's appetite and the first bite itself already sent delightful impulses to the brain as the taste of the less oily, perfectly scrambled egg with a tinge of milk registered. And yes, nothing is better than eating those fluffy, soft eggs with the toast
Another of their specialty- the macaroni with shredded ham in broth. I somewhat find this mediocre only as I 'm not a huge fan of the idea of having my pasta cook in Chinese broth as well
Ice milk tea- To be honest, I'm not much of a milk tea drinker as well, but I had to say their milk tea is pretty fragrant, creamy and suprisingly not overdose with sweetness most likely because in Hong Kong, they only put fresh or evaporated milk in their tea

While the Australia Dairy Company certainly did not disappoint especially their scrambled egg, their lack of friendliness and crampy environment might make dining a little less pleasant. But I figured for the love of the scrambled egg, toast and steamed milk pudding, it makes the lack of friendliness forgivable. :)

The Australia Dairy Company Restaurant,
47-49, Parkes Street, 
Jordan, Hong Kong
Tel : +85- 2730 1356

4/ Tsui Wah Restaurant, Mongkok

This is another very popular char chaan teng in Hong Kong. Having multiple branches all over Hong Kong, we went to none other than the Mong Kok branch for a late night supper on one those rainy night we were there. The supposedly must-try signature dish here is really the crispy bun with condensed milk which I regretably did not had any more capacity to stuff! None the less, I did try a few of their other toast and what makes toast here different from the rest is the fact that every one of them are drizzled with quite an amount of condensed milk. So, if high glucose diet is not your cup of tea, Tsui Wah toasts might not exactly be what you are looking forward to but i figured we could always make room for exceptions expecially when you are already all the way in Hong Kong.
French toast with vanilla ice cream- a sinful late night dessert definitely. However, their toast are really fragrant and crispy at the same time and the vanilla ice cream was a good neutralizer to the relatively oily and condensed milk sweet French toast
Peanut butter toast- also drizzled with condensed milk
Another of Hong Kies all time favourite dish- the fishball noodle soup. The fishball noodles at Tsui Wah is flavorful and their fishballs bouncy. Certainly good for rainy nights especially
Their fish dumplings noodle soup is equally flavorful and had such home cook feeling it certainly makes one misses home much
A simple dish of vegetable can taste so good too when well-cooked
The interior of Tsui Wah

Tsui Wah is definitely a very convenient and local place to drop by for a feel of the char chaan teng experience. The Mongkok branch is located right beside the Ladies Market which makes it even more strategic. I'm quite a fan of toast too and I thought their combination of toast and condensed milk is something unique and interesting. The sight and smell of their crispy bun with condensed milk still lingers on my mind till this very day. If only I had tried that too! The peanut butter toast tasted a tad too dry for my liking otherwise I really like the fragrant and soft French toast and of course, nothing like a piping hot bowl of simple yet flavorful fishball noodle especially on rainy nights. :)

Tsui Wah Restaurant,
G/F 204-244, 
Portland Street,
Mongkok, Hong Kong
Tel : +85-2392 3889

5/ Tai Cheong Bakery
In the world of egg tarts, the name Tai Cheong is certainly no stranger. Their egg tarts have been time and again reputed to be one of the best in Hong Kong and indeed, if you think how else more different can an egg tart be, you'll be surprised at how well done and gorgeously delicious the egg tarts of Tai Cheong is.

And since their business had been booming over the years, they now have multiple branches all over Hong Kong making it even more convenient to savour those heavenly tarts.
The Mongkok East MTR station branch. The first and original Tai Cheong bakery is in Central but I went to this as it is relatively nearer to where we were staying
So what makes their egg tarts so different? Honestly with all the huu-haa about it over almost every Hong Kong food blog, my expectation was undoubtly high. None the less, their egg tarts surely did not disappoint. The egg tart is just so perfectly crumbly on the outside, soft on the inside and has a good amount of fresh egg taste it's no wonder they are voted to be the no.1
Totally love the crusty crisp outer crust and the generous amount of gelatinous, glowing, fresh sunny egg filling that certainly delights all egg tarts fanatics right from the very first bite

I find their egg tarts so good I even bought 2 dozen of them back home. And even after flying miles across the ocean, their egg tarts still tasted joyfully delicious. It's really difficult to find original egg tarts that can taste as fresh and heavenly as Tai Cheong's, so it's really worth to go hunt for them the next time you are in Hong Kong. :)

Tai Cheong Bakery,
Shop 6, Mongkok East MTR station,
Mongkok, Hong Kong
Tel : +85-8300 8312

6/ Kee Tsui Cake Shop

A trip to Kong Kong can never be complete without trying at least some of their local traditional pastries. And one of the best place to look for them is definitely this humble looking pastry and cookies shop that is located right at the heart of Mongkok at the Fa Yuen Street.

This confectionary is so popular among both locals and tourists alike there are always crowd lining up at the front of the stall. This hidden gem might be a little hard but trust your nose to bring you there, as the whiff of the freshly baked local pastries are so good you can smell them even from afar.
The crowd favourite that warrants a must visit for all traditional Chinese pastries and confectioneries lovers
Glutinous rice cake with red bean paste- definitely one of their best sellers. The smooth and sweet red bean paste filling and the chewy and rightfully thick outer layer definitely complements each other well
I find this very unique- the traditional Chinese banana cake. Made of glutinous rice flour, it's very chewy and goeey with moderate taste of banana embedded within. My mum totally loves this
Chicken cookies (khai zhai peng)- contrary to it's name, there's nothing associated with chicken at all in this cookie. While one can surely gets this also back here in Malaysia, I find their chicken cookies simply fresh and fine. With their miniature size and perfect match of sweet and salty, it''s no wonder I never got tired of popping them into my mouth
Really adore the maltose interior that taste so yum
With the constant bustling crowd, I can see why many had complained regarding their less-than-friendly service, but somehow or rather they were amused by an English speaking me and started giggling away when I enquired about the pastries.

There are a whole lot of other Chinese traditional pastries sold at Kee Tsui, some only available after 2pm, all of them equally tempting and smells really good. This little confectionary shop definitely is a heart winner when it comes to traditional Chinese pastries and cookies. :)

Kee Tsui Cake Shop,
135, Fa Yuen Street, 
Mongkok Kowloon
Tel : +85-2394 1727

7/ Man Ka King of Sao Bing  

This shop is located along Dundas Street, near to Tim Ho Wan and we happened to walk pass it after our breakfast at Tim Ho Wan. Sao bing is traditional Chinese flaky bread with a variety of fillings inside but we were too full for any sao bing that day and what caught my attention more was the fluffly looking doughnuts. 
Really satisfied with their soft doughnut drizzled with fine sugar and topped with mayonnaise
The same cannot be said for their cream puffs though. Perhaps it's because I hate cream to start with, but I find their cream puffs just simply mediocre

Their most popular pastry here is their Wu Da Lang and pineapple bun (which we didn't tried because we were just too full from all the dim sum) which we didn't had the space to fit anmore. So perhaps, just go for that the next time you drop by them, ok? :)

8/ Mankee Snacks

At the corner of Argyle and Tung Choi street in Mongkok, a few steps away from the entrance to Sincere House, this snack stall selling all sort of bbq and braised items never fail to tempt me for a quick stop to pick up a stick or two.

It seems like the recent evolution of our lok lok stall into selling more bbq-ed items caught their wave from these snacks stall (which btw was also very common and popular in Taiwan). You can either choose to have your items braised in their secret gravy or bbq-ed but both are tantalizing till the very last bite.
Perfect for a late night snack
Busy bbq-ing away
Among some of my favourite items to choose from- the pork balls, fish balls, bacons, dumplings, fishcakes, squids and so much more. Even after bbq-ing these items, they are coated with some sort of their secret gravy that makes them super delectable
They also have smelly beancurd for only HKD 10 per piece. Doesn't taste as good as the ones I had in Taiwan though
The equally tantalizing curry fishballs

As long as you are not a very particular health nazi, you'll definitely enjoy these simple wonderful local snacks and I also love in particular how generous their street snacks items are (as compared to most of our local lok lok which is so stingy in proportion). Certainly another thumbs up for local Hong Kong street food. :)

9/ Hui Lau Shan Healthy Dessert 

Acclaimed to be one of Hong Kong's most popular and healthy dessert restaurant, Hui Lau Shan is really really famous especially for their mango based dessert. They too have multiple branches in Hong Kong and the one I visited was in Mongkok (seriously what not to love about staying in Mongkok, all the good food are there!).
One of the old timers among Hong Kong's dessert restaurant
Their mango with milk pudding
The triple layer mango juice consisting of freshly blended mango juice with mango aloevera and slushy bits of mangoes- very very refreshing and awesome
Some of the other desserts available 

Desserts at Hui Lau Shan aren't exactly cheap, with a cup of the mango juice easily costing around RM 10- RM 12 but their mangoes are really fresh and sweet and they are certainly innovative in coming up with so many varieties of mango based dessert. And what is there not to love about fruit desserts especially after so much of sinful indulgence. 

The good news for all mango lovers is that Hui Lau Shan is actually now available in Malaysia! Shortly after I came back from Hong Kong, I heard that they had opened their first branch in Malaysia in Penang and of late, at Johor Bahru City Square! I have yet to check out the Malaysia branches but I hope they maintain the same quality as their Hong Kong counterparts. 

Hui Lau Shan Healthy Dessert,
58-60 Sai Yeung Choi Street,
Tel : +85- 2781 1626 

Eating in Hong Kong is definitely a gastronomic pleasure with so much goodies to keep you happy and full all the time. There are really so much more of Hong Kong food world we didn't had time to explore and sample. My trip to Hong Kong would had definitely been incomplete if not for all these scrumptios and wonderful yummy food. And to think these food alone could shift my whole perspective of Hong Kong from the negative to the positive side of the balancing scale. Speak about the power of food! Of course, without the company of my other 2 extremely incredible travel partners, my trip to Hong Kong would not be so fun and memorable either. 

Well honestly, I certainly wouldn't mind re-visiting this glorious country of food once again for another account of pure gastronomic experience. :)

PS : All above reviews are not advertorials or paid reviews. They are based on yours truly personal point of view only. Hence, yours truly is not responsible for any discrepancy in taste or opinion. :)

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