Thank You for your food, Hong Kong!
This is part of a 5-part article series on my trip to HK
I just have to say this- I’m glad I never have to watch my weight. I don’t ever wish to stop feasting.
Ok, enough with making some of you want to stab me. I’ve decided to only include food that I really enojyed during my trip. So here we go! If you’re flying over, I hope you find some time to try them! Cause you won’t be able to find these treasures in Singapore.
Expectedly, I embarked on a citywide rampage as much as I could & I loved what I found! Not everything! But that’s exactly why I’m writing this post. My highly recommended list! It’s definitely a place worth staying for: their food taste natural & fresh, with no artificial flavourings. Plus, their eating culture starts at 6am for teahouses & closes at around 2am for street food & cafes, which makes it perfect for me- having great food day & night! Makes me wonder how on earth do Hong Kongers maintain their good figure? Their guys have such fit bodies.
Untraditionally, I shall start off with desserts, my favourite course of a meal!
1) Soups & Curry Cafe 生龙清汤腩
Where: Mong Kok (should be along the street at the rear side of Mong Kok Centre)
Nearest MTR: Mong Kok
Price: SGD$2 for 3 cubes
What does this curry soup cafe sell besides curry soup (which is very good btw)?
Puddings! Healthy, homely puddings made the Chinese style! This is how the huge chunk looks, too hidden behind that frosty closet. What an unfortunate home for the beautiful, bouncy puddings & extreme shame if you miss it.
I’m so SO thankful that we walked into this cafe. All thanks to its neighbour whose food didn’t match our standards, we decided to pop by next door to take a second look & voila! I found my perfect jellies. A textural high for me! Where can you ever find agar agar/jellies/puddings that are made with wolfberries, ginseng, yellow split peas, coconut, hashima which are not too sweet? & these Chinese herbs do plenty good to our health. I mean, just look at the ingredients! So densely scattered with skin food! Firm, gelatinous & so totally & awesomely right up my alley.
Did I mention the jellos cost only SGD$2 per plate? Yes! $2 for 3 fat cubes of skin food. Jellos are easy to make. I haven’t made them before, but I’ve seen them on videos & they require only about three steps? This is going into my to- make-for-husband-&-kids-recipe-book.
2) Lucky Dessert 發記甜品
Where: a) Fu Ting Shopping Centre, b) Chik Shun Street Tai Wai Shatin, c) Mega Box Enterprise Square, d) Soy Street, e) Sham Tseng Tsuen Castle Peak Road
Nearest MTR: a) Tung Chung, b) Tai Wai, c) Kowloon, d) Mong Kok, e) Sham Tseng
Price per item: Below SGD$8
One of the most famous dessert restaurant chains in Hong Kong, I find Lucky Dessert 發記甜品 tastes much better than the also popular Xu Liu Shan 许留山 (Cafe chain famous for their mango desserts).
Black Sesame Beancurd Paste (Tong Shui):
Oh that velvety texture!
Pumpkin Paste (Tong Shui):
I like the unique taste to this but my friends think otherwise. Imagine adding it to your regular curry!
I’m sure you can see for yourself the huge chunks of mango. Now you just need to picture my satisfied face.
No shave ice! Instead, my few bucks were well spent on pure, big chunks of mango doused in light, creamy, sweet mango puree. Sago (tapioca) balls add chewy texture to the already yummy treat!
I was on a roll with this heavenly roll! Light crispy puff pastry & fresh juicy mangoes burst into my already watering mouth.
I’m not sure why HK has so many desserts with mangoes in them but we were happy nonetheless! Truly a tropical taste sensation. Everything was finished so quickly, I wished we’d more.
3) Yuk Yip Dessert Shop/ Leaf Dessert/ 玉葉甜品
Where: Elgin Street (Opens 12pm-1230am)
Nearest MTR: Sheung Wan (Exit E1, walk up any slope & ask for directions. Do NOT alight at Central as commonly written in most blogs)
Price per item: Below SGD$5
Baby J & I’d the hardest time locating this place. We followed directions given by most online sites (which stated Central as the location) but took at least 20mins of walking! It was our last few hours in HK & Baby J wanted to give up, but I was determined (thanks to my Taurus trait). & I’m so glad I did! It’s highly raved on many magazines & may be the best traditional dessert shop in HK that I’ve been to.
Selling desserts for almost a century, this dai pai dong (little outdoor eatery- a dying culture in HK) is still making Chinese desserts the very way it first open. From wooden folding tables, small stools & wooden chopsticks, curious diners like us can watch sesame being ground with an old stone mill.
Seated on a slope under a mobile shelter & just looking at the boutiques & passersby before me, I’d one of the best times of my life eating. Everything was slow-paced, quiet & so serene before my eyes, I nearly forgot I was rushing for my plane that evening.
Sticky Rice Balls:
If you don’t know by now, I’m a sucker for all things glutinous. They’re sticky & addictive, just like these dipped with grated coconut, ground peanuts & sugar. It doesn’t matter that they don’t have fillings, they’re soft, scrumptious & delicious just like that.
Barley Greenbean Seaweed Soup:
This dessert contains a surprising source! Seaweed! But before you deem it weird, it’s not. Ok, maybe an aquired taste but I think the combination of the salty seaweed & sweet barley is whoohoo!
Black Sesame Soup:
Just look at this! Although the consistency is much lighter (more like a soup than paste) than the commonly found ones, you can see that it’s made by real sesame (both black & white)! How authentic!
Almond Milk Soup:
3) Ice Queen
Where: Mong Kok Centre
Nearest MTR: Mong Kok
Price: SGD$2/ 3 scoops
Tucked away among the busy shops of Mong Kok Centre, Ice Queen serves homemade ice cream! A great shopping companion.
I know two of the flavours above are Black Sesame & Yam. Perhaps it’s lychee for the white ball? I really can’t recall. When Baby J let me try this when we bumped into each other (we went shopping separately for a while), they were so amazingly good she went hunting for this tiny ice cream parlour among the hundreds of shops in the forever crowded Mong Kok Centre cause I just had to have these little balls of homemade pleasure.
I know they don’t look as great as Ben & Jerry’s (which btw I loathe for its artificial tastes) but I’m a huge fan of well-made authentic ice creams & the next time I’m in Mong Kok shopping, I’d have my Ice Queen in one hand & picking out clothes with the other. If you happen to be in Mong Kok Centre, check it out in one of the top floors. If not, ask for directions at their Conceirge (I remember seeing it at the top most floor).
4) Lian Xiang Lou/ Lin Heung Tea House/ 莲香楼
Where: Wellington Street
Nearest MTR: Sheung Wan (Exit E2 & walk towards Grand Millenium Plaza, all the way straight till you see Wellington Street. Do NOT alight at Central unless you don’t mind some exercise.)
Price per plate: Around SGD$3
You’d most likely find this famous dim sum place in most of the foodies’ blogs. Also a battle place & probably a hideout most Hong Kongers don’t wish us tourists to know too. If you don’t want to miss out on anything on their menu like their very famour Dai Pau (big chicken bun), go early at 8am. I’d a really late night the previous day & reached only at 10ish & as expected, some items were already OOS.
It’s normal to share tables with strangers, elbow to elbow & do help yourselves to any available seats as it’s a morning tea place where locals come by to have their breakfast & read the papers so there won’t be any staff showing you in. Do note that this is a war zone, please make sure your ass is spring-ready. The dim sum here don’t wait for noone. Be as Kiasu & as aunty as you can.
Tip: Find a seat near the kitchen if possible. You’ll know why if you read on.
The crowd at 10ish:
Criteria- Enthusiasm & some battle wit:
Got served tea the traditional way.
My favourite dish among the wide range of dim sum, I told Baby J to look out for the chestnut cake the moment we sat down & it’ll always be something that I order whenever I’m in a restaurant that offers it. Here at Lian Xiang Lou, theirs is made quite differently from what I normall have in Singapore. Instead of the normally steamed ones, this is lightly fried (no taste of oiliness) & rough in texture. I assume the chestnut is ground to powder unlike the smooth gelatin ones with chestnut bits I used to have. I loved it anyway & was so overly excited I couldn’t sit still. Really.
Steamed Beancurd with Pork, Prawn & Fish Maw:
I die without regrets. Juicy, warm & fresh, this is by far the best beancurd roll ever! I was nearly reduced to tears when I tried this, ok, slightly over-dramatic here but it really is an overwhelming savoury. Please let me know if you find an awesome one in Singapore.
Lotus Paste Bun with Salted Egg:
I love salted eggs, but sadly the amount in my bun was too little. I’m not sure if it was because I didn’t eat the bun immediately, but it wasn’t as soft & fluffy as I like it to be.
Fried Glutnious Ball with Fillings:
This one here is a savoury baby with pork & vegetables. Baby J loved it but I find that it needed more generous fillings.
Salted Egg Custurd Layer Bread:
Yum yum, this is done the very traditional way & according to our neighbour at the table, it’s very rare to find these around anymore. It tasted similar to kaya plus salted egg, generously coated within the layers of the freshly baked soft bread. One of the delights at Lian Xiang Lou for me.
You can’t get any more local than this, it’s one of the Chinese favourite breakfast in a teahouse. Because it’s steamed & the only condiment is soy sauce, it should give you a clean, smooth taste that you can almost slurp up. Because it’s so delicate, do get the hot fresh ones though. I made the mistake of taking from the trolley who knows how many rounds it has made. Just look out for the trolley which comes straight out from their kitchen & don’t hesitate to prance on it.
A wide variety of food gifts. We bought tons but after trying, I don’t think they were worth it. As for roasted goose, pre-order is necessary.
5) Water Chestnut With Grass Jelly Drink
Where: Street 90degrees of Canton Road
Nearest MTR: Tsim Sha Tsui
Price per cup: SGD$1.40
I can’t remember where exactly I got this fabulous drink which begged me for more, but I know it was on the way to one of the H&Ms (sorry for the confusion but we went to a few of their stores). If I’m correct, it’s on the street from TST MTR to H&M at Silvercord, 90 degrees of Canton Road. I thought this would be rampant in HK but I was wrong! During my 6days there, I only saw it once (how awful!). So if you see a stall selling it, do grab at least one! It’s so different from what we’ve in Singapore. Ours is just a drink, plain on its own. But this! Contains more water chestnut crunchy bits than you can ask for! I’ve always adored chestnut drinks, but now I see a whole new potential in them!
6) Share Tea
Where: Outside Ladies Street (For a list of locations, click here)
Nearest MTR: Mong Kok
Price per cup: Below SGD$8
One of the cultures in HK is also the bubble tea craze. At certain times on a day to night basis, you see crowds waiting anxiously for their bubble teas. Huge crowds, long lines. They’ve many different brands & all sell unique & kickass fusion flavours that you can never find in Singapore. Drinks that consist of at least 3 ingredients (whereas we only have pearls) is a norm in HK.At Share Tea, I ordered the Yam Milk drink & before you say yuck, I almost passed out because it’s too good & too fresh to be true! I don’t have a picture to show but like the Water Chestnut drink above, it’s made of fresh shredded yam in unsweetened milk. Very flavourful, very naturally saccharine & as you drink it, you feel as if you’re nourished of all the yam goodness. Yes, I’m a yam geek.
From yam porridge, yam paste, yam puffs, to yam ice cream, it reminded me of how traditional & well-loved yam is. A must try from Share Tea!
I told my gf (who doesn’t even like yam to begin with) who went HK after me that this was one of my favourite drinks in HK & this was what she had to say:
7) Street Food
Where: All around Mong Kok
In a typical street food stall, from steamed to boiled to deep fried, you name it, you got it. You can either buy a stick by itself or choose your ingredients & the vendor will either fry them up for you or cook them in broth. Most of them are skewed & ready to eat.
Deep Fried Pig Intestines:
Image grabbed from Kellynwrites
May be exotic for some (like me!) but I tried one (forced to)! My very first intestine item! Uh huh. It was way better than I expected. In fact, I quite love it! The skin is so chrunchily awesome.
Smells a bit funky but I thought I’d include this in the post nonetheless since it’s a popular eat among the Hong Kongers.
Mini Egg Puffs:
In a Hong Kong Tourism Board-sponsored poll that interviewed 13,700 primary school kids, they rated the crunchy mini egg puffs as top1 “street food that most represent Hong Kong’s culture”. It’s a Chinese version of a waffle & dates way back. I thought it was going to taste like a crispy version of the traditional soft egg puffs we’ve in Singapore but it was almost tasteless. I’d the original flavour though you can opt for vanilla or sesame. I googled for it & I saw that it’s supposed to be crunchy on the outside & soft on the inside (with a sponge cakey filling). I got the crunchy part but mine has nothing on the inside. So I guess I’d give it another shot when I visit HK & I’ll make sure I see the vendor prepare it on the spot.
Chewy & spicy!
I admit it wasn’t the best tasting dish but curious, I gave it a shot. It tasted quite nice at first like any other fried tofu till the smell hit me. My friend who ate this the first time along with me swore never to touch it ever. It was hilarious to see her reactions & I quote her “@#$%^#$#!!!! THIS TASTES LIKE S**T!!!!!! SERIOUSLY LIKE S**T OK! OMG! HOLD IT!!!! I’M NOT GOING TO EAT THIS EVER IN MY LIFE!!!”