Category Archives: Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Best Kept Secrets

Both DK and I have considerable personal connections to Hong Kong, in the form of family ties…so naturally we have learnt over the many years of visiting the relatives that while it is extremely difficult to find cheap food that doesn’t taste fantastic. There are definitely some places more worthy of a visit than others, especially if you’re on a tight schedule during your visit…

Crab Congee at Chee Kei

The Chee Kei which I usually go to is inside the swanky Langham Place shopping centre at Mongkok MTR station, on the food court level. But I’ve noticed that there are branches of Chee Kei popping up everywhere in Hong Kong, so you’re sure to spot one while you’re in town. The design of the restaurant is open to the passing indoor pedestrian traffic, while the decor and furniture is clean and functional with hints of metallic bling in the ornamental signs and mirrors on the walls creating an interesting fusion of modern and traditional Chinese furnishings.

Golden crab congee, 62HKD (approx. 8AUD)

Their wonton noodles are pretty decent and come out quickly, but the signature dish of this place is their “golden crab congee”. This is a small bamboo/wooden bucket of steaming hot congee with a whole chopped up baby crab floating around in it and some chopped shallots on top. There are little lumps of golden flavour scattered throughout the congee which I’m assuming is the crab roe and although the congee takes a lot longer than the other dishes to come out from the kitchen – it is well worth the wait.

I have long associated congee with being sick since it is the meal of choice for Asian parents to give to their children when they are ill, so it’s not surprising that I am not a fan of congee in general. However, the Chee Kei congee is so smooth and creamy, especially with those little hits of crab roe flavour that I come back for a fix everytime I am back in Hong Kong because you can’t get congee like this back in Sydney.

A side note on the best way to tackle this huge tub of congee – it is a gigantic serving for just one person, you can get around 5-6 normal bowls out of it, so share it with a friend. Also, fish out the submerged pieces of crab to put on your plate to cool while you drink the congee because otherwise you’ll burn your fingers trying to get to the juicy crabmeat inside the shell. Rather embarrassingly, I received a shallow cut on my thumb from the spikes on the miniature crab while cracking it open so don’t underestimate the defensive systems on the crab and watch out for the spikes!!!

Chee Kei 池記
Shop 10, Level 4, Langham Place 8 Argyle Street, Mong Kok

DIY Okonomiyaki at Bang Bang Pan Pan

Sure, you can get okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) in Sydney at any Japanese restaurant but this is a whole restaurant dedicated to just okonomiyaki, offering a great variety of toppings and the added perk of being able to cook the okonomiyaki yourself. All these factors (along with the interesting restaurant name) are what sets Bang Bang Pan Pan apart from any okonomiyaki experience I’ve had back home. My best friend has been raving about this place since she last visited Hong Kong and this time we made it a date to go try it out together and it definitely lived up to the hyped up expectations I had of it – starting with the adorable stencilled phrases spray painted on the wall which I spotted when we walked in.

For 88HKD (roughly 11AUD), you can choose to have either an original flavoured or curry flavoured pancake as well as toppings up to the value of 6 credits from the menu with which to make your pancake with. The more premium toppings are worth more credits of course, such as the interesting choices of pork belly and scallops (3 and 4 credits each respectively) which we picked for our 2 pancakes. We also added in eringi mushrooms (1 credit) and spring onions (1 credit) to go with the scallop pancake and golden mushrooms (1 credit) and corn (1 credit) for the pork belly pancake. For an added twist, we went with curry flavour pancake for the scallop one and original flavour for the pork belly, so we could get the best of both worlds.

These 2 pancakes were to be shared between 4 of us, but we were feeling hungry so we also ordered sides of teppanyaki beef and mushrooms in a pocket to start us off. The teppanyaki beef was so tasty – very tender and full of savoury juices while the mushrooms were placed in an aluminium foil pocket which allowed them to absorb the garlic juices they had been cooked with and resulted in some seriously delicious nibbles for us.

The pancakes arrived in the form of mid sized bowls with a mountain of shredded cabbage as the base, an egg cracked on top and our chosen toppings sprinkled on top of that or in the case of the pork belly, neatly arranged on a plate next to the bowl.

It was then up to us to use a spoon and slowly mix the egg and toppings into the cabbage – it sounds simple enough but it takes some care not to spill out any cabbage, which was already precariously overflowing from the bowl. With the curry scallop pancake, there was also some curry paste at the bottom of the bowl which needs to be mixed thoroughly into the pancake mix too and after around 10 minutes of slow manoeuvring, we finally got the pancake batter to a state that was deemed acceptable for cooking by our waitress.

There are several more steps after this stage before the final pancake is finished and these instructions are helpfully printed on a laminated colour guide placed on every table.

The next step was to empty the bowl onto the middle of the steel plates sunk into our tables, which were oiled and heated up by our waitress. Using the metal spatulas, you shape the pancake mix into a circle and wait for 4-5 minutes before rotating it using the spatulas again. I think the waitress noticed my cluelessness because she wandered over to help me move it – but she was considerate enough to let me do the honours of flipping the whole pancake after 2-3 minutes. It was a lot of pressure, since I had a feeling the whole thing would break apart and I would have single-handedly ruined dinner, but the pancake stayed together in one piece thanks to the egg holding it together and I got a satisfying sense of successfully cooking my own dinner for once =).

Once the pancake looks golden brown, it’s time to drizzle some sweet brown okonomiyaki sauce on top of it as well as some mayonnaise, bonito flakes and seaweed powder to make it even more authentic. Then voila, you have just made your own okonomiyaki for dinner! Congratulations and dig in to the product of your hard work.

The pancakes are quite easy to slice up into quarters to share using the trusty metal spatulas. We savoured the taste of the mini juicy scallops, which surprisingly went quite nicely with the curry sauce flavour and the hits of spring onion and mushrooms. It was a good idea not to get the curry flavour for the pork belly pancake because the pork belly was only slightly fatty but a bit overwhelmed by the other flavours in the pancake, especially as there were only 4 slices of the pork belly and quite a lot of mushrooms and corn in comparison.

Even if you’re a cooking noob (like yours truly), you can’t go wrong making your own okonomiyaki at Bang Bang Pan Pan – so head over to practice your skills if you’re on Hong Kong island but be sure to book because this place is very popular amongst the locals.

BANG BANG PAN PAN 
34 Leighton Rd Causeway Bay Hong Kong
Ph:  +852 2203 4009

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Tim Ho Wan the Dim-Sum Specialists, Hong Kong

The Mong Kok branch has now closed and relocated to Shop 72, G/F, Olympian City 2, 18 Hoi Ting Road, Tai Kok Tsui.

Some of my friends who have been to Hong Kong before have told me about this Michelin-starred Yum Cha restaurant. Word has it that it is extremely cheap, delicious and notoriously hard to get a seat at. One person allegedly lined up at 7am to get a table at 11am…I find that story a bit ridiculous to believe but nevertheless it was good enough for me to go check it out.

There are currently three Tim Ho Wan branches; today I visit the original one at Mong Kok in a group of four for Yum Cha brunch. We arrive at 10:30am and already there is a line, so we grab a ticket number and head off for a walk before returning to a table at 12pm. Yikes, 1.5 hour wait to kick start my Monday morning.

Congee with dry oyster and sea moss – HKD$16 

The restaurant is tiny seating about 30 people…squished into a space which should really only seat 20. Regardless, I am so excited and starving that I disregard the fact that I am crammed into the corner. We start the meal with congee and normally I wouldn’t order congee but the flavours are amazing in this one. The congee has absorbed the oyster and sea moss flavours and it’s similar to a seafood noodle flavour.

Baked BBQ Pork Bun - HKD$15

Our next dish is the BBQ pork bun. BEST PORK BUN I HAVE EVER TASTED. The exterior consists of a baked, crumbly pastry with delicious bbq pork inside. I think that baked shell is what makes it so delicious compared to BBQ pork buns which are usually baked (without a crumbly pastry) or steamed. It is so delicious that we order a second round after the first one is demolished quickly.

Steamed shrimp dumplings – HKD$22

Steamed dumpling in Chiu Chow style - HKD$10

Steamed pork dumpling with shrimp - HKD$22

Steamed beef ball with bean curd skin - HKD$14

Following this comes a round of dim sims. This includes steamed shrimp dumplings, Chiu Chow dumpling, pork dumplings with shrimp and beef balls with bean curd skin. If you’ve been to Yum Cha before, these dim sims are pretty standard and hard to fault. Each one is cooked well, encased with a wrapping (usually a rice paper) and steamed to perfection.

BBQ pork rice paper roll - HKD$16

Pan-fried turnip cake - HKD$12

Glutinous chicken rice - HKD$22

Deep fried dumpling filled with meat - HKD$12

After this, we’re looking at our bill and wondering if we should order food. “It’s currently sitting at <AUD$5 per person” I say. Immediately the group consensus is to order more food! What good value! And so we continue with a steamed BBQ pork rice paper roll, pan-fried turnip cake, glutinous chicken rice and a deep fried dumpling filled with meat. The rice paper roll is probably the worst dish of the meal; it’s a bit bland and seems to need more salt. Too bad the BBQ pork here doesn’t live up to its equivalent baked bun. Fortunately, the rest of the dishes are all delicious. The turnip cake is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, the chicken rice is full of fillings and is hot and flavourful, and the fried dumpling is crispy on the outside with the glutinous shell providing a chewy layer to accompany the meaty fillings.

Steamed egg cake - HKD$12

To finish it all up, we end with a dessert of steamed egg cake. This isn’t a dish that I am too familiar with, as I haven’t eaten this before. It is a steamed cake that is very soft to touch with some sweet tones embedded in. It’s a very gentle dessert that isn’t too overwhelming and helps cleanse the palate.

Overall, I am extremely satisfied with this restaurant. Our bill sits at a grand total of HKD$212 (AUD$6.65 per person) which I think is amazing value for money. This is one Michelin-starred experience I will not forget, and it delivers the right flavours to make it the best Yum Cha I have ever had. If you go, make sure to get the droolworthy baked BBQ pork buns and be prepared to do some shopping during the wait for a table!

Tim Ho Wan
Flat 8, Ground Floor, Phase 2, Tsui Yuen Mansion, 2-20 Kwong Wa St
Mong Kok, Hong Kong
Ph: 2332 2896

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Filed under Chinese, Hong Kong