May 2008

Eating in Hong Kong III

Due to the pollution in China, Hong Kong is oftentimes cloudy. Fortunately, we were treated to a rare sunny day on day three of our adventure. To take advantage of the cloudless day, The Astronomer insisted that we head to Victoria Peak.

The fastest way to summit is via the Peak Tram. A sunny day meant longer than usual lines, but we were well entertained by a ginormous shrimp mascot from Bubba Gump’s restaurant, which is located atop Victoria Peak.

Prior to hopping on the Tram, The Astronomer procured an Apple Cinnamon Roll ($16 HKD) at Pacific Coffee Company (St. John’s Building, Central), which is the Starbucks of Hong Kong. Although it cost a pretty penny, The Astronomer said it was totally worth it. I saved my pennies for later and filled up on raisin bran and apples back at the hostel.

A lovely view from Victoria Peak. Although the view of the city from the top is spectacular, the peak is ultra-touristy, especially with Madame Tousseaud and the Burger King hanging around. I can’t believe people seek out wax figures of celebrities and Whoppers while in Hong Kong. As if!

To change things up a bit, we walked down from the Peak via Old Peak Road. The descent ended up being quite steep, so I walked backwards a lot of the time to save my knees, which reminded me of this crazy hill workout I used to do in high school for cross country in preparation for Mt. SAC.

An hour later, we reached the bottom. Famished, we dashed to Wellington Street: the home of welly welly good food.

We decided to tuck into Dumpling Yuan (69 Wellington Street, Central), which is located right across the street from a restaurant called Nha Trang. Fancy that!

Wanting the relive the glory of our first night in the city, we went for some pork leek dumplings ($28) and soy noodles ($26). The dumplings were nearly identical to the ones we had at Wang Fu. Although we should have savored each morsel, we ended up scarfing them down because our blood sugar levels were dangerously low.

I intended to order cold soy noodles, but mistakenly pointed to the hot version on the menu when I placed my order. Doh! The Astronomer’s sensitive teeth appreciated the mix up. The thick soy sauce tasted slightly fermented and melded well with the noodles and veggies. Hot or cold, this dish is a winner.

After lunch, I was craving some sweets because I was way behind on my daily quota for egg tarts. Luckily, we stumbled upon Maxim’s Bakery (multiple locations). I decided to try an egg white tart ($6 HKD) for novelty’s sake. The crust was crumbly and cookie-like, which I didn’t appreciate as much as the flakey and buttery variety. The filling wasn’t as plentiful as the ones I enjoyed prior, but quite decent flavor-wise.

As I finished eating my mediocre egg tart, I spied a boy in front of the bakery enjoying a delectable chocolate-filled pastry. Since life is short, I marched back into Maxim’s and purchased an identical sweet for myself ($9 HKD). Boo yah! The chocolate concoction was unbelievable. The center was filled with dark chocolate, while the outer layers consisted of both sweet bread and chocolate cake. Sugar highs brought about by chocolate are the best!

Properly fueled, The Astronomer and I caught a ferry to Lamma Island. From Yung Shue Wan, which is located on the western part of the island, we ran five kilometres to Sok Kwu Wan on the opposite side. We passed by an inviting beach and lots of interesting food stalls, but were too focused (and full) to partake in the fun.

There were a slew of seafood eateries at Sok Kwu Wan, but we were in the mood for roast meat, so we hopped back on the ferry to Central for dinner.

The house specialty at Yung Kee Restaurant (32-40 Wellington Street, Central) is roast goose. These carcases hang out front to woo passerbyers. Roasted meats are a rare situation where shiny skin is a good thing.

Feasting on a whole bird seemed a bit excessive (even for us), so we ordered a rice and meat combination to share ($46 HKD). The roast goose was deliciously fatty and moist. The paper thin skin was crispy and had sweet hints of five spice.

The goose tasted even better with the addition of plum sauce. The glossy condiment coated the meat with its sweet and sour candy goodness. The sauce was so addictive that I asked for three refills! Once the meat ran out, I ate the remaining sauce with a spoon. Mmm…

The Astronomer and I heard that the roast pork was also outstanding, so we ordered a portion of that as well ($32 HKD). The thin slices of magenta-hued pork were much leaner than the goose and slightly less flavorful as a result.

To round out our meal, we shared a bowl of wonton soup ($26 HKD). The soup didn’t contain any fancy twists or turns, just well executed pork and shrimp filled dumplings.

For dessert, our waitress suggested we try one of the restaurant’s award winning offerings—black sesame pudding ($16 HKD). The set of two arrived in shallow clay bowls and were pitch black in color. The Astronomer took one bite and declared it not awful, but certainly not good. I, on the other hand, loved the stuff. The sesame flavor was deeply intense and tasted almost like bitter chocolate. The texture was simultaneously creamy and gelatinous. There’s nothing like being surprised by ugly looking food.

From Yung Kee, we MTR’d it back to Kowloon. Since The Astronomer had not yet indulged in a suitable dessert, we swung by Hui Lau Shan (71 Argyle Street, Mongkok). This cute shop touts on its storefront that it serves “healthy desserts,” which is another mark of development. We shared a refreshing mango pudding with extra mango ($30 HKD). The mango pudding wasn’t mango enough for us, but the extra mango made up for it.

Like all of Hong Kong’s establishments, Hui Lau Shan’s AC was on full blast. We usually don’t notice the chilly temperatures, but eating a cold dessert in a 60 degree room, especially coming from Saigon, was too much.

Before calling it a night, we had some waffle balls ($10 HKD) at the corner of Argyle Street and Tung Choi Street in Mongkok.

Served fresh out of the iron, the flavor was mildly sweet, while the texture had a bit of a chew. Although I’m not certain, I’d say there was probably some tapioca flour in the batter. A great ending to an even greater day.

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9 thoughts on “Eating in Hong Kong III

  1. That looks like some outstanding BBQ……good enough to get those salivary glands working over time!

  2. hi.
    About the black sesame pudding, i think that is the “chi’ me` phu?” , right ? Was it serve cold or hot ?
    You should go to Chinatown in Sai Gon to eat real Chi’ me` phu? . It is hot, it is black. Men, i love that stuff.

  3. I’ve always been curious about the soy noodles. How are the cold noodles usually served?
    Have you come across any online Chinese recipes that use soy noodles?


  4. Did this happen in just one day? I’m really impressed by how much you’ve done in HK…I used to live there (12 years) but I never visited Lamma Island, yeah, it’s a shame…Guess, you take things for granted when you know it’s just right there and now I wish I can go back & visit…But I had the Best Chinese food in HK…I miss the Portuguese Egg tarts, Wonton noodles, Soy-Chicken, Dumplings during Yum-Chas and so on…I enjoyed reading all your adventures in HK and Manila very much…Brought back great memories and smile 🙂 Can’t wait to go back home and I will surely document everything just like you did…

  5. It’s a pity that you didn’t try the seafood restaurants on Lamma Island. They display tanks outside the restaurant with many different kinds of live fish and shellfish. They will prepare the food the way you like it and I strongly recommend Rainbow. The island is also famous for the sweet tofu dessert you mentioned earlier.

  6. Holy hell you guys did A LOT in HK! I just blogged about Dumpling Yuan and was trying to see what the other people say about that place. 🙂 I am so jealous you guys went to Yung Kee… I missed out on chomping on goose 🙁

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