# Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Unexpectedly, a health crisis suddenly hit the world - The Swine Flu - 豬流感 - (or may be under a new name as some countries are asking for it) reminds us on the bad days of SARS. But aside from the hot sales of masks, there is little sign of panic among us here in Hong Kong, restaurants are still packed with people and few are wearing masks, I hope the situation worldwide will soon be better, but no precaution is excessive, and keeping good personal hygiene is what each of us can do to help.

I remember how it was like during the days of SARS, much less people would had dined outside, I was relatively a risk taker during those times and still patronaged a number of good restaurants, I felt it was pretty safe with good safety measures, besides, not many people were around so the chance of getting infected was small. I wish the same situation will not happen, the real condition should probably surface in the next couple of days.

But what if a pandemic really happens? Well, as long as some good restaurants would still operate, and is willing to offer bargain prices, I guess I would still go for it.

A Chinese proverb says: "human would get killed for money, birds would get killed for food" - 人為財死,烏為食亡 (the teaching is to ask people not to be greedy), I hate to think about people getting killed for food as well, especially if just for getting better tasting ones. Well, just wish human will prevail in this battle and this Swine Flu thing will be over very soon.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009 5:44:44 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Friday, April 24, 2009

May be many would wonder about the impact of the financial crisis on Hong Kong, I think that the damage is not as bad as during the times of SARS in 2003, but as far as dining is concerned, quite a number of restaurants made encoruaging price adjustments, and for visiting tourists, I think it should be easier for them to book tables as local folks tend to be dining out less nowadays.

So may be this is a good time to visit Hong Kong and have some great food if you have been thinking about it, if you have questions please feel free to leave a comment here.

Friday, April 24, 2009 8:00:16 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Thursday, April 23, 2009

Two days ago I blogged about "Dim Sum" (譽滿坊) in Happy Valley, a few minutes walk away from it you can find the other eatery mentioned in the Michelin guide - "Tasty" (正斗粥麵專家), here I like to share a comparison between the two.

Personally I would choose "Dim Sum" (譽滿坊) over "Tasty" (正斗粥麵專家) if I can only choose one, not because "Tasty" is not good, but because of the uniqueness of "Dim Sum", both has the special deco that western visitors would look for (and may be that's why they were both selected in the Michelin guide but not the other great eateries in Happy Valley), however, the items that "Tasty" offers can be easily found elsewhere, without much quality difference, and that they have a few other branches in areas such as Hung Hom and Central as well. "Dim Sum" (譽滿坊), on the other hand, has no branches and offers items not found elsewhere, "Dim Sum", however, does NOT offer noodles nor congee.

There are many specialties in "Tasty", I think the dim sum there is only average, but the congee and noodles are worth trying, I also believe that the Michelin recommended braised goose webs should be good, actually, most top class chef in Hong Kong can cook that very well as it is truly a delicacy. Talking about food using the feet of poultries as ingredients, I remember what one of my former boss used to say when we eat together: "You can order anything you want, except Chicken feet", well, he was from New Zealand, and he knows that Chicken Feet is one of my favorite.

The soup noodles from "Tasty" seems to be rather too salty and oily, I preferred their congee better, in fact, if you like the famous Wanton Noodles, I would say that the other restaurants such as Mak's Noodle, Wing Wah and Yeung's Noodle are even better choices, though the three eateries do not have the type of deco and environment that "Tasty" offers.

The noodle shown here is Sui Gau Noodle (水餃麵), which is rather strange in the way Sui Gau (水餃) are usually defined, it looks and eats more like a wanton (雲吞) in Sui Gau (水餃) shape.

And the place is a little crowdy too if you have to take the round tables, the waiters are ok but there are too many of them packed in a small area like that, I felt more at ease elsewhere.

Tasty Congee & Noodle Wantun Shop (正斗粥麵專家)

Address in Chinese: 跑馬地景光街21號地下
Address in English: G/F, 21 King Kwong St., Happy Valley 
Tel: 2838 3922

Google map: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=114499201820180881946.000463d25b524e2ce06d1

Thursday, April 23, 2009 5:59:38 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Tuesday, April 21, 2009

When I first tried this restaurant quite sometime ago, I noticed that it was good and very special, I saw it as a nice eatery at the Happy Valley neighborhood but did not realize that it has such great potential of making it to the Michelin guide. I am not sure if the restaurant's English name "Dim Sum" is truly official, but most locals are not aware of it - yes, we only know it by the Chinese name 譽滿坊, which is pronounciated as "Yue Mun Fong".

Since the restaurant is located at a quiet and high class neighborhood not accessible by MTR, the environment is very nice, and the chances of having unpleasant people around is quite unlikely. The place is small but decorated well, with good food, it is truly a great place to enjoy dim sum, at a premium price though.

Somehow I feel that this restaurant offers the most expensive dim sum in Hong Kong, they have a category of dim sum known as 貴族點心 - dim sum for the nobles, at HKD $80 each they are really costly, my instinct told me that I need not order those, for example, 翡翠官燕鮮蝦餃, Koon Yin Ha Gau, which means Shrimp dumpling with Birds nest, I doubt if that would make much differences than the regular ones, if I wish to consume Birds nest, there are many better way of cooking it. Actually, I tried a lowest cost (HKD $35) version of it - 燕液帝皇明蝦餃, which probably uses some sort of glue form of Bird Nest with Ha Gao, but hardly notice any difference from the regular ones.

I also find the 竹笙海皇龍蝦餃 - Lobster dumpling not much better than Shrimp dumpling, and the skin is not as good as some of the best restaurants - too thick and broken easily, so despite tasting good, they are not that superb.

燕液帝皇明蝦餃 Shrimp dumpling (ha gao) on the left, 竹笙海皇龍蝦餃 - Lobster dumpling on the right

The real great one is 魚翅酥皮龍蝦湯 - Chinese style Lobster Bisque with Sharks Fin, it is a good combination of east and west, the material is rich, and the taste is fantastic, it is highly recommended.

In general, this restaurant is worth visiting, I believe that there are other dim sums under the chef's recomendation section that are worth exploring. And I need to mention that the tea they use are very good, I'll go there again for sure.

By the way, tourists can also take time to see the neighborhood as well as a view of the Hong Kong Jockey Club race course. If you happen to visit Ocean Park and wish to eat at a place not too far away, you may consider it as well.

Address in Chinese: 跑馬地成和道63號地下
Address in English: 63 Shing Woo Road, Happly Valley
Tel: (852) 2834 8893

Operating Hours:
11:00 - 16:30
18:00 - 22:30

Google map: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=114499201820180881946.000463d25b524e2ce06d1

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 9:54:06 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hong Kong Disneyland is probably the only Disneyland where you can find high quality Chinese food, although there are rich varieties of food choices in the park, if you not aiming for a quick meal and wish to have better dining experiences, Plaza Inn can be a good choice.

The dishes are quite expensive so I ordered better ones as it gives best value for the money, a nice surprise is the Crab meat soap (蟹肉榆耳羹), 蟹肉 = Crab meat and 榆耳 is a kind of edible mushroom, the combination is very nice and it is one of the best soup I had, what is special is that the flavor is  delicious but not as heavy as typical in Chinese soup, I think perhaps 榆耳 is what gives the soup the special taste.

I also ordered 遼參爆京蔥, 遼參 is an expensive species of sea cucumber, those from Hokkaido Japan are extremely expensive, so I assume that the ones we had are from China, but this dish is quite a bargain considering the number of sea cucumbers included. Fried with Thick Spring Orion, this one is a popular delicacy, and very good to be taken with plain rice, but this restaurant has not brought out the best of it yet, I feel that the taste is yet to be improved.

The crispy skin chicken (脆皮雞) is average, nice one to help stuffing everyone's stomach, also we ordered the Mickey Mouse shape dessert, HKD $39 for 3, just ordinary but ordered it for fun.

Located near the castle where you can watch the fireworks (not within the restaurant but standing outside), the restaurant is easy to find, the food is above average but the pricing is really high for the same class, considering a restaurant inside Disneyland it is expected, Plaza Inn is worth trying if paying a bit more is ok for you and dining in downtown is not viable for your timing (it would take 30 to 45 minutes for you to ride to Kowloon or Hong Kong island via MTR), in our case, we wanted to watch the fireworks at 8:00p, do dining there was a better arrangement.

By the way, if you live in one of the Disney Hotels, I think you can also try out the Chinese restaurants there, the pricing should also be quite high, I haven't tried them yet so cannot comment on the quality of food there.

Saturday, April 18, 2009 2:03:55 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Friday, April 10, 2009

If you have a specific restaurant in mind that you wish to read a review but cannot find, just feel free to leave a comment here. I love great food and would be happy to help (if it won't cost me too much :-))

Of course, I have tried so many restaurants here, perhaps I can give quick feedbacks as well.

Friday, April 10, 2009 12:21:30 AM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Golden Bauhinia Square (金紫荊廣場) is a tourist spot that attracts quite a lot of visitors from mainland. It a place for Special Flag Raising Ceremony and a symbol for the return of Hong Kong to China. Visiting the place is meaningful for mainland Chinese tourist but may be less attractive to tourist from other countries. However, being at WanChai district (it is located at seaside and a few minutes walking distance away from main commercial area) and being part of the HKCEC Convention Center, it is worth visiting if it fits your itinerary.

地址 :   灣仔博覽道1號香港會議展覽中心地下
電話 : 2582 7728

Golden Bauhinia
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center
Golden Bauhinia Square
Expo Drive East
Wan chai

Tel: 2582 7728

Google Map: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=114499201820180881946.000463d25b524e2ce06d1

And for dining, the Golden Bauhinia could be a great choice. Since I had only lunch there in recent months, I can only comment on dim sums (which are my favorites):

Jumbo Ha Gao 蝦餃 (shrimp dumpling) is getting popular these days but personally I believe that Shrimp dumpling is not best being eaten that way, it is simply too big. The regular Ha Gao can be bitten in half (or taken as a whole for people with big mouth) so you can enjoy the right mix of the stuff and the skin, the Jumbo Ha Gao makes it a little difficult, as the stuff may fall out at first bite (or the whole thing will fall apart), especially when the skin is not strong. The Jumbo Ha Gao here is well done, it is good, but I think ordering the regular Ha Gao (4 pieces in one order) will be my choice.


Well, may be you would wonder, why would a restaurant offer the same item in two sizes (in this case Ha Gao), the nice surprise is that the regular Ha Gao is a little special, unlike the Ha Gao else where, it has a few green spot on the skin, I heard that vegetable sauce are added to it, and while there were reports saying that they are not that good, I personally found them excellent, possibly they had improved it after being criticized.


"Fan go" (粉果) usually comes as 潮州粉果 chiu-chau style dumpling and I am not a fan of it, probably because I don't like the sticky thick dumpling wrapper made from glutinous rice flour, as well as the traditional content of  peanuts, garlic, chives, pork, dried shrimp. But this one from Golden Bauhinia has stuff that is primarily shrimp,  and I do quite like it.


Most of the salty/flaky pastry - "Sou" (酥) are in forms of barbecued pork filling, but some use higher cost material such as abalone, I can't remember 100% sure that this one has abalone filling, the sure thing is that it tastes very good


The Shark fin dumpling in soup (魚翅灌湯餃) is good and has rich content, may be I had tried so many great ones so there is no wow factor but I sure would like to order this again.


This one is called 蠔皇鮮竹卷, I found it rather hard to translate and I did not check how the restaurant translates it, many restaurants have this but I believe that Golden Bauhinia has the best! Literally it means Steamed Tofu Skin Rolls with Oyster Sauce, with some nice stuffing inside. I highly recommend it.


This fried taro roll with stuffing has one of the most unique and nice looking packaging among all dimsum, the taste is ok but may be just not my favorite, so I can only enjoy the look of it.

Overall I would say Golden Bauhinia is a great restaurant, and due to its location, having a table is usually not difficult unless it is booked by tours from China, please note that not many western tourists would go there but it is a hot spot for mainland visitors. The environment is nice and comfortable, although the services quality varies from time to time, it would still be good enough, especially for foreign visitors.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009 7:27:09 PM (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)