Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hong Kong Eats: Part I of Many

Oh, Hong Kong, Hong Kong.... How I love you!

It's a great place to be. I like the hustle and bustle, the parks and gardens, people watching, shopping, the mountains, hills and twisty up and down streets, the ocean, the lights, the plants... Oh I could go on forever, but the one thing I love most is the food.

Hong Kong is an gourmand's paradise. You can find anything and everything here and in the summer the fruits are absolutely to die for.

I'm gonna start off pretty simple, the first thing I ate here were udon noodles, fish balls and sliced cucumber. We'd just gotten into HK, and I was dead tired. Luckily, my father and my sister's boyfriend were energetic, so the men went out hunting while Cathy and I flopped down on the beds to recharge our batteries.

These cucumbers are AMAAAAAZING, by the way. Super, ultra crunchy and really sweet. Very refreshing, and a perfect compliment to the thick chewy noodles and spongy, salty, meaty fish balls.

We went to HK Park for lunch the next day. This is what we got:

This is an avocado salad with mango and crab meat. It was a little rich, and honestly a little too sweet and bland. I would have liked more crab and some line juice in there... and maybe a touch of something spicy. Not too bad though, the avocados were ripe and the presentation was veery nice. 

 You can't really see it, but there's fire in there!

On top of it was a whole fish swimming (ha ha, a pun!) in a tangy lemongrass soup. It bubbled and boiled the entire time, and the soup was a nice compliment to the mild, soft fish. The vast amount of veggies was appreciated. 

To recharge our batteries we chose not coffee or sodas, but traditional herbal teas. Dad and I got plum tea, that was mildly sweet, a little tangy and had a slight medicinal after taste. It was good for nausea and headaches (I was still a little jetlagged, so it did me a world of good). Luke got a hempseed based tea, which I didn't try, but he said it was good. Cathy got a... I'm not sure what it was because I wasn't paying attention, but it tasted very strongly of herbs, with an earthy, bitter, deep flavor that was slightly tannic for a second. The after taste is quite sweet though, kind of like sucking on a lemon. Once you get past the initial taste you're left with sugar on your tongue. 

That night we went to dinner with our family. We have quite a few relatives in HK, so it was a big table with a large lazy susan and many dishes.

Roast suckling pig is a must when you come to HK. The meat is tender and juicy and the skin is crisped up in such a way it's like eating chips. It's rather rich, due to the thin layer of fat between the meat and crunchy skin, but lets be honest, fat adds flavor. Lots of it. 

 Ooooo... Shrimp! I am quite fond of shrimp. These were deep fried with the shell and head on, but the legs were cut off for easy peeling. I love fried shrimp heads. The best stuff is in there and if it's made just it crunches like chips. Definitely a favorite of mine :)

 This is kind of fired pomelo skin that's then been stewed and simmered with veggies. I forgot what the vegetable was, but it was rather good with mustard. The pomelo left something to be desired though... I think the texture a little odd. It was spongy... but kind of mealy. I think it's more of an acquired taste which I have yet to develop. 

Soy sauce chicken with crispy skin. Mmmmm.... 

 I think this was probably my favorite dish of the night. Broccoli, fried silken tofu with thick slices of shiitake mushrooms in a light soy-based sauce. Delicious.

 Fried rice with Chinese sausage, eggs, tiny shrimp and some veggies. 

 Sweet and sour pork with bell peppers and pineapple served with fried wontons. 

 Hot steamed sponge cake for dessert!

Aaaaaand, this marvelous weird jelly! The top layer had goji berried and flowers, the middle layer was coconut and the bottom layer tasted of raspberries but had red bean in it... So I'm not actually sure what it was. But all the flavors blended well. 

The next morning I made breakfast with the left overs from the day before. My sister had some spicy fried rice left from lunch. I added some more eggs and diced cucumbers to take the edge off the spice. 

Later that day we went to Central and walked around and did some shopping. We explored the area where there are tons of fruit, meat and veggie vendors. This is one of my favorite things about Hong Kong. 

 One of many streets filled with edible goodies to buy!

 Various grains being sold.

The seafood in HK is terrific. Always fresh and delicious looking... I wanted everything! I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked because I was cary quite a few things, but you can be sure there will be loads more of these pictures in the coming days. 

 So much variety at one shop!

 Everything is s fresh, a lot of them are still alive, which is the best way to get your seafood. 

 These giant prawns were really massive! Though not alive, you can tell by the color that they're very fresh. 

 Mmmm.... Meat!

 Delightful veggies!

 Some rather large Victory Melons. Cathy's had is there for scale. 


Some places sell prepared dishes like this, for the person on the go or if you don't feel like cooking that night. 

We ran into my grandmother while looking at veggies and she took us to the best wonton place in all of HK. My father took us there last time we were here. It's a tiny place. The kitchen is one small cubicle in the front which is all glass. You can see them preparing everything and there are large vats of soup and simmering wontons. Tiny blue porcelain bowls are stacked up high. 

 Cathy and Luke with an order of Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce. It's always nice to balance meals out with veggies. 

 My grandmother and me!

 Luke slurping down some tasty broth.

 It's a small bowl, but piled high with delicious eggy noodles and small, bite-sized wontons. They have a delicate skin, but the shrimp have that nice crunch to them; a sign of freshness and quality. Best. Wontons. Ever. 

 Another variety of wonton they serve. They're bigger and have bamboo shoots and earwig inside. Earwig is a type of fungi, not a bug. 

 The men in front even posed for me :)

Small kitchen, but functional and they produce such good food!

I love looking at beautiful pastries and they're everywhere in HK. Even in the metro stations there are bakeries selling bread, buns and most importantly, gorgeous cakes. 

One thing I like about the cakes and pastries here is the icing, which is thick, creamy but not heavy and also the use of fruits. Most deserts are chocked full of fresh fruit and they don't have the tacky, too-sweet glaze you find in a lot of American bakeries. Yes, I am a bit of a cake snob... but really, once you have cakes like these, most other ones are spoiled for you...

Dinner with Dad! This is a restaurant quite near out place that's open till 10pm. We went for dinner.

Simple broccoli with garlic. 

 Scallops with... I think cuttle fish... or squid..? We don't know what it was, but it was tasty and delicious. Also with sweet, crunchy, thick snow peas. They were probably my favorite thing about the dish. 

 Soy sauce chicken :)

 You can see that the chicken is cut across the bone, and that the bone marrow is still quite red. Here, chicken tends to be cooked for shorter, so the meat is still slightly pink. It's a lot more tender and juicy that way and I don't think the Chinese have as much hang-ups about the slight possibility of salmonella that we do in the States. It is damn good chicken.

 Because I love eating shrimp heads, Dad ordered this! These shrimp were massive, meaty and deep fried to the point that the shell was so crunchy it was edible. The heads were soooo good! It was a salty, heavy soy sauce with a touch of sugar, garlic and some other spices. 

Oh wow... So last night I went out with my friend Lisa, who is a marvelous fashion designer here in HK. We met up at the MTR station and she took me to these swanky places!

Aqua was our first stop, on the 29th floor of a beautiful building. It was like a room made of glass and we had a panoramic view of Hong Kong from Kowloon. 

I was too busy looking around and admiring the view, I forgot to take pictures!

The table tops glowed blue and were one of the few light sources. We had an incredible view though :)

I got a cucumber based drink, that had hints of kumquat. It was cool, crisp and very refreshing. Lisa had an Amaretto Sour. 

 Awesome view! XD

This is a picture of the bar I found on Google.

Below is the restaurant where we had dinner!

For starter, razor clams! I'd  never eaten them before, but I do remember harassing them a lot as a child in HK because when you poked them, they'd spit at you. My Dad told me not to do that because I was making them angry.

 These were served chilled in a very mild brothy-sauce. They were topped generously with raw garlic, and green onions. The clams were very tender and had a lovely texture and a mild sweet taste, which was offset by the spice of the raw garlic. I loved it. 

Lisa taking a picture :) 

 Next, we had the house specialty: LAMB. The presentation is wonderful for this! There were think pancakes you wrapped the lamb in, slivers of spring onion, a light sauce, and a small ball of pressed garlic sitting atop a black stone. Beautiful.

 Ready to be wrapped up and eaten!

The lamb was slow roasted and the skin crisped up in such a way it sparkled. Lamb tends to have that very distinct lamb taste, but this lamb devoid of that kind of undertone. The meat was tender, juicy and rich. It was so good. 

 Next was this soft, flakey, rich fish dish. It was topped with that I think was fried something with garlic. It was very mild but had a wonderful flavor. I loved the texture of the fish; it was like cutting through butter. 
 :) Yummm!

 Aaaaaaaaaaaaand DESSERT!

Two types of icecream: black and white sesame and raspberry. 
It was served on a bed of this interesting and seemingly indescribable cereal-like puffy, crumbly pastry that was honey-like in stickiness but also crunchy at the same time... It sounds weird, but it was oddly pleasing. 

In the leaf funnels were toppings: black sesame, raisins and dried chopped cherries. 

 Beautiful presentation, one again!

 The foyer of the restaurant. 

The ceiling was studded with red lanterns.... very mystical and beautiful.

So, that's it for right now... but definitely more to come. 

So much to eat, so little time!