After a bit of a blogging hiatus I’m glad to be back again and kick off with an international focussed posting.
My cousin has lived in Hong Kong for well over a decade and I’ve never quite made it over there. Whilst not a fan of flying – I decided to bite the long-haul bullet and take my first ever trip to Asia. In a nutshell is surpassed my expectations and I’m already thinking about my next trip east (blocking out the hideous 12 hour flight). God Russia is never-ending.
*FACTOID* At the end of 2017 Hong Kong hit the record high of having 15,000 licensed restaurants, cafes and bars, with 20.4 restaurants per 10,000 people, making it a city with one of the highest densities of restaurants in the world. Ooooo.
In the UK when eating out, Chinese food would probably be my least favourite choice – possibly due to flashbacks of neon orange sweet and sour in the 80s – heavy with MSG and greasy fried things. I therefore wondered what Hong Kong had in store but decided to embrace it whatever and go with the flow.
Food-wise Hong Kong spans from the ultra glitzy to the most basic of street food and offers not only Chinese but every cuisine you could ever wish for. There’s a really global feel to Hong Kong Island with Aussies, Brits, Americans mixing with Chinese resulting in a dizzying mix of food and drink 24/7.
So here’s my pick of the bunch starting in Kowloon on mainland China.
Kowloon – Spring Deer
Kowloon is frenetic. Densely populated, 95% Cantonese, flashing neon signs everywhere and bustling. In search of authentic Peking duck a gang of us headed to Spring Deer. In business for 45 years the place is unashamedly old school in terms of decor. It felt a bit like a function room at a mid range hotel on the outskirts of the midlands in the 1970s. But in China.
People come here for the food not the decor, and on a Friday night the restaurant was heaving. It was chaotic and brisk and from the get go we were seated and prompted to order asap. Leaving it to the HK residents in our group to choose our food, we massively over ordered but each dish was delicious including handmade noodles, and egg fried rice.
The star of the show though was whole honey-glazed duck which is carved at the table (about £40 a pop and serves 2-4). You of course get all the pancakes and bits, and I could have happily eaten just that. By 9.30pm they are keen to get everyone out so don’t expect to linger over dinner if you venture here. Oh and splitting the bill is a no-no in Hong Kong. We managed to convince them to split it in half. Eventually. The highlight of the evening though was a Chinese man celebrating his 100th birthday on the next table to us and sharing his cake. Ahhh.
Kowloon – Kam Wah Cafe
In the Mong Kok area of Kowloon, Kam Wah Cafe was rumoured to deliver the best pineapple buns in Hong Kong. Now I’m allergic to pineapple but oddly a pineapple bun contains no pineapple whatsoever. The bun is soft inside with a crunchy sugary crust which looks a bit like a pineapple so there you go. It’s served with a lump o’ butter in it so not remotely healthy but delicious as a one-off holiday experience. Kam Wah is busy and not geared at tourists which I liked. The menu is in Chinese but a sort of English translation is available. You can get the other classic custard tarts here too and coffee with condensed milk so sweet it will make your teeth cry. If you’re in Kowloon pop in for a really authentic experience.
Lamma Island – Andy’s Seafood
A short ferry ride away from Hong Kong Island is Lamma. Favoured for a quieter pace of life we arrived as the sun was setting which felt a million miles away from the bustling main land.
Food wise I’m a bit hazy BUT my cousin and his wife recommend this place highly. As we sat at our outside table, waves lapping on the shore we truly felt like we were on holiday. The restaurant obviously specialises in seafood and as you enter you’ll pass by tanks of both familiar and unfamiliar seafood all available at “market price”. This place is relaxed, informal and friendly, and an absolute joy as an antidote to the bustle of Kowloon and HK island. Stand out dishes were the salt and pepper squid, fried rice, soy noodles and salt and pepper prawns.
Hong Kong Island – Crystal Jade
Founded over 25 years ago – Crystal Jade has over 100 branches worldwide and numerous awards to their name. Hitting one of their Wan Chai branches I was catapulted back to my time working in Canary Wharf. The restaurant is located in one of the many pristine shopping centres and was packed with office workers on their lunch breaks. The food was ordered by my cousin’s wife and reflecting now a month later I can’t recall everything that we ate but the garlic cucumber salad, green beans, Dan Dan noodles and dumplings were stand out items. Efficient, slick and delicious.
Hong Kong Island – Alvy’s
Alvy’s is great little neighbourhood place in Kennedy Town especially for pre-horse racing at Happy Valley racecourse which was on our agenda for the evening. Specialising in sourdough pizza, locally brewed beers and with the largest selection of American Whisky in Hong Kong this is a really relaxed place to visit. The menu is small but interesting the pizzas taking an East meets West approach in terms of flavours. A Bak Gwei pizza fused char sui pork with mozzarella and bechamel sauce and totally worked. Curly fries, pork latkes and hot wing (too fiery for delicate me) all went down well from the ‘noshes’ section of the menu.
Oh and their pizza oven is called the Big Red Bitch. Ha!
Sai Ying Pun – Ping Pong
Based in an old ping-pong hall Ping Pong bar is an ode to all things gin. A cool space with an industrial vibe you feel you could be in Shoreditch East London – there’s definitely speak easy vibe about it too. On a Tuesday night it was pretty quiet but would imagine it being pretty rammed on a weekend.
I drink a fair bit of gin here and there and despite the selection being pretty extensive I thought an average price of £15 quid for a G&T was a bit steep. My cousin told me not to bother with this place and I didn’t listen. I had a fab time due to company bit overall 6 on 10.