# Sunday, 31 January 2010

Although the first vegetarian recommendation I have for foreign visitors would be Long Men Lou in Nan Lian Garden for the 2 in 1 value (scenery + meal), the spending there is quite high, for mid range budget vegetarian meal, if you happen to be in North Point and looking for vegetarian restaurants, there is one that you can visit.

The restaurant - Three Virtue vegetarian  - can hardly be noticed on the street but it has a actually big space on the second floor of a old fashion department store - Wah Fung Chinese Department Store - (華豐國貨) that sells a lot of budget Chinese theme antique and souvenirs (so you may hit two birds in one stone too).

While they offer vegetarian Dim Sum, you can order regular dishes, such as pineapple-coo lao meat (菠蘿咕嚕素球), fried taro fish (芋頭魚) etc, which I would suggest instead of an all dim sum meal there, my favorite is actually their vegetarian soup, like this Vegetarian shark's fin soup with elm fungus and tri-shreds (榆耳三絲素羹):


It is good that you can order for 1 person


The dim sum quality varies, and on gourmet perspective, it would not be able to be compared to regular dim sum definitely, but I think many people who eat here are doing so for religious reason, many Chinese style vegetarian cooking may not be good for health in a way, as some cooks may tend to add oil, salt or even MSG heavily to spice up the dish, which ironically, makes the dish not as healthy as it is supposed to be. I would not tend to believe that this restaurant would carefully try to avoid that.


The one on the left is no good - Chicken sheet roll (雞扎), the one at the right is good, but still too oily - Steamed beancurd sheet roll (鮮竹卷)

The service quality is getting better as they have improved a bit in recent years (it had been bad and I would not rule out chances of having bad experiences in the future), the environment is also somewhat less comfortable due to the noise, and I experienced bad 3G and phone reception at my table.

They also have a take-out counter on the ground floor, they offer assorted vegetarian food for HKD 20 (8 kinds) and HKD 25 (10 kinds) respectively, many senior people would queue up to order during lunch hours, these are good for take out for simple in-room dining at Hotel, as these vegetarian gluten (齋滷味), especially toyo gluten (豉油齋) is quite good for me.

This is a vegetarian option in area around North Point that I would accept for occasional dining, but if you are willing to travel farther, there are actually better options.

As I mentioned, many people would go to vegetarian restaurants for religious reason, there are days where such restaurants may be full and crowded, such as Buddha's birthday (8th day of 4th month in Chinese calendar and May 21 in 2010), or 1st and 15th day of the month (well, it is again, Chinese calendar), for conversion of Gregorian-Lunar Calendar, Hong Kong Observatory has kindly provided tables for you (http://www.hko.gov.hk/gts/time/conversion.htm)

Address in Chinese: 北角 英皇道 395號 僑冠大廈 1樓
Address in English: 1/F, 395 King's Road, North Point
Tel: 2856 1333

Sunday, 31 January 2010 16:10:07 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# 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)