So let’s begin of first course of our journey through H.K…did we wanna eat at Chungking Mansions? With its fragrant vats of (somewhat questionable) curries…and even an intimating Dosa giving a salute as we sped past the suit sellers?
To be honest, a well made Dosa is great, but in the thriving heat, sans hangover a Dosa is an intimidating thing. I’ve only had Dosa, a Sri Lankan fried specialty at Devs in Bristol, but the memories there: the pattern of accents and a chaotic kitchen…wow this kind of stuff you can’t even review..despite being in the middle of nowhere…they turn out exotic Chicken Lollipops and its BYOB…Awesome.
I’m with my dad in H.K at this moment, this is not going to be a cool meal, but given it’s his first time in Honkers, he gets to choose I guess…the foodie in me sees us eating those triangles they mislabel as sandwiches in 7/11, but the poor old geezer has Lonely Planet…
So where did he want to go?
It was a Michelin dumpling shop.
Above a mall.
It was Din Tai Fung:
You don’t need a huge picture to read about the legend of a damn dumpling shop…
The Din Tai Fung, has a very traditional atmosphere, a restaurant with a story….a little stuffy with a lot of people on lunch breaks. Okay, they give you ginger and you don’t have to brazenly ask in broken Chinese for vinegar, an essential ingredient here, but if you are going to charge us around 70 HKD for pork chop…I expect to even want to try it.
My dad chowed down with his knackered tastebuds and I chowed down on these slightly samey prawn and pork dumplings, personally, the best type of dumplings are har gow, plain prawn parcels, originating from Guangdong, with lots of soy, spice and vinegar…or a few streetside local shops…in-fact: the last time I had dumplings that were truly memorable were in Sichuan, oily, spicy, with the spice making it so overeating wasn’t as possible. Perfection.’
I’m trying not to judge, I’m trying to repeat the Lonely Planet mantra, but Din Tai Fung as one TripAdvisor member CristiKant put it:
‘…This restaurant seems to be a dim-sum institution, and claims a 1 Michelin star. Now… dim sums were not bad at all, but I would definitively classify them as average. Service was a bit slow, we were served some tea we did not ask for and did not touch… and had to pay for it!.
It was okay, everything has its limit, but as a starter in HK, Din Tai Fung is okay for a tourist originating from a place where dumplings don’t exist, which to me is probably a version of hell.
How to make dumplings:
- Get dressed…
2. Find a local shop that has one of those big metal boilers, BEER and SAUCE
3. Order anything and either enjoy or leave with an average impression.
So it’s time to mention something equally as comforting, something round and fluffy we are taking about Little Bao, Central…Bloody hell!!! We have a history me and this wonderful H.K institution.
An innocent teenage boy with a bao?
Name a restaurant that’s ever been more cool than a place that magics up a fairly difficult hamburger, that is unlike bread, yet totally unlike dumpling?. I once had a dish in New York, Chinatown called a ‘Moon Roll’ that frantic googling has made into a myth. The bao comes so close…god its Freudian.
The pork bao, is a thing of beauty and to be honest, everything down to the Brussels sprouts is a thing worthy of your attention. This time around, we had the drunken clams, maybe a sly Family Guy reference? Bao is fun! May Chow rocks!
But clams in booze? Oh shit…with puréed potato, yes!!!, this is a taste sensation, the wine coming through just as heady as me mam’s red wine gravy, practically getting the shakes just even withdrawing from the whole thing.
Also a shoutout to the Italian bar next door, my dad is… not always say, co-ordinated, but free Espresso martinis are the shit here at Central. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of it…*hic*
(Dessert in Asia? Hell Naw!!!)
Quick beer in a temple, reflecting if you’ll survive the journey of food and booze traveling demands? Well there’s a place that Anthony Bourdain allegedly recommended and that’s Cô Thành.
A cool knowingly hipster Vietnamese restaurant in Central HK? Hmmm, hold the papers! A unique story? Not so much, but this is the face of food in Kongers right now, despite all the fish balls…fusion food…Impossible food! Bars like Mrs.Pound that do cocktails served in little boxes and have the audacity to charge over 50 HKD for an average one…
I personally opted out of the noodles to have chicken wings, some cold noodle, maybe a mistake on my part, leading to their signature french sandwich known in Vietnam as bahn mi. Ironically, I know a lady who lives for wings, which to a Brit is like…what you eat when drunk out of your mind…Chicken wings haven’t quite taken off as much in Britain as say….jellied eels and Brexit.
But after hearing so much about the bahn’ and reading about it in Kong’:
It had to be done…
But I have to attest, I wanted more than this, pate sandwiches? Maybe it has inspired me to cut my cucumbers more down the road than across the street, still…all this for a sandwich? Cucumber is best in gin, but not at 88 HKD…
Maybe the novelty is a key ingredient here, but then I’m sure if given a choice between Vietnamese rice rolls and a baguette, the rolls will always win…..
Anthony Bourdain? I’m are my hero and your opinion and expert guide on why this was that awesome will be missed. It was okay, I wish I’d order noodles, but again…it was too hot!!!
I had a better and more entertaining time eating traditional hotpots in Nanluoguxiang, Beijing but maybe that’s the company I kept. Clotted duck and random meat pots, with the right cynical attitude, the novelty there is better, more authentic and the people are less…less…uh…hipster and more Mao!
While we are on the subject of asian centric dishes…
As a snob, the most recent fun I’ve had genuinely in a restaurant outside of Kongers…is an excellent experience ripping rabbit tongue from the skull of spicy head, an experience that even horrified the Chinese guy I was dining with…below lets end on some top things, other than chew and reminisce on food in H.K:
- Graffiti around Central, Man Mo temple…a hundred times yes.
- Drink drink drank drank all the spirits and good wine
- Repulse Bay, if you can ignore the plastic bags in the water.
- The Wanch, looks cool, though empty all day, looks very British pub inside.
- HK light show at 8:30pm each night. Beautiful from the Kowloon Harbour.
- Get lost and buy pointless key rings in PMQ.
- Kowloon has some bars and I believe some good temples. Though I find it a bit samey sometimes.
- Ride a ‘Ding Ding’ Tram.
- Club 71 for mixed crowd in overly Caucasian Central.
- Get locked out of your Airbnb.