Where to Eat: Hong Kong Edition

Oh, Hong Kong. The city is, in my opinion, as food obsessed as it can get. Indeed, there seems to be a restaurant, cafe, or food stall on every street and tucked behind every corner to satisfy every taste. The dishes and styles can range from inexpensive and comforting to sumptuous and luxurious. This is already apparent in the food markets. Traditional/wet markets are busy and noisy, touting piles of fresh meats, seafood, and produce. Contrarily, there are specialty food markets like Great or Citysuper where the shelves overflow with gourmet, imported (many European) products. These are the places to hit when searching for super-rich Hokkaido milk (which, incidentally, makes delicious soft serve ice cream) or fresh bread from Poilane (incredible sourdough bread… There are only three bakeries worldwide: two in Paris, one in London).
Poilane's famous sourdough (taken in London)

The markets are just the beginning though. There are so many exceptional spots with food from all around the world that it is possible to forgo home cooking altogether. Perhaps the fact that people eat out so frequently explains why they care so much about the quality of their food. Everyone and their mother seems to have an opinion of where to get the freshest and best of everything.

The fresh factor is an important one. If you've been to a traditional Chinese restaurant, you may recall the big blue fish tanks where you can literally observe your dinner in action before it lands on your plate. There are wet markets in Hong Kong today where you can buy live chickens too. How’s that for fresh?

It is impossible for me to cover everything delicious available in the city. In the short time that I was there, I'm positive I didn't even come close. I went to too many restaurants to count (dim sum, Cantonese, Shanghainese, Vietnamese, Japanese, the list goes on...) but rather than singling out a handful of random spots, I'll give a few quick snapshots of some highlights and where I got them.

Australia Dairy Co.

Real all-day breakfast: packed at 11pm
When I first heard the name of this place, I imagined a hokey Ben and Jerry's-type ice cream shop. In fact, this little restaurant in Kowloon has nothing to do with Australia and doesn't serve ice cream. However, as the top rated "HK style" restaurant at OpenRice.com (HK's version of Yelp and the like) I knew I had to try it.
The meal was...an experience in itself. The turnover is probably insanely high; I was in and out in under 30 minutes. Expect to order really, really quickly. (Case in point: the waiter literally walked away while I was mid-sentence in my order. By the time I finished the sentence the food had already landed on the table.) And while they don't actually rush you, this is not the kind of place where you'd feel comfortable kicking back and leisurely sip tea. I scarfed down the macaroni soup (a little salty with overcooked pasta, but that's the way it's supposed to be) and moved onto the scrambled eggs. The eggs are what make this place famous and they really were quite something: fluffy and buttery, soft and moist, served with ham and a very generously buttered thick piece of white toast. The meal was topped off with your choice of a hot drink (I had a Horlicks malted milk). The bill? 60 HKD for two servings, which is equivalent to just under 8 USD. Beat that.
Twenty minutes later
(more after the jump)


You can’t really go wrong with noodles in Hong Kong. You can get them everywhere and opinions on where to get the best will vary. There are great noodles to be had from street stalls or "dai pai dong." If you prefer to enjoy your noodles in the confines of four walls with a roof over your head, that can be easily accommodated as well. Noodle shops abound in Hong Kong, and plenty do excellent jobs.
Kau Kee is famous for their beef brisket noodles in clear soup, served with flat Chinese egg noodles. The noodles are pleasantly chewy (al dente, if you will) as is the beef. The soup was delicious too (questionably so? MSG may be suspect).
Mak’s Noodles is well known for its wonton noodles. The dumplings had the perfect texture, nicely shrimp-y flavor, and great silky tails. The thin noodles were a bit too chewy for my taste, although that is the way they are supposed to be (with a “bounce to the teeth” in Chinese).

Wonton Noodle Soup
Noodles with Wonton and Beef Tendon

Dim Sum

I was very disappointed that I never made it to Tim Ho Wan since I had heard great things about it. The dim sum joint is the cheapest one Michelin-starred restaurant in the world and was opened by Mak Pui Gor (who used to be a chef at the Four Seasons Hotel). Expect to wait up to three hours for a table. But I hear their famous barbeque pork filled pineapple/polo buns are well worth the wait.
Milk/Egg Desserts

Hot desserts are more popular in Asian cuisine than in Western cuisine. Many traditional dinners are finished with a sweet "soup" made with ingredients like red beans. I'm not really a fan of those "soups", but one of my favourite hot desserts is the poetically named “ginger collides with milk” (it sounds less dramatic in Chinese). It's quite simple: fresh ginger juice is added to hot, sweetened milk, which sets it to a pudding or tofu-like consistency. Other similar "puddings" include "sweetened steamed egg" or "double boiled milk." You can get them cold too.
Clockwise from left: Double boiled milk, sweetened steamed egg, ginger collides with milk
 I went to Yee Shun Milk Company in Causeway Bay, which is supposed to make some of the best in town. Service, like at many other spots in town, is faster than “fast food.” The ginger dessert was spicy and warms you right down to your toes. Perfect.

Egg Tarts

In the world of egg tart lovers, there are two camps: flaky crust and cookie crust. Personally, I like the crumblier cookie crust, which is why I went to Tai Cheong in Central. The egg tarts there were made famous by the patronage of Christopher Patten (the last British governor of Hong Kong). Needless to say, they were delicious: sweet and "sandy" crust that was still slightly warm, filled with a creamy egg custard.

(If you're on Team Flaky, try Honolulu Cafe in Wanchai.)

Eat here!

Australia Dairy Co.
47 Parkes St., Jordan (Kowloon)

Kau Kee
21 Gough St., Central

Mak's Noodles
77 Wellington St., Central

Tim Ho Wan
2-8 Kwong Wah St., Mong Kok

Yee Shun Milk Company
506 Lockhart Rd., Causeway Bay

Tai Cheong
35 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central

Honolulu Cafe
33 Stanley St., Central

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