Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Sing Woo Road, Happy Valley Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2834 8893
If you ever have the great fortune to find yourself in Hong Kong, Pearl of the Orient, then you absolutely must head down to this incredibly popular and renowned restaurant.
Located in Happy Valley, a short walk from the racecourse, this little restaurant serves dim sum all day and all night. Dim sum is traditionally eaten at lunchtime so it is pretty rare to find a place in Hong Kong serving it all day.
The restaurant was very popular when we lived in Hong Kong and on a return trip eight years later it remains as full as ever so they are doing something right. The restaurant does not take reservations, you have to turn up, give your name to one of the girls running around and then wait your turn. On a Saturday or Sunday lunchtime you may have to wait for up to an hour.
Inside this small restaurant tables are packed in whilst booths run down one wall. There are lots of carved rosewood tables, panels and chairs and old Chinese cigarette adverts adorn the walls. It’s all very 1930’s Shanghai.
Gweilos are given a big picture book with all the dishes in it and you place your order by filling in a little card by ticking the numbers that correspond to the pictures you like! The food is absolutely fabulous; the dishes probably lean more towards northern Chinese cuisine but all the old favourites are there, and they are very, very good.
They have a good selection of teas, though Gweilos tend to be served a pot of jasmine unless you ask for something different. You should try the ‘bo lay’ or the ‘tie guan yin’.
The food comes at you pretty fast and furious, lots of little bamboo steamers filled with divine morsels or little plates with their fried pastries or dumplings. Once you have managed to get your table you can sit and linger as long as you want, and you can keep ordering more if the mood takes you. Even though this is considered expensive for dim sum you will be very pleasantly surprised how cheap it is, certainly compared to eating out in Dubai.
This place is one of my most favourite restaurants in the world, a trip to Hong Kong would be wasted if you didn’t stop in here for lunch. Trust me on this!
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Wan Chai, Hong Kong
If restaurants can become ‘institutions’, then this mad, frenetic, chaotic eatery certainly fits that description. This place is great fun, packed with gweilos on a night out, lots of noise, lots of laughter and heavenly smells as the food wafts by. Exactly what a great local Chinese restaurant should be.
The American Peking has been serving very decent northern Chinese cuisine to the masses of Wan Chai since the end of the last World War and is absolutely packed every single night of the week so I guess they are doing something right.
The restaurant sits on two floors, the locals tend to eat downstairs and the rowdy gweilos upstairs. Downstairs is very ornate, lots of golds and reds, upstairs is very basic, no frills at all which I think suits the slightly mad atmosphere of the place.
The staff are famous for being really quite rude and I am delighted to report that after an eight year absence they still remain as surly and uncommunicative as ever.
This is probably one of the best known ‘gweilo’ friendly Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong; there are very few unrecognisable dishes on the menu and meat dishes are from the cuts preferred by westerners and not Chinese.
As soon as you sit down little bowls of a kimchi like cabbage dish, peanuts and sweet pickled cucumber slices are thrown on the table, followed very closely by large bottles of Tsing Dao and a pot of jasmine tea.
The dishes not to miss are the Peking Duck, which it is very famous for, fried or steamed dumplings, spicy aubergines with minced pork, onion cake and their amazing Szechuan sizzling prawns.
The prawns are very lightly battered and arrive at the table on a red hot cast iron platter. The spicy sauce is then spooned over which creates the most unbelievable fug of cough inducing steam which sends the whole table, and those in the close vicinity, into fits of spluttering. Riot police tear gas has nothing on this stuff but my gawd does it taste fantastic.
Other popular dishes to try are the dry chilli beef which is served with little pockets of sesame bread that you stuff the meat into. Minced pigeon served with iceberg lettuce leaves and hoisin sauce. The hot and sour soup is hugely popular as is the ubiquitous crab and sweetcorn soup. Also try the Chinese mushrooms with bamboo shoots and one of their noodle dishes from the quite large selection. It’s all good!