When I was standing in the cloakroom queue of a Chelsea club last week, a small Greek man in front turned around and started talking to me. He asked if I was hungry to which I replied that I had just eaten some delicious food in the private room upstairs. He looked at me as if to say ‘yea, whatever’. I proceeded to tell him that food is my life, my passion, my obsession. I work in food, I write a food blog and when I’m not working or blogging, I’m probably cooking, baking or enjoying a nice meal at one of my favourite restaurants. He was impressed and totally surprised. I doubt many girls he talks to in clubs like that express their undying love for food. He proceeded to ask if I wanted to join him and his friends for dinner. Of course I didn’t, so I reminded him that I had just eaten. I grabbed my coat and spent my journey home thinking about my recent trip to Hong Kong.
The city, I was told before my five day excursion, is a food lovers paradise. Every person that I spoke to before I left told me that I would love it and gave me some fantastic recommendations of places to go. Among those was Lizzie from Hollowlegs, a fellow London food blogger and Rach Through The Looking Glass who I used to go to school with many moons ago and who has lived in Hong Kong for the last three years.
As I was on a press trip, the majority of my time was thoroughly planned and days before my departure, I was presented with an itinerary. At a quick glance, I saw that we would be incredibly busy and there seemed to be a LOT of eating to do. Below you’ll find details of what I ate at the restaurants that we were taken to by the Hong Kong tourism board, accompanied by images that I sometimes struggled to take as a lot of the restaurants were dimly lit.
We had a late night dinner at Merhaba on the first evening. I didn’t event attempt to take pictures as it was so dark that I could barely see my fork on the table. An ‘authentic’ Morroccan restaurant, Merhaba sits at the top of a hill on Knutsford Terrace, a very popular night life area in Hong. As we enjoyed bottles of the local Chinese beer, Tsingtao, we were treated to a belly dance from a petite Chinese woman as we ordered a range of dishes for the table to share. First up, slices of pitta bread served with what looked like hummus at first glance but turned out to be more like babaganoush. This was followed by an apple and celery salad and a dish of crab meat smothered in a creamy mayonnaise like sauce. Not quite what I’d expect in a middle eastern restaurant back home. The most authentic dish of grilled meats arrived and I devoured a large chunk of it, delicious. Next to arrive were two pasta dishes – one with tomato sauce and vegetables and one with creamy seafood. Again, not authentic but tasty nonetheless.
The next day after our wet market tour (more of that in another post), we were treated to lunch at 1 Michelin starred Yan Toh Heen at the Harbour’s edge in the InterContinental hotel. After winning a Michelin star in 2010, the restaurant is regarded as one of the worlds finest Chinese restaurants. We joined up with a German press group for lunch and enjoyed the view over Victoria Harbour. Having ‘set myself up for the day’ with a huge breakfast at the hotel breakfast buffet that morning, I wasn’t overly hungry so when I opened the menu my eyes widened in shock. No less than eleven dishes were listed on the menu and we were going to eat them ALL!
The dim sum to start was some of the best I’ve ever had. We were served traditional and innovative dishes such as steamed scallop and conpoy dumpling with asparagus and gold foil, steamed assorted mushrooms and string beans dimpling and golden prawn and turnip in puff pasty. The pastry light and melt in mouth, the dumpling soft and juicy.
The golden stuffed crab shell with crab meat arrived next. A big cloud of steam escaped as soon as I dug my fork into the crispy layer of the deep fried shell, to reveal a mountain of rich tender white meat.
Next up was Peking duck. The group marveled at the whole crispy, shiny duck that was brought out to the table. I didn’t realise until then (probably because I’m not well versed in Canotonese cuisine) but Peking duck wraps consist of the skin of the duck and not the actual meat. I wasn’t sure it would be tasty on first glance but oh it was. The crispy, sweet and flavoursome skin was an absolute delight. Despite not eating the meat in the wrap, it was used for another dish later on the menu, the wok fried minced duck served in lettuce wraps, which was one of my favourites.
Also on the menu was braised garoupa fillet with ginger, spring onion and bean paste, followed by wagyu beef with green peppers, mushrooms and garlic.
The dessert was a real showstopper. Each one of us was presented with a bowl of cold mango soup, which arrived at the table ferociously steaming. The bowl had been placed on top of a small tray filled with dry ice and water, which created a Heston Blumenthal like cascade of smoke. It was just what we needed to take the edge off all of the savoury food that we had devoured during our lunch.
More food was to come later at Sakesan, where we were treated to a food and sake tasting.
We were also due to dine at Cecconis in Soho that evening but none of us could face it. After drinks at the Armani bar in Central (and yet more canapes!!!), we decided to head straight out into the night, rather than letting food take over any more space in our stomachs. I am disappointed that we didn’t get to experience Cecconi’s, particularly because Italian is one of my favourite cuisines but I wouldn’t swap the impromptu (and very boozy) evening that we had instead for the world.
The next day we all felt a bit shaky but we soldiered on and spent a few hours in Sai Kung in the New Territories – followed by a seafood lunch at Cheun Kee. Well, I say WE went for a seafood lunch but I was feeling very out of sorts so only managed a bowl of boiled rice. I blame my illness on the water, it definitely had NOTHING to do with what I was drinking the night before in Lang Kwai Fong. Definitely. So I missed out on that and I am sad because there was the most delicious looking fish – fresh prawns, lobster in a creamy sauce, you name it, the group had it. And what was even more satisfying was that all of it was caught fresh that morning – upon arrival we could see all of the different varieties of fish to choose from sitting in big tanks outside the restaurant. I wish I could be transported back there now to enjoy the food.
That evening we went to what was probably my favourite restaurant of the trip. Situated on the 28th floor, Hutong is a part of the Aqua group and we arrived just in time for the light show that literally lights up the harbour every evening at 8pm. Green lasers flowed out across the sky and we watched in wonder before enjoying a set menu.
Three dishes arrived on a long plate for starter – scallops tossed with pomelo segments, green asparagus coated with white sesame and vegetarian spring rolls with mushrooms, served with scallions (spring onion). Our plate was placed down in front of us and we were told to eat from right to left – starting with the scallops. I thoroughly enjoyed all three starters, particularly the scallops with pomello, which resembles grapefruit but is drier and less juicy.
For main we nibbled on crispy de-boned lamb ribs, ‘Ma La’ chilli prawns fried with Sichwan dried chilli & Chinese celery, boneless Mandarin fish tossed with crispy yellow bean & chilli and spicy minced pork with string beans and dried petite shrimp. The amount of chillies in the prawn dish was incredible – one of our group made the mistake of eating one whole. Slowly his face turned red, then came the tears, then the uncontrollable coughing and nervous laughter. Everyone else cleverly dodged their chillies after that.
After our dessert of crispy apple roll with lychee sorbet, we jumped up and headed back to Soho for a quick night cap. When we left, we took a better look at the tree that stands in the entrance of the restaurant. Cards were left for customers to write a wish and hang it off a branch. Most of us quickly wrote one before leaving – strangely one of our group had his wish come true pretty much as soon as he arrived back into the country. Weird.
Another fantastic meal that I loved was at a Vietnamese restaurant called Nha Trang in Harbour City, Kowloon. I feasted on the best bowl of pho I’ve ever tasted and gorged on fresh Vietnamese spring rolls. This was probably one of the cheapest meals of the trip. My beef pho cost a mere HK$39 (around £3!!).
I look back at my photos now and realise just how much we ate on the trip. I couldn’t have asked for better hosts or companions – we ate like kings, never stopped laughing and generally had a fantastic time.
G/F, 12 Knutsford Terrace
Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: 2367 2263
Yan Toh Heen
18 Salisbury Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: 2721 1211
G/F, 53 Hoi Pong Street
Tel: 2791 1195
Shop No 2
2/F Wu Chung House
213 Queen’s Road East
Tel: 2891 1177
28/F, One Peking Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: 3428 8342