# Monday, 21 September 2009

It is interesting to find quite a lot of information on the web relating best dim sum to the Maxim's Palace City hall, could it be that someone with little dim sum experiences visited there and thought that he/she just had the best dim sum in Hong Kong? I think when someone started by saying "I did not have very high expectations of Hong Kong food....", it is a sign to seek a second opinion.

I am not saying that Maxim's Palace (美心皇宮) is bad, in fact, after the latest renovation, it is a grand place to enjoy dim sum, just that the dim sum there is simply, average, the best? come on, it really makes me laugh.

Not sure if it was the material quality, or if the food was prepared by an apprentice, the ha gao, beef ball as well as Taro puff are all below average at my first visit after the renovation. Maxim group operates various brands, Maxim's palace, as well as one of my favorite, Jade Garden, are all under the same mother company, I guess despite their effort to maintain consistent quality, the actual result would still depends on individual talents, Maxim's Palace itself has quite a number of branches covering the entire city, the general perception among locals is that Maxim's only just another dim sum restaurant, "the best" is something that I never imagine a local would call it. But strangely, it seems to be extremely popular among foreigners, in fact, more than half of the people who were there when I ate there last week were foreigners. I strongly feel that this is another hype on the internet.

I think another blow to this restaurant is the fading away of the Original Star Ferry Station, I am not a die-hard preservationist, but it is indeed sentimental to see one historial icon destroyed after another, I hope the government is not lying and really knows what they are doing. Well, with the place looking like this today, until the building of the new structures are done, it will be much less attractive to visit this so called best dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong.


View from restaurant today


Star Ferry Central 2006


2009

Personally I would go to the nearby Lei Garden in IFC instead, there are also quite a number of interesting options in Central, there is a new one which is especially attractive, I'll keep this a secret for the moment, and hope that I can arrange a chance to eat there sometime soon!

Monday, 21 September 2009 13:15:04 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Friday, 04 September 2009

Finally, I was able to find time to have a Yellow Oil Crab meal at East Ocean, the HKD 398 set is a very good deal, although the crab is far from perfect, the set all together is very satisfying.

The menu: http://www.eastocean.com.hk/OCrabSets.html

The Yellow Oil crab (黄油蟹) feels bigger and richer than the one I had at SuperStar, but the crab quality may be a little bit "rougher" in comparison, the crab aroma seems stronger, but some part of it is too dry, and the yellow oil is rather concentrated instead of being distributed into the whole body (which may not be a bad thing for me).

yellow oil crab

I think to be fair one should not expect to have the highest quality yellow oil crab from a set at this price range, therefore I would say that the one I had from East Ocean is good for the value already, besides, all the other items are very good except the "wor tip" and dessert, which being ordinary, would become even less attractive at a time when I was already very full.


The meat and chicken are very good, simple but good tasting


The Yellow Oil Crab (黄油蟹) Xiao Long Bao (小籠包) is at the same quality like I mentioned in my previous blog entry, the "yellow oil" is great, but the meat quality can still be improved


The Shark Fin Soup at Superstar is creamy and having a bigger serving size. This one from East Ocean is cooked in clear chicken broth, very nice too.


The abalone from East Ocean is also small as expected, but it tastes quite well this time. I know many from the west are terrified by having poultry feet as food, but goose feet in abalone sauce is one of my best favorite!


I like this vegetable dish, the dried scallop cooked this way is one of my favorite


The "wor tip" is too oily, and quality is not that good. The desert is also average, much better if they can subsitute this with something else

Since I ordered only 1 set, so there is no complimentary Sake (Japanese wine), instead, I got a glass of fruit juice. I had only a little of it, based on some side information, having too much vitamin C rich content along with Crab may produce "undesirable" condition inside our stomach, I am not sure about how true it is, but just wanna play safe. After all, I was already too full after eating all these.


The service at East Ocean also beats Superstar in some ways, they provide the full set of gears at the start, and the waiters responded faster, but from both restaurants there are good and poor staffs, there are two things that I am disappointed today with East Ocean: cold hand cleansing water, and slow in handling my payment.

Overall I would rate the set at East Ocean a better deal than that from SuperStar, not only that the price is lower, the crab and many of the items are having better quality, since the disparity is not that big, if you do not mind having two yellow oil crab meals, I would suggest that you tried out both, but if you want to have only one, may be you can consider East Ocean's first.

The branch I went to was again in Wan Chai Harbour Centre, please find the full list of East Ocean's branch at:
 
Friday, 04 September 2009 20:15:31 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Friday, 28 August 2009

I have been planning to have my first Yellow Oil Crab meal at East Ocean (東海), but just always couldn't make it, and by chance it was more convenient for me to eat at SuperStar today, so despite that the East Ocean set is more attractive to me, I decided to try out SuperStar (鴻星) first.

There are three sets for me to choose, I chose the least expensive one, not exactly because I want to save money, but I think the extra spending for the higher end sets do not bring in much value for me.

If you take a look at the menu, you would notice that they priced the crab alone at around HKD 325 (The crab in the set is around 190g, while the one that they priced individually is 228g, $65 per 38g), HKD 325 = USD 41.50, around the price of a Dungeness crab in US, but this crab is way much smaller as you can imagine from the weight alone, so you can see how expensive the yellow oil crab is. 

http://superstargroup.com.hk/setmenu/09_07crab/09_07crab.html

I don't see SuperStar as the best restaurant for Shark's Fin, therefore I won't order higher end set because of that, and in fact, I see the creamy Braised Shark's Fin even better than the Double Boiled Shark's Fin. The Bird's Nest for Almond Cream is also useless, as it can hardly be felt, the only good ones in the most expensive set is the Prawn, which indeed is a very delicious dish.

But my main target today was the Yellow Oil Crab, the rest were for added value only, so I thought that the HKD 568 set is the best deal, and I was right, the set has real good value.

I am not a big fan of SuperStar as I had a very bad experience there, exactly at the Times Square branch a few years ago, they missed orders and kept us waiting, and the staffs were so impolite in handling our complaint. But to my surprise, the service today is quite good, only one failed to respond to my request despite that she promised to help. I can feel that they do not have enough people to serve during peak hours.

Back to the main topic, the Yellow Oil Crab is fat and rich in yellow oil, but somehow I feel that the yellow oil is lacking the great aroma I used to experience last year, I'll see if I can get that same sensation when I try out East Ocean's.

In a way, yellow oil crabs are better than the much more famous Hairy crabs, and it is only produced in the Pearl river delta area near Hong Kong waters. A lot of people says that the quality of these crabs are better than the hairy crab, which are having contamination issues due to environment pollutions in the lakes of China. But the pricing of these crabs are really too high, hairy crab can also be expensive, but there are also low cost options with relatively acceptable quality, so people can afford to eat quite a lot of them. But for yellow oil crab oil, we really need to control our appetite because the production is limited.

Another special thing about Yellow Crab Oil is that it is usually boiled with wine, the reason is that to avoid losing the yellow oil, you can't let the crab struggle too much during cooking (the feet may fell off and leaking yellow oil), and have to use wine to make it drunk before cooking it. Sounds like a humane way of feasting. Well, life is full of paradox, having to kill a creature for another creature to survive is a bad design of the world we are today, I don't like it and such a thought is truly annoying when thinking about eating great food...

A few things to ask for when ordering yellow oil crab in a restaurant:
1.  Gears for eating crab, since the crab is small, you need them for picking up the crab meat in the legs. The Superstar stuffs did not get that for me today.

2. Hot water with Lemon for washing hands

3. A small spoon for picking up the crab paste

Always remember, what you go for in a yellow oil crab is the yellow stuffs (paste, oil) there, unlike the Dungeness crab, the crab meat is so few that it is mainly a by-product. This reminds me a funny experience in Seattle, I had Dungeness crab twice there and in both occasion, they served me crabs without the paste (not sure how this thing is called in US), I guess they treat these as waste, well, the crab paste of Dungeness crab is indeed not so good, no wonder it is not valued, but not for the yellow oil crab.

One characteristic of the yellow oil crab is that the yellow oil will flow to all parts of the crab's body, a reaction from the heat of the sun.


For the rest of the dishes, all are quite good, so as far as food value is concerned, this set is worth the money.

 

The abalone is just average (I did not expect much from an "abalone" from a set), surprisingly though, the side dishes that come with the abalone is quite good


 

花彫 is a chinese rice wine originated from Shaoxing (紹興) of Zhejiang (浙江) provinces, not bad to have some after a crab meal.


 

Well, the dessert (almond cream) is just ok

Address in Chinese: 銅鑼灣時代廣場食通天10樓1005鋪
Address in English: 1005, 10th Floor,Times Square,1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay
Tel: 2628 0886
 
SuperStar has quite a number of branches in Hong Kong, there are rumors that the one at TST (Tsim Sha Tsui) is the best,  the address list of SuperStar's branch an be found at the following link (but only in Chinese version):
 
Friday, 28 August 2009 21:10:01 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Thursday, 27 August 2009

Although being a Chinese City, Hong Kong is probably also a place with the highest concentration of high quality Japanese restaurants outside of Japan. In fact, many local folks are supporters of Japanese products, and many are die-hard fans of Japanese food.

I cannot say I like Japanese food a lot, eating raw fish is not something easy to overcome for me, but it is interesting that there is one particular sashimi that I like a lot - Salmon Sashimi, and fortunately, many local Japanese restaurant can serve this with high quality, and the ones from Nagoyaka Tei (和花亭壽司) is also excellent. Having tried Salmon Sashimi from more than a dozen restaurants, I would say the freshness and meat quality of Nagoyaka Tei is top notch!

和花亭壽司 Nagoyaka Tei from Kushiro Hokkaido is very popular Japanese restaurant in Hong Kong, having very good word-of-mouth on their rich varieties of high quality Sushi, I am not a fan of Sushi and the one I had this time is only average, but I think that it is due to my lack of understanding on Sushi, so I was not able to order the best that the restaurant can offer.


和花亭炸蝦卷 - Literally Nagoyaka Tei's fried shrimp roll, but it is served cold instead of hot as I expected, not that bad but not superb either.

Like many Sushi bars, you can fill up forms (in Chinese) or pick up from the belt, there are also sake and drinks being "transported" around.

They also serve hot dishes like Udon and Soup, the Salmon Soup is not a very good choice and I think this is not where their strength lies.

Located in Ocean Terminal, the restaurant is always full during lunch break, get there before 12:00 noon will be safer, overall I think this restaurant is worth trying if you are a Sushi  lover, as they seem to offer many unique varieties, but for Sashimi and hot dishes, may be you can look elsewhere, and to be fair, as the restaurant name implies (壽司 = Sushi), there is no reason to set high expectation on a Sushi Bar if you do not like Sushi that much.

So please do not consider my review seriously as an opinion, I just hope that I can help by letting you know about this restaurant. Well, I did enjoy the Salmon Sashimi there, so I am somehow positive about them.

Address in Chinese: 尖沙咀海運大廈地下 OT G03 號舖 
Address in English: Zone OT G03, Ocean Terminal, Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel. 3586 2622

Thursday, 27 August 2009 15:45:23 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Friday, 21 August 2009

The Computer Festival in Hong Kong used to be a must-go event for me, but as the fair turns from a venue for seeing new cool stuff into a dump site for old stock, going there is ok only if time allows, I went there today (the first day) and there were not many people. As expected, I do not see new innovations (I heard about 3D LCD monitor from Viewsonic but missed it) and it was simply a noisy night market like place.

But considering it a night market for low price tech items, there sure are a lot of things to hunt for, I only bought a hard disk though. My years of I.T. Technology experiences tell me not to buy something for low price, as the price will always only drop, and usually within very short time, the rule is, buy something only when it is needed immediately.

I was actually looking for a new notebook too, I use Fujitsu notebook computers for years, and is very happy for the quality and durability, I once dropped it hard and at another occasion, had it accidently turned on inside the bag and "baked" for at least 3 hours, but the notebook still works flawlessly, being "made in Japan" is another great drive for this brand, however, at the festival today, I only see old models being sold, all with only 2GB of memory, 2GB? No, I am looking for something with at least 6GB, hey, this is 2009.

At Sony's booth, I found a new series of notebook that looks very interesting, the VAIO Z series notebook features 6GB built-in memory, and the top end model has options for either SSD drive or a blu-ray drive (but not both), but considering the price point, I think the VAIO TT series would be even more attractive, as it offers a light weight computer with good power in good price. Here in Hong Kong, size and weight is very important, unlike I.T. folks in North America and Europe, most of us do not drive, so excessive weight will cause trouble moving around. Looks like I may betray my loyalty to Fujitsu this time. 

Another interesting find today is the Disney Notebook from Asus, interesting but not my choice, I do doubt the value of such marketing gimmick, a Disney notebook? Not for me definitely...

But the computer festival is really great if you are not looking for the latest and coolest, Hong Kong is probably the best place to buy I.T. stuffs as the shops here offers very competitive pricing, much more so in the Computer Festival, I may go there again on last day (Aug 24, Monday) and check things out, but I sure would abide by my own rule, I'll only buy what I really need, and not for the price. The problem is, however, I am a little lost on what I really need.

Fair | I.T.
Friday, 21 August 2009 19:52:13 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Sunday, 16 August 2009

手信 is a tradition among many Greater China geographies wherein travellers will bring back items as small gifts for family and friends, very often these small gifts are edible foods of the places that they have visited, for Hong Kong, Japanese 手信 are highly welcomed, but how about people visiting Hong Kong? What can they bring back?

There are many great options, I may blog about that in future entries, but today I am not going to focus on that, instead, I want to mention something I bought also at the Food Expo, the Flossy Pork Egg Rolls (肉鬆蛋卷) from Koi Kei Bakery (鉅記手信), well, this bakery is actually from Macau, and not Hong Kong, but since travelling to Macau is so convenient (only a 1 hour ride on Ferry), it is not being conidered very foreign to us.

Koi Kei produces excellent biscuits and other Chinese style bakery products as well as traditional Chinese sweets, recently they also produce sauces and even canned abalones, they have shops in Hong Kong (there is one in Sogo basement at Causeway Bay) but the Flossy Pork Egg Rolls (肉鬆蛋卷) usually is available in Macau Shops only, so when I see them at the Expo, I purchased half a dozen of them without hesitation, at HKD 29 (net price after discount), this is a great snack to enjoy!

So what exactly is Flossy Pork Egg Rolls (肉鬆蛋卷)? The internals are dried shredded meat with flavor (they are flossy), and wrapped in crispy egg biscuits, this snack mixes sweetness and salty senses perfectly, with a perfect sensation when bitten inside your mouth, I would say this is something that visitors to Hong Kong and Macau should not miss.

There are many great stuffs from Koi Kei that deserves attention, grab a couple others and try it, the different flavors of almond cake/biscuit (杏仁餅) is a must try too.

Fair | Snacks
Sunday, 16 August 2009 19:01:58 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Thursday, 13 August 2009

Sometimes you go to a fair and the best thing you got ends up as something that is totally unexpected from a fair of that nature, this happens again today at the Food Expo.

I am a fan of Nissin's instant noodle (出前一丁即食麵), I know instant noodles are not healthy, therefore I only buy those Nissin products produced in Japan, and there is a popular saying, if you boil the noodles once and discard the water, the harmful material at the surface of the noodle will be melted away, with all these safety measures, so I would still enjoy the great tastes of a Nissin Instant Noodle once in awhile, I also like the original flavor with sesame oil, though occasionally I would also try some special seasonal offers.

But don't get me wrong, Nissin's instant noodles are not the best thing I got today at the Hong Kong Food Expo 2009, it is a set of Mahjong (麻將)! Yes, a set of Nissin Mahjong (出前一丁麻將)!


This Nissin Mahjong (出前一丁麻將) set uses interesting patterns and can be practically used! I don't play Mahjong at all, but this set is so funny that I decide to keep it as a collector item, it will remain unopened though.


And I think this serves well as a wedding gift item too - all red color, and can be used instantly during wedding banquet.

 

Other cool stuffs that you can buy from the Nissin booth:

Thursday, 13 August 2009 21:15:30 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)

I blogged about UMF+ Manuka honey in June and it was quite a frequently hit entry, it seems that many people are interested in the power of honey, at today's Food Expo, I visited Comvita's booth and found out that they are offering a good deal package:


4 bottle of 250g Comvita UMF 10+ Manuka honey + a bottle of UMF20+ Huni Skin whitening product for HKD 669.

And the nice staffs there even waive my entrance ticket (HKD 25) by deducting it from the sales total, I also got a book on honey's healing power, as well as a HKD 50 coupon (applied only on regular price product and only for net purchases of HKD 500), please note the expiration date of this batch of products though, which is Nov 2010.

If you are trying to find out where to buy Comvita Manuka honey in Hong Kong, please check out Comvita's outlet at Hong Kong here: http://www.comvita.com/wheretobuyhk_2.html#1657

Fair | Health
Thursday, 13 August 2009 20:55:44 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)

Despite having extremely terrible experiences before with the food expo, I still opt to go this year, getting there early and on the first day, I avoided the terrible crowds that made the expo a bad place to stay.

One reason I got there was to buy the Japanese snow crab (松葉蟹) at HKD 90 (USD 11.5), fortunately most of the early birds were attracted to the HKD 1 meat ball pack so I was able to get one, I believe many people behind were not able to get one, so am I happy? Not exactly, first of all, the crab did not taste great, secondly, I found out that the vendor seems to be selling them at exactly the same price at their web site.

The crab is cooked and frozen, I did not expect it to be great, but still quite disappointed, it is a far lot worse than those I had in Hokkaido Japan, so frozen food is frozen food, there is probably no exceptions, but to be fair to the vendor, HKD 90 is a "reasonable" price, but they should not call it a "bargain", which I think is not true.

Based on what I know, this eight leg creature are harvested only during a short period of time in Japan from November to April, if that is true, that explains why the crabs are not in good quality, they just have been frozen for longer than they should, I was in Hokkaida a few years back during winter, the fresh crabs just taste totally different.

For the same amount, getting a fresh crab at the market is a better choice.

Crabs | Fair
Thursday, 13 August 2009 19:47:56 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Wednesday, 12 August 2009

My appetite is not at its highest yet therefore I am still preserving my hunger for the yellow oil crab, but with a US business friend arriving here, I decided to go  to East Ocean (東海·海都酒家) again, not for the crabs yet, but instead, ordered a set which I think is quite good in terms of value.

This HKD 160 set (cost per person) includes Shark Fin Soup, lobster, abalone, fried pigeon and a few other goodies, my US friend also likes the dessert that is made up of almond juice and milk.


The Shark Fin soup is ok though not superb.


The lobster tastes great!


The sauce is good but the abalone quality is not great enough

Not everything is super good, but they are not bad either, at HKD 160, it is a good deal for a business lunch.

Address in Chinese: 香港灣仔港灣道25號海港中心三樓
Address in English: 3/FL., Harbour Centre, 25 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong.
Tel: 2827 8887
 
The branch I went to was in Wan Chai Harbour Centre, please find the full list of East Ocean's branch at:
 
 
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 22:42:28 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)