I grew up in a traditional Cantonese family where Cantonese cuisine synonymous with Hong Kong food is part of my everyday life. Almost everyday my mum would turn on TVB (Hong Kong’s Official TV Channel) and 70% of the time a food program would be on. The amazing thing is they never run out of food restaurants to talk about. New food place pop up in the city. Every week is a new place to check out. What’s amazing about Hong Kong food is the number of variations they can spin. Imagine a simple bowl of beef noodles could have up to 10 type of variations. Heading to Hong Kong have been a yearly event. Let me introduce you a couple of favourite food joints that I frequent.
1. 蛇王二 (Snake King 2)
Address: 24 Percival Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Price range: 15-25 SGD
Yup as the name suggest this place serves snakes. But specifically the best item on the menu is the snake soup. For people who are not into this exotic cuisine, don’t be deterred! The place serves other food as well.
They have a large variety of double boiled soup and 燒臘 (roasted char siew/roasted duck/roasted chicken and more). You can usually order a set of soup that includes a bowl or rice with char siew or roasted duck and a plate of vegetables drizzled with oil and oyster sauce. Some of the double boiled soup range includes: Dried Bak Choy + North Almond + South Almond Pig Lung soup with the benefit of nourishing the throat and lungs, best for smokers or people with sore throat and cough, Pig Brain Soup, Chicken Feet and Conch Shell Soup & more.
If you have the appetite for their renowned dish, try the 蛇羹 (Snake Soup). The soup has streaks of meat that you would easily think it’s shredded chicken. So if this helps you, just treat it as chicken. The soup is strong with the taste and scent of sun dried mandarin orange and bits of chrysanthemum petals that accentuates the taste of the soup with its floral tones.
2. 新記芝士面 (Sun Kee Cheese Noodle)
Address: Champagne Court, Kimberley Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Price Range: 10-15 SGD
Into cheesy goodness? This place serves Swiss cheese tossed in instant noodles topped with barbecued pork neck that’s glaced in a caramel like sauce. They serve other items as well like barbecued squid but I remembered it being too rubbery. Just try the pork neck. It’s the best. The Swiss Sauce Chicken Wings is too salty for my liking.
3. Lil Bao
Address: 66 Staunton St, Central, Hong Kong
Price Range: 20-30 SGD per person
Waiting time for this ultra popular food joint could go up to 2 hours. I would suggest you make a reservation first then head to PMQ opposite and check out the boutique designer stores, have a coffee or check out new exhibitions. When the time hits, they will call you, head over for your Lil Bao!
There’s primarily four types of bao – pork belly, szechuan fried chicken, fish tempura and a vegetarian one. I only tried the fish tempura while my friend tried the szechuan fried chicken. Both are fried to perfection. We ordered a side of brussel sprouts that was not too my liking. It had a very bitter after taste that was really hard to swallow towards the end. But what ended the meal nice
Thankfully, the meal ended off with a dessert of green tea ice cream slapped in between two pieces of fried bun that was absolutely delicious. The ice cream was on point with strong green tea balanced with milk taste. The contrast of the fried bun with the ice cream gives this dessert an interesting dynamic taste and texture to it.
Address: Unit SG09-SG14, G/F., Block A, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong
Price Range: 25-40 SGD per person
While we were waiting for our reservation at Lil Bao, we decided to squeeze in a mini meal at SOHOMAFA. You can think of this place as a high end (atas) Chinese order dishes to share kind of place. There are also noodle dishes and dim sum that you can order to try for people who are more budget conscious.
For me, I ordered the oolong tea infused cold noodles with shredded chicken tossed in sesame sauce. While my friend ordered chicken rice that came with quinoa instead of rice. We had a side of dumplings. What’s unique about this place is that the food source supports local farms. You can be sure about supporting local community farms while dining. It also ensures that the food serve is fresh.
Coming from Singapore the above dish was pretty much a re-creation of chicken rice. But it was missing the essential chilli and dark soy sauce that I was used to. I would say that the version we have from SOHOMAFA is very healthy. Overall I will only recommend you to come here only when you have extra cash on hand. It was a pity I didn’t get to try their cocktail though.
5. 蓮香樓 (Lin Heung Tea House)
Address: 162 Wellington St, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Price Range: 15-20 SGD per person
Always labeled as one of the oldest tea house in Hong Kong, this place is popular yet intimidating for tourist. Without someone to guide you, you might just starve at this place. It will be a very noisy environment.
When you first reach this place, be ready to share seats with a local senior. Many retired Hong Kongers will ‘yum cha’ (drink tea) here with a set of newspaper, a pot of tea and some baos and dumplings. You will be given a card which the server will stamp when you order any serving of dimsum. The price range of dim sum is split into three categories, ranging from the cheapest to the most expensive and rarer items: 小點 (small dim sum)，中點 (medium dimsum)，大點 (big dim sum), 特點 (special dim sum). At this place, dim sum is served traditionally in push carts. Some people do camp at the entrance of the kitchen and grab popular dishes fresh of the kitchen. Bring your card with you so that the server can stamp on the card to indicate which dim sum you got. If you don’t want to wait, you have to walk around and hunt for the push cart for food. When you are finished with your meal, bring the card to the cashier and she will bill you for the dim sum you have consumed.
Pro Tip: Go early during weekends for a larger variety of dim sum. Weekdays have a more limited variety of dim sum.