# Wednesday, 27 January 2010

North Point (北角) is a district in Hong Kong that is quite less likely to be part of a tourist's itinerary, but many tourists related to Fujian (福建) province of mainland may prefer to stay there as that district has a big concentration of population with Fujian origin.

If you happen to live in a hotel in that area, I think there are a few eateries that you should not miss, and my recommendations today are also the choices of a prominent figure in Hong Kong circles - Mr. Chua Lam (蔡瀾), he has a rich and colorful background and has been hosting a number of TV shows about enjoying life and great food, which I truly enjoy watching.

The first one I would mention is Fung Shing Restaurant (鳳城酒家), this restaurant is kind of unique, at entrance at ground floor, you will see religious offerings and smell incense, they do not have carefully designed Chinese style deco, but it does make me feel something related to the 70s.

The dim sum there is excellent, I like the beef ball, sui mai, and especially their fried shrimp roll (鮮蝦腐皮卷), they also offer a traditonal style of soup dumpling (灌湯餃), which wraps the soup inside the dumpling instead of the other way around, well, although I am not really in favor of this style (could it be why it is disappearing?), but very few restaurant in Hong Kong is doing them, so it is worth a try, as you may like it.


Traditonal style of soup dumpling (灌湯餃)

Fung Shing has a few branches elsewhere, but I would not recommend them, the quality and services of other branches strangely are not as good as the North Point branch, I particularly feel bad about the one in Causeway Bay, I experienced low quality service a couple times there.


Address in Chinese: 北角渣華道 62-68號 高發大廈 地下及1樓
Address in English: Ground Floor & 1st Floor, 62-68 Java Road, North Point
Tel: 2578 4898

SNACKS
If you like to take a snack, there is one that you need to try, well, the shop may look a little cheap by any standard, but the taste definitely is not! This is one of my entire family's favorite (as well as the favorite of many many locals I believe, as the queue is always very long most of the time), the little egg cake (雞蛋仔)


No long queues at this hour, so rush to buy


Eat while it is hot!


Don't worry, it is hygenic, very quick turn around time

Well, I am not sure on how to translate this shop name into English, but they also sell spicy fish ball, so the name has something to do with being the best in spicy and sweet clan, it is near a new building known as Island Place (港運城)


 
勁辣派甜甜掌門(北角雞蛋仔)
Address in Chinese: 北角 英皇道 492號
Address in English: 492 King's Road, North Point
Tel: 2590 9726 (you may not need it, just go there and buy)

And finally, if you like Beef Pho, you can try out a Vietnamese restaurant at the food court of Island Place (港運城), they may not be the best, but not bad for a quick snack if you are running out of time, want something hot and nice, or if you want to eat early in the morning in order to catch a flight, but most of the restaurants are not opened for business yet.

I think their soup base is ok, beef quality is nice too, but as fast food style, may be the overall quality would fluctuate, but at such pricing, I think it is worth giving a try!  They also have branches in Taikoo Shing and TST I believe.

味佳居越南美食 Yummy
Address in Chinese: 北角丹拿道51-61號港運城地庫K4號舖
Address in English: Shop K4, Island Place, 51-56 Tanner Road, North Point
Tel: 3526 1508
 
Don't get me wrong, there are many other good eateries in North Point, but these are what I just had recently, and it happens that Mr. Chua Lam recommended them too (蔡瀾推介), I may talk about more North Point gourmet options next time.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010 15:28:21 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Thursday, 21 January 2010

Din Tai Fung (or Ting Tai Fung - 鼎泰豐) is a very famous Taiwan chain restaurant known for its Xiao Long Bao (小籠包), it used to have branches in Hong Kong but only in Kowloon side, recently (in December 2009) they opened a branch in Causeway Bay, and as expected, it becomes a hot restaurant with crowds going there everyday, it took us 30 minutes to get a table.

Are their Xiao Long Bao (小籠包) really that good? The answer is yes, thin skin and juicy, although I would say Crystal Jade (翡翠拉麵小籠包) and Modern China Restaurant (金滿庭) offers equally good quality Xiao Long Bao, Din Tai Fung has other varieties beyond the commonly available Ordinary ones or crab paste ones (蟹粉小籠包), I also tried the Taro version (荔芋小籠包), and they are excellent, just sweet to the right extent, very special!


Taro Xiao Long Bao  (荔芋小籠包) - It is so attractive that I can't ask my guests to wait for my photo taking (2 taken out of 6 immediately)

Other recommended dishes:


紅燒牛肉麵 Braised beef noodle soup - Great!


蒜茸油麥菜 Yau Mak Choi - Not having it at home before, it is good!


蛋白蝦仁炒飯 Fried rice with eggs and shrimp - My kid likes this very much


蝦仁餛飩麵 Shrimp and pork wonton noodle - My favorite!


乾拌麵 Dry noodle with special sause - Very simple but tastes great

 

But not everything is great there for everyone, there are things that does not work for me too:


擔擔麵 Taiwan style Dan Dan noodle (Noodles mixed in sesame and Peanut) - I don't like Dan Dan noodle as peanut + noodle is not a combination working for me, my guests likes Dan Dan noodle but they were not excited by this one either. However, this one is very popular and we could be wrong. If you love Dan Dan noodle there is no reason not to try them.


The only thing that is disappointing is the Steamed shrimp and pork dumpling (蝦仁燒賣), very expensive but so so only - it has good looks, but does not taste great. The Cantonese style dim sum will do better for this one.

The restaurant is excellent but the crowds can be an issue, if any nice Xiao Long Bao (小籠包) and noodle soup is fine for you, you can consider  alternatives such as Crystal Jade (翡翠拉麵小籠包) or Modern China Restaurant (金滿庭) if the queue is too long, but if you can get there early (get there at 11:30a will be helpful) Din Tai Fung would be an excellent choice. By the way, it is located at Regal Hotel, so if there are too many people there, you can try the other restaurants there, Regel Palace is on the third floor (I have a review for Regal Palace at http://www.biginhongkong.com/2009/06/08/RegalPalace.aspx, and I think Fu Sing also opened a new branch there as well.

Another great thing about them is the service, the attitude and service quality is not what Crystal Jade or Modern China can offer, in fact, I just had a bad experience in Crystal Jade branch in Causeway Bay World Trade Center, in contrast, Din Tai Fung's stuff were very polite and considerate, they even have nice eating ware for kids! And for efficiency purpose, they would provide a order form to you while you are waiting for table.

Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) is as good as it says it is, but wonder how many other similar restaurants the New York Times writer had tried and compared.

Official Din Tai Fung Web Site (Taiwan): http://www.dintaifung.com.tw

Address in Chinese: 銅鑼灣怡和街68號地下
Address in English:G/F, 68 Yee Woo Street, Causeway Bay

Tel 3160 8998

Thursday, 21 January 2010 15:09:28 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Tuesday, 19 January 2010

hmmmm, not sure if anyone have tried the menu set listed in the lower left corner of the blackboard:

Chinese cuisine is really rich both in taste and cultural depth, 松鼠黃魚 literally means squirrel (松鼠) and yellow fish (黃魚), the first thing that came to my mind when I saw this, I thought that it must have been a typo and laughed at it, but later I learnt that there is indeed such a dish, well, no, don't get me wrong, we Chinese do not eat squirrel, it is actually a Beijing dishes composed of FISH ONLY, it is so called only because the fried fish has cuts that make it look like a squirrel.

Need to keep an open mind indeed, there were no typo, only my ignorance.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010 18:33:11 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Monday, 14 December 2009

This is the 44th Expo and shall be held from Dec 12, 2009 to Jan 4, 2010, it is always a good chance for us to buy bargain local products, since I live near Victoria Park, I don't have to worry about the hassle of carrying the items back home, but I would always focused on value items by quality instead of quantity, as even if my home is nearby, carrying purchased items around inside the venue can be a challenge, there are just way too many people there, even I got there today at non-peak hours, some shops were still having lots of people in front of the store.

紹香園 is popular for its walnuts, as well as preserved fruits, unfortunately my favorite 話梅肉 (some sort of preserved Chinese plum meat) is not available, and when I tried to ask, I was edged out by a few elders, whom I believe are definitely more than 60 years old.

Another store that I would patronage year over year is Comvita Manuka honey, this year they offer package of 4 bottles of 250g UMF 15+ plus free Huni skin lotion for HKD 999, or 3 bottles of 500g UMF 10+ also plus free Huni skin lotion for the same amount, I have not yet decided on which to take, but sure I would buy either one of this offer.

 

Another of my favorite Koi Kei Bakery 鉅記手信 has an impressive shop "building" there, quite inline with the Central library at the background, quite an ingenious design! But I did not see my favorite Flossy Pork Egg Rolls (肉鬆蛋卷), and I am not sure if the prices are really attractive, I do not buy anything there, they now have a store in Causeway Bay, quite convenient in case I need to buy something from them.

 

But the real value of my visit there today is the food, Farm House Chinese restaurant (農圃飯店) is a popular but expensive restaurant that I have tried only twice in the past, but today at the 工展會 expo, I can order four pieces of 蟹粉小籠包 (Hairy Crab paste Xiao Long Bao) for HKD 30! Their Almond juice Pig Lung soup (杏汁豬肺湯) is truly excellent, this is really an excellent chance for us to try out this restaurant's high quality food at very reasonable price. Again, I am lucky to be living close to the venue, so I can order take home and eat them while they were still hot! A word of caution though, if you order and eat there, it can be quite a hassle.

 

SuperStar also has a counter there, but their crab paste garlic toast (蟹粉蒜茸飽) was a little disappointing even at HKD 15 for 2 pieces, the crab stuff seems to be not very fresh, I would not recommend it. But you should buy their Crispy Whitebait with peanuts (脆脆銀魚) at HKD 50 for 6 packs, as it is a really a big bargain! The abalone seems to be quite tempting, but I did not get it.

By the way, the entrance fee is HKD 10, reasonable enough. But the true spending is not that amount, but the hassle of moving around the crowd, and your time. If you can get there during week days, it would be better, going there during weekends or holiday could be a nightmare for some of you.

Monday, 14 December 2009 21:00:01 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Wednesday, 09 December 2009

Before I watched the movie I had read about some criticizm about it, mostly on the scientific inaccuracies and miuse of the Mayan legend, I think these remarks do have points, but if we see this movie from a pure entertainment perspective, I think it is a great production that should be deeply appreciated.

One great function of a movie can be to help us visualizing something, sometimes when we read or learn about something, the understanding can somehow be limited by our own capability to imagine. For example, for people who had never experienced earthqakes, tsunami or volcanic explosion, they can only have a somewhat imagined feel of what the damage, or fear would be like. After all, you won't be seeing the deeper part of the terrible things on TV News or News paper. A movie, especially one with today's computer technologies, can bring that experiences vividly through the big screens and sound systems in modern cinema. This movie's special effects is the best I have ever seen, it is amazingly realistic!

The storyline is not bad overall, though I do have conservation on some of the ideas, I think ignoring the right of ordinary people in such situation is very bad, but being too emotional and jeopardizing the whole plan is not a good thing either, and I always dislike the idea of having everything hanging on the luck of a single individual, if that should be the case, it should be something to be avoided, and not glorified.

One interesting thought that comes to my mind is, if indeed a doomsday is coming, how would the governments of the world handles it? Would they risk chaos and let the whole world knows about it? Or just prepare to save those who are "worth saving"?

This movie is best seen at Cinema, I watched it at IFC and the facilities are good, I wish I can see it in IMAX, but even I have seen it at Cinema, I plan to get a Bluray copy when it is available, it is worth being a collector item. 

Wednesday, 09 December 2009 14:40:15 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Friday, 27 November 2009

It is not an easy thing for a restaurant to be around for 60 years, especially in a fast changing city like Hong Kong, 龍門大酒樓 Lung Moon Restaurant will be closing down by end of this month (Nov 2009), although I am not a fan of this restaurant, I wish it would continue to be around. But the reality is, located at a real estate with high market value, and facing the trend of a district wise rennovation, it has already been a great feat that it survives up to this time.

The dim sum served by Lung Moon Restaurant is very traditional, they are nice but in my opinion not especially great, some of their post popular items, such as the big bun (大包) and glutinous rice (糯米飯), are not my favorite, therefore I rarely go there, but the main reason I avoided them is the environment, for experiencing the good old days it is fine, but perhaps once in a while is enough, most of the time I would not consider it.


Many people like the big bun (大包) because you get to taste a lot of stuffs in one item (Chicken,Pork,Mushroom etc), if you like buns this is a must try.


The beef ball is well done


The chicken feet is too spicy for me


A fairwell banquet (龍門夜宴) for HKD 300 per head, I am really interested but it is already fully booked.

The restaurant is full of people taking photos these days, another token of the old days will be lost, I really don't like to see this happening.

Friday, 27 November 2009 15:26:02 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Wednesday, 25 November 2009

It is always hard to say which dim sum restaurant is the best in Hong Kong, coz there are truly many great ones, but if I must name one, probably Lei Garden (利苑酒家) can be a safe answer.

I could have blogged about Lei Garden a long time ago, but just did not make it, I do not eat there very often, being always full is not an exact reason, but I somehow just feel more at ease at other restaurants, considering location and my schedule. On the other hand, they do serve great food.


Their crab meat soup dumpling was excellent, something that I sure would order when I eat there  


This hairy crab paste Xiao Long Bao (小籠包) was very good, aside from rich crab paste, it contained quite some crab meat inside, but at HKD 32 each is too expensive!!


The beef ball in soup was great, I like the way it is cooked, even the soup was tasty!


The chicken feet and 叉燒包 (barbecued pork bun) were also very good, but they can be found at same quality elsewhere too


The Taro Puff (蜂巢芋角) was not good enough, it was fried too deep, this was quite a surprise, and it was the only thing that I feel disappointed.

Lei Garden is comparatively expensive, and serving a higher end market, the people there are polite, but somehow I just feel a little unease there, if you wish to eat there I suggest making booking in advance, unless you got there early during non-peak hours and can finish eating before the crowd comes in.

There are quite a few branches of Lei Garden, I think the quality is quite consistent, but the one at Wan Chai seems to be mostly popular among locals.

Official web site: http://www.leigarden.hk/

Wan Chai Lei Garden Restaurant
Address : 1/F., CNT Tower, 338 Hennessy Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel. 2892 0333

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday & Public Holidays
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Dinner: 6:00 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.
Sunday
Lunch: 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Dinner: 6:00 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009 18:50:21 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Tuesday, 03 November 2009

During Hairy crab (大閘蟹) season, most Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong would offer dishes out of this seasonal delicacy, Jade Garden is not known for this, and my trial on two of them makes me feel that I should stick to this restaurant for dim sum better.


Official name from menu: Tofu broth with hairy crabmeat and coral (豆腦蟹粉羹)


Official name from menu: Noodle in shrimp with hairy crabmeat and coral (蟹粉伴麵)

They are not really that bad, but there seems to be too much flour in it, and the taste is not rich enough, since the price is relatively low at only HKD 28 (USD 3.5) per serving (you can order an one person serving for trial, which is good), it is understandable, if you have a couple people dining there together, it is ok to order a few of these hairy crab dishes, may be there are nice surprises in the other ones.

Tuesday, 03 November 2009 15:33:12 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Friday, 30 October 2009

I once thought I would have my first hairy crab (大閘蟹) meal this season at East Ocean, but unexpectedly it turned out to be Shark's Fin City restaurant instead. Just by chance anyway.

The set is simple, without too much fansy stuff, soup, a traditional chinese wine to offset the supposed "cold" elements from Hairy Crab, a ginger dessert that serves the same purpose, and of course, the main character - hairy crabs!

There are two hairy crab dishes aside from the 2 medium size steamed hairy crab:


The hairy crab paste Xiao Long Bao (小籠包) is unexpectedly good, the skin is not bad, the meat stuff tasted fresh, but the amount of paste (crab soup) inside is too little.


The crab paste + bread roll is ok, although not as good as the Crab paste garlic toast (蟹粉蒜茸飽) from East Ocean (東海海都), the amount of crab paste provided is bigger in quantity (not as great as that from East Ocean but ok too)

Now the crabs, there are 2 crabs, and they serve the next only after you have done with the first so all crabs can be eaten hot, the services were quite good and I am satisfied. The quality of the crabs are ok too, not super super but very good already, they have the true crab aroma which I failed to experience last year, it may be true that the overall quality this season has improved, I believe so as the lungs of the crabs are clean, a sign that they were grown in clean environment.


First crab


Second crab


Other stuffs

A good meal for HKD 490!

Friday, 30 October 2009 22:43:32 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Thursday, 29 October 2009

The hot humid days of Hong Kong summer seems to be over finally, now comes one of the best season to visit Hong Kong, plus being at the right time for eating hairy crab! Talking about hairy crab, I had my first 2 for this season yesterday, gonna blog about it tomorrow, it is a busy day today and extremely tired...

Thursday, 29 October 2009 23:11:46 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)