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Hong Kong – hello nice to meet you

And so it begins… I have been in Hong Kong a month now and I wrote this just before collecting Jen – half jet lagged to death – at the airport.

I’ve spent the last month going through a bit of a readjustment and it is not only because of the heinous humidity, the small women who bully me when I try to get on and off the MTR and the fact that work thinks it is my new girlfriend so I should spend all my weekends with her (my office is actually the reflection above).  Hong Kong is, just like London, one of the few truly world cities.  And because of that it is not a simple place to be.  For everything that is inspiring about it there is also something which is awful.  It is nothing like a city such as Paris where you can just drift around and bathe in the beauty.  Instead it demands effort.
And above all it demands effort in food.  Gone are my confident ways where I know where to go, what to order or even if what I am eating is good. This is the opposite. This is a fiesta of ignorance.  But it is exciting.
So what is going to follow over the next two years is going to be a bit of a learning curve.  There are foods I haven’t tried before, cuisines I haven’t even heard of and tastes and textures that laugh at Westerners.  Every now and then I’ll relapse and go visit that Italian or French place but hopefully what turns up here should be different.
Finally, as this is so new to me suggestions are welcome.  Some London bloggers such as Mr Noodles (here) or Hollowlegs (here) have helped tremendously by either giving me lists of places to try or by recently visiting Hong Kong themselves on an agressive eating mission.  But I need more, a lot more.  So send an email, add a comment and send Jen and I off on a new experience.
By the by, the most interesting meal I’ve had so far has been at the Sheung Wan Municipal Building and Civic Food Centre.  Anything random, non Western and guaranteed to make people stare at the strange Londoner and ask why he is there – yes please.


  1. Tess

    When is this year's Fiesta of Ignorance being held? Count me in.

  2. G

    hi! found your blog via chowhound

    For starters, (and if you haven't done so already), I'd check out some dim sum restaurants around town. Lei Garden (http://www.leigarden.hk) is my personal favorite, but remember to book ahead of time as they're always full.

    Another fool-proof place for good, inexpensive, fast chinese food is Crystal Jade. Be sure to try their Xiao Long Bao (or pork dumplings with hot soup wrapped inside)

    If you want to check out reviews of HK restaurants – http://www.openrice.com/english & http://www.timeout.com.hk are pretty good resources.

    There's plenty of great food around here! If you need something even more "local", feel free to leave a msg on my blog 🙂

  3. Sarah, Maison Cupcake

    Oh wow I hadn't cottoned on you had emigrated! I always wanted to visit Hong Kong but I've never considered living there. I know another blogger who moved to HK recently, she did a very amusing post this week about the challenges of buying decent milk there which you might find interesting:

  4. Lizzie

    Have you had any late night microwaved dim sum from 7-11 yet?

    you also need to have the cafe breakfast of my youth – macaroni in stock topped with ham and a fried egg. Maxims do it, as do many caffs.

    Yuen Kee Dessert
    西環正街32號地下 G/F, 32 Centre Street, Western District does really traditional hot desserts; red bean soup, green bean soup, almond etc. that sort of thing.

  5. Niamh

    So very exciting. Sadly I have no tips but you should contact @alexthepink on twitter as she lived there for a while.

  6. The Grubworm

    Damn, I'm envious of that nervous anticipation you get before ordering something you have no idea about. Lucky sod. Enjoy!

  7. Nordic Nibbler

    How exciting! Sounds like you have a proper culinary adventure ahead of you. I look forward to reading more.

  8. Mochachocolata Rita

    Glad you're enjoying HK…whatever you fancy eating…just give us a shout via twitter…we'll try our best to recommend the ghetto-est, local-est ones possible 😉

  9. Tom

    Tess – jump on a plane and we can hold it immediately!

    G – thanks for the tips. I have read quite a few good things about Lei Garden and have been planning to give it a go. Also – Openrice – I love it beyond belief. I may not be able to understand a word and sometimes have to simply go on pictures but it is amazing. Way better than anything in London and comparable to yelp in the US for its reach.

    I have taken to printing out pictures of food and showing them to my work colleagues and asking them to write out things in Chinese.

    Sarah – it is interesting. I didn't think or plan on coming to HK. I actually applied to be seconded to Shanghai originally. That said I am kinda glad to be here rather than there as it is a little easier. Friends in Shanghai say it is pretty hardcore. Thanks for the link to that blog. I am planning (but Jen is cooking) on doing a supper sometime soon for some other bloggers so glad to meet more!

    Lizzie – I was in 7/11 the other day and had a proper look at their microwave section. It is quite frankly scary. Have you seen their microwave hotdog?! It is rank looking beyond belief. I can't wait to try it.

    Niamh – thanks for the tip and I will definitely take you up on it.

    Grubworm – you could play dish roulette in London. Shut your eyes and stab the menu? Would work well in places like Chilli Cool! (PS we haven't tried Szechuen [I can't face googling the spelling atm] yet. But apparently there is a supper club here where they incrementally up the spice until you near die!)

    Nordic Nibbler – well I am jealous of your ability to do Vappu parties (that was the Finnish variety) or crayfish and vodka!

    Rita- thanks, your help is already invaluable and will hopefully send you a message soon saying come round for supper!

  10. Karen

    Hello! I read your blog for food inspirations while I was studying in London and now I feel obliged to make suggestions in return since I was born and brought up there.
    As Lizzie said above, it'd be a good idea to try the "cafe restaurants" (cha chaan tang in cantonese). My favourite one is the legendary Australia milk company: http://www.openrice.com/english/restaurant/sr2.htm?shopid=90
    The openrice website is the equivalent of toptable in the UK.
    Hope you are enjoying your stay in HK. Apart from the heat and the crowdedness, I believe it's a truly amazing city to live in! Lemme know if you need more suggestions 🙂

  11. Tom

    Karen – well thanks for the suggestions. They are definitely on the list.

    I already absolutely adore openrice and am just ashamed by my living in a country where I can't speak or read the language at all.

    Once I have hunted down some food favourites I am going to go on an underground art scene hunt. Having done some light googling I think that might be a little harder so will look forward to your suggestions then!

  12. Dave

    Good luck with your move to HK. It really is a fantastic city. After 2 years you will not want to return.

    So many suggestions, to which I am sure you have had loads. But there is an old skool dim sum shop in the mid's neat Wellington Street. Sorry can not remember its name, but earlier postings of my blog in 2008 will reveal all.

    Also the Spicy Under the Bridge Crab are pretty good shops. There are a few shops around.

    But the best thing about HK is just wandering and finding new places. Awesome.


  13. Tom

    Dave – this weekend has really driven home how varied it can be here. Food, trekking, water sports and then more food. I am with you on it being fantastic.

    I thnk I went to that dim sum place with work. Average dim sum but by god it was beautiful. Old wood, old service. Wonderful.


  14. Wild Boar

    I had a great week's holiday in HK but I'm not sure if I would enjoy actualy living and working there. Hope you'll prove me wrong.

    Anyway a summary of what the wife and I had in a week in HK can be found at http://www.pigpigscorner.com/2010/04/how-on-earth-7d6n-in-hong-kong.html. The things I miss the most is probably the Typhoon Shelter Crabs, Mak's wonton noodles and Kau Kee's beef noodles though.

  15. Tom

    Wild Boar – first thanks for finding that link again! I remember reading your posts before I left but I couldn't quite remember on which blog. They were one of the reasons I got so excited about moving here.

    I fully agree with you on all of those meals – the best I have had in HK as yet (apart from Kau Kee as I haven't made it there and there is also some great dim sum). I have to admit that I wasn't fully convinced by HK until this weekend – when I finally got to experience the nature and islands properly. As a tourist I think it is hard place to get fully into.

  16. Little Miss Random

    Oh wow, I discovered your blog a couple of months ago, realised you didn't live all that far away from me in London, took the month of July off to go back home (far far away from London) only to get back here and see that you've moved continents! All the best for your time in Hong Kong. It's a great place, and, if I'd been able to handle the pollution (a sinus condition), might have ended up there rather than London!

    I don't know what people have told you, so I apologise if there is any repetition. The best dim sum, so I was told, is to be found at the Metropole hotel. If you like the traditional style (i.e. trolleys), then it's at the City Hall.

    A friend once took me to Sai Kung (an incredibly long journey, even by London standards) for fresh seafood. I really enjoyed it even though I'm fairly certain you can probably get better food elsewhere on the island.

    And, lastly, what I love most about Hong Kong food is yeung ji gum lo, a dessert made up of mango, sago and pomelo. It's incredible!

  17. Tom

    Little Miss Random – you have to be an Aus or Kiwi if you take a month off to go home! Very jealous.

    The pollution is fairly bad here. I only realised how bad when we went up to the Peak (finally) and could see a haze extending across the city.

    And don't worry – every tip is welcomed as I really know nothing. I haven't had time to even open guide books. I work near City Hall and am keen as hell to try it out sometime.

    My workplace has a junk which you can rent out for free so I have already reserved it for a couple of months time and intending to junk out to Sai Kung for a seafood fiesta. Really excited.

    And I haven't yet tried Yeung Ji Gum Lo – I will have to try and find a picture of it so I can show it to a waitress (the technique I am using to make sure I get what I want!)

  18. Razlan

    Really, is there a best place for dim sum in HK? Reading through the comments here, there are indeed a couple very famous places. Like Lin Heung Tea House at Wellington Street (very old school, very packed, but so so food), the one at City Hall (recommended by Lonely Planet so expect to pay over the top)… but I do think the best dim sum "experience" can only be found by venturing, tasting, and savouring as many different types as possible at as many places as possible.

    As for seafood, my *absolute* favorite… I am ashamed that I can't recommend the best place – it is all subjective – but you could venture a try to Lamma Island (Sok Kwu Wan was my pick) and one of those greasy roadside joints at Mongkok. Sai Kung was terribly pricey though the food quality is commendable, or so I was told.

    I can't resist reading through your blog after your first couple of posts. You write wittily and your posts made my lunch time more bearable on a hangover-nursing Monday.

    Keep posting.

  19. Little Miss Random

    Hi Tom,

    I'm not an Antipodean. I'm from Singapore! I didn't take a month off. I just had an accommodating manager, and an office back home to work out of.

    There's a good picture of Yeung Ji Gum Lo here.

    I don't think I can recommend any other good places as I can't recall any names in particular. Most places I went to around my office in Central and my apartment in Sheung Wan were pretty darn good.

    Other things you should do in Hong Kong include going to the Felix at the Peninsula Hotel and checking out the men's room where you'll get a good view of the city as you go about your business.

    And I agree with Razlan – I love reading both yours and Jen's posts so please keep on writing!

    Razlan – I don't know if there is such a thing as the best dim sum ever. And while it's great to be going out there to try as many different places as possible, sometimes it's just as good to go back to a place where you had a great meal. 🙂

    And I'm not a dim sum expert at all. I may be ethnically Chinese but after two months in Hong Kong with everyone and their sister bringing me out for dim sum, I was so sick of it, I didn't eat it for a year. I'm still a bit sick of it, to be honest, and it's been more than five years!

  20. Tom

    Razlam and Little Miss – I will definitely be keeping posting. The food is what is keeping me sane is this busy city!

    On my experience so far I don't think there is a "best" dim sum but there are definitely places with better food than others. That said the best experiences are often at places with worse food – i.e. City Hall, the place on Wellington Street.

    Little Miss – I am actually very excited to go to Singapore when I have done my settling in here in HK. I have heard some amazing things about the food there. And also just interested to visit generally.

    And you have sold me on Yeung Ji Gum Lo!

  21. Little Miss Random

    Oh, Singapore's great for food. I could eat and eat and eat and not gain weight… unlike London, where I could starve and still grow fat. Ah well.

    But if you want truly amazing food, you should try Penang. It is a gastronomical experience. I really should write about my holiday there, but I'm very lazy when it comes to food-related posts because they're far too photo-intensive!

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